Featuring World Science U

World-Science-U-is-a-site-dedicated-to-making-science-education-open-and-accessible-to-all.

 

world-science-u-march-2014-672x372

World Science U is currently offering short courses (2-3 weeks in length), but with signs pointing to longer courses coming soon.  Using the best methods of classroom teaching and pushing them into the future, World Science U aims to make complex science understandable for all.  Check out their introduction video!

As mentioned, these courses are meant for anyone – from beginner to advanced learners.  The current courses are short and have no homework or exams but do  They provide non-technical explorations, which go beyond traditional science popularizations.  The first two courses are all about Einstein‘s Special Relativity as well as his theories on space, time and energies.  Designed for those with an interest in science – even those who don’t love math – anyone can walk away with a better understanding of

E=mc2-explication

 

Special Relativity
Self-paced — no deadlines free
Einstein’s Special Relativity upended our understanding of space time and energy. While the ideas are subtle they only require high school algebra so join this math-based introduction. For a conceptual introduction check out Space Time and Einstein.

 

Space Time and Einstein
Self-paced — no deadlines free
Join a visual and conceptual introduction to Einstein’s spectacular insights into space time and energy. For a mathematical introduction to Special Relativity check out Special Relativity.

Be sure to update your Accredible Learner’s Profile once you’ve selected your course and be sure to share your feedback on the course community page!

Featuring MR University

MRUniversity (1)

Tyler Cowan and Alex Tabarrok, economic professors from George Mason University, launched MRUniversity to offer education that is better, cheaper and easier to access.  Courses offered consist of multiple, short videos that allow you to watch between tasks.  Have 6 minutes to spare on the bus/train/subway?  You could watch a video and still have 30 seconds to spare!

In a neat and unusual twist, some of the content is crowd-sourced!  Students are encouraged to vote for the next lot of content or to suggest new material.  Instructors are encouraged to create a flipped economics classroom – using class time to drive discussions, explanations and interactions while the videos are watched at home as “homework”. Best of all – the courses are free!

This month we will focus on two courses offered by MRUniversity.

Development Economics

 

“Why are some countries rich and others poor? This fundamental question has been on the mind of economists since Adam Smith wrote “The Wealth of Nations” in 1776.  This is a full course that covers all the major issues and developments in the field of development economics. Unlike typical college courses, we will take you to the frontier of the discipline, covering recent research as well as more established material.”

 

Great Economists: Classical Economics and its Forerunners

“This course covers the history of economic thought up until the “Marginal Revolution” in the 1870s and features a video for each chapter of Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations.” The videos will answer important questions such as: Who were the first economic thinkers? What are the very origins of economic thought? What did earlier economists understand but has been lost to the modern world? Why is Adam Smith the greatest economist of all time? How did the economic issues of the 18th and 19th centuries shape the thoughts of the classical economists?”

There you have it – two economics courses that will keep you awake and interested this month.  Which will you sign up for?  Don’t forget to update your Learners Profile!

Exploits in Education: Week Two

EIE 844

Hello!  Welcome back – grab a beverage and let’s jump in!

Last week we covered technology advances, globalization, the increasing challenges in management and business versus organizations.  That was a lot of material!!  This week we are looking at rules and regulations, taxes and laws.  Lynne Oats and Greg Morris did a great job explaining some pretty tough topics.

Companies are Recognized as a Person

An admission here: this topic taxes my brain.  How can a concept be treated or recognized as a person under the law?  I’ve struggled with this one for years.  What I gathered from this lesson was probably the best explanation that I’ve ever received.  I’m going to take the risk and share what I got out of it:

Companies vs Person - Gradient

 

What I gathered is the area of overlap is what allows a business to be considered a person.  A point of interest – when the course discusses “company”:

In American English the word corporation is most often used to describe large business corporations.[4] In British English and in the commonwealth countries, the term company is more widely used to describe the same sort of entity while the word corporation encompasses all incorporated entities. In American English, the word company can include entities such as partnerships that would not be referred to as companies in British English as they are not a separate legal entity. (Wikipedia)
(This may ease some confusion for you as it did me)

The rules, regulations and laws in which a company can exist vary from country to country.  I was surprised to learn that companies were a relatively new invention – but I guess when looking back, most businesses were family owned, single location operations like a single pub or shop – and they took all of the risk.  If their shop failed, burned down or faced litigation the owners were financially responsible and it could leave a family in the poor house!

