jeff

the school of unschoolers

Learning is creation. Not consumption.


Curiosity precedes smarts

For many people, their goal is to become smarter. Becoming smarter is easily achieved with: curiosity. Its force — which starts with innocence and ends with passion — fuels the kind of willpower that is needed to become smarter. Why? Well, because it fuels motivation intrinsically. And intrinsic motivation is essential for the life-long journey that learning is. Curiosity is the thing that turns hard work into play.

On the other hand, using external motivators like money and prestige begs for failure. There comes a point in everyones journey where the going gets tough. Its the cliff in the learning-journey that prevents many from reaching the peak of the mountain. Those who don't have curiosity aren't able to pass the cliff. Why? Well, because those who rely on external motivators usually believe the means is not worth the ends. But, for those with curiosity, the means is the end. Learning, in itself, is the thing that brings joy to their lives.

Unschooling yourself

To unschool yourself, follow your interests. Not sure what your interests are? Start somewhere, and start learning out what you're not interested in.

One important thing to keep in mind is to maximize your learning. The goal of projects is not the end result, but the learning itself. The next time you're working on a project, instead of following a tutorial line-by-line, try understanding the basic idea and figuring out the implementation yourself.

My self-directed programming journey is simply learning about things that I'm interested in, adjusting my idea of what my interests are, finding new interests, and repeating. This had led me through the gamut of designing static websites, to creating frontend web applications, and most recently, designing backend architecture and systems.

The Recurse Center

This year, I will be attending The Recurse Center. The Recurse Center is a self-directed, community-driven educational retreat for programmers based in New York City and currently operating online.

I just finished my first week and, to say the least, it's amazing. RC is the community I've been searching for years. The reason why I love Recurse so much is because it's a school of unschoolers.

By creating a school of unschoolers, participants benefit from being self-directed, and from being in a community at the same time.

What you do during your batch is up to you. You can choose your own adventure! Some people enjoy spending their time on chatting, pairing, and book clubs. Others, would rather go heads down on a project. Personally, my plan is to be uber-social the first week or two. That way, I can figure out whos working on what and will know who to reach out to for future projects. After that, I will go on focus-mode, and program as much as possible.

What makes RC so life-changing is not the knowledge you learn, but the people you meet. These people share one thing in common: curiosity. Everyone is here to learn. Judging, one-upping, and competing have no place in RC. It's quite clear just from looking at the social rules put in place.

When these rules are followed, something magical happens. And that magic, is learning. This magic is what makes the community so strong. Its why people are willing to help others. Its why alumni return to social events. Its why, we never graduate.