Tag Archives: freedom

Rails and Trails: The Duality of Learning

IMG_2082The world seems to be in a never-ending search for balance.  While finding this balance is difficult it seems to come most naturally from the pull of opposing forces rather than the migration toward a middle ground.  Magnetism, life cycles and so many other phenomena are based on the polarity of their systems.  At a certain point human beings should be anticipating the balancing forces of nature but instead we seem to fight it at every turn.  Such is the case with learning, especially in the modern world.  I’ve encapsulated this concept using the fast moving but rigid rails of trains.  The other part to the idea consists of trails which are more free-form.  Until recently I was not able to articulate the balance inside of my own head or for outward expression.

RailsIntuitively I know that the education system is at best flawed and at worst broken.  Much like the rails of the train, it can only go to specific destinations and relies heavily on schedules and uniformity.  There may be first class and express ticket options available but the destinations are largely the same.  The conductors of this system scoff at those who travel by any other means because they’ve become so enamored with their efficiency that they accept its limitations.

The trailblazers on the other hand see a total lack of freedom on the rails.  Despite their much slower rate of speed, they find joy in the terrain.  The rocks, trees, streams and other impediments are part of the experience of doing it on your own.  In the learning space, the free-form approach is looked down upon because its progress is haphazard and difficult to measure.  Starting a business, project, movement, etc. and failing can be an extremely valuable experience but lacks the quantifiable data that the traditional system requires.

At no time in history has it ever been more apparent that both approaches are needed in some form of personal balance.  A person who spends their entire life on the rails will be frustrated by the world that now requires them to do more than “follow directions”.  Equally the person who is used to the DIY approach will become frustrated by their interactions with traditional agencies that have protocols and procedures.

So as you, personally, go into the future recognize when the rails will move you forward quicker and when the depth of trails will truly satisfy.  Understand that just because you prefer one or the other does not make it the best way to travel.  Learning is a lifelong pursuit that needs your oversight.  Hybrid your way forward and never doubt that product that you’re working on is you!

Learn today to be better tomorrow.



If School is Prison, Be Andy Dufresne…

ShawshankThe thought of school being like prison is not a new one.  I’m sure that most students have thought it or said it at one point.  It’s an easy enough correlation to make: brick walls, questionable food, time to be served and other ne’er do wells in the same boat.  Although I’ve visited a prison before, most of my frame of reference comes from books and movies.  The most prevalent being The Shawshank Redemption.  While this book/movie is completely fictitious, conceived in the mind of Stephen King, there is value in the exercise of comparing the fiction to the reality.

Most prisoners in the story are simply waiting out the term of their sentence.  Like the character Brooks in the movie, they wait for many years and then are utterly lost when they are released.  This is not unlike many high school students.  Their years in captivity are spent waiting for their time to be up but not fully conceiving what they might do with their freedom.

Bill_Gates_June_2015The one outlier in Shawshank Prison is Andy Dufresne.  A former banker that does not endure his time in the prison but uses it.  Although his sentence is life, he always has an idea of what he’ll do with his life when he gets out.  Slowly and methodically he uses time as his ally to dig his way out of prison and to his desired future.  While this makes for a good movie, it is just fiction, isn’t it?  A quick read of the story of a young Bill Gates shows a great example of art imitating life imitating art.

Prison is a place where a person is confined.  It is possible to be in physical prison and be free mentally.  The much more common situation seems to be people that are physically free but mentally imprisoned.  They are shackled to self-limiting thoughts and habitual attitudes that keep them from living freely.  If you feel like you’re in prison, take a look around and try to find the warden.  There really isn’t one.  Just systems that can be endured or used to improve your station when you’re done with your time.  Don’t let a situation that you don’t like turn your life into one that you don’t like.  The only one who can give permission for your mind to be a prison is you.

Be free today!