In 1843, William Gladstone took chairmanship of a Parliamentary Committee on Joint Stock Companies, which led to the Joint Stock Companies Act 1844, regarded as the first modern piece of company law.[19] The Act created the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies, empowered to register companies by a two-stage process. The first, provisional, stage cost £5 and did not confer corporate status, which arose after completing the second stage for another £5. For the first time in history, it was possible for ordinary people through a simple registration procedure to incorporate.[20] The advantage of establishing a company as a separate legal person was mainly administrative, as a unified entity under which the rights and duties of all investors and managers could be channeled.(Wikipedia)

This lead to the concept of Limited Liability where the maximum amount of money a shareholder could lose was equivalent to their investment except in specific situations.

If you have a better understanding or I’ve made a mistake – please let me know!!

Rules, Regulations and Laws

As previously discusses, a company can only exist within a system of rules, regulations and laws.  This is meant to give guidelines for operating a business – what they can and cannot do.  These rules, regulations and laws are designed to strengthen the economy.

Restrictions can improve the economy????  How about not only the economy but society?

I kid you not!  Let’s think about Health and Safety rules.  Yes, they restrict what a company can do – they are obligated to provide a safe working environment, proper safety gear, safety instruction and the right to refuse unsafe work.  That means the company has to spend more time to complete a job and more money for training. However, it does reduce injuries, provides specific liabilities for managers and companies should an injury occur and creates an environment where you can expect your spouse/parent/loved one to return home at the end of their shift.

Other regulations that have improved the economy would include stricter environmental rules, competition laws and employment regulations.

Taxation of Companies

The purpose of taxation is to transfer funds into government coffers which then is used to run various programs.  Taxes are used for things such as the redistribution of wealth (think of transfer payments within a country or even social welfare) and controlling behaviours (lower taxes for greener companies).  While taxes have traditionally been paid by the individual, a recent change has been taxing businesses.

Not all countries tax businesses (and are known as tax havens) which encourages some businesses – but not all – to establish within their borders. So why doesn’t everyone establish their business in these countries?  Convenience.  Sometimes the resources or the skilled workforce just aren’t available there.

Who really pays the taxes? Who knows! Do the taxes come off the profit line and reduce the amount of dividends paid to the shareholders?  Do the taxes get paid from increased profits by increasing the price so the customer pays for it? It varies from industry to industry and business to business.

What does your country do to stimulate economic growth via taxes?

I live in Canada, so I will share what the Harper government has issued based on the latest budget regarding fostering job creation, innovation and trade as well as supporting families and communities.  To not appear biased, you can read the whole report here.  As you can see, Canada is stimulating growth by not increasing taxes on business or creating any new taxes and by reducing the red tape that goes along with setting up a business.  It is an effort to promote the entrepreneurial spirit!

In Summary

This week we’ve worked through the (head hurting) concept of companies (or corporations) as a person; rules, regulations and laws and ways they can help the economy; taxation of companies; and finally what Canada is doing to promote economic growth via taxation.  Next week we tackle Cattle Markets and the Stock Market – this I can’t wait to cover!  I love watching the stock market – and one day I will be brave enough to play it! Until then, you and I can play this game instead….

 

Introducing: Universiteplus

universiteplus

Universiteplus is an online learning platform that features quality education from leading Turkish universities aimed towards Turkish and English speaking learners.  The courses are self-paced, free, and have the opportunity to earn a certificate for a reasonable 69TL. 

As the first Turkish MOOC platform, Universiteplus has three main goals – to provide Turkey (and the world) with free, unique and vital opportunities to revolutionize education, to support the best Turkish professors by giving them a platform from which to teach, and to take advantage of international interest in regional affairs to share Turkey‘s own story. 

