Posted on Sat 25 May 2013

Notes about book: Don't go back to school

Take aways from "Don't go back to school" by Kio Stark

Book presents us dozen of stories from different people in different industries. Each of them bypassed school in some sense but managed to achieve mastery in his or her profession including developed professional networks and recognition.

Notably, most of them are artists and only some of them are software engineers and entrepreneurs. It makes sense: since you will be smashed away in most areas where formal education is mandatory it is very difficult to find successful people without anything but passion to the work.

Note, most of the main heroes in the book hold bachelor degree and speak about MBAs and MFAs. I noticed only one or two guys dropped out from the high school but those are exceptions rather than general rule.

Seems like there are three main pros of a good college:

  • You actually learn stuff
  • You learn how to learn outside the school
  • You develop a network of connections

Book shows that all of them are accessible without spending years in school but rather spending same amount or more working hard in the heart of hell-fire.

On learning stuff

Some people can learn everything simulating classroom environment watching online courses and doing homeworks. Others just can't learn this way and find their own path to knowledge. It may or may not be chaotic way, picking elements of puzzle from different places asynchronously (lazily) as you need them. You may end up with very distributed and incomplete knowledge but it is usually good enough to get work done. In case of achieving fulsome acumen of deep knowledge it might be a good start that keeps you motivated but can't be enough. You will need to fill in the gaps eventually learning the subject "the hard way".

On learning how to learn

It comes with experience of successes and more importantly failures. One could realise that he or she doesn't benefit much from classic textbooks after spending descent amount of time learning this way. Find the way that fits you but remember it may vary from subject to subject.

On network of connections

Visit meetups and dev-shops directly related to your profession. Try to meet new people you share interests with. Some people mentioned in the book organized clubs and meetups themselves. It is surely harder than having dedicated meetups in school (classes?) but it is a way.

Do not restrict yourself to professional circles. As everybody knows: you will never know.

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