From Povysim gramotnost [Increase Literacy], No. 3, 1934.
1. If self-education is to be successful, it is necessary to develop a number of habits: to read to oneself; to not read too slowly; to know how to use books, newspapers, manuals and library catalogues; to know what to extract and how to write down notes. In other words, to study well by oneself, one must possess a self-educational technical minimum.
2. Successful study requires observation of certain rules. It is best to study when one is not too tired, when one’s head, so to speak, is “fresh.” Therefore, it is best to study in the morning or after one has rested. Not to tire very fast when studying one should not study in a poorly-lighted, semi-dark, stuffy, overheated room. It is difficult to study when there is too much talk around, when one is constantly distracted. It is best to study when one has the necessary manuals, encyclopedic dictionaries, etc., at one’s disposal. That is why it is best to study in a reading-room or at a library.
3. It is necessary to make up one’s mind what one wants to study. Sometimes a person wants to study, but does not know what. Things go well at a collective farm or a factory because there is a plan. So does self-education if there is a plan, if the man does not skip from book to book — if he does not jump from history to literature and from literature to physics. It is no use studying like that. One wants to learn about the Party, another about collective farms, a third about technology, a fourth about children’s upbringing, etc. There are some who want to complete a seven-year school course, others who want to acquire secondary-school or technical school education.
4. It is not enough to make up one’s mind what one wants to study; it is necessary to elaborate a study plan. And that is the most difficult thing of all. The beginner usually knows neither the volume of knowledge he wants to acquire nor the system, that is, the order in which he should study, read books, etc. In this he can be helped a lot by the lists of recommended literature, self-education manuals, curricula, text-books. But is best if he first talks with a specialist, consults him. He can consult teachers, librarians or the consultants who are usually engaged by libraries to help people that study independently. Good advice may also be obtained from agronomists, engineers, physicians, etc. Consultations before one starts studying are of vast importance and often decisively infuence further study.
5. How is one to study?
- One should not hurry or, as people used to say, one should “hurry slowly.” In self-education, hastiness is very harmful.
- One should take care to clarify all incomprehensible phrases. To do that one should resort to encyclopedic dictionaries, ask people who know, consultants.
- One should re-read the material one has studied; that applies particularly to what one learned on the previous occasion.
- One should not study with long intervals, particularly at the beginning, when what one has studied has not yet been engraved in his memory. One should study regularly.
- Extracts help to remember. It is necessary to write down in one’s copy-book the most important parts of what one has read, explanations of incomprehensible words and expressions, the names of towns and people, figures. One should re-read one’s notes frequently. One should write legibly, so as not to waste time in deciphering what one has written.
6. It is very good to use, if it’s possible, course textbooks which encourage corresponding with the publisher, offering advice and help in mastering the subjects studied.