Keep watching for more courses, new professors and new universities participating in Universiteplus as they are on the look out for the best and brightest!

The Platform

Taught by leading Turkish professors with tenure at prestigious universities around the world, the courses consist of video lectures, projects, learning activities and final exams.  There are also forums to participate within.  Designed to work around your busy schedule, courses are self-paced and available at any time – it is easy to access on your smartphone and other devices.

 

Profiles

universiteplus pic1

Universiteplus offers a great profile page for each user.  You can share a little about yourself – your interests, where you are from, and ways in which people can contact you – such as LinkedIn.  You can easily see who is in each class by checking under Participants to contact a coursemate offsite (to follow on Twitter for example)

A Wide Selection of Courses

Universiteplus has a great assortment of courses – these are just a sampling of the courses available.  While these 3 are in English, there are many more in Turkish.  This will be exciting news for our friends in Istanbul, Samsun, and Ankara!

universiteplus course page

Career Counseling

This “Career Counseling” course will explore the basic principles and concepts involved in the career development as well as college and career decision making processes of individuals. It will focus on reconsideration of the roles & responsibilities of career counselors & clients in individual & group counseling. Participants will gain knowledge of occupational-educational information & vocational testing that is applied to the process of career counseling.

 

universiteplus entrepreneurIntroduction to Entrepreneurship

The purpose of ‘introduction to entrepreneurship’ course is to help you begin the process of developing a set of skills and competencies focused on entrepreneurial opportunity recognition, innovation, and small business management. This course is about dreaming and pursuing those entrepreneurial dreams.  This course will challenge you to think and act boldly, and to break with conventional thinking when it comes to the realities of the marketplace and your own business ideas. Introduction to entrepreneurship will equip you with basic skills and tools that will allow you to effectively pursue your entrepreneurial dreams. Entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs.

universiteplus east west

Occasionalism East and West

Philosophy, History, Islamic Studies, Religious Studies majors can take this course. Occasionalism is commonly understood as a theory that ascribes all causal power to God on the one hand and treats cause-effect relations in nature as occasions indicating the manner of divine creation on the other. This doctrine was formulated first by the Muslim scholars in the 10th century, i.e. the Ash’arites and Maturidites. It was transmitted to Europe via the works of Averroes and Moses Maimonides in the 13th century. In the 17th century, it reappeared among the Cartesian philosophers, famously in the work of Nicolas Malebranche. Many philosophers in the 17th and 18th centuries seriously took this theory into account, responded to it and to a certain extent influenced by it. In this course, we will examine wider philosophical dimensions of occasionalism both theoretically and from a historical point of view. Some questions that will be addressed are as follows: What is the relationship between occasionalism and monism (or pantheism)?

Make sure to check out the course finder to see the full selection of courses from Universiteplus – and remember to update your Accredible Learner’s Profile to reflect the new courses you’ve selected!

Exploits in Education: Week One

EIE 844

Welcome back!  Grab a cup of coffee (tea?  soda?) and get settled in for a bit of a read….

Wow – the first week of Discovering Business in Society was a real eye opener!  I have so many things I want to talk about – the exam, businesses vs. organizations, globalization, technology and challenges in management…

But first, I have to comment on my impressions of the course.  Any course which offers blogging prompts is A1 in my books. I believe blogging along with courses only increases the writers understanding of the materials – and of course, the increased understanding by the reader is uber important!  I also really appreciated the weekly recap – love that it isn’t pre-recorded and references our comments.  Did the review change my viewpoints?  Well…maybe not change per se, but definitely provoked further research and thinking.  I really appreciated the discussion on globalization and who the winners and losers really are.  (More on that later!)

The Exam

 

statement-of-attainment

 

Last week we talked about the exam that could be written for this course that would lead to an exemption of the ACCA F1 Accountant in Business paper.  You do earn your “Statement of Attainment” with it.  More details are available here.  Exams are delivered by Pearson VUE at one of their 175 testing centers. For a reasonable £119, you can get your certificate and be one step closer to earning your ACCA qualifications.

