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Full-contact learning

In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned find themselves equipped to live in a world which no longer exists. — Eric Hoffer

Almost all grown-ups living on the planet today were shoved, compressed and packaged through production-line education by well-meaning adults, who knew no better what to do with our bright child-minds than their parents have done since the assembly line was applied to children to produce more efficient human resources.

Every economy produces what it needs most of: in an industrial age, it only makes sense that you’d want pretty good human machines (or reasonable facsimiles thereof) to operate tidily within an efficient, process-oriented world. Sensible idea in a logical world. Tamed unquestioning humans are easier to manage and herd.

Problem is, all that squeezing and shoving starts popping the seams of society. Humans who had their confidence and creativity blunted in claustrophobic classrooms stop thinking for themselves and passively ingest untested opinions (and skew the democratic process).

Just as scary are those who did really well in the school system. Those stuffed and sewn-up in arrogance, with the paper to prove their worth. The elite who succeeded in the system have no reason to crash the system that gives them status, and continue to feed the human zombie-making machine, euphemistically referred to as our education system.

(If you haven’t seen Sir Ken Robinson’s bloody brilliant TED talk — on why most of us grown-ups emerge from school and RUN like hell from anything that looks like a class ever again — then click, watch, laugh and start devising ways to save kiddies being fed into the machine now!)

I am certainly NOT opposed to education, but brain-friendly learning that produces rich, whole-brained humans is not on the programme for humanity in a big way yet. The industrial-age hangover has worked its way out of our economic, social lives and businesses, but oddly enough, education just hasn’t caught up yet. We cannot expect enlightened leadership from those taught skills irrelevant to our current and future world. I’m impassioned with repairing the damage and reducing the terror around learning new things as grown-ups (especially around technology). For the most part, classroom learning sucks! Even faced with redundancy as the world demands that you skill up just to keep up, education still doesn’t excite.

What I’d love to do here is help you realise that there are plenty of thoroughly entertaining ways to engage your brain in “educational” environments and events, that look NOTHING like the old-school classroom version of sit down, keep quiet and open your head for facts to be poured in.

Going on a date and hitting a salsa class at a Cuban bar instead of the typical tired dinner routine (I learnt that dancing shoes instead of strappy slip-off-your-feet sandals can be a good idea, by the way) or learning Zulu in eight weeks by video, learning formidable business strategy while picking olives in Spain … there are so many ways to train your brain in ways that aren’t laborious and dry. Promise.
So keep your eye on this little column for the edventures I’ve discovered, with serious play that may well give you strategic skills for the future.