a real education


I've been thinking a lot about school and education lately. Not only my own (laughable) attempts at learning anything worth knowing, but my sister's too. See, she's graduating from high school soon, and will be heading off to college in the fall ... and I feel like I should have something, some sort of Advice to hand down to her, you know?

Therein lies the problem: I'm not sure what to tell her.

It's not that I didn't learn anything in school - quite the opposite. My problem is that schools, even state schools, have become businesses first and hallowed halls of learning a far, far distant second (maybe fourth), and - in a few short weeks - my baby sister is going to be thrown into that grinder. In order to pursue whatever interests she may have, she'll have to jump through hoops like 1000-level English courses that she'll BS through, and 2000 level liberal arts courses that she'll BS through, etc., etc.

Will that help her become whatever she wants to become?

No. Of course it won't.

I'm not really bright enough or articulate enough to dole out any kind of well-formed insights, however, so the best I can do is quote the great Samuel Clemens, who said "never let school get in the way of your education."

Perhaps ol' Sam is a bit outdated, though, and a more "modern" philosopher might be able to help me relay a more contemporary message. With that in mind, I turn to Mr. Scott Adams.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Adams wrote:
I understand why the top students in America study physics, chemistry, calculus and classic literature. The kids in this brainy group are the future professors, scientists, thinkers and engineers who will propel civilization forward. But why do we make B students sit through these same classes? That's like trying to train your cat to do your taxes—a waste of time and money. Wouldn't it make more sense to teach B students something useful, like entrepreneurship?

Adams goes on to share a series of anecdotes about his own college experience, where he learned how to "get things done", and to "make something out of nothing."

Getting things done, as it were, is far and away the most important skill I ever picked up - but I didn't learn it in school. To be honest, I'm not sure where I got it, but I know who was pushing it: my dad.

For most of my life, I thought the guy was pretty useless. I would ask him how to do something, he would look at me like I was wearing a meat helmet, then shake his hands dismissively and say "you just do it." One day - long after I'd given up asking his advice - he gave me some advice: just do it.

Whatever it was we were talking about, I handled it on my own. It started a trend.

I haven't done very much in life (yet), so it may seem stupid to give any kind of advice or wisdom, but whatever I have done, I simply just did.

Example: more even than all the car stuff, I am most proud of the writing I do for Gas 2.0 and - sad as this is - the writing I do here on Sunshine ... and at no point did anyone tell me how to go out and get published. No one told me how to get paid for writing. No one coached me, trained me, or pushed me there. In fact, it was literally a case of "no one else will publish this, so I will" that led me to start this Blogger account.

That doesn't mean I didn't get any help along the way, of course. Nick Chambers, Chris DeMorro, and many other great people at Important Media have helped me along, and I've learned a ton from Matt Hardigree, E Maureen, and the great Jack Baruth, but I didn't learn a lick of it in school.

I've been talking about writing a book (like, an honest-to-goodness Book book) for a while, and I think I will now, just to prove the point that if you want to do something, you do it by doing it.

That's my advice for you, I guess. Learn by doing ... and listen to dad.

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