 

 

Businesses vs Organizations

business and organizations0005AWell, we jumped right in, didn’t we?  Businesses can be organizations, but are not necessarily organizations.  Organizations can act like businesses, but not be one.  Both can have commercial activities. Both can be Global.  Both can have multiple branches.  Both are complex.

This topic is complex.

Seriously though, it is complex.  With so many similarities it is easy to just think of them as one in the same.  But they aren’t.  Organizations exist to meet a social purpose (think Girl Guides and Boy Scouts, the Accredited Sommelier Association of Canada or the Cancer Society) but they still can offer products (Girl Guide Cookie anyone?  Perhaps a Daffodil?  An apple?) and services (life skills, professional development, research and development).

Key lesson for me: consider activities vs entities.  What are the values and missions of the group?  Are they there to meet a social purpose?  You work for a business to earn your wage, but you volunteer with an organization to feel good.

 

 

How has the job of managing a business is becoming more challenging over time

Business woman multitasking illustration
This was a great discussion on the forum.  I tried to come up with my own list before reading, but I have to admit, I was able to grow my list from the conversations.  My list of 4 factors (with additional thoughts)

 

 

  1. Human Resources
    1. Hiring the right people
    2. Training
    3. Interaction between management and employees
    4. Discipline
  2. Changes
    1. Pivoting
    2. Product
    3. Technology
    4. Regulations
  3. Competition
    1. Maintaining a Competitve Advantage
    2. Globalization
    3. More Competition 
  4. Needed it Yesterday!!
    1. Newer, Better, Faster
    2. Balancing Expectations

Yikes!  I think I just aged myself a good 5 years whilst developing this list!  Management sure has changed from the days of just directing “take A and move it to B and then perform C”.

Globalization

business-316906_150Who wins?  Who loses? Will it reverse?  Three great questions.  No easy answers.

Who wins?

Who loses?

Made_in_USA_Brand_Certification_Mark_logo.svgWill it reverse?

As countries go through economic challenges, there is always a push to move jobs back home, bringing back the idWe ea that products made at home are of a high quality (Who doesn’t proudly buy items stamped Made in “insert your home country name here”?

 

Changes in Technology

When I was in university, there was a major project underway to open a new business school building.  It was going to have the latest and greatest technologies and prepare our business graduates to head out into the big scary world able to use whatever technology was sent their way. That was our way – our school had a legacy of technological advancements to uphold.

It was an amazing sight when it opened.  There were ethernet cable ports built in to every table for students who carried (lugged) their laptops to class (wifi wasn’t a reality then – Cabled Networks was an exciting upgrade from dial up modems!).  We had whiteboards (as in dry erase marker boards not the app) installed in every classroom to avoid getting chalk dust into the computers.  I remember the excitement of using group study rooms to prepare for a test or work on a project.  It was so avant garde.  Cutting Edge.

It was so 1998.

320px-Surface_table

 

Fast forward to watching the video of the Exeter lecture hall.  Tables with embedded touchscreens for group work?  Lecture halls with multi purpose screens?  Microphones?  No struggling to hear the professor and having recorded lectures that you can easily review after the fact?  (I remember carrying a little pocket sized recorder with micro cassettes to class and having to ask permission to get a poor quality, grainy recording.  Most times, all I could really hear was me breathing!)

 

Keyboard_on_a_German_mechanical_Olympia_typewriter

Has technology made me more productive?  I doubt it.  Any increase in productivity has likely been lost to the time spent researching topics online, making things look “pretty” and analysing things I never would have considered looking at 5 years ago.  Yes, I can type an article on my laptop much quicker than I could on a typewriter with a lot less wasted paper, but I wouldn’t have worried about having just the right image to highlight my point before either!

