Well it sure didn’t take long for me to get bored of being out of school, and so I’m setting out on a personal project to fill the gaps of my learning I did in college.
The Limitation of School
As I look back at my time in school, I see all the amazing thing I learned and how much I’ve grown, but I also see glaring holes in my learning as well. When I think about things like The Federal Reserve, I can talk about how The Fed adjust the interest rate for banks that influences our interest rates and they deal with monetary policy, but I really can’t elaborate beyond that. For getting a degree in economics, I feel embarrassed that is the extent that I can talk about a critical function of the financial engine in America without having to stop and google it.
For me, that isn’t an adequate level of knowledge that I want to possess. I realize that the format of how school is designed does not help me to truly learn at the capacity that I desire to learn. School is designed to pass exams and to hold short-term information that you quickly drop to hold onto other more relevant information. One telling evidence of this is seeing how much my peers and I shutter when a professor says the final exam is cumulative. The thought of being tested on something I learned 9 weeks prior seems incredibly intimidating. But shouldn’t that be a more accurate assessment that you actually learned something rather than memorized something?
I guess that’s what this is all about; I want to actually learn and not just memorize. I want to possess knowledge that I could be considered an “expert” in it. I want to be able answer the question, “Why do we even need The Fed?” Or, “How does inflation really work?” And I could easily lay down a narrative showing how money works in its essential function, then how that connects to the banking system and how the coordination between banks through a central banking system influences our society from our savings APY to our mortgage loans, to our employment rate.
My Plan to Deeply Learn
All that to say, I’m working on a personal project to remedy this issue, and now that I’m finally free of school, I’m going to go back to learning, but it’ll be what I want to learn in the form I want to learn that helps me learn best. It’ll be a process that will be in constant refinement, but what I intend on doing is taking a subject that I want to learn, then I’ll break it up into a set of progressional topics that help me to piece by piece build up my knowledge on the subject. That sounds pretty much how school is already designed, but where I deviate is that I only move forward until I feel completely comfortable with my level of understanding in the topic. Only once I feel that I could carry a conversation on that subject and even teach someone else on that topic could I then move forward.
But how do I achieve that level? This is where most of the fluidity of my process will be present in that I’m going to let myself to be free to pull from different mediums and practice different forms of learning. But in general, what I think will work best is to take the topic, then read a couple different textbooks on that particular topic, which helps to get a very academic and technical version of the topic. Then I could go back and find either audio lectures from when I took a class that covered it, or use The Great Courses to get a lecture form of that subject, which this helps to hear how does a professional talk about it and how do they make tangible examples of that topic. Then I can go onto YouTube, or read online pages of the topic to see how people summarize the subject and try to talk about the surface level of the topic. I can then take notes of everything I found useful from all these mediums and compile them all together and then read all my notes together.
Once I’ve done that, I can write out my own version of what I learned and practice how would I try to summarize my thoughts on what I learned and try a long form version of writing out my thoughts and then condense it down so I could turn it into an awkward unsolicited party topic or to those poor and unfortunate souls who ask what I’ve been up to. I could also write out applications of the given topic so I not only know what it is and how it works, but why is it relevant.
Since I like to write out my thoughts, I intend on compiling all these notes and passing this along onto my blog. I’m not trying to push for readership and so I’m not focusing on views or anything, but by putting it out there should help push me to truly understand what I’m writing on the off chance someone did read it and asked me questions, I would have answers. It’s almost like writing a final paper and then posting it for the whole class to see: If everyone can see what I claim as my understanding of the topic, and either something doesn’t make sense to them or they think I made the wrong conclusion, I better have answers.
What I will learn
So what am I going to learn? For this first year, I have a handful of subjects I want to learn more deeply. I don’t know if I will get to them all in time, but this is the list that I’m planning on covering:
* Philosophy – Studying western philosophers
* Ethics– A more applied philosophy
* U.S. Presidents – Cover all the Presidents
* Money & Banking – From the concept of money to the banking system
* Economics – Relearn the macro, micro and development economics
* Coffee – Learn more of how coffee is made, and the economics that go into it.
* Race – Understand race relations in America
* Blockchain technology – Understand how this will change digital information
* Social Impact Bonds – Interesting concept of merging private and public market interests
Deeply Learning Philosophy
I will elaborate more on each of these as I pick them up for study, but the first one I will focus on is philosophy.
My plan for Philosophy is I want to study about 20 different philosophers and try to understand what their ideas were all about. I’ve taken a Philosophy 101 class and have read about many famous philosophers, but I realized that I couldn’t actually tell you what any of these philosophers were all about! Sure if you talk about Plato and talk about the Republic, I will be able to follow along with what you say, but I couldn’t be the one pushing the discussion.
So right now here’s my initial list of who I would like to study:
Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Copernicus, Descartes, Augustine, Aquinas, Bacon, Locke, Hume, Hobbes, Kant, Rousseau, Smith, Marx, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Wittgenstein.
Why I want to study philosophy and why I want to start with philosophy is because the way I see it is that philosophy is pretty much the center of thought. Much of how we frame our thoughts and ideas are shaped by the ideas of philosophers from centuries past. This leads me to pursue philosophy with the idea of understanding the framework that these individuals used to develop their ideas. While this isn’t truly practical, the idea is that I could theoretically pull from 20 different modes of thought when I think about a situation or circumstance. By having this framework should help me to not limit my modes of thinking so I can be an open and objective thinker. This also has benefit for being first in that it is probably the most straightforward project on my list to learn. While philosophy is an impossible subject to fully learn, by making my plan to having a basic and tangible understanding of a set of philosophers, I feel like this is a quite manageable project and especially since I’ve already been primed on many of these philosophers.
So that’s it! I’m excited to get this up and going and see what learning looks like when I’m not limited by school or any other constraints. If you want to ask me questions on what I’m learning, go for it! I want to deeply learn and if I can pass that along, even better!
This is going to be fun.