Self-University Week
September 1-7


Autodidactic Press has sponsored Self-University Week since 1989. It is our intention to continually expand this celebration until the value of lifelong learning is indelibly etched into the national consciousness.

Chase's Annual Events lists the first seven days of September as Self-University Week. The purpose of Self-University Week is to remind adults (in or out of school) that each of us has a responsibility to help shape the future by pursuing lifelong education.

Constant public debate about abortion, gay rights, gun control, and the death penalty remind us that truth is not nearly so easy to obtain as the "right answers" we sought in school. Traditional education in America has caused millions of people to conclude that education is something you can "finish." The result is that people form deep convictions based on hearsay and borrowed opinion without feeling the need to fully reason the issues out for themselves. Thus, debates of the major issues confronting us become little more than emotional demonstrations of shrill shouting, finding no common ground for resolution.

Answers to our most pressing problems are found in self-education and the willingness to use reason in reaching equitable solutions. The external push for degrees in order to qualify for high-paying jobs often blinds us to the fact that education is as necessary for our general well being as it is for economic opportunity. In other words, even though full employment is increasingly problematic, many of us are better at "earning a living" than we are at "living a living."

Our institutions of higher learning are vastly overrated for their ability to impart knowledge that can be easily converted into marketable skills, but they are greatly underrated for their ability to inspire the understanding that helps individuals derive quality from experience. Using learning institutions wisely depends upon a learning stance, a thirst for knowledge, and the realization that the worth of our future is bound to the quality of our learning.

We welcome your comments and suggestions for celebrating Self-University Week. Please help us spread the word.

52 Ways to Celebrate Self-University Week September 1-7

  • Look up a new word every morning and figure out three ways to use it during the day.
  • Read that book you picked up months ago and haven't opened yet.
  • Listen to audio books or language tapes while you drive.
  • Watch only informative TV shows (no sitcoms, soaps, sports, giveaways, movies, MTV or QVC). Exception: if you never watch the kind of entertainment shows listed, sample a few.
  • Write a letter to the editor of the newspaper or magazine of your choice expressing your opinion on an issue.
  • Find out how to send e-mail to the President or another lawmaker of your choice. See if you can get a dialog going.
  • Investigate one or more newsgroups on the Internet, and check in at least once a day.
  • Attend an open meeting or public forum each noon hour or evening for a week.
  • Sign up for a night course, workshop, or seminar.
  • If you work in a large company or organization, pay a visit each day to someone you barely know--in another department, for instance. Get better acquainted with these people; find out more about their work and how it relates to your own.
  • Take photos of ten things (places, objects, people) that best symbolize who you are. Then take ten more of things that represent your dreams. (Use a digital camera) Put the photos together in an album, montage or a web page.
  • Pick two prominent figures--one from history and one now living. Find out as much as you can about their roles in society, their family lives, and their accomplishments. Then make a side-by-side list comparing the two.
  • Visit a library or bookstore every day and spend some time looking through sections you've never explored before. Make a list of the titles or subjects you find to be most interesting.
  • Attend a lecture.
  • Go to a foreign movie--or to a foreign country, if you can afford it.
  • Compile a reading list of books you intend to read during the next year, and pick one to start off with.
  • Plan or start your own personal library of the books that mean the most to you.
  • Share with others a list of the most inspiring books you have ever read.
  • Reread a book you thought was difficult or "over your head" the first time you tried it.
  • Form a roundtable discussion group to discuss books and ideas.
  • Join or start a friends of the public library group.
  • Join a book club.
  • Choose a prominent figure in history, science, politics, or the arts. Resolve to see how much you can find out about that person in books, movies, newspapers, and conversation with friends and associates over the next year. Study the person's original work and compare your opinions with the commentary of others.
  • Write an article for your company, institution, hobby, club, or community organization newsletter or magazine.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. See how clearly and succinctly you can make your point.
  • Visit a museum or gallery.
  • Sign up for a class on a subject that's new to you but highly interesting.
  • Offer to teach a class for a community education enterprise. (A sure way to learn a subject is to teach it.)
  • Listen to literary classics or foreign language instruction tapes in your car every day for a week, instead of music.
  • Watch an hour of public television each night instead of cable.
  • Practice the tutorials for a new piece of computer software.
  • Write a brief summary of your life so far, or depict your life graphically on a large sheet of paper.
  • Spend a week reading material with which you strongly disagree.
  • Create (or update) your resume.
  • Search a large computer database using your favorite subjects as key words.
  • Write your own obituary. What goals do you hope to meet in your lifetime? What do you want most people to remember about you?
  • Spend some time asking the oldest (and hopefully the wisest) people you know what were the major lessons that they have learned from life.
  • Read the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution.
  • Volunteer eight hours of your time to a nonprofit organization.
  • Spend a day or a week "media free" no radio, TV, books or magazines--entertain nothing but your own thoughts.
  • Peruse introductory books to philosophy with the goal of discovering your favorite philosopher.
  • Sign up for music lessons.
  • Learn enough of a computer programming language to write a simple program.
  • Set aside a half-hour each day to examine some of your fundamental beliefs about the world. Contrast them with opposing views. For example, why do you belong to one political party instead of another? And are your reasons for believing as you do your own or did you borrow them from friends and family in the process of growing up?
  • Outline the major events in your life as if it were a play. How many acts would there be and how would they be named? What would be the name of the play?
  • Study the nature of your career, occupation or the means with which you earn a living and make some predictions about the future of that enterprise. If you are retired examine the career field of a friend or relative.
  • Write an essay (or make a list) describing what you think were the greatest errors and accomplishments of the twentieth century. How can these lessons make life better in the twenty-first century.
  • If you are a worker read a book about management; if you are a manager read a book written from the perspective of workers.
  • Take the time to master that piece of hi-tech equipment that you dread the most. Read the instruction manual, call the engineers who designed it.
  • Memorize a poem.
  • Take an art class.



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Self-University Week:
September 1-7


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