In my mind, there’s an enormous difference between teaching and learning. Teaching is when a professor stands up in front of the class and lectures for an hour while students zone out; perhaps a few will absentmindedly take notes. Learning, however — real learning — happens only when students get home at the end of the day and do their homework, review their notes, and make connections between what they learned and what they know.
In teaching, teachers take the initiative. In learning, students do.
Unfortunately, very few students go to school to learn. Instead, they go to school to be taught. What this means is that most students are not mentally engaged at school. They are passively, not actively learning. (Even grammatically, “to be taught” is passive.) This is the key problem with traditional institutions — they perpetuate an epidemic of too much teaching and too little learning.
Being a hackademic means that you’re committed to active learning — that is, to taking control of your education. It means that you accept personal responsibility, realizing that “My teacher sucked, so I failed the class” is not a valid excuse for neglecting to learn a subject. It means that you aim to understand knowledge well enough to apply it, not just well enough so that you can regurgitate it to pass a test.
All in all, being a hackademic is simple: it just means that you learn on your own terms.