Cornelius Gyamfi

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Do you learn the basics to make it in life at school or on your own?

Rather hard to explain but I tend to think watching listening adjusting to life on seeing other peoples lifes give you a better chance of making it in life than education in schools .

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    Jan 25 2013: This has been doing the rounds for a while now, and holds some truths that may answer, in part, your question:

    Bill Gates recently gave a Commencement speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school.

    He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how
    this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

    Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!

    Rule 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

    Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

    Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

    Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

    Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes; learn from them.

    Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you think you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

    Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, failing grades are gone and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

    Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

    Rule 10: TV is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

    Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.
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    Jan 20 2013: We build our basics of life as we grow up, and being in school is only a part of growing up. School is definitely a source of knowledge, but not necessarily the only one. Our parents have a great contribution also, but eventually what we experience in life and interactions with people formulate our beliefs, and therefore the basics of life.
  • Jan 11 2013: First, "watching listening adjusting to life on seeing other peoples lifes" is not really "on your own." You will learn extremely little unless other people are involved. Your family should be your first and best school.

    Second, "the basics" is ambiguous. If you expect us to define this, you will get many different answers.

    Third, as others have said, "make it in life" is very ambiguous, so it is difficult to say which learning method contributes more.

    This is what I really want to say:

    What we expect from our schools has changed a great deal over the years. Two hundred years ago schooling was largely limited to the upper classes and the goal was to become socially acceptable. Then schools were expected to give children the basics of reading writing and arithmetic. These children often left school after just a few years, to help the family make a living. Then school got really organized and on a course of continual improvement. Some people now look at schools as manufacturing plants, producing human products ready for the market place. Other people expect schools to foster creativity and innovation. What "we" expect of "our" schools today is a complete mishmash of hopes rather than reasonable goals. It is no wonder that so many people are disappointed with schools when the schools do not have clearly stated, measurable objectives. Fortunately, we seem to be headed in that direction.

    Regardless of how good our schools become, most of your time will be spent outside of school, and children are learning machines, learning ALL of the time. So life outside of school will always be a major contributor to education.
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    Jan 11 2013: I should think both.......don't you?
    Because after all, school is only temporary.....then life sets in and you have to learn from observation, trial and error, and experience.

    I am sure there are many individuals in our world who are enjoying happy lives, and have never set foot in a school.

    On a final note, "making it in life" means different things to different people. So everyone will have a different way of answering your question, and express varying opinions.

    Who taught you how to write and use punctuation and grammar for your to compose your TED question?
    • Jan 25 2013: I don't understand something in your comment here, why does life set in AFTER school. Is there some kind of law that I wasn't aware about that states that life is only okay to be lived AFTER I complete school. So are you saying that in essence I'm going to spend about 17 years of my life that isn't going to count? Am I going to get credited for it later? So, people aren't going to find their passion, their soulmate, their anything in school by your assertions but you know as long as I get credited for those years later. However I do agree with the bottom few portions of your comment.
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        Jan 25 2013: "I believe a certain level of schooling is necessary until you LITERALLY BEGIN FINDING YOURSELF which by the way school suppresses and after that you need to go adventure and make your own way."

        You are one of those talented people who found yourself while still in high school.
        Life begins at birth, not after read too much into my comment.

        If you read the question on top of the page and then read my answer again..... you will see that in context I was stating that school, because it is temporary.....provides only part of what we need in suppose that life comes after school, is drawing a conclusion I did not intend for the reader to draw. That's like me taking your comment in quotations and focusing on the word UNTIL........then drawing the conclusion that you can only find yourself AFTER you finish schooling.

        In any case......I hope I cleared up your misconception of my comment.

        It is nice to have a high schooler commenting on this gives us old fogeys insight into your perception of things.

        Be Well.........hope you make it to Peru someday!!
  • Jan 16 2013: You learn the basics of life on your own regardless of whether or not you decide to pay attention in school. Those who are driven enough to understand that they will need to acquire additional skill sets to advance/compete will invest in some type of education. Whether it is a college degree or interviewing people for their advice as you wonder through the school of hard knocks, you need both for a better chance of making it in life.
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    Jan 16 2013: Dear Cornelius,

    To create a decent life for yourself, you need to go to school first.

