Member 1874
4 entries

(M, 34)
Vancouver, CA
Immortal since Aug 18, 2008
Uplinks: 0, Generation 3 / Design / Fine Art
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    Teach Me to Learn

    Unfortunately this isn't a post to share something, but to ask something of you instead.

    I have been struggling with a decision for the past little while, and as I am very inspired by the collective intelligence and enlightenment in this community I thought perhaps I would see what opinions you could give me on the subject.

    The question is how you feel about education, in a practical sense. I assume that a majority of people here are currently attending, or have graduated from university or college? I myself just completed a brief yet intense design program, which has successfully launched me into my 'career' as a freelancer (ugh). Ok, I'm hardly complaining.

    The program was great, but left my completely mentally unstimulated. I really want to study a lot of things, but I don't really have much experience with post-secondary education and my whole experience with this education system has left me lacking enthusiasm for it. I'm just wondering what your experience has been and whether or not you would recommend it? So far I have been picking up as many books as I can, adamant that I can teach myself, but I'm starting to wonder whether or not I'm really getting as much out of it as I could without the discussion and interaction that a class would supply.

    So far I have been working my way into philosophy and psychology texts but ultimately would like to move into physics and mathematics. Do you think it is a realistic goal to pursue self-education of that kind? If anyone has experience with it, do you have any specific suggestions? I don't care about the titles whatsoever, so that is not an issue...

    I really appreciate any feedback and thank you in advance!

    Sat, Sep 6, 2008  Permanent link
    Categories: education, diy, advice
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    sjef     Sat, Sep 6, 2008  Permanent link
    It depends on how you learn best, which you can only find out for yourself really.

    I guess if you have a specific goal that requires the recognition of your knowledge by others through proof of a diploma, you are self-aware enough to know that you will thrive best in the competitive & challenging environment provided for example by a good art school, or if you simply need set goals / set assignments / ready-to-consume blocks of knowledge, then school (tertiary education) is for you.

    If you are a generalist with broad interests, able to learn and adapt quickly, and willing to work to prove your worth in order displace the mistrust of your knowledge caused in many by lack of a classical qualification, then you may just be able to get along being self-taught.

    Going the autodidact route allows you to indulge your interests as you see fit, but you have to contend with the fact that you may end up knowing just a little about a lot, if you can make this work, then fine.

    I guess the most important part in making the decision is knowing what your goals are, if you intend to stay in the creative field as a freelancer your work is your worth and you can get along fine. Should you find yourself wanting to move into solid employment in the agency world though, you may find that the lack of a diploma has you running into a brick wall as far as getting a job goes. An excellent portfolio can compensate, but it won't be easy.

    If you don't know what your goals are, then by all means don't make any decisions yet. Spend a few years learning more about how you learn & what you want to learn, you'll either figure it out or find yourself on a path to somewhere anyway. Just put in the work and don't stop learning.
    notthisbody     Sat, Sep 6, 2008  Permanent link
    If you are following an autodidactive process, I would highly recommend Compendium as a simple, solid way to structure that learning and focus it. If you ever used flow charts, this is pretty much virtual flow-chart that's very simple and intuitive to use. Doesn't work for all, but works for me. I use to to structure all research I do, along with thought-processes and decision making - that way I can keep track of everything, instead of it slipping out of my head.
    Eli Horn     Sat, Sep 6, 2008  Permanent link
    Thanks guys. Sjef, you have a lot of good points. My goal is really to apply the knowledge to art. I have always had natural talent, and I know if I applied myself I could probably make a career of at pretty easily. The problem is that it does come easily to me, so I really want to push myself to a point where I can combine that skill with other fields to create something actually meaningful to me, not just paint nice pictures. I realize this doesn't necessarily need a high level of education, but It's more of a personal goal. Saying that, I really don't care about the degree, or what other people think about it.

    I think the thing that worries me most is this:
    Going the autodidact route allows you to indulge your interests as you see fit, but you have to contend with the fact that you may end up knowing just a little about a lot

    I will definitely take a look at that notthisbody . . . I think if I do take a diy approach, I need something like this because it becomes hard to keep on track of what you are actually learning . . .

