What school forgot & the School of Life

School taught me three really important things. It taught me to read, to write and to count. Pretty much that is where it ends. At University the process of being inside it taught me how to learn. While I’m being somewhat flippant, if I actually break it down and look hard at the subjects taken and the lessons learned, there wasn’t much outside of these things. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that everything important I know: Including how to make a living, and how to interact with other humans and my family, I taught myself. I owe all of what I learned to my family, my friends, observation and my self curated library.

Have you ever noticed that economics lessons in school, and University for that matter (I should know I majored in it) teach you about the economy as it pertains to the national and global version? Have you ever noticed that accounting and finance lessons in school, and in University for that matter, are focused on how the numbers work in running large corporations, not the corporation that is you and your personal finances.The system was set up by and for them. Not us. That’s why the majority of the happy people I know have taken personal vocations of learning to fill the void that schooling created. That’s why self help books sell so well.

In fact, most people know who to earn money – but very few actually know how to manage it. Most people know how to manage communication in a company setting – but few of us know who to manage our own personal lives so well. It’s not an accident, our education system was designed as part of the industrial revolution. In itself its primary purpose was to educate kids so that they could work well in the emerging industrial economy as employees. An interesting chart below is from Googles book scanning program – this ngram as they are known measure the frequency of any word appearing in books in percentage terms. I inserted the word ‘job’ and  you’ll see that the word job, basically did not even exist until we were well inside the industrial period of living.

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We’ve been indoctrinated for the first 21 years of our lives. At a time when our mind is so malleable, to be employees, more than humans. We got taught how to operate in the system, but they forgot to teach us about the human operating system. The good news is that this is changing. We now know that the human mind is far more malleable as we grow older than previously thought. We are also lucky enough to have a sub culture of innovators doing something about it.

Step Forward the School of Life.

The School of life is a new space in Melbourne which is a cafe, bookshop, classroom and community enterprise which endeavours to fill the gaps formal education inevitably creates. It’s a startup I can really appreciate. The brain child of global thought leader Alain de Botton. The moment you walk in you can feel what they are trying to do. You can sense the empathy and the humanity. The books they sell and the courses they teach provide lessons for humanity, as opposed to lessons for the economy. Maybe if our governments focused on the former, there’d be less problems with the latter.

I took a few pictures when I stopped in for a morning coffee.

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The photos are telling. You can see everything from a list of courses which matter so much to us as people, to the little nudges and messages which request we challenge our own doctrine. I’m hoping this type of thing is the start of our community redefining what learning is for , but also redefining the type of learning that matters in the post industrial age of abundance.

If you happen to be in Melbourne, or any of these cities globally, then I think it’s worth the effort to pop in and say hello.


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