I am from Brazil – at the current moment, education in this country is undoubtedly poor. I've been learning some things over the years on my own, mostly downloading content from the internet and reading.
Whenever I tell people (in my country) that I learn in such way, they usually say that I am an autodidact – and when arguing about this, they seem to imply that this is a unique feature for some special people that are born with this (they don't think that it's an ability that anyone could develop). However, I'm a little skeptical about this, and I'm expanding the reasons below:
As I pointed out in the beginning, the education in our country is a failure. We're not taught how to think and develop solutions to problems with minimal information beforehand. Education is more of a fake spectacle provided by the government to pretend the country is a good place for international investors.
Trying to learn after being a student that spent years in such a scheme is usually painful, and I say this from experience. Managing energy, motivation, discipline, systems for controlling procrastination, the idea that you yourself have to manage such features and other aspects of learning alone is hard.
Our school gives us the impression that learning is linear and continuous, that there aren't pitfalls and that spending some days stuck with a problem means that one cannot learn something alone.
When speaking with people from other countries, it seems utterly trivial to learn something alone. I've even gotten some syllabi from universities such as Cambridge and Oxford, and the way these syllabi are written seems to be made for a student that has been taught in a more sophisticated and independent way. They list the topics that need to be learned, they give the student a manual on how to study, and they give them the list of books – I'm finding it perfect to learn using their syllabi as a guide. On the other hand, the syllabi of Brazilian universities are terrible, they don't mention books, they don't mention a order for which the topics must be studied, they just list everything only with dates, and there's no guide for self-study: The syllabi seems to be made for a completely dependent student.
Given the arguments above, I'd like to know: Is autodidactism really a unique, rare feature that I possess? I ask because I do not feel so; I feel that I could teach it to everyone, and that some of our beliefs about education and self-education are wrong.