We are not our education: it is something done to us. Not our fault. And, today, most of us suffered a defective, deficient, or incomplete education. We succeed in spite of it, not because of it.
Elsbeth Kroeber and Walter H. Wolff, in Adventures with Living Things (p. xii-xiii), write:
Most of us, even grownups, do not know how to read. When we are very young our elders struggle with us until we have memorized ‘reading.’ But, too often, all they teach us is how to recognize words in print or script. We have learned to read in one sense, but we have not been taught to get as much as possible from the book. That is quite a different skill.
Many people think the way to get ideas from a book is to read a passage over and over. That really results in memorizing. And memorizing is quite different from understanding. You might learn those words by heart and perhaps be able to recite them word for word 20 years from now, and yet understand nothing of what is in these sentences.
In the fourth place, reading with understanding implies that you are thinking. If your brain is active, all kinds of questions and problems will arise in your mind as you read. If no thoughts of your own come to you, you are probably not doing your reading in the right way.
But we can, and should, self-educate to be the best we can be and to make the most of our lives as humans, rational animals.
We should study and master the content and methods in
1. How To Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren
2. The Art of Reasoning by David Kelley
3. An Introduction to Logic by H. W. B. Joseph
4. Logic: An Introduction by Lionel Ruby
5. Writing and Thinking: A Handbook of Composition and Revision by Norman Foerster and John M. Jr. Steadman
6. Rex Barks: Diagramming Sentences Made Easy by Phyllis Davenport