I had James Bachs Secrets of a Buccaneer Scholar
on my pile of books to read for a while. Actually one of my several piles of books.
I must learn to speed read - I can't seem to get through all the books I want to read fast enough. Keep hitting that one-click-ordering on Amazon..!
A few years ago James and I were in contact. Probably 3 years now? Through our conversations he had shown me a pdf which was a much shorter story of his book. It really touched something in me, mostly because I felt a lot of his experiences were similar to mine.
I enjoyed school until the age of thirteen (terrible teens?) ...ha! Perhaps a bit, but also part of that was a big move from Indonesia (where we had been for 4 years) to Colombia (my mother's country). I ended up staying there until I was 18 (first chance I got, I was out!). I was a good student before hand, but as a teen, not knowing the language, not feeling like I fitted culturally in and getting put in a so called bi-lingual school which wasn't really a bi-lingual school (they just taught alot of english!).
I completely disconnected at that stage. The only thing that I could identify myself with was maths and sports/PE. I got weird looks because I was really the only girl who was into sports, the rest seemed more bothered about their make up.
I stopped going within a few months. Got forced to go back the year after, didn't do much for the whole year. Didn't do work or tests. Perhaps I should have put more effort into getting a better grip of spanish and understanding what they were all going on about. But I just didn't have it in me.
At the end of the second year a teacher wanted to fail me. I wasn't really bothered, but they said I could take a test and if I passed I would pass the year. I took the test after studying for a few days and with a lot of luck passed. There was one teacher (who gave me the test) who was fuming at the result. I felt happy mostly because I knew I shouldn't really have passed and that the teacher was angry. I didn't really learn anything (that the school wanted me to) that year. I just managed to pass a test.
Then we moved cities. Opted for a school where students could complete each school year in 6 months. That motivated me. I thought that if I completed school quicker then it would give me an earlier ticket to do something else (like get back to the UK as quickly as possible).
I also found out at this school that if I got top marks in my class they would give me a scholarship (reduced fees) for the next year. I challenged myself for a few months and got the scholarship. Started the next year with the same, but then go the opportunity to go back to Indonesia for a visit via London. I jumped at the opportunity and had a secret plan in my head to not return to Colombia. I didn't know how.
It was 1997 and I now had access to email and internet. I tried emailing a whole bunch of boarding schools to apply for a scholarship. I ended up getting a 50% scholarship for a boarding school. I was 18 at the time starting my A-levels a couple of years later than most other students. Turned out the college was cr*p and I left a year later.
I settled myself down in Brighton, on my own (after couchsurfing for 3 months or so). Got myself a boring admin job that paid the bills.
I did complete a couple of computing Open University courses. There were a couple I started and never finished. I found I lost interest quite quickly.
I kinda felt lost at what I wanted to do. Felt all the stops and starts with 'education' were perhaps that it was something to do with me.
It was around 6 years ago where I found myself finding myself. Before that I would think hard about what I wanted to do. I'd browse books and just not really find anything I was interested in. Now through the experiences I have been through with testing, running my own business, communities, collaboration, coworking I just find that there is so much I want to do and learn.
However, I do not want to get qualifications. I feel it diverts me away from using where I am 'now' and what I want to 'learn' now.
This is perhaps why I have so many piles of books I want to read. Some I have started, not finished, but know I will pick it up again when I am ready. As a mother with two boys, if a book doesn't engage me at the time I just fall asleep (!).
It's also reason why I just 'do' stuff. I don't feel like I need a qualification to do the stuff I am or want to do. I learn as I go. Sometimes learn from successes, but often from failures. (Am not ready to talk about some of the failures yet!).
When I was applying for jobs in my 'youth'. It was all based around experience and qualifications - with a big bad recruitment agency building up the biggest wall in front of you because I didn't have the right keywords in my CV.
Since starting out on my own. No one has ever asked what qualifications I have. They don't really care. They just want to know I have a good reputation and can get the job done.
I like James' way of becoming aware of and classifying different ways of learning. It makes me feel good about quitting, plunging in, following my current energy, obsessing (and then forgetting) and procrastinating.
[Just a story with the hope that slowly people and companies will slowly open their eyes to different ways of learning]