The Learning Curve: Erase & Rewind

introducing the open loop/non linear post secondary model

Sometimes kids need a break from school – working a shit job – learning to appreciate a sound work ethic before they can truly appreciate higher learning.


Education is a “reward” system representing a short supply of ideas and creativity (nutrition), where options and opportunities are limited to what’s on a menu;  you know the one – like, say at Denny’s – laminated plastic with the yummy pictures and daily specials – the delicious appetizers that come early, the massive main course and always the sugar/sweet dessert finish – our reward.   Ok, that meal where you always feel totally satisfied/full after – the restaurant you tell all your friends about and they go too (with their kids).  Ordering too much so you can take some home to munch on later – oh  yeah.  Ah, the American dream – heavy on the bling and yet, missing something – too little, too late.  Ok, yes expensive but worth it (or so we’re told in their appealing photo-ads).  It’s all laid out already – easy to choose.  Simple – easy.

Always breakfast at 8am … bacon/ham/sausage, eggs, pancakes, toast and jam – home-fried potatoes, juice and coffee.  Lunch at noon (lighter fare) – always a BIGGY smoked meat sandwich (special sauce) with your choice of soup or salad that we play with more than eat, and then dinner promptly at 6 – meat and potatoes with a boiled to death frozen processed vegetable (because it’s good for you) – deep dish apple pie right after (even though you don’t have room for it).   We’re forced to eat when we’re not hungry, go on a diet when we get fat, then quietly binging on ‘comfort food’ late at night when we’re not supposed to and when no one is looking.

Erase & Rewind

Education is a lot like food – consumed linearly and predictably – too much of all the wrong crap when we don’t really need it and not enough of the good stuff when we do.  Always presented in a timely manner and almost always presented favourably –  laid out like your dress clothes on the bed just before Sunday school – the ones you can barely fit into anymore (even at 10), the ones we’re told to wear because it’s ‘appropriate’.    I’m thinking that maybe – just maybe – there’s more to this …

welcome back to – The Learning Curve




Less is more

Finding out later in life that it’s actually healthier to eat smaller meals (more frequently) during the day because it maximizes our ability to assimilate/function more efficiently, in accordance with our natural metabolism, feeding the mind, body and spirit incrementally over time and maintaining a lifestyle where excesses are minimized.

Ambition isn’t something you learn – it’s something you’re born with, and schools have this way of stripping ambition – clean away – gone forever.

I was always fascinated by the Montessori approach to education.  Maria Montessori was a visionary back in her day – soaring way above the traditional approach to learning, back in a time when everyone was thinking in the box – the Montessori maternity was characterized by an essential emphasis on independence, freedom of limits and respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical and social development and those ‘nurtured’ in that system seem to do much better for some reason.   My one dream in this life?  To sit with Maria for 30 minutes and show her what’s here now just to listen to her one sentence afterwards.  Her prescription was/is a more balanced approach to learning in a forum supportive of natural development where intake (new information) is welcomed by each individual and absent of confusion and delusion.  Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, videogame pioneer Will Wright, and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Julia Child – ok, the list goes on and on – all Montessori kids – allowed to follow their passion – without limitations – without menus – without judgement – open loop earlier on and still in motion.

Challenging the status quo in due process brings about resistance and chaos, in that we’re conditioned to follow certain steps within a specific (and short) timeline.  Daycare/preschool, grade-school then high-school – sleep-time/work-time/play-time carefully constructed/manipulated maximizing our brief tenure on the planet.


By the end of high school, young people are just supposed to know what their mission/purpose in life is, before they are gathered in herds and shipped off to university or college where they spend 4 years (way too soon) in a generic undergrad program that they have no real connection with, then – OUT they go into the work-force, only it’s the most difficult transition they face, because their useless undergrad has little relevance and because they’re not grounded in a system of their own discovery.  No, it’s a system of their making – Mom/Dad, family/teachers, employers, corporate america and on and on and so many kids fall off the wagon and drift into oblivion – lost, eventually gravitating into a vocation that has little or nothing to do with their talent – all absent of fun and stripped of any inspiration and only because it was invented that way and continues to this day.  When the options are limited to the common fare on a menu – there’s always sugar – in a default mechanism that always works – short term gain – long term pain.  Sometimes kids get hooked into one of those “living the dream” programs/schools that prey on unsuspecting, wide-eyed vulnerable victims.

Those who actually believe that becoming larger than life, is something that can be bought – on a payment plan.


The backfire is felt in the frosty fringes, thirsty for another drink, toke – bump – where/when our alienated playstation prodigies are introduced to yet another poison – Let’s just say – one word – sexy!   “OMFG did you see that hottee at reception? – I’d tap that”.  That ultra-cool high-school trip to a local rock school, all so accessible and convenient – YES!  I WANT!   The term “field trip” has a whole new meaning.  Here we GO!  New Mini Cooper for Christmas today?  Rock School tomorrow?  bring it ON!

text from Stoner:   “Congrats dude – you are like – officially?  a target demographic haha.  Ok, whatevs bro.  Yep, it’s all goin’ on – new car – smoke-show girlfriend (amazing ass) – rockin’ haircut/gear, new 63 Strat – Protools w/unlimited plugs on your iMac;  fame fortune and glory?  You’re frikkin’ IN guy – you’re SET!”

“ya – so hey – Mom/Dad – make it happen”!  The term ‘deer in the headlights’ comes to mind.


