Bootstrap Education

I received an email today from an electrical engineering student who is looking for resources that could help expedite a hacker’s education, especially with regard to computer science and operating systems. I know I’ve been on the other side of that email on several occasions. Strangely enough, it’s usually been in search of E.E. resources.

To answer the immediate question, it seems that the greatest network and operating systems education must begin with a copy of Slackware, a three day weekend, and a bunch of Mountain Dew. Who can say where it ends, but I’m pretty sure it begins there.

This got me to thinking about bootstrap education in general, though. Of course, there’s MIT’s Open Courseware project, which has produced a wealth of publicly accessible course material on almost every imaginable topic. I’m definately excited for a world that can foster armchair astrophysicists and bioengineers, but I don’t know that we’re there yet.

What do you think? Are there particular fields of study that tend to be compatible with a bootstrap, self-guided education? What are the ideal study paths for tomorrow’s hackers? Please share your thoughts and resources in the comments!