    Anayways, thanks again. It's helpful to get different perspectives on this.
    rene     Sun, Sep 7, 2008  Permanent link
    I agree with everything that's being said here. Personally I'm of two minds on the subject as you can see in my recent post about academia in the age of the search engine. But it has to be said that some schools are very different from others. Most schools SpaceCollective has done Projects with have been very interesting. For example, UCLA's Design Media Arts School and architecture school Sci-ARC in Los Angeles, have very eclectic programs and to some extent stimulate the students to know less about a lot, which in my opinion is a very good preparation for the diverse multi-media future that lies ahead and for that matter may serve as one of the better creative survival strategies for a changing world. Another architecture school we worked with, Die Angewandte in Vienna, invites students to work for a whole year with one stellar professor, flown in from anywhere in the world for the occasion. When you choose to educate yourself you obviously have to develop a lot more initiative but that too may come in handy once you're negotiating the “real” world. I'd say that if you want to become an artist doing your own thing the importance of a degree seems overrated, but what Sjef has to say on the subject seems like a good guideline. Ultimately, it’s all just a matter of what suits you best as a person and makes you expand your own world the most.
    Jeremy     Mon, Sep 8, 2008  Permanent link
    I tried to go back to school a few of years ago, at the age of 33. I've been an artist all along and thought as you do that I'd like some hands-on sort of experience, particularly pertaining to materials science. I really wanted to mess around with rapid prototyping and stereolithography equipment and hone my skills with 3D software. It was really hard for me- not impossible- just hard. I think if you are really driven and excited about what you are doing and about what you are interested in, you'll create what it is you want to make manifest no matter what.
    I personally found that I couldn't stand to take a break from making art (my own art, anyway) for 4 to 6 years, which is what you almost have to do to go to school, depending on the program.
    I do envy the Sci-Arc group and the University of Applied Arts group in Vienna, though. Nothing like a review by Zaha Hadid, Greg Lynn, and Wolf Prix to get you inspired and ready for the new paradigm in aesthetics. If I had to do it again, I would have finished school the first time around. Right now, though, it seems that one has to be light on their feet and ready for anything.
    I think there are very few boundaries to pursuing an art career as an autodidact. You needn't worry about losing track of what you've learned if you apply it immediately, and if you're excited about it. There's an awful lot out there to be excited about right now.
    Good luck, Eli!
    Eli Horn     Mon, Sep 22, 2008  Permanent link
    Thanks again everyone! I think I'm finally getting a grasp on my direction (ha! that's a bold statement). Ideally Die Angewandte would be my destination, and although I will be looking into it, I don't imagine it will be financially feasible at this point. At the moment I'm taking notthisbody's suggestion and learning Compendium which seems like a great way to streamline the conceptual process.

    After reading Wildcat's post about Vannevar Bush and listening to Levy's speech (combined with Compendium), I have a higher appreciation for the internet (I haven't had the high hopes in it that some people have so far) and while I value a group learning and mentoring environment very much, I am excited to see the potential of autodidacticism in the age of hypertext.
    gamma     Tue, Sep 30, 2008  Permanent link
    Learning mathematics at college is too hard and unnecessary. There are too many details to practice. In case of applied, short courses in more general environment it would be good. As far as I can remember I never lost the line when learning math. Maybe that is normal and not real accomplishment. Usually when someone says they want to get back to math they have a memory of losing math along the way. I'm not sure entirely. My guess is that there is a present mathematical concept of reality imprinted in the mind. From that perspective, little practice and training can give you the power to go around solving tasks.

    I always believed in life at university, but I would add that we deserve fully functional institutions as soon as possible because all other roads that go around are risky concepts. Since I don't dive into psychology, my emotions are strictly Top Gun. I think that in general Creativity can be led to creating web pages or being involved into communities. Some sciences - I think they are all sciences at university? - don't have math. Society can create classrooms, jobs, all that even without math. I was reading a book from old legends in particle physics just recently, and I thought: whats so accurate to the 10^-12 about this theory when it sounds like witchcraft from the dark ages? The relations between people can be more complete, better served with really general education and politeness. The challenge to this is probably in general sense, that full education requires freedom and spending time, or living with the certain community. One of the desirable luxuries at college could be tutoring.

    I only need a mission to be completely RIGHT. (Top Gun for all).