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Don't Go Back to School: A Handbook for Learning Anything
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Don't Go Back to School: A Handbook for Learning Anything

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  521 ratings  ·  68 reviews
Here is a radical truth: school doesn’t have a monopoly on learning. More and more people are declining traditional education and college degrees. Instead they’re getting the knowledge, training, and inspiration they need outside of the classroom. Drawing on extensive research and over 100 interviews with independent learners, Kio Stark offers the ultimate guide to learnin ...more
212 pages
Published 2013 by Greenglass Books
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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Heriberto Cantú
Apr 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
So, in recent years I've been thinking and reading about education and learning. I'm on my last year at college and I've been incredibly disillusioned by the system and by my education. Every subject that I find incredibly interesting has been brutally murdered and butchered by my university. Making it as dull and as boring as intellectually possible. In contrast at work I'm constantly challenging myself to learn new things and more things that I thought I was able to. And there comes this book. ...more
Rosie Nguyễn
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Five star, because I'm an autodidact, and I'm into that area.

Initially I thought that I wouldn't learn anything new from this book since I already practiced my independent learning long enough. But it turned out that the author did a throughout research, digging deep and searching wide enough to include the profound ideas over a broad range of key areas. The great things are the summarized guideline of how to be an independent learner and the lists of resources to learn outside of school.

Jun 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a smart, smart book. While the target audience appears to be those who are on the fence about the value of college or grad school, I think the subtitle ("a handbook for learning anything") is closer to the mark. I'm one of those people who went to college and grad school, and I still find this to be filled with provocative ideas and practical suggestions.

It's dense, and I expect that I will go back to reread it more than once. That is not a bad thing, mind you -- it's actually very reada
Ellen Chisa
I'm a little bit split on this book - I think it depends on who you are, how you learn, and what you're looking for (which actually completely agrees with the premise of the book!)

It's a really good start if you're looking to figure out how to teach yourself something for the first time. If you're looking for the practical, I'd start at the end (all the techniques) and then read all the anecdotes at the beginning to see how people applied them differently. Plus, then you can get to the end and
Nov 15, 2013 rated it liked it
This book was ok. I'm not sure if I was the target audience (which seems like people on the fence about dropping mad resources to go to learn at an institution). This book felt mostly like a motivational poster about learning: "You can do it!"

The anecdotes were fun to read, and I like that this book exists. It seems to be another data point of the value drift towards self mastery and unschooling and learning beyond the walls of the ivory tower. I like its message that it's ok to learn on your ow
Mark Bao
Jul 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Not bad. This is a collection of short essays contributed by self-learners that talk about what they did. The actual essays themselves were somewhat lackluster, and I felt like they were missing the actual "how" people did their self-learning, like what kind of structure they used. It talked more about the "what" that they did. In addition, there were only two interviews with self-learned scientists, which was extremely disappointing.

Nonetheless, it was good to get a sense of structure for how t
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
backed this book on Kickstarter a while back and its been one of my favorite Kickstarter projects. very inspiring, some great interviews. pretty repetitive advice, which is good in a way because now we'll all know what's "tired and true" when it comes to independent learning. demographics are diversified in gender, not so much racially (if that matters to anyone besides me). overall i would recommend to others, just as an eye-opening alternative to institutionalized learning and as a cool refere ...more
May 20, 2013 marked it as to-read
Based on this:
This looks so good! Even though I loved college, I am all about the self-learning...and I deeply believe that it's your responsibility, no matter your education, to learn how to teach yourself.
Jeremy Beasley
Nov 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Career switchers
I read this book a year ago and was reminded of this book after reading Karen Cheng's article on, "How to Become a Designer Without Going to Design School".

I revisited the book to use as inspiration for crafting a personal/professional development plan. I'm making a shift the focus in my career away from business/strategy and back to more technical and design. Very curious about how I could do this without having to go back to school.

After skimming through my scribbled annotations and
Oct 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've always been a believer of life-long learning so not only did I enjoy the personal success stories in the book by self starters who've achieved in their respective domains without having to go to school for it, but it also gave me the proverbial kick to keep ploughing on in my area of interest. Highly recommended read. ...more
Lorianne Reuser
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Though feeling a little dated, this does offer both the inspiration and the techniques for how one might tackle independent learning outside of a classroom environment - and, by extension, it also acts as a critique on pedagogical practices in school and also the structure of academia. Much of that critique is similar to what I see in my current education studies, and the state of academia is well addressed in any adjunct’s twitter feed. The interviews were at turns engrossing, hilarious, passio ...more
Tara Brabazon
Mar 14, 2016 rated it did not like it
I am sick to bloody death of supposed consultants and self-appointed experts slamming schools and universities. This book is absolutely ridiculous. If the argument is to be believed, schools have failed. Universities have failed. Qualifications are not longer required in the workplace. Self-directed learning can provide a guide through life, work and leisure.

There is only one problem. How do we know what we do not know?

There is some attention to MOOCs here. But this is such a disingenuous turn o
Huong Pham
Feb 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommended book, especially for those who are about to embark on the self-taught road or just thinking of it.

An excellent practical book with real-life stories of autodidacts, useful how-to guides and sources for independent learning.

