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Old School, New School, or No School? (87.10%)

Today’s feature image is of the textbook I will be swearing by – and likely swearing at – over the next eight weeks for my final course of the Professional Writing (Marketing and Public Relations) program I started almost 18 months ago.

The end is in sight and I can’t wait to hold that beloved piece of paper in my hands!

On more than a couple occasions, when people learn that I already have a university education, they ask me: so why go back to study?

Well, that’s what I’m going to chat about today. It turns out I’m Old School.

For the past week or so I’ve been listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear audiobook while baking (read: procrastinating), cleaning (read: procrastinating), or working (read: actually, finally working). The book is structured into neat and tidy little packages that uphold the Golden Rule when it comes to a good piece of writing, whether spoken or written:

Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. And then tell them what you told them.

Gilbert is clear, concise, and sharp-witted, making her a joy to listen to and learn from. Keyword: learn.

One of the topics she explores is education; more specifically, she questions the need for creatives (that is, those in the arts) to enrol in post-secondary education, to bleed their bank accounts in an often misguided belief that the more education you have, the more creative you can be. Though she doesn’t say it outright – and perhaps I am projecting my own world views on her in order to give order to chaos – I think the point here is that education, though it can offer novel and interesting creative opportunities, will never guarantee success. As I’ve said before, the Rule of Thumb when it comes to this joyful and painful game we call Life is to Go Where You Want to Grow.

Both Gilbert and I agree that everyone has the capacity to be creative. You can be a creative financial analyst, a creative barber, a creative anesthetist (but you’ll probably want to play it pretty By The Book if you’re an anesthetist).

Gilbert argues is that creativity is not cultivated in a classroom… and she’s right. Just because you maintained a 4.0 GPA does not mean you’re guaranteed the Editor in Chief at your dream publication will ever publish a piece of your work. That’s just not real life, you guys.

The way I see it, when it comes to education in the context of creative pursuits, there are three major Schools of Thought:

Old School

Elementary school. Middle school. High school. Post-secondary school. If you’re an artsy Old Schooler, you follow traditional and venture from one educational institution to the next. This doesn’t mean you do it out of sheer habit or social pressure, nor that you refuse to take breaks to travel or venture into the working world; it simply means you love learning and take comfort in the structure and predictability of a teacher-student environment.

New School

If you’re an artsy New Schooler, you shrug off the need and necessity for a college education. Art school? You couldn’t be fussed; you learn more behind a brush than you do behind a desk. However, to be New School does not presuppose you aren’t interested in personal and professional growth. Rather than learn in traditional classroom settings, you seek out mentorships, artistic gatherings, and other informal ways to connect with others who share your same passion and enthusiasm.

No School

If you’re a No Schooler, chances are you’ve rolled your eyes throughout this entire blog post, wondering why so many people waste their short, precious lives learning instead of doing. Be like Nike and just do it.

There’s no two ways around it: I’m a full-time nerd. When I’m not in a classroom – traditional or virtual – I feel disconnected from myself. I guess this makes me Old School… and you know what? I like that.

Which camp do you subscribe to?


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1 Comment

  • Reply Chris June 2, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    I really enjoy the classroom to take on new or hardly-ventured areas of further education, and I’ll probably continue taking new courses for the rest of my life as I can afford them, financially and temporally. That being said, I also like to experiment with my tools, designs and ideas in the areas of my understanding to learn more about what I’m capable of and what’s possible

    I think being creative requires one to be stretch into new paths that you didn’t notice before, and any way you can force yourself to do so, I think is valuable

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