Cause I’ve been changing my mind

There needs to be a “reason” to learn – a genuine curiosity.  What I have learned is that there is a very real alternative.  One that circumvents a fragmented formula and allows young minds to flourish much earlier on – but only if one is open to it.  If you are a parent reading this;  I’m hoping you’re listening, because what we’ve been conditioned to accept as the proper way to assist our kids and how it can be done better can be very different and can work more efficiently/productively.   Kids are bored easily – it’s up to us to inspire them (early on) so that they can direct their purpose more meaningfully and more realistically.  Let them go earlier.  Trust them.  Don’t harass them – let your children discover then rediscover themselves.  Let them fail; make huge mistakes and feel horrible about it.  Don’t interfere and most importantly don’t over-compensate or over-insulate (over feed).  Offering benevolent guidance is one thing – controlling or over-protecting them is quite another.  Encourage and support their decisions – even if they are bad ones …  disagree if you must; but leave the badgering/harassment, shame/blame and guilt at the door.

Loving them means letting them go … even if they need to drop out of high-school because they hate it (if they really need to do that because it’s obvious they’re wasting their time there anyway).   Many of our most successful heros (men and women) are just that; Virgin’s Richard Branson, Dreamwork’s David Geffen, Director Quentin Tarantino, actors Seth Rogen, Johnny Depp, Jim Carrey, even musicians – Bryan Adams, Avril Lavigne, Eminem, Kurt Cobain and Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong – all high-school drop-outs.  Forcing your ‘will’ on them will only backfire.  Short term gain – long term pain – and they’ll only resent you after the fact (for the rest of their lives – even long after you’re gone).  Sometimes kids need a break from school – working a shit job – learning to appreciate a sound work ethic before they can appreciate higher learning.  What’s most amazing (in my observation), is that most who are granted the freedom to drop out early – return to school later and with a fresh new perspective and those who aren’t given that freedom/dropping out anyway?  drift into the abyss.  Quite simply put – detachment works better – for them – for you – for everyone.

Your kids are living their lives – not yours.  If you have a “plan” for them?  Toss it, because it’s not your decision to make.




This practice works well in relationships too – detachment is like a miracle potion that works extremely well, because it’s organic and gives your partner (and/or child)  permission to choose – independently and without shame and guilt (free of your opinion – your grip).  It’s a simple concept really, big bang for the buck.  The Swiss, Japanese/Chinese and many other countries get it when we here in North America still remain blinded by great expectations in an applied science (hovering haphazardly in a 3.0 GPA) so that they can learn to fudge their own KPI numbers, boasting false success – leading to anxiety/depression, substance abuse, marital breakdowns and serious resentment after the fact.  Have you ever stopped to think WHY there is an epidemic of ADD (attention deficit) festering in our youth these days?   Think about it.  There’s ‘proaction’ and there’s reactionAll too often it’s the latter because kids don’t like the options they’re presented with and they’re tired of being pressured.

Kids need to be introduced to the workforce earlier and incrementally and they need to be supported to find their own path at their own pace – plain and simple – no easy answers.  Being given little (useless shit in the material world) and making them “earn” what they ultimately want in life; children develop a more sound work ethic that helps them appreciate what it’s like to integrate more successfully/passionately – more meaningfully – desire is something that can be grounded in curiosity and nourished.   The Swiss (in particular) educate/apprentice then educate some more, then work some more – then mature naturally – embracing new changes/challenges in a way that brings about a more constructive outcome over the long run.  Stanford University in the U.S. is doing it (starting this year) with their new ‘open loop’ design – post-secondary breakthroughs exist in active incubator systems that fertilize optimally –  even here in Toronto Canada at Ryerson University (in their Digital Media Zone).   I’m optimistic.


Closing Thoughts:

We’re being squeezed into tighter and tighter spaces costing more (too much), requiring more flexibility and willingness to sacrifice/re-locate and our kids feel disconnected; perhaps time to wake up!  There needs to be a good reason for them to learn new things – incentive.  That’s the biggest problem with north american post-secondary right now.  Kids are forced to learn stuff that’s not relevant in their world, (math/algebra, physics, chemistry, physical education etc.) and it’s hard because most teenagers don’t care about any of that – they’re more interested in learning about that which peaks their interest right now – not later.  School doesn’t do that.  High-schools, Universities and Colleges are failing to inspire their incoming/outgoing – so too many lose interest in higher learning and drift into oblivion because of it.

The one thing that is certain, is that you can’t just turn change on like a light switch when they finish high-school because if the damage has been done, it will be very difficult to repair.  This is something that needs to begin in a child’s early life.

When I was young, I was taught early on that there was no dessert until after we finished supper – eating ALL of it first – even though we hated boiled frozen peas (ok frosted with bad margerine yuk) – we had to eat them anyway OR ELSE – no pudding!   No, I’m not saying that we just give them the pudding prematurely.  I’m just suggesting that we leave the processed peas off the plate to begin with and let them discover their greens in their own time – perhaps with a more inventive way of preparing vegetables in the first place – learning to love their greens yes, because it’s healthy and because they can in fact, taste good too.

Broccoli, Asparagus, Kale, Brussel Sprouts – Green beans?  Whatever –  YUM – bring it on … erase and rewind – cause I’ve been changing my mind …


 (read all of Jim’s posts in the Blogroll and in his Journal)