In Summary

So, this week covered technology advances (and I only focused on computer technology…others would have led to a far longer post to read!), globalization, the increasing challenges in management and business vs organizations.  Next week we are looking at rules and regulations, taxes and laws.  It should be interesting!

 

Spotlight on Code School

Code School

Code School is an online learning platform that allows you to learn by combining video, coding in the browser and gamification to make the learning fun.  If you have an up-to-date browser, then you are ready to learn how to code!Advancement through the course happens only once you have completed a series of interactive exercises so you can master one component before learning the next.

Here are some fun, free starter courses to help you learn to love coding!  Additional courses are available at a reasonable $29 per month.

completed-try-jquery-799b20f65cd0fdcfb1b79c009305c017     Try jQuery Self-paced — no deadlines free Learn the basic building blocks of jQuery 2.0 and enjoy new video tutorials for beginners with related programming challenges.     completed-shaping-up-with-angular-js-83ceb89bd5255391f25230727ae3f019     Shaping up with Angular.js Self-paced — no deadlines free Learn to use Angular.js by adding behavior to your HTML and speeding up your application’s responsiveness. Get ready to dive into all the angles of Angular.js!     completed-javascript-road-trip-part-1-b9f5af5196fb596271f7f97b6b477d24     JavaScript Road Trip Part 1 Self-paced — no deadlines free An introduction to the very basics of the JavaScript language. Build a foundation of JavaScript syntax and learn how to use values, variables, and files.     completed-try-objective-c-d2ebeb17d5acfd77df0bf3ae3d2b89f7     Try Objective-C Self-paced — no deadlines free Learn the basics of iOS development with the Objective-C language. Start learning to develop iPhone, iPad, and Mac apps by building a foundation on Objective-C.     completed-discover-devtools-f78b78944d7fecf40a40c8f61df99a70     Discover DevTools Self-paced — no deadlines free Learn how Chrome DevTools can sharpen your dev process and discover the tools that can optimize your workflow and make life easier.     completed-discover-drive-2b1029e989beb93b6fe63af100dd28d9     Discover Drive Self-paced — no deadlines free Learn to build applications with the Google Drive API to organize, back up, and share photos, videos, and other documents in the cloud.   As always, don’t forget to update your Accredible Learning Profile once you have selected your course(s)!

I can take a class in that?!

I can take a course in that

MOOCs offer a remarkable variety of classes, sometimes in subjects not typically taught in traditional university settings. Here are four upcoming classes that are outside the box.

Applying to US Universities

Offered by Coursera and taught by a professor at Penn, this class is meant to help anyone, but specifically non-American and non-English speaking students, navigate the non-standard application process for American colleges and universities.

  • Started August 3, goes through August 31
  • Estimated workload: 3-6 hours/week

Managing Fashion and Luxury Companies

Taught by two management professors at the Università Bocconi, this class teaches you market drivers, business models and brand management strategies by using case-studies. 

  • Starts October 3, goes through November 7
  • Estimated workload: 3-4 hours/week

Curanderismo: Traditional Medicine

This class is taught by a published author and self-taught expert in the folk healing tradition of the Southwest US and Mexico. Discussing the effectiveness of these traditional methods as well as the specific healing methods.

  • Starts August 18, goes through October 13
  • Estimated Workload: 10-12 hours/week

Understanding Numbers

So you think you know numbers? Well this class will stretch how you think about numbers and start thinking like a scientist. Learn how to relate numbers to the real world and describe the world, as well as communicate your findings.

  • Starts August 18, goes through September 14
  • Estimated Workload: 3 hours/week

Upcoming Coursera Specializations

smiling Graduate woman Holding Degree with cloud background

Want a way to get certified for a group of knowledge that represents more than a single class? Then Coursera‘s specializations might be just right for you! They are sets of MOOCs which upon completion grant you a special certificate indicating more in-depth knowledge in a subject.

