The Autodidactic Homemaker

by Breezy Brookshire on July 29, 2010 in Creativity, Industry

Reading At The Library

Being a Homemaker is a multi-faceted job. We want to learn new skills that will help us further our effectiveness in this ministry. But have you ever wanted to learn a new skill and not know where to begin? Have you ever wished you could fill in the “gaps” but were unsure as to how to go about it on your own? Well, let me tell you about the Autodidactic Homemaker.

An “autodidact” is a person who knows where to get the information he needs and teaches himself. You already have a wealth of resources in your hands, and in this post I’d like to point you to a few of them, and show you how you and your daughters can take the plunge into broadening your repertoire of skills by becoming autodidacts.

First stop, the Library! Is there a public library in your area? I highly recommend getting a library card if you haven’t already, and don’t be shy of making friends with the librarians, either!

When I want to investigate a new topic or a lost art, I usually start at and browse their titles and reviews. If I find some helpful-looking books, I take the list down to the library. Sometimes I find the books I need, sometimes I can’t. What do I do then?  If your library is part of an Inter-Library Loan system like mine is, then you have a great blessing available to you! I can request my library to borrow books from other libraries. (This is also very helpful if I’m considering buying a book, but want to make sure it’s worth the money.)

Other times I just go to the library’s website with an idea of what I want and can search their own list of titles. If I want to browse the books themselves, the Dewey Decimal System has made it just as easy to find what I need. Here is a simple list of the classifications:

The Dewey Decimal Classification System
000 – Computer science, information & general works
100 – Philosophy and psychology
200 – Religion
300 – Social sciences
400 – Language
500 – Science (including mathematics)
600 – Technology
700 – Arts and recreation
800 – Literature
900 – History, geography, and biography

By just going to the library and becoming familiar with my favorite treasure troves (such as the 700’s section), I have learned many things useful in my giftings as well as homemaking skills.

Next, the Internet. This seems like a no-brainer, but let me tell you—I even forget about it myself. One day I was stumped with a knitting project. “It’s too late to go to the library,” I moaned. “I’ll never figure out this rat’s nest.”  My brilliant mother said, “Look up a YouTube video on it! I’m sure they have lots.” And they did! And I’m sure they have tutorials on whatever you want to learn, too. What have you been itching to learn?  Dig it up!

Lastly, on this very condensed list, are Friends. Now, this really doesn’t fall under the self-teaching category, but part of being an autodidact is knowing where to find the information you need. Perhaps you would like to learn how to use your sewing machine, or how to crochet, or how to alter a pattern. Do you have a friend who knows how to do these things? Well, put on a kettle of tea and invite her over to show you how!

Our local library has gatherings and classes for different arts and crafts. See if there are any classes in your area; or better yet, start your own! Have someone who knows the craft come and teach in your home for special mother-daughter night for you and your friends. A few years ago my mother, sister, and I hosted a small gathering of girls called “The Needlework Society” where, every few weeks, we would learn new hand crafts taught by my mother and some of our friends. We have many fond memories of fellowship as well as learning new skills.

Whatever you want to learn, there are plenty of resources already at your fingertips. All it takes is finding your information, gathering your materials, and the time and dedication to conquer! So what are you waiting for? Jump in!

Breezy Brookshire

Breezy is a 21-year old homeschool graduate and stay-at-home daughter. She has been learning domestic skills from her mother since she was a little girl (she still remembers her first sock-folding lesson) and loves being at home with her family. She also enjoys creating art that glorifies her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Breezy and her sister, Emily Rose, own Noble Rose Press and are the creators of the Daughters of His Story paper doll series, and the Family Treasure Coloring Book. Breezy blogs at A Bowl of Moss and Pebbles.

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Clara July 29, 2010

I’ve always been the type to know where to go to find information or learn things, and I learn things best this way, I just didn’t know there was a “label” for it! Autodidactic. That makes it sound really smart, LOL!!
Really enjoyed reading this post – it gave me some good ideas! Thank you for sharing!

Jennifer July 29, 2010

I’m a autodidactic! I never knew there was a name for it! I love finding things that interest me, and teaching myself how to do them. DD and I just recently learned how to crochet. We are having a ball doing this together. It is such a sweet, peaceful time together!
Thanks for sharing!

Mary Joy @Seeds of Encouragement Sewn with Grace July 29, 2010

I completely agree with you regarding the library!!! It is one of my favorite resources! I love pouring over a book to absorb all it has to share and then trying out what I have learned. God has been blessing me so much lately as I watch my lovely new 15 yr old daughter start to catch the bug of reading to learn new skills…watching her excitement when she makes a new discovery and then seeing how thrilled she is when I let her try her hand at a new skill that she doesn’t get to try when she is at her mom’s house is so humbling. She asks so many questions about homemaking lately and is really starting to get excited about it. She loves the internet…I will have to tell her about finding tutorials on YouTube so that she can keep learning when she isn’t at our house. Thank you for the suggestions!

Rhonda Devine July 29, 2010

Great post, Breezy. I really encourage my children to also be “self-taught” as much as possible. A timely post~I was just explaining the Dewey Decimal system to the girls yesterday and will share this post with them.

