Staying Educated Without School

Today my subject is education, not the school system but the idea itself. I find that in life it is possible to stay educated and learn new things all the time if you are driven and keep busy and are always open to learning something. My conversation here revolves around the idea of staying open and eager, because without those things a better education isn’t possible.

To start I want to take a personal story as this is quite the personal subject. I have recently decided to make the bold jump to drop out of school, and in contrary to popular belief I dropped out of school for the sake of my education and for the sake of my mind’s well being. I have amazing grades, when I made the decision I was sitting on a 96 overall average, so it wasn’t because I was failing or doing poorly in a school environment. I dropped out because the school environment was counter-productive to my education and I wasn’t doing anything of personal benefit while I was there. To elaborate, when I was in class I did not do any of the in class assignments, I saved everything for homework. However when it came to homework I would save it not to the night before but literally the period before. I finished many of my essays and matter of fact started many of my essays on the same day that they were due. For the longest time I thought this must be showing and I must look like someone who doesn’t put in any effort. However it was the opposite, when I started to receive comments back from my teachers, the comments and even face to face discussions were that my assignments seemed well thought out, detailed and really well written, minus a couple of silly errors. I never read the book, I never looked up the spark notes or anything of such. I took the essay on subject but into a tangent that was so far from relevant to the novel that it didn’t even matter if I had read the book. There was the occasions that I read a novel if it was more relevant to the topic but for the most part I did not. Even with those things somehow I managed to succeed with some of the top students in the class. Now I mean congrats to me for achieving high marks but it didn’t feel right. I felt like I hadn’t learned anything other than the ability to come up with amazing raw work, I can’t say I walked away from that class with any further knowledge on literary terms or any other subject. I walked away knowing that whether I was in that class or not I would be doing the same amount of work.

I have now been out of class for more than a month and in that time I have accomplished more than I did within the semester. I write daily, I design daily, I produce new and interesting ideas everyday. I am working in my own environments and putting myself out there to work in something I love. Everyone I have spoken with says that my ideas are great and want to see more of them come to life. So I decided in all the spare time I have outside of class I will create projects and work that will allow me to constantly be learning and expanding my horizons to allow my mind to broaden. I work outside of my house and I both write and sketch. I take time now to refine my ideas and create much more professional looking projects.

However further on the idea of education, I want to discuss how you can create a professional and beneficial learning environment outside of the classroom. Whether you are thinking of dropping out, you are between school years or trying to decide what to do. The essential is that you cannot let learning go, you cannot let your environment become bland and unproductive. For example you cannot just have a job and then in between lie around and play video games or any other mediocre activity. You need to keep a tight schedule and keep a constant learning environment. Whether it is to learn new skills, ideas, online courses, youtube tutorials or extensive research. There are many times when I sit for hours on end on Youtube and from an outside perspective this could seem lazy but in reality I am learning new concepts on design, positivity, healthy living, and other self benefitting ideas. I spend lots of time online keeping up to date with endless web sites and I am keeping tabs on new design, technology and trends in both fields. This way I am always aware of the new and the trending ideas. Many of my friends look at me confused when I tell them I have a tight schedule and it is hard to fit things in, they wonder, but Alex you aren’t in school and you aren’t at work right now, what keeps you so busy? Truth being I wake up at 9:30 or so everyday and I start a basic morning routine of getting ready for the day, I still dress up in semi professional attire even though I am not going anywhere special. I work and I try to stay productive until at least 3 o’clock. This way I am still filling my day in the way that you would at school, see I am not letting the learning environment die.

Another key element is the open mind, as I mentioned it is impossible to continue learning outside of the classroom unless you keep an open mind. Even though in theory I work a fairly boring job most days I need to keep an open mind and look at it with a perspective of opportunity to learn. The concept is that the reason you are still in the job that you are is that you still have things to learn, and you should never stay in a job when there is nothing left to learn because that is how it becomes dead end. For example I have worked in the maintenance field for over a year now and I am still here, although on a daily basis I am doing a routine list of tasks there are so many other aspects that I have yet to learn. My job covers everything from taking out the garbage to repairing large electrical fixtures or structural changes. It isn’t every day that I am doing something major like that but until I know how to do all of those things I am not done in my field. I keep an open mind and a hopeful mind on a daily basis in hopes that something new will come my way. The days that I do something new even if it is of small significance I feel so accomplished and I feel so great about my job, I go home feeling accomplished and so much better.

