Despite advice to the contrary from this article, I am going back to school. I’ve now officially been enrolled in 3 of the 4 universities in Montreal (well, 4 is a stretch, let’s face it UQAM, you’re just an über CEGEP). The brainpickings article above does have some valid points, however I think it’s somewhat simplistic and naive to think that most or even many people would be better off without the traditional framework of academia. Most of the advice they give about forging your own path equally apply to students enrolled in a formal program as it does to independent, self-directed students.
I’m now officially a Concordia student, in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences majoring in philosophy. Most of the material I’ll be covering (especially for the first half) is material I’ve already read or am currently reading on my own. However, after a certain point, it’s good to have other real voices and opinions in real time from people with similar interests. Learning on your own can often feel like being in an echo chamber. In more empirical fields (software development, mathematics, etc.) – where you either have working software or not, get the right answer or not – the worst case scenario is that you’ll take far too long to get the result (or not at all, if you’re really unlucky). However, in fields like music, art and philosophy, you need input from peers. Otherwise, you can be quickly buying into your own nonsense and unpalatable ideas – we’re all experts at rationalizing our own bullshit.
So, there you have it, I’ll be the old geezer in the room (again – I felt this way when I went back to CEGEP the 2nd time around when I was the old guy at 22). I’ll get to seeing what sorts of things I got right on my own, and what things I might have missed. I’m looking forward to it!