Why You Need School To Break the Rules

School helps you understand the game before you break its rules.

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

Pablo Picasso

A pro teaches you the rules of the game you know nothing about.

This is the basis of higher education.

You know, the type of education system that every influencer on social media says is a scam because they didn’t need it to get rich.

Because of this, everyone seems to think that if you go to university you are a slave to the matrix.

Maybe that’s the case if you’re going to study something you hate to qualify for a soul-sucking job you hate even more. Those influencers are right in that respect. Don’t go to university for something you’re lukewarm about.

However, the university is the perfect place to learn a subject you have a fiery passion for.

The reason is that the university gives you the rules of that subject, and you need to know the rules in order to break them.

Breaking them in a progressive way advances the world.

The Benefits of University

There are some professions (doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc.) that you need to go to university for.

And there are others suited for college and apprenticeships.

In the minority lies the self-made dropout entrepreneurs. These people are usually famous because they defied the odds. However, they account for little of the world’s productivity.

The world moves because of people in the majority, the middle class. Most of these people have pursued adult education or higher learning to an extent. I don’t know this for sure, but I am willing to bet on it.

Why? Because the foundation of future expertise relies on structured education.

There are no YouTube doctors, Skillshare lawyers, or bookish plumbers.

Universities and colleges are valuable because they give you access to structured knowledge taught by pros who have experience. When the knowledge flung at you is structured by someone experienced, you learn better than if you had to scavenge for the information online. Then you are formally tested on it en route to your degree.

You don’t pass these tests by memorizing facts like you did in grade school.

You pass them by tapping into conceptual knowledge. This knowledge is fostered by structured learning that builds on itself in a strategic way and designed by someone who knows how to teach it to a 5-year-old.

Learning the Conceptual Rules

Transitioning from high school route memorization taught by teachers who are not experts is tough.

It certainly was for me.

My 1st year at university was a shock to my system.

I didn’t have any ingrained study habits in high school. And I wasn’t ever forced to read so much in such little time. But I am thankful for the experience.

I am largely thankful because of not what I learned but the invaluable ways higher education changed HOW I learned.

I started thinking about concepts, not facts.

Conceptual knowledge was my biggest takeaway from university. Now, as I learn anything from anywhere today, I think in concepts. This helps me remember more of what I learn.

I don’t care how big your second brain is, there is no learning without thinking conceptually.

Breaking the Rules

This is done after university — when you know enough about a subject to start conjuring up innovative improvements.

To do that requires foundational knowledge of your career field.

With the exemption of visionary artists and thinkers like Steve Jobs, most rule-breakers have some form of higher education. Steve Jobs even dabbled in it before he realized a trip to India suited him better. I wonder about the insights the yogis gave him about Apple.

In any case, almost all rule breakers were highly educated before they could change the curriculum.

You get that structured education from experts trained in what you want to become.

University grants you access to that.

But as we all know, valuable knowledge isn’t free…


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