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The Millennial Mindset Of Self-Teaching

Male at a Computer

Today’s post comes from Ypulse team member Mel Tchalim. He and several other Ypulse staffers recently took part in a four-week online workshop that teaches people how to teach themselves anything. Sounds handy, right? The course, titled “Learn Anything On Your Own,” was taught by a teen entrepreneur and Thiel Fellow who embodies the idea that people have the power to teach themselves anything with the right tools, resources, discipline, and organization. Mel shares his experience in this course below and discusses how this attitude — to teach yourself anything — is a very Millennial concept. His generation has grown up with the mindset that they can teach themselves whatever they want with a few clicks, the support of their network, and of course, resourcefulness.

The Millennial Mindset Of Self-Teaching

Earlier this month, I decided to take part in an online class for fun. Interestingly enough, the premise of the class was not to teach us anything per se, but rather to show us how we could teach ourselves anything of our choosing.

The methodology was simple, and in my opinion, fairly effective:

Step 1 was to decide what we wanted to learn, start to set goals for ourselves, and collect learning resources. I chose to learn how to start a business. I wasn’t building a particular business in the class, but rather looking to gain an understanding of how one would do this. One of my colleagues at Ypulse on the other hand chose to teach herself how to learn a language. We were advised to keep a learning journal and detail our time commitments. Step 2 was to set up a peer accountability group, which meant teaming up with other students to share goals and keep each other on track. Step 3 was to look for mentors – people who knew what we wanted to learn and could point us in the right direction. The final step was to finalize and push ahead with our independent learning plan.

I was surprised by how comfortable it was keeping pace with my personal learning schedule until I made a realization — the course was really just a structured version of what I find myself and a lot of Millennials are doing everyday. We are perfectly capable of, and comfortable with, setting goals for ourselves. It’s how we operate for the most part. We are also very team-oriented, and if you couldn’t tell, we’re the most social and connected generation of all time. Finally, networking is something that comes naturally to us. Facebook and LinkedIn have made it easy for Millennials to connect with others, building relationships and establishing a network of support. Moreover, according to recent Ypulse research, 43% of Millennials have been in a mentor/protégé relationship, which suggests that my generation is seeking out help from people whom they admire as they figure out what they want to do.

In the age of Google, Wikipedia, Wolfram Alpha, and countless forums and sites designed to help people swap knowledge, why would we let ignorance stop us? If we need to figure something out, we simply find out. From YouTube tutorials to search engines, we’ve grown up turning to these sources for help. I wasn’t surprised to recently learn that 80% of under-25 year olds report feeling lost without the Internet. It’s a lifeline for us and to my generation, Google is a verb. What’s more is that 40% of Millennials say they’ve learned to cook from the Web and one-third turn to it to learn how to fix things. My online class helped me realize that Millennials (and people of all ages), constantly celebrate the collective knowledge available to us and we rely on it to achieve our goals.

Given all the inadequacies of our education system, there is a lot of promise in a system that manages to leverage the strengths and values of an entire generation.

         Mel Tchalim

MelMel studied Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University but has since been using his many other skills to maintain Ypulse’s various panels as well as develop and launch new tech initiatives. He enjoys nerdy things and cat things, which thankfully have a pretty big overlap.