The idea of going to university was never really my idea, it was to an extent. I knew that eventually I would like to go to school so that I could develop my knowledge base on a subject that (hopefully) I found interesting and willing to spend my life and career exploring. But I was never big on the idea of going to University at such a young age. However the all encompassing parental overlords said what they needed to say and off I went away to University at the age of 19. I would grumble to all my friends that spend their late teens and early twenties exploring the globe or developing new attributes, about how unfair my education was treating me. How I should be jetting off to Malaysia or Chile instead of dragging myself out of bed every morning to 830 labs and lectures I didn’t really want to be a part of. I’d constantly threaten and dream up scenarios in my head of walking out mid-class, throwing my notebooks in the recycling bin ( (; ), and leaving, never to return to the academic lifestyle I seemed to loath so much.
Our Cortes retreat exposed us to so many different, cool people explaining their lives, as well as their life choices and I was smug (maybe even giddy) to find out, most of these interesting, imaginative and intelligent individuals had done exactly what I wanted to do! They dropped out! They up and left the academic system and from the sounds of it, they haven’t seem to have looked back once! I couldn’t wait to tell my parents I was right all along. I didn’t have to go to university to be smart or capable; I just needed…
Oh wait. I still needed something I didn’t have. And that was direction. It occurred to me then that I hadn’t a single clue what I’d do if I dropped out of school. Well I did, but nothing that I could consider a ‘life goal’. These interesting characters we had the opportunity of meeting all seemed to have a direction, to know what they were doing, and do it with passion and commitment. I was envious of that. Where do I find this mythical direction, passion, life calling. It occurred to me that I wanted to be like these people, to be like these various drop outs, not because they were drop outs but because they followed their passions. And then I made an even bigger realization. I hadn’t found a passionate cause yet. How could I possibly drop out of school to follow my dreams if I didn’t have any dreams to follow!
It’s easy to complain about the education system. There’s A LOT to complain about, ask any student you come across. But it’s also easy to think about all that an education can provide. If it wasn’t for university I wouldn’t even know who these intellectual drop outs were, never mind permaculture, ecology, geomorphology or entomology. School provides you with knowledge but more importantly (in my opinion) in can open provide you with direction, opportunity, relationships and passion. The intellectual drop outs left the education system because they felt blocked from pursing the goals and passions that they were drawn to. But as much as I hate to admit, for me, school has opened more opportunities than it’s blocked, and I think that’s good enough reason to ride it out and see what else it can open for me. Besides, if I feel like I’ve exhausted all the resources the education system can provide me, I can always drop out.