I hate school (but I love learning)

21 Jan

by Flickr user Mark Brannan

Okay, to be fair, I don’t actually hate school, but I am pretty glad that I’m done with it.

I don’t love learning in a traditional classroom environment because it feels like an arbitrary rule about the way we’re supposed to learn. This makes me feel un-free, and freedom is the feeling I want the most, as I mentioned in a recent post about travel.

As someone who has had a 9-5 job for my entire adult life, any time I’m doing something outside of that routine, whether it’s as mundane as running errands on a Tuesday afternoon, or taking three days off to go to Las Vegas, or even just being outside in the middle of the night, I feel awake. Not just in the literal sense, but in the “Oh, right, I’m a person who moves through this world, and I’m free to do whatever I want” kind of way. For me, it’s so easy to forget that I actually can exercise some control over all of the small moments that make up my day. Once I remember that, I can extrapolate and take some responsibility for the larger direction of my life as well.

What does all this have to do with school and learning? Well, I’ve found that intentionally setting out to learn something outside of a formal school context is incredibly liberating. And it’s a surefire way to create that “awake” feeling. That sense of agency and presence in my own life. It lets me know that I’m here.

Here are some of my favorite resources for getting your learn on:

In Real Life:

  • Ignite is an event that occurs in different cities all over the world where speakers present on a wide range of topics following a defined fast-paced and engaging format. I’ve been to a few Ignite events and they’re always a blast.
  • I’ve mentioned Skillshare before on this blog. It’s a “community marketplace to learn anything from anyone.”  I love Skillshare because it promotes the democratization of education.
  • The Brooklyn Brainery is similar to Skillshare, and offers awesome classes (like the DNA class I took) but it’s specific to New York. Perhaps there’s something similar where you live!

On the Interwebs:

  • Khan Academy is on a mission to make education accessible to everyone. With nearly 3,000 free videos covering academic subjects ranging from physics to art history to economics, it’s like having a university level education at your fingertips (kind of).
  • MIT’s Open Courseware platform allows you to access world class educational resources from one of the best schools on the planet. (Lots of schools offer an open courseware platform, but MIT’s is my favorite.)
  • Codecademy is an easy, fun way to learn how to program websites. It’s highly interactive so you start learning immediately, and it’s social so you can learn right along with your friends (if you find that motivating). Right now you can learn Javascript, and lessons for Ruby and Python are in the works (those are all programming languages).
  • Bonus! Check out this mammoth list of 12 Dozen Places to Educate Yourself Online for Free from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

What are you favorite ways to learn new tricks?

(Post-script on checking my own privilege: There is so much implied privilege in this blog posting, I don’t even know how I could address it all. I just want to acknowledge that I know how fortunate I am to have received a good education, how lucky I am to have a steady job, and how luxurious it is to think about “freedom” in this way. Noted!)


2 Responses to “I hate school (but I love learning)”

  1. Sven Kräuter January 22, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    Disliking school but loving to learn – great thought. And thanks for the nice collection of online learning possibilities.

    I would apply this thought to every environment that institutionalizes a natural thing, like learning, to some artificial condition, like school. And go one step further.

    You wrote: “Well, I’ve found that intentionally setting out to learn something outside of a formal school context is incredibly liberating.”

    I’m an active open source soft- & hardware contributor, and more often than never have I tried to figure out why am I doing so despite the fact that I spent 40-60h a week in my job the last couple of years with just the same activities. One answer could be:

    “Well, I’ve found that intentionally setting out to work on something outside of a formal job context is incredibly liberating, too.”




    • Hannah Kane January 23, 2012 at 1:54 am #

      +1. Totally agree. Thanks, Sven. I think you’ve done a better job expressing what I was trying to say! Doing anything with some kind of “intention” and with your own intrinsic motivations just might be one of the secrets to feeling fulfilled.

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