Living and Learning In An Unscripted World


It’s early morning here in Irvine. The sky outside’s dark, the street’s quiet, and everything around my home is peaceful. I’m not. Last night I spent a good long time on the phone with Mike, my son, talking about what Trump’s doing, what Obama's not, and how, truth be told, all of it’s truly too complicated for either of us to comprehend.  

So, this morning, before the sun’s up, I’m sitting here preoccupied, feeling ratchety, thinking about the Mach 2 world that Mike and I are surrounded by, and how I keep coming back to three interesting, but very tough-to-swallow ideas that, on mornings like this one, truly grab me: 

  1. Our world is apparently being driven by radical complexities, disruptive opportunities, and accelerating rates of change. It's fast becoming necessary for each of us to get a high-quality liberal education that teaches all of us -- even those who already have college degrees -- more than just the practical stuff: We need to learn empathy, tolerance, and resilience.

  2. Yet in this increasingly disruptive, disjointed, and unhinged, even a liberal education that teaches empathy, tolerance, and resilience won't be enough, by itself, to guarantee Mike, me, or you comfort, security, or success. This morning, it seems undeniable that formal degrees alone will never be enough to show any of us how to build the careers or the lives we’re looking for in a world that's increasingly unscripted.

  3. And finally, if what each of us needs most is responsiveness and adaptability, a liberal education can really be only one element of what, for each of us, must soon become a lifelong pursuit of learning about how to live unscripted lives in an ever-changing environment. In addition to a liberal education, it seems that we also have to master the experiential learning techniques and tools that we'll need if we're going to design, launch, and orchestrate our own self-directed learning experiments.

It's 6 a.m. now and time for me to get moving. And yet again I'm coming away from my early morning wonderings clear that if my ideas hold water then, whether we’re individuals who are looking to accelerate our careers or simply people who are looking beyond professional ambitions to achieve lives that are both satisfying and meaningful, each of us would be well served if we at least tried to flesh out these propositions into something hopeful, promising, and actionable; an orientation toward life that highlights that suggests we'll all be in a better place when when we learn how to create for ourselves a liberal education and an ongoing series of experientially-based apprenticeships.

Bottom line? I'm coming round to the idea that adults like Mike and me need to start looking for ways we can acquire the wisdom tendered by a modern liberal education and, as well, learn how to create for ourselves the experiences that come with purposefully confronting both our real-life obstacles and those vague sensibilities that these days are hanging off the edges of our consciousness.

Formal Education + Self-Directed Learning Experiments = resilience