Author and publisher Charles D. Hayes is a self-taught philosopher and an impassioned advocate for lifelong learning. At age 17, he dropped out of high school to join the U.S. Marines. After four years of duty, he became a police officer in Dallas, Texas, and later he moved to Alaska, where he has worked for more than 35 years in the oil industry. In 1987, Hayes founded Autodidactic Press, “committed to lifelong learning as the lifeblood of democracy and the key to living life to its fullest.”
Hayes’ first book, Self-University, won PMA’s Benjamin Franklin Award for nonfiction in 1990 and was called the best book on self-education of the decade by educator Ronald Gross. Early in the year 2000, his book Beyond the American Dream: Lifelong Learning and the Search for Meaning in a Postmodern World was selected by the American Library Association’s Choice magazine as one of the most outstanding academic books of the previous year. His other books include Existential Aspirations: Reflections of a Self-Taught Philosopher; September University: Summoning Passion for an Unfinished Life; The Rapture of Maturity: A Legacy of Lifelong Learning; Training Yourself; and Proving You’re Qualified. His recent novel, Portals in a Northern Sky, has readers across the country declaring they are going to read or reread classic literature.
Promoting the idea that education should be thought of not as something you get but as something you take, Hayes’ work has appeared in USA Today, Library Journal, Training magazine, Training and Development magazine, in the UTNE Reader, on Alaska Public Radio’s Talk of Alaska, and on National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation.
Hayes’ books have been featured by hundreds of radio stations and newspapers and reviewed in The Bloomsbury Review, Midwest Book Review, Skeptical Inquirer, Across the Board, Adult Learning, The Brain/Mind Bulletin, Growing Without Schooling, Life Learning, Home Education, Latina, NAPRA Review, Publishers Weekly, Training Zone, Tech Directions, and The Wall Street Business Weekly, among others. He was a contributing writer for Creating Learning Communities, published by the Foundation for Educational Renewal.
In 1989, Hayes inaugurated Self-University Week, held annually during the first seven days of September to celebrate the joy of lifelong learning. Since then, his web site Autodidactic.com has continued to provide resources for self-directed learners—from advice about credentials to philosophy about the value lifelong learning brings to everyday living. In September 2004, Hayes initiated September University.com, a web site created specifically for aging baby boomers.