    Hopefully by high school, you find out what you love. This is the most important thing; find out what you love doing; sports, science, arts, humanities, whatever. Later (in college) you can narrow your subject, and focus studying mostly what you love. A college degree should be the first goal in life. The best colleges are combined programs (studies with practical experience). Then you find a job. You may have to go through a few to find the best for you. It has got to be what you love doing. Because you will be spending a lot of your life in it. A good education will give you the "basics" - the means (job) for an end (a life that makes you happy)... Hopefully you will have teachers and parents who 'facilitate' your learning through this part.

    What gives you a better chance of creating a good life for yourself, is getting to know yourself not looking out at other people, but looking inside yourself. Deep inside somehow you already know what you are, what makes you happy, what you love to do, who you are. You need to keep trying to hear your own inner voice. That is the best guide for your life. Awareness and learning by observation are essential. Observing your inner self is where you find your voice that tells you how to build your best life. You have to "learn' about yourself yourself. You will "make it" when you find your inner truth and stay true to yourself...Hopefully you will have parents, mentors, friends, who 'facilitate' your learning (growth) through this part.

    Life and school are both "schools". Everyone learns everything on their own:) No body can learn for another.

    I noticed that you already speak 3 languages! That is a talent ! I hope you get to listen to many Talks at TED and find YOUR inspiration:). I agree with Sir Robinson. And his proposal will become reality in 50? years(hopefully). Maybe you will be an aged teacher with a smile on his face then.
    • Jan 25 2013: Quite frankly I find your comment far too practical, Americanized brainwash, low on thought and absolutely ridiculous (for the most part anyway). Why should having a college degree be the first goal in life? Why is it so necessary to have a degree that frankly in this global economy is useless? There are so many Harvard, Yale, MIT grads that are on the street with no job and the jobs being offered to them are nowhere near the level that they should be. Why must I spend four years (min.) of MY own precious life inside of another school? If I don't will I not be successful? I am sick and tired of parents, teachers etc. making assumptions that they know what is best for each child and their own personal needs. As an 11th grader that has always been identified as gifted and is a member of the National Honor Society I would like to know why. Just simply why? I don't understand why it's no longer acceptable to want to adventure and experience life but it is far more acceptable to be an unhappy fat lard that sits behind a desk all day but apparently has a "happy life" or "the American Dream". This dream is apparently afforded to this fat lard because he has a MBA, spare me. I don't think these people are happy because frankly there is a whole life out there and it's just passing them by. You state that having a good education is going to provide the means (job) for an end (a life that makes me happy) and that is not necessarily true, there are plenty of happy people that never went to college or never finished and yet are completely happy. This reminds me of a conversation I had with my mum, when I told her I wanted to adventure so I wanted to go to Europe (UK, France and Italy) this summer by myself or possibly with a few friends and then before college take a gap year, and in that moment I believe she wanted to kill me, because of the way that education is viewed. Some kind of golden ticket that will give you all of your dreams, that thinking Juliette is BS, plain BS.
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        Jan 25 2013: When I finished high school I rested a year.....worked and saved money for a new that wouldn't give me trouble commuting to school and work.

        Because I always loved teaching, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to get a degree in education.

        But that was just the an educator, I have taken my degree to many countries around the world. I have had many adventures out there.

        In your case, you also know what you want.

        Just be patient, and know that you will be able to travel and adventure. In the meantime, you can use this time at home to really plan out your short an long term goals. Make your itenarary of places you wish to visit, and when.

        Use the TED site to get inspired by continuing to view the great videos about people making a difference around the world. Write down the names of these individuals, and the places and organizations that most impress you. Also the causes that move you, that you are passionate about.

        I didn't get itchy for getting out there into the world until after I finished that time I was an adult, and earning the money I needed to go places. Noone could stop me, and believe me, they tried.....not only my parents, but also my friends. Out of love and concern for my well-being, they tried to talk me out of travelling by myself. This was a long time ago, the world was a different place.

