Kio Stark , on gaining a sense of competence and assessing your personal progress by showing others what you’ve learned and focusing on projects. She’s talking (mostly) about alternatives to college & grad school, but her point applies to learning of all kinds, at any age.
You need to create a feedback loop that confirms your work is worth it and keeps you moving forward. In school this is provided by advancing through the steps of the linear path within an individual class or a set curriculum, as well as from feedback in the form of grades and praise.
Outside of school, people I talked to got their sense of competence from many sources. Many reported to me that they often turn around and teach what they’ve learned to others as soon as they’ve learned it. This gives them a sense of mastery and deepens their understanding.
When their learning is structured around a specific project, successful completion and functioning of the project proves their progress. Projects can include making a computer program, constructing a book, making a film, writing about an unfamiliar topic, starting a business, or learning a skill.
Projects give you a goal for learning skills and abstract information alike, and contribute to gaining a sense of mastery and competence as you complete them.
~Kio Stark, Don’t Go Back to School