“I don’t love studying, I hate studying. I like learning, learning is beautiful.”

I didn’t even say that. Neta-Lee Hershlag, who you probably know better as Natalie Portman, did — but when I read that quote, another one popped into my mind — Churchill's more famous quote, “I am always ready to learn although I do not always like to be taught.”

Both quotes remind us that learning by ourselves is always more efficient and satisfying than listening to someone else trying to put knowledge inside our minds.

This is why most students today don’t enjoy school, and why most schools today fail to engage their students with the subject being taught.

Indiana University’s High School Survey of Student Engagement (HSSSE), reached more than 81,000 in the US. [source]
They found that 30 percent of the students are bored due to lack of interaction with teachers.
75 percent report material being taught is not interesting.
73 percent said, “I didn’t like the school.”
61 percent said, “I didn’t like the teachers.”

I strongly agree with Natalie and Churchill. I think that if you look at the list of the biggest scientists, leaders, inventors and entrepreneurs, you’ll find the majority were self-taught.
People like Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Ford, Bill Gates & Paul Allen, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Albert Einstein or George Bernard Shaw (who said “The only time my education was interrupted was when I was in school.”) dropped or left the schooling system at a certain point and proved everyone they can learn without it.

My point here isn’t about success. I’m talking about being good at what you love without the “help” of a teacher, and today we have tools like the internet which all those names above didn’t have.

I think if people would encourage themselves, their friends and their kids to study new topics by themselves, without waiting for a teacher or for a course to be available to them, we’d all be a lot smarter. The huge and amazing difference between teaching yourself things and listening to someone else telling you those exact same things, is enormous.

My point here isn’t about dropping school either. There are many things I don’t like about school, but I do agree it is the best program for most people. I do wish though that schools in general and teachers specifically would teach less and help their students learn more. This doesn’t mean homework like this:

(this is a real work sheet on subtraction I found online.)

This isn’t self-teaching, this is practising. And while practising is very important (especially in math or programming), it is not learning. Give your students leads and interest, rather than repeating the same question again and again. Instead of telling students why something happened, ask them to find out why and inquire what they think about it.

I don’t love studying, I hate studying. I love learning, and I think you should too.