  • Each specialization is made up of MOOCs from multiple universities
  • Available in 10 subjects, ranging from teacher education to CS to music
  • Cost: $29 or $49 per course plus a $49 capstone fee
  • Financial aid available

Here are the upcoming ones:

Data Science

  • 9 4-week classes and Final Capstone project
  • Topics covered include the R language, regression models, cleaning data & more
  • Taught by Johns Hopkins University
  • Next session starts Sept 1
  • Cost: $490

Systems Biology

  • 5 classes and Final Capstone project
  • Topics taught include experimental methods & network analysis in systems biology and more
  • Taught by Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • Next session starts Sept 2
  • Cost: $294

Cybersecurity

  • 4 classes and Final Capstone project
  • Topics include software & hardware security, usable security, and more
  • Taught by University of Maryland, College Park
  • Next session starts Sept 15
  • Cost: $245

Fundamentals of Computing

  • 3 classes and Final Capstone project
  • Topics include Python, algorithmic thinking, and more
  • Taught by Rice University
  • Next session starts Sept 15
  • Cost: $196

 

Mobile Cloud Computing with Android

  • 3 classes and Final Capstone project
  • Topics include pattern-oriented software architectures, cloud services for Android, and more
  • Taught by Rice University
  • Next session starts Sept 26
  • Cost: $196

What do Computers, Globalization & Water Have in Common?

edX2

They are all course topics found on edX next month! EdX has several great courses starting soon so if you are interested in Thermodynamics, Immunology or the Ideas of the 20th Century (or any previously mentioned topic!), keep reading for these and other great courses below!

Thermodynamics

July 29   (length: 12 weeks)    free

Introduction to basic concepts and applications of thermodynamics in mechanical engineering.  There will be emphasis on problem-solving. Students will need to spend significant effort on solving exercises. The course is designed for students in mechanical engineering. However, others (both engineers and scientists) are likely to find it useful. The course has also been found to be useful to teachers of thermodynamics.  A basic knowledge of high-school physics and chemistry is assumed; ability to do college calculus (differentiation, integration, partial derivatives, and exact differentials) is required.

Introduction to Linux

Aug 1     free

Develop a good working knowledge of Linux using both the graphical interface and command line, covering the major Linux distribution families.  This course explores the various tools and techniques commonly used by Linux programmers, system administrators and end users to achieve their day-to-day work in a Linux environment. It is designed for experienced computer users who have limited or no previous exposure to Linux, whether they are working in an individual or Enterprise environment.

Fundamentals of Immunology, Part 1

Aug 18   ( length: 8 weeks)      free

Learn about your body’s defences against disease: how it can identify threats and coordinate counter attacks.  When you’re sick, you may wonder, “Why me?” But the real question should be, “Why am I not sick all the time?” You might even ask, “Why does my body respond with a fever, and is it really a good idea to lower it?” This course explores immunology, how the body defends itself from constant assault by parasites and pathogens. This course will present the fundamentals of both innate and adaptive immunity, emphasizing functional interactions among cells and organs. We will cover signaling, pathogen recognition and the division of labor among myeloid, lymphoid and supporting cells. The subject matter will also supply health professionals and biomedical researchers with the basic vocabulary and concepts necessary to understand both clinical press releases and primary literature. The course materials also provide support to other immunology instructors by presenting difficult concepts in creative ways using analogies and models.    This is the first part of a two part course. Fundamentals of Immunology, Part 2 will start in October 2014 after the conclusion of Part 1.

Circuits and Electronics

Aug 25   free

Teaches the fundamentals of circuit and electronic analysis.  The course introduces engineering in the context of the lumped circuit abstraction. Topics covered include: resistive elements and networks; independent and dependent sources; switches and MOS transistors; digital abstraction; amplifiers; energy storage elements; dynamics of first- and second-order networks; design in the time and frequency domains; and analog and digital circuits and applications. Design and lab exercises are also significant components of the course.

Age of Globalization

Aug 27   (length: 15 weeks)    free

Identify the historical and cultural systems driving globalization and changing societies around the world.  Globalization is a fascinating spectacle that can be understood as global systems of competition and connectivity. These man-made systems provide transport, communication, governance, and entertainment on a global scale. International crime networks are outgrowths of the same systems. Topics include national identity, language diversity, the global labour market, popular culture, sports and climate change.  Expects familiarity with the general subject matter, but does not expect more than a general understanding of either concepts or vocabulary. The course may expect familiarity with other undergraduate course materials.