Furthering the idea of a schedule, I would like to take the chance to help everyone develop a schedule that allows them to work, be productive and benefit from their day. The days that you feel down or bored is because you haven’t learned or tried something in your day to make it feeling like a good day. So let’s create you a schedule that can work for you and keep your days productive. If you have made it this far in this writing, thank you because here is where the writing gets directed at you and we start to work on your own planning.

The first step is to figure out what it is to learn, this needs to be a broad subject. For me it is design, which covers technology, products, graphic and even lifestyle. I am not learning the entire subject but that is the field I am interested in and would like to pursue, so I try out different aspects to see which one appeals to me. So choose a subject you want and discover the fields within it.

Next you need to decide which times of the day are possible to dedicate solely to learning. Now I work from 10am to 3pm without stop or break, I work at home or in coffee shops so I eat and do stuff as this happens. You need to choose between 4-6 hours that you can dedicate to learning your subject of choice. I would recommend doing this 3-5 days of your week so that it becomes a habit and a schedule not just an event. So choose some times that you can dedicate solely to learning your subject.

Third we need to discover the appropriate resources and methods that you will be learning. Is it taking a class, is it purely online research, a library, videos, or direct conversations with people. Each field requires different methods of learning, because there is only so much you can learn from pure research. I opt for research on a daily basis, some instructional and demonstrative videos and then I take time to do my own work and my own writing. This way I learn concepts, research concepts and watch them in demonstration before I try for my own. Eventually I anticipate that I will want to talk face to face with designers of different sorts and eventually begin presenting my own ideas into the world. So discover the things you need to learn your subjects and figure out how to do those within your schedule.

As you can see I emphasize my own work at the end of that step. It is essential that you are trying what you want to do first hand. In my spare time I blog and I design, this comes into my learning and every time I discover new methods I try to apply them into my work. You aren’t learning without application, so every time you sit down to learn you need to sit down and work. Every time you have scheduled this time, you should reserve some of it to try your own stuff. It may be terrible at first and you may think it is worthless but it is practice. Was your very first essay in grade school perfect? Most likely not, nothing gets better without practice. So whether it is design, art, fashion, making something, science, math really anything you need to be creating and trying some ideas of your own in order to really apply what you are learning.

This next part is expansion, as I mentioned of keeping your mind open and your horizons broad I would recommend that you expand all the time. When you sit down and are learning you are expanding your mind, when you begin to put your learning and ideas to paper you are expanding your idea into the physical world. The next step is to expand it to the rest of the world. As I mentioned you will want to eventually meet with people who are in the field in order to get some real world advice. Well eventually you will want to start proposing your ideas to others and putting them out there for people to see. The same way you hand in work for grading in a classroom you need to put your ideas out for people to evaluate and criticize. You cannot improve without criticism and you can only learn so much from theory. So after a while of producing work and application begin to put it out there, whether it is to professionals or even online. Someone will take interest and give you the valued feedback you are looking for.

As you can see it isn’t hard to create this daily or regular learning schedule because it is simply a matter of willingness. You need to be open to still learn and you need to keep that idea the whole time so that your learning becomes application which becomes finally doing what you are interested in. We live in a wonderful world where the resources you need are online or close to you, there is no reason that you cannot access them and the only thing that is holding you back is you, there is absolutely no reason for lack of learning other than your own negligence. And if you really want to be good at something you need to learn, apply and let it become a habit in your life. See below for a paper to fill out for this step by step process.

If you are interested in seeing other subject covered please continue to read as I will be posting these ideas three times a week. I am open to comments and suggestions on other things that you would like me to cover and as always I am open to feedback.
Thank you for reading and have a great day!

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