This is a good omen about education, childhood, and the new job I start… TODAY.
To begin with the end in mind, as the experts say, today (!!) I start a new job at Primer; a different kind of education system that harnesses kids’ ambition, passion, and curiosity to guide deeper learning experiences. While interviewing with the Primer team, I did a lot of reflection on my own education and how it’s guided my life and career. 👇
I grew up in South Florida in the Broward County Public School system where I was a slow learner and a bad test taker. I’m pretty sure I’ve blocked most of 7th grade from my memory —
except for reading The Giver by Lois Lowry, which is the story of an eleven-year-old named Jonas, who lives in a rigidly controlled society based on a social system called Sameness, which is what it sounds like. You see, everyone is… the same.
There is no suffering, hunger, or war, but also no color, music, or love. Sorry to make this a #spoilersedition you guys, but it was published approx 30 years ago so. Basically, this kid explores life with all of it’s pain and beauty for the first time and ends up rejecting the society and blah blah go get a copy it’s good.
So yeah, other than being a simp for Lois Lowry, I don’t remember ever loving to learn as a kid. Compared to my siblings I was definitely underperforming in school and, sometimes, I would find it so unbearable to go to math class that I would hide in the back rows of the auditorium until the bell rang and it was time for my favorite hour of the day— 🎭 Theatre: home of the most accepting, passionate and interesting people. I loved it so much, I decided to go to college for musical theatre, which kept me close to exciting people and combined the only two things that seemed to light me up most: community and storytelling.
Though on the outside, theatre school seemed to make people uncomfortable… To most people, It wasn’t a worthwhile pursuit to study at a university. At thanksgiving, family members and friends would cock their heads and smirk at my class schedule consisting of ballet, musical theatre history, playwriting, and voice.
Though many theatre education systems are deeeeeply flawed, my alma mater included, I believe a degree in theatre can set you up for success in pretty much any industry. Here’s why:
While spending four years in classes with the same 16 people, you learn how to show up for others, have deeper, more interesting conversations and resolve conflicts.
Watching people be vulnerable and perform, you develop empathy, learn how to nurture friendships, and root for others.
Studying great playwrites and composers, you learn about process, collaboration, thinking creatively.
Understanding the uncertainty of the industry, you become intimate with rejection and resiliency.
Operating in the competitive nature of performing, you learn about discipline and how to create things quickly (on a scrappy budget).
And most importantly, by studying acting you learn about people and how to pay attention to them.
Finding myself now in a completely different industry, these six skills remain the most consistently used and most important every day. Theatre school taught me how to learn in an environment that embraced curiosity, passion, and humanity.
Thanks to those years, I take learning very seriously.🪐
These days, I’m either enrolled in some kind of course, or am becoming so obsessed with a book that I won’t stop until I’ve built a course with the author 👀 (Reach Out Party is coming back for a week in Aug signup comin’ sooooooonnn)
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t shout OUT the many types of alternative education platforms, courses, and communities that I am a proud student of — Building a Second Brain, Big Ideas Lab, The Notion Academy, Ness Labs, C School, JWS, SITI Company, Storytelling with Data — check ‘em out.
While I am fortunate and privileged to have access to this kind of alt education as an adult, like most people, I ache for the kid in me that felt inadequate, incapable of keeping up and left behind. The truth is, education is behind, not kids.
With Primer, alongside a truly next-level team, I’ll be building communities and telling stories with the very important goal to, as Ryan Delk says, free the next generation of kids to be more ambitious, more creative, and to think for themselves.💥