        So try to put yourself in your mums shoes.....and just be patient.

        I hope I haven't offended you with any of my words. But as a mom and educator, I am always compelled to give my view of things to young people who appear to be struggling with issues such as yours.

        All the Best!!!
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    Jan 15 2013: I agree with TED lover, best things i have learned throughout the years wasn't at school. It was going out, experiencing the world, making mistakes and learning from them.
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    Jan 15 2013: I think that a combination between experience learning and formal education is the best. At the end, formal learning gives you hundred of thousands years of acumulative learning... but there is no better way to understand these formal education than experience.
  • Jan 12 2013: both, but as seems implied earlier - the sources depend on the person.
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    Jan 11 2013: I agree, you get more from being with people, but the skills of school are very important.
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    Jan 11 2013: I think your phrase "watching listening adjusting to life on seeing other people's lives" is very clear, Cornelius, and I agree that we learn from observing others and listening to and considering what they say and do. These others we observe will include those at home, in the community, at school, and everywhere else we encounter them.
  • Jan 25 2013: The question has no hard and fast answer because people are different. I found I learned more outside of the school system then I did inside it in relation to how to live in the world BUT to say school has no value is pretty stupid. Reading and maths are important and I doubt anyone would DENY this and I doubt most people would say not teaching a child to read or do basic to highschool level math is a waste.

    People who say school is a waste aren't among the most intelligent but what they might really mean is "I was surrounded by bad teachers and taught information in non-interesting ways"

    I think more research into how the human mind actually works will reveal what works and what doesn't instead of relying on anecdotes from internet stars like Ken Robertson and layman. While robertson has a point that schools kill creativity, they also ENABLE creativity, especially if you have great or fantastic teachers or mentors. I bet almost everyone can remember one teacher they liked/loved in public, highschool school or university.

    The real problem comes down to innate qualities the person has. Is a person curious? It's basically what might be called a persons nature.
  • Jan 25 2013: Education is an enduring human institution. If we decided education doesn't work and got rid of it, within five years we would have it again. Adults who encounter youth would herd them into places run by a few adults to get the youth out of the way because they are different. And the adults who run the place would try to make the youth behave a certain way because that's just how human adults treat youth in that kind of setting. And thus a school would be organized.


    Most people with good salaries (which is how I measure 'making it in life') are educated. Most of them would say their education prepared them for their job.


    If you're in school now and you think it's not teaching you, you are either on track to go to a better school where you will learn something, or you may as well drop out and see what you learn then.
  • Jan 25 2013: As a junior in high school, I can personally confirm that in school you are taught NOTHING. That is if you are smart, I've always been identified as gifted, placed in the honors and AP classes etc. however, there are some of my peers that struggle with things that are ridiculously simple and easy to me. As of this very moment I find myself highly bored of school, and ready to adventure. While I recognize on the whole an education is probably wonderful, I don't think it's necessary. I have just had these discussions with both of my parents, because I am trying to convince them to let me do online school. But I digress, I have about one class I learn something in and that class is Spanish HOWEVER I do feel that instead of sitting in class having a teacher drill grammar points into my head I could be in Peru or Spain and actually learning by speaking instead of simply remembering until the test and then forgetting because it is no longer of any use. Also something I believe is important to note, is that after a certain point in schooling (shall we say grade 9?) you discover if school is REALLY where you need to be for various reasons, you aren't ready for the world, you are for lack of a better term stupid etc. or if school is a place that you go because of the constraints society puts on you. In terms of society I need to be in school, I need to go to college and all of that lovely fun stuff in terms of my heart I don't feel that spending an extra year and a half in school is going to change who I am or make me more prepared for college. Socially, going to school is great I suppose however as a bit of an introvert myself I could go without out 7 out of 10 times. In answer to your question, I believe a certain level of schooling is necessary until you LITERALLY BEGIN FINDING YOURSELF which by the way school suppresses and after that you need to go adventure and make your own way.
  • Jan 20 2013: Surprisingly, being a high school teacher myself does not make me feel able to confidently answer this question. I think at the heart of your question are two sub-questions.

