Yesterday, we launched the newly designed College Outside website. College Outside is my latest project. These last 5 months we have spent learning about the outdoor publishing industry and strategizing in hopes to tell the stories of thousands of students who are doing amazing things outdoors which will serve as inspiration and guidance to what a student can achieve.
I have learned countless things from this startup experience and the rate of learning is no where near slowing. I have learned about the many intricacies of building a team, business strategy, networking, marketing, industry research, and so much more. It is experiential learning at its finest. For example, when we needed a logo, I learned as much as I could about logo design and theory.
One specific thing I have learned about myself is that I have a natural eye for web design. The launching of this newly designed website is a result of our team intensely planning the user experience (starting with personas and wire frames), collaborating on backend programming, and my own front-end design. When we were ready for the front end design I took a week off work and taught myself Adobe Illustrator. So began College Outside becoming my first web design project. I am excited to continue to learn and already have several iterations in mind.
Finally I have found an article that explains my vision for a career plan – and what do you know, it comes from the words of President Schlesinger of Babson College. Do you get asked what you see for yourself in 5 years? When you don’t name a specific job, company, or industry, do you get this uneasy, blank stare back from your inquirer? If you are like me, then you know what I am talking about.
Allow me to highlight what I find important:
“Instead of formulating the logically perfect ending job and the optimal path to get there, begin with a direction, based on a real desire, and complement that with a strategy to discover and create opportunities consistent with that desire.”
“So, the process looks like this:
- Determine your desire
- Take a step toward it
- Incorporate what you learn from taking that step
- Take another step
- Learn from that one
- Repeat until you have a job, your own business, or have achieved your goal
What 2 all nighters in 3 days has taught me:
Recently I went and saw a screening of the new documentary “Race to Nowhere – The Dark Side of America’s Achievement Culture,” a film directed by mom-turned-director, Vicki Abeles. The documentary was pretty good; it was nowhere close to the best film I have scene, but I think it successfully served it’s purpose. What I found amazing was how stressed the youth of today is with school (one 3rd grader in the film had been medically diagnosed with serious side affects of stress including things like constant migraines). School should be full of good stress. It should be enjoyable. Why do we lose the enjoyment in school?
With some retrospect after completing my precollege education, I would say just be a good kid. Be a good person. Don’t be a performer, a test taker. What is the real purpose of tests? The purpose is to see what you understand. It is an evaluation. Does it makes sense to be studying to do well on the test or to study to do well and have the test evaluate you. Those are two very different ways to look at studying. I would say that the latter is the better way to learn and grow. I came to this realization early in the first semester of my freshman year of college. Work on learning and understanding and you will do well. If you are aiming for a certain grade on an assignment, you will struggle because your goal, consumes your thought process. The end result distracts from what is important, the process of getting there. Don’t worry about making the grade. Work on doing your best and you will make the grade and more. The stress in our current education comes from the emphasis on the final goal of attending a great college or university. We should not be searching for what surveys call the best college, but the college that is the best fit for ourselves.
The film critiques the educational system we have today and how it is based purely on making the grade. This is not a bad thing except what we are being graded on is flawed. This is not to say we need to get rid of grades – not at all. We need a standard for our accreditations to make sure that professionals are qualified for their work. But in our pre-professional school systems, especially in high school, there needs to be a larger emphasis on another “test”. How about a test that simply asks, “how well are you doing what you love?”. I feel like we hear “do what you love” growing up, but it has an undertone that you will probably fail. It’s like saying give it a try, but you probably won’t get there. Instead, how about daring you to do what you love. Don’t compromise on anything. I heard from a friend that was told in a business lecture that you have a responsibility to excel in what you are good at, but you only have to be average at everything else. I think that makes sense. How about evaluations that include whether you are on-track with your learning and if you are pursuing improvement in what you have a talent for.
In the film there is a small section about the Blue School, an education program that was founded by the founders of Blue Man Group. It’s goal is to keep kids loving school through until 12th grade. The school may not look like what schools used to, but our world doesn’t look the same anymore either. I think that is a very cool idea and what is fascinating is how much the school is based on the original principles of Blue Man Group. Both is about recombining influences to create something new in our world, while at the same time having a good time doing it. In a way it’s about maintaining the enjoyment of being a kid. I want to always be a kid and personally I will be fighting for it all the way. I encourage you to read the letter from the founders to see how brilliant of a system they have designed. Happiness should be the only metric.
The ideology of education needs to be changed. Our educational system should be looking at how to get a motivated, creative being who is happy. That should be the real goal.
First of many TED talks that I will undoubtedly post.
I would like the video to speak for itself, but here is some highlights of what I get out of it most:
- “If you are not prepared to be wrong, then you will never come up with anything original.”
- Intelligence is not based on school grades, because genius comes out of creativity and our current educational system is based on pure information and not the application or process