For all the gaps and imperfections of his knowledge, which necessarily arise from his manner of study, the autodidact has on the other hand the great advantage that every new idea that he makes his own thus enters into the community of his knowledge and ideas, and mixes itself most intimately with the whole of them; and this gives the opportunity for original connections and many new discoveries.(New Fragments, 169)
Schooling ought to show one many of the connections and convey the information that would go into at least some of what here will be new discoveries. Yet the elective system and the general tendency of American schooling make it possible for one to spend many expensive years in school and remain essentially an autodidact. It is true, though, that many of the reasonably schooled don't much care to make connections. A college teacher once told me that her students appeared to keep separate, non-communicating apartments in their minds for different kinds and sources of information.