Ideas of the Twentieth Century

Aug 27   (length: 15 weeks)  free

Learn how philosophy, art, literature, and history shaped the last century and the world today. The last century ushered in significant progress. Philosophers, scientists, artists, and poets overthrew our understanding of the physical world, of human behaviour, of thought and its limits, and of art, creativity, and beauty. Scientific progress improved the way we lived across the world. Expects familiarity with the general subject matter, but does not expect more than a general understanding of either concepts or vocabulary. The course may expect familiarity with other undergraduate course materials.

Introduction to Computer Programming, Part 1

July 29   (length: 6 weeks)    free

This 6-week course provides students with a foundation in computer programming.  Participants will get to read and understand many sample programs, and will have to write several on their own. This course deals with procedural programming, and attempts to inculcate good programming practices in a novice programmer.  Knowledge of high school mathematics is essential and adequate. Exposure to pre-calculus is desirable.

Introduction to Water and Climate

Aug 26   (length: 8 weeks)    free

The basic elements of and the relation between water and climate are highlighted and further discussed together with their mutual coherence.Water is essential for life on earth and of crucial importance for society. Also within our climate water plays a major role. The natural cycle of ocean to atmosphere, by precipitation back to earth and by rivers and aquifers to the oceans has a decisive impact on regional and global climate patterns.

Remember to add these great courses to your To Learn List!  And let us know below which great edX courses you decided to take in August!

The Smartest Disney Character: Tarzan?

Depositphotos_13593392_s

When I think of autodidactism, I automatically think of an old Sherlock Holmes’ picture with a gentleman from the 1800’s smoking a pipe at his mahogany desk in front of a fireplace, surrounded by heaps of books and parchment paper.  This is honestly a very different picture from what most autodidacts paint, but one self-learner blew this image out of the water while I was watching a Disney movie the other day.

 

Let’s Start From the Top

Yes, I am an adult.  Yes, I was watching Tarzan last weekend – its a good movie!  As I watched baby Tarzan grow into a vine-swinging, hollering ape-man, I realized (in the nerdy way that one realizes such things) that Tarzan is the ultimate autodidact – one that represents the origins of self-education.

In the Disney movie, Tarzan is found in the jungle by a female gorilla after his parents are killed by a tiger.  She adopts him as her own and raises him in the jungle with her family of gorillas.  A large part of the story focuses on Tarzan finding it difficult to belong, considering how different his human features are from his gorilla family’s.  He finds it difficult to make friends as a child because he is physically slower and weaker and he constantly makes mistakes doing things that are perfectly normal for a gorilla, but more difficult for a human.

 

Growing up

As Tarzan grows, however, his human brain kicks in and he begins to find different ways to keep up with his adopted family.  For example, he finds it difficult to match his friends’ speed while traveling on foot, so he
teaches himself to swing on vines and leap through trees to keep up (and stay ahead).  Later, while foraging for food, he uses his elephant friend’s trunk to help blow out food from narrow spaces instead of trying to fit his too-large hands into the space like the gorillas.

 

Back to the Beginning

This is probably how humans began to differentiate themselves from other primates during evolution, and so Tarzan goes all the way back to the beginning of the entire process of learning – which was autodidactism at its core.

Granted, Tarzan was probably a smarter human than the average.  Just look at his parents – they were stranded in a Jungle and built a flippin’ awesome treehouse to live in with awesome amenities.  They literally had no resources to work with!

 

 

Still, he was a baby – who grew up in a family of gorillas.  He finished off a deadly tiger using his brain when nobody else could, found ways to get food more efficiently, and figured out how to get around the jungle faster than the companions he constantly fell behind as a child.

I’d say that earns him the title of the Ultimate Disney Autodidact, wouldn’t you?