Dear Teachers, Professors, Instructors, Coaches, and ANYONE who facilitates learning:
I respect and appreciate everything about you. I commend the path you all have taken and I cannot go without saying thank you to all those who serve to enrich the lives of others by offering your time and dedication to teaching.
Now - consider what Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, has to say concerning education:
"Education is what people do to you. Learning is what you do to yourself."
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Now THAT shit resonates to my core.
As an engineering student, I followed a curriculum (devised by a board of really smart people) in college which provided the clearest pathway to my destination: a bachelor's degree. The only control I had over that MapQuest was passing each class. This is what Joi Ito is talking about when education is what people do to you - I was given the courses, the equipment, the resources I needed to become what is perceived to be a successful engineer.
On the other side, learning is how you inwardly digest and synthesize all that stuff. Let's fast forward about 14 years later. One thing this bachelors degree yielded was my first real job. However, something even greater was realized: I WASTED A LOT OF TIME IN COLLEGE LEARNING THINGS I DID NOT NEED. I was not truly honest with myself and what I wanted when I pursued engineering. It was the easy path to success, but I never applied myself in full force. I ended up getting on academic probation, lost my scholarships, and even changed my degree from computer engineering to electrical engineering after my sophomore year - just because my friends were doing it. I had a high level of curiosity, but not enough integrity.
Since 2003, Never have I pulled out my TI-89 to solved differential equations with first or second derivatives, calculate Thevanin equivalents, nor program a Motorola MC68000 microprocessor.
On the contrary, I learned to think critically, control stress (in manners that were both healthy and unhealthy), manage time (sorta), and build strong relationships with my colleagues. All this factored in to where I am today in my career as an engineer. Sometimes, I wonder about how different today would be had I dropped out of engineering to pursue my own curriculum, on my own terms, over the things that I truly cared about - what if my integrity was as high as my curiosity back then?
Now, let's talk about the walking inspiration known as "Wes Roderick."
Today, he serves as the Chef de Cuisine for one of the dopest eateries in town, On Swann. At 27, he is well-traveled, very articulate. He is also a culinary dropout. Let that marinate for a second. Time for the meat and potatoes. <INSERT NEXT SIP OF WHISKEY HERE>
I had the opportunity to sit down with this guy, and man - he's an intriguing fellow. The biggest takeaway from our conversation was that he decided to drop out culinary school after only ONE MONTH to pursue his own curriculum. He desired to learn things in a certain way, the way he wanted to, along with those things that inspired him. Things that would eventually define him.
Ladies and gentlemen, you don't need to rely on an institution for education. You have all the education at your fingertips. How you learn though is up to you. Maintain a good attitude and stay curious on the things you find passionate the most because only then can you elevate yourself.
My experience through college got me the degree, but it failed to define a side of me which over time, eventually calloused and fossilized. (TOUCHED ON THAT EARLIER BUT THAT STORY WILL BE FOR ANOTHER POST)
Have you ever quit? Not against your own will, BUT because of your own will? That's what a dropout does. Consider the prospect of quitting without a purpose vs quitting with a purpose. Notice how the context changes drastically. It might salvage your life one day.
Big ups to Vicente and his staff at On Swann for allowing me to bring da ruckus.