    Question 1: What motivates people?
    In my experience, while we are all human and thus all similarly motivated at the most fundamental levels, motivation is complex non-the-less. We all respond to a mixture of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. The balance needed between these for us to approach our potential is where the complexity comes in. It depends on everything from parenting, personality, friends, life experiences, and of course, random chance. Having taught hundreds of students over 6 years it seems that most of my students rely more heavily on extrinsic motivators than I would like. These ones tend to need to the discipline and structure of school to force them to go through the motions of learning until they learn to love it (if they are lucky). Those that are naturally inquisitive and self motivated are often stifled by the structured learning required in conventional schools, but stand a chance of thriving if they learn to not only be self motivated but self sufficient and hard working (another set of complex skills to develop in and out of school).

    Question 2: Is school effective at imparting knowledge and skills?
    WAY too many factors to answer with even the vaguest degree of accuracy. There are different schools, administrators, teachers, teaching styles, demographics, parents, cultures, class sizes (and the list goes on) that the simple answer is that it can be successful for some and it is not for others. If I had to make a sweeping statement about the whole thing... humans are "designed" to learn from the their parents and community. With an adult to student ratio of 1 to 25, they learn more from each other than from the adults in school.
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    Jan 20 2013: It depends on your career choice in life. I don't think you can become a brain surgeon with such a passive, educational, path in life. Many things require study within a challenging learning environment. Even if you career choice is working at the hamburger joint, you need some math and people skills that are taught in school and might not be learned by any other means.

    What are the basics in life, in your words?
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    Jan 20 2013: A person is responsible for his own education.

    The propaganda would have you believe otherwise.

    I might add that knowledge is increasing at a geometric rate, they predict that in 50 years or so knowledge will double every 72 hours. At this point schools will be obsolete.

    The point is you will have to have some benchmarks to navigate through life. The current one of go to college will be/ is (you conjugate the verb) obsolete. I don't know but it seems like a more appropriate one would be to learn how to learn. In other words have sharp communication skills.

    I recommend this video on this point:
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    Jan 18 2013: I believe this is what parents are for, although most parents don't. So there should be more education in school level as the basics of life.
  • Jan 17 2013: Mostly on my own I guess, but I should give some credit to some enlightened people who came across my life starting from high school e.g. teachers and continuing during my working career.
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    Jan 12 2013: Cornelius,
    What do you mean by "making it"? I agree with TED Lover, that "making it" can mean many different things to different individuals.

    That being said, I believe life is an exploration, so I prefer to take in information from many different sources. Perhaps that is what you refer to when you say...."watching, listening, adjusting to life"...etc.?

    Being mindfully aware and fully engaged with the life experience in every single moment, growing, learning evolving as an individual, AND contributing to the whole of humanity is "making it" for me:>)
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    Gail .

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    Jan 12 2013: The best things that I know were not learned in schools.

    As to "a better chance of making it in life", that depends on what "making it" means to the individual. Your definition and my definition might be vastly diffrent.
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    Jan 12 2013: The success of a product is a function of its right use.
    We have a lot to learn from observation; whether at school or in the larger society.
    A school may never be part of our larger society in a direct sense.
    In any path we take wisdom is the principal thing. Sometimes we are exceptional in our foolishness and we may think it is wisdom.

    But life is life; and we are living to find life. To be successful is to really live.
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    Jan 11 2013: I cannot answer because I won't know if I have "made it in life" until my life is over.
  • Jan 11 2013: "Do you learn the basics to make it in life at school or on your own?"

    No, you don't learn how to pay bills and taxes.

    "Rather hard to explain but I tend to think watching listening adjusting to life on seeing other peoples lifes give you a better chance of making it in life than education in schools."

    If you want to be unemployed or an unskilled laborer...
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      Jan 12 2013: Thats not where i meant the question to be headed