Angeline Miersma July 29, 2010

I use youtube for learning new knitting skills too…it’s especially great for visual learners as myself.

Barbara July 29, 2010

Excellent post! It is amazing how many women are dependent on others to teach them things they could easily discover for themselves with just a little research. I am willing and often find myself giving other gals lessons in homemaking arts; but also wish some of them would show more personal initiative in teaching themselves.

Katie M July 29, 2010

I love the library. I could spend days in there and never leave. 🙂 I also use ‘The University of Google’ to learn just about everything. Wikipedia has also been invaluable to me whenever I need some information.

If there’s one thing that drives me crazy, it’s someone who “can’t” learn something until they have someone to teach them. When she was schooling me, my Mother almost never told me the answer to something I could find out on my own. May we always be autodidactic and ambitious, and teach our future daughters to be the same!


P.S. I’m going to file away the word “autodidactic” for use in my next Scrabble game.

Barb July 29, 2010

Great post, Breezy. I like to save/post links to card catalog entries & videos & web sites on my blog. At this stage, there isn’t much time to pursue a lot of these interests, with little ones, but I will know where to find the resources when, hopefully, in a couple more years, I’ll be able to learn things like soap making, and we’ll have a place for chickens & bunnies.

Anna July 29, 2010

I LOVE Inter-library Loan. Great tips!

Jessica July 29, 2010

Thanks for sharing! I love learning and hope to instill that desire in my children as well!

Shawn July 29, 2010

Great post!! I also did not know there was a name for this kind of person. And that per is ME!! I have taught myself alot of hobbies by checking out the books from the library. And I have fine-tuned these hobbies by searching the internet. GREAT FUN!!


Dellaina July 29, 2010

Great post!

I’ve been thinking about tapping the wealth of wisdom in the older ladies in my church, particularly for sewing. Maybe there’s someone who would give my daughter and me a few lessons?

I’d like to suggest for anyone out there struggling with knitting. Little 4-minute videos that teach you everything you need to know. I taught myself to knit using that site.

Julie July 29, 2010

My blog is called “Musings of an Autodidactic Homemaker”! I sure did a double-take when I saw the name of your post! I picked the name because I am always learning new things, even though I’ve been a homemaker for over 15 years now.

I first came across the word “autodidact” when I picked up a book called “The Day I Became an Autodidact” by Kendall Hailey. It was the experiences of Miss Hailey, who decided not to go to college and instead continue to live at home and give herself a first-rate education. I was a recent college graduate at the time, and while I was reading the book, I kept thinking, “I wish I had done this instead!” The book is not a Christian book, and I don’t agree with all the ideas expressed in it, but it is a beautiful portrait of a close family and what self-education can look like.

Miss Jen July 29, 2010

Wonderful post, Breezy! 😉

Love & Blessings~ Miss Jen

Rachel July 29, 2010

This sounds like a post I would have written! I never knew there was a term for it, just that I was a perpetual learner and that I am too impatient to wait for someone to come along and teach me how to do something! I love the library, and incidentally, I also love knitting! Hooray for kindred spirits in the blogosphere!

Elizabeth July 29, 2010

Thanks for sharing, Breezy!
Our family really enjoys checking out books from the library and inter-library loan is so helpful! Our library does not charge for ILL, so it is quite nice!

Blessings, Breezy!

Stacy July 29, 2010

Great tips!

Mama Mirage July 30, 2010

A gret post! It’s wonderful to learn new things and the concept of being able to teach yourself anything you need to know is like a door swung wide open to possibilities! 🙂

A couple of the responses made me kind of sad, in that they seemed to look down on those who don’t seem to be able to teach themselves things. You never know what kind of learning or social hurdles a person has. Also maybe nobody has ever clarified the concept for them that they can teach themselves things. Just because you’ve already discovered that the only thing holding you back from learning something new is how long it takes you to Google it, doesn’t mean that that person has connected those dots yet. And just because you tell someone something, like that they can just look it up on YouTube, doesn’t mean they really get it. You can TELL a visual learner to go look it up and how easy it is, but maybe it will go in one ear and out the other because they really needed you to sit down at a computer with them and SHOW them what buttons to push the first time, and then they would have seen and felt how and would in the future be unstoppable in their learning. So lets keep in mind that different people learn differently and not look down on anyone for not having found their way yet. Believe it or not, being able to learn anything you want to is a totally foreign concept to a great portion of the population. Let’s bless them with compassion and show them how! 🙂

Louellen Lawson July 30, 2010

Aw, Bre, you are a little gal after my own heart.
The Aunt

Kate July 30, 2010

I’m such an autodidact! I am constantly running into things I have no idea how to do and heading over to the library or searching online for an answer. Just this week I’ve learned how to prevent mealy bugs from infecting house plants (neem oil!), how to make hummus from scratch and how to polish silver without chemicals–all from the internet! I am so grateful for the wealth of information available online and at the library!!!

Thanks for writing this post… so encouraging!

Samaria August 12, 2010

hi Breezy,

It was nice to meet you at Hillcrest Baptist Church. I’m 8 years old and I go to the library all the time. This is my first time blogging
Samaria S

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