Digging Deeper

With so much newly gained unstructured time in my world (having left a government job to pursue my passions: writing & coaching), I am once again able to enjoy the blogrolls created on the three blogs I maintain.  In this way I have rediscovered the reasons why I added particular links.

Recently added was a link to Knowledge Lost, an interesting blog written by Chazz Byron, the pseudonym of an aspiring writer like myself.  In his bio, he mentions that he never had much use for school or structured learning, having never felt that he learned anything there.

This intrigues me greatly, not only as a writer, but as a coach who works with other creatives in finding ways to generate greater meaning in their work and in their lives.

Currently, I’m reading The Element by Sir Ken Robinson, a Ph.D. who specializes in creativity and education.  In his book, he shows the reader how the educational systems worldwide were created specifically to fill a need…and that was to prepare young citizens to enter the industrial age workforce.  Yes, education as we know it now was based completely on capitalism and ways in which we, as countries, could maximize our potential to build an industrial economy.  What better way than to create the very system that would cultivate learning in such a way as to benefit industry most? You can most likely see the flaws in such a system.  There is total disregard for the creative classes – artists, musicians, singers, writers, et al. – and instead strives to remove creativity through “structured learning.”

Like Mr. Byron, I never found much creative use for the educational system.  I struggled, rebelled, and floundered spectacularly throughout my school career – and in spite of my active reluctance to “fit in,” managed to graduate from high school at the top of my class, then from college with a 4.2 GPA.  Do those ‘facts’ mean I’m smarter than others?

Most certainly not.

What it says to me is that I was more creatively adaptive than some in that I “figured out” the system and how best to make it work for me.   This is a skill that is inherent in my character.  After fleeing an abusive home life, I survived on my wits and ability to “work the system.” I credit those characteristics for my presence here today.

Byron goes on to state in his bio that he has a newfound passion for learning.  What I derive from that is that his passions have dictated to him what his learning curve would be, and he excelled at learning under his own tutelage simply because he had become engaged in the learning experience.  He no longer had it forced upon him.

I absolutely adore writers who encourage independent thinking.

Not only does Byron’s insight validate my own thinking, it intrigued me enough to want to dig deeper.  Since leaving school, my own learning curve sharpened exponentially.  Where once I abhored studying history – especially in the uninteresting atmosphere of the schools I attended – I have made a decent living out of research, including the effort put into the backgrounds used in my numerous novels.  Because I wanted to know the information.  No one was forcing it upon me.

As Robinson states in The Element, the only reason one should be taught calculus or algebra, is if they’re going into a field of science that requires such knowledge in order to function.  I knew from the time I was in second grade (and this is viewed solely in retrospect) that I would make my living one day on words and writing.  However, it benefited me to “play the game” of learning in order to get where I someday wanted to be.

I’m always interested in the ways in which others have come to similar conclusions that I have.  The journey may have been different, but the results are astoundingly alike.  Does that mean that one particular way is “right” and others are not?


What it says to me is that there are as many different ways in which to reach the same answers, and that we should figure out for ourselves what works best to get us to where we want to be.

7 thoughts on “Digging Deeper

  1. Wow, I couldn’t agree more. I took up guitar at age 35, just because I wanted to learn it. I have weekly guitar lessons, but even there, I approach it in a very self-directed way. I see my teacher as more of a mentor and I tell him what I want to learn, instead of waiting for him to teach me something. Happily, I found the ideal teacher for me, because he likes this approach. I’m having a ball and learning a ton.

    • That’s outstanding, Margaret! So often it feels as if we’re conditioned to wait until “someone” can teach us…implying that we don’t have it within ourselves to decide to learn on our own. If I had taken that same approach with coaching, I’d probably be waiting until well after my death. 🙂

  2. There certainly is a need for a formal education, I just think most schools (defiantly the ones I’ve been to) do not really customise their classes to suit the students. Growing up in a small country town it seems like the school focused more on sports, manual arts (wood works, metal works, etc), nothing really for developing an artistic person. When I discovered my passion, I released, I was never taught anything about it. I would like to go back in time and tell my younger self to pay attention in English, but when I think about it, I don’t think the school was doing a good job in education in the English language, so that wouldn’t have been much help. I think the best way to learn, is to find your passion in life and focus mainly on subjects that are relevant.

    But then again, most people find their passion later in life.

    • Chazz,

      I wholeheartedly agree with you on the need for structured education, but as mentioned in the post, our current standard for educational systems is based on a grievously outdated ideology. If you haven’t yet read “The Element,” I encourage you to do so. Ken Robinson makes an excellent case for increasing the need for creativity guidance in our current systems.


  3. My school had a big focus on music and singing and creative writing and public speaking. Since i left, they have developed a dance program. I think this probably has more to do with it being an all-girls school. I was more into science, and they would struggle to get enough students to justify having a physics class. They also developed programs for students less academically inclined, so they could incorporate things they wanted to learn outside school into their education. My friend did one day a week with an interior design company and studied it after school and now runs a very very successful business. Now they have programs where you can start an apprenticeship or traineeship while still at school. I think these create great opportunities for students. It keeps more options open to them.
    I work for an education organisation now, and I’m in the middle of helping to organise an series of workshops for students that include singing, concert band, dance, drama, visual arts. multimedia, short films. Even a section for rock bands. We have about 1000 kids involved, so its pretty huge (LOTS OF CONSENT FORMS!)

    I think education systems are changing to help kids develop what they are passionate about at an earlier age.

    • Fruit ~

      that’s outstanding! I know there are more and more culturally focused schools popping up around the world, as well as “alternative learning” schools. It appears there’s a trend toward more creative education, which is excellent. Thank you for commenting!


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