I would like to add some of my favorite websites as sources to learn and exchange knowledge:

- : a question and answer website with unlimited topics and groups (You make it!)
- learn English, make friends
Hiep Le
Nov 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
I was hoping for more structured theories about self learning. Instead, the author directly give us opinions of talented people who have gone through the education path without schools. While some conclusions I can make by myself, like most of independent learners have a curiosity for knowlegde, or people need a community to learn effectively, I think it would be better if the author can have some kind of anlysis or statistic on people she interviewed, saving me the time to find all the similari ...more
Jul 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
Nothing too surprising here, but still thoughtful enough to be helpful.
True rating 3.5.

This is a solid read. It is chalked full of words I wanted to write down, to keep always at my call for those times I need some words. I had high expectations for the book and it didn't live up to them entirely. I didn't go to college/university, but I seek to always be active in my journey through self-education in this world. I was hoping to hear more from people who went entirely unconventional in their path by not receiving a higher education from the public forum. While many
Mar 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
in the book the author provide that school isn't the only way to learn .by interviewing some self taught people in different field (journalism,art...) she describe their chaotic path from a novice to an expert "the fundamental problem with school learning it motivates students with external demands and rewards(grades,prize,evaluation test)while learning outside of th escchool motivates students with internal demands (curiosity ,they know what they like to do and when and they are forced to swic ...more
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Love the subject. Personally, I did a BSc and MSc after high school in the field of business and economics. In my first job as a business consultant I quickly realized that I needed way more IT and engineering compentence that what is tought in business schools, to stay competitive. Is the solution to go back to school and get a new degree? Oh hell no. This book covers a way more effective and cheaper solution.
Feb 02, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is pretty short and covers something very key - the rapid loss of value for a college degree.

I think the information provided, of course assuming you aren't already aware of it, is important!

Although, as an introverted person, I find much of the advice difficult to follow.
Jay Cruz
Apr 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Reading this book was just confirmation bias to me, even though I went back to school as an adult. With the exception of some careers that require licensing and certifications, you really don't need "higher learning" to learn. ...more
Richard Bowman
Jun 02, 2019 rated it liked it
I liked this, in learning several areas of interest right now. Spanish, reading Music and understanding eCommerce and reselling....the information in the book helped me in those areas. Glad I got the book.
Giorgia G.
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I very much appreciated that this book provided so much insightful information on indipendent learning without disregarding public schools and institutionalised education. Useful and thought provoking, and also quite motivational.
Jessica Grove
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: homeschool
This one got my brain turning with TONS of ideas - for me .... and my kids. It was exciting to read and think about!
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is exciting book
Fiona Leonard
Apr 17, 2014 rated it liked it
I understand entirely why Kio Stark has called her book Don't Go Back To School. It makes good marketing sense and it speaks to an idea, a concern and a longing that many people have. But in placing the word "school" in big bold letters, this discussion again gets skewed in what I think is the wrong direction.

For the past five years and a half I have home schooled my daughter. She's now spent longer out of the formal education system than in it. It's a pretty fair assumption therefore to say tha
Fritz Dacquigan
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was on the Introduction part when I decided not to continue with this book. Why is the author so anti-school? Can't we support alternative learning without implying that formal schools or universities are a failure? Stark generalized the whole school system, saying that they don't offer individual growth or such and somehow wants to close them instead. So, maybe we should just watch DIYs on Youtube on how to do brain surgeries or defend a criminal in court? ...more
Jul 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: growth
1. Anyone who really wants to learn without school has to find other people to learn with and from. That’s the open secret of learning outside of school. It’s a social act. Learning is something we do together. Independent learners are interdependent learners.

2. stick with learning independently is to set your own goals toward an increasing sense of competence. You need to create a feedback loop that confirms your work is worth it and keeps you moving forward.

3. Situate what you’re
Ala Barazi
Jan 09, 2014 rated it liked it
The book was an inspiration for me and I agree that self learning has many advantages and is more pure than the systematic way of learning mainly for some specialisation. However, I was about to rate it with two stars as I think that the approach which is used in writing this book is so close to the approach which is used in the conventional education system. So the book is talking about boring way of linear education and in my opinion it was written in the same way. It could have added a sense ...more
Osamuyi Okpame
Nov 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was timely, just when I was at the cross road contemplating whether to go further up to grad school, or take an alternative route as a life long learner. I have always loved learning and enjoy it most when it's unhurried and with an opportunity to put it into immediate use and find real usefulness in the real world.

The interviews and experiences in the book are very interesting and thought provoking.

The kind of education one gets today in the classroom does not always meet ones expe
Dec 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is a great starting point for people that are considering not following the traditional higher educational track. The interviews and the accounts of the people that the book provides are really interesting, but in my opinion, are too short. They only give a tiny glimpse into each of the individuals' educational and career tracks, a glimpse just big enough to temp you to look into a non-traditional career track. The book also advocates for independent learning as a substituted to tradit ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Don't Go Back to School - missing page #s 3 19 Apr 03, 2013 03:23PM  

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I'm a writer, teacher, researcher, and passionate activist for independent learning. I currently coordinate the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews Learning initiative. I also write fiction, my first novel is Follow Me Down (2011). ...more

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