Class Introduction


Learn Anything: Hacking Your Education


Lesson Info

Class Introduction

I'm gonna start off by talking a little bit about my background, my biases, my my perspective on education and how that led me to do what I do on then the mobile chat with people live in the studio. I'm about why you guys are here, why you're interested in education and what you can, what you're looking to get from this weekend so you can make it really useful for you. Um, my story starts a long time ago when I was twelve I'm making my parents and said I did, but I didn't want to go to school and a cz you might imagine they weren't exactly the biggest fans of that idea. My parents were pretty traditional. My mom was actually a public school t shirt, my dad engineer so the people who really believed in the system and I came home and said, you know, I don't want to go to school is not feeling fulfilling to me. I'm being started by people who are more interested in doing things that are not productive than actually learning, and I was someone who is really interested in learning for learn...

ing's sake I was interested in in developing myself and being curious and exploring the world. Um, so I can't my parents and said, hey, can I take I take a year off and take a year out and see what happens right now says you know that the worst thing that can possibly happen that I might go back to school twelve of the risk didn't really seem very high I wasn't, you know, school is not going to go away any time soon. Um, it's nothing, nothing really toe really to lose out on and so I left, and at first I thought that leaving school would be an alternative, but I really found that being outside of school was actually way more engaging and fulfilling and meaningful then being in the classroom had ever been and we sweep, we started out on schooling or rather started at a home schooling is that that's? What my mother had been familiar with it as someone who had been a public school teacher on ben found an ad in a local newspaper for something not back to school night that was hosted by some local schoolers unspooling really provided a framework in a vocabulary for an educational philosophy that my parents and I were trying to wrap our heads around. Um that is to say that it was a philosophy that's that's not about school it's not about teachers it's not about authority it's about learning for learning's sake on and it was really refreshing to find other young people who'd also left school for the same reasons that I had I had a community of about fifteen or twenty other un schoolers who were doing the same thing who are left, who was they really wanted to learn on dh for the first time, I felt like I had friends who were tool wanting to do the same thing, and I felt validated and felt good about myself happy, which is which words were not feeling that I'd really had inside school. So I spent I spent three years from of middle school and high school from six and told twelfth grade it just is twelve to eighteen uh, totally outside the classroom, and I was able to do things that I never would've been able to have been in the class right mentors business, isn't it internships and really was able tio to engage with my education for the first time? Um, you know, did things like I lived in france for half year, I help library in my hometown? Um, I did things that were that were really, really meaningful. Ah, yes, the interesting thing is that I still decided to go to college because my parents have done on my peers were doing and what society expects you to do if you want to be successful in life? On so I went off to this small private school in arkansas called hendricks and leathery more about that decision later in the day, but I found that the same reasons that I left school when I was twelve or still true whatever that was six years later for the most part people were there not because they really wanted to learn but because they're counselors that told them to go on because their parents have told them to go ah, and there was really not that not that much uh not that much different um then six years before I spent I spent about I spent my fall semester trying to trying to improve things training and make the best of the situation and realized after, um, after six months that it really wasn't getting any better I wasn't getting any happier on that it really didn't make sense to try and try and fix it anymore and that I would have to do something if I was going to maintain my my happiness and health on dh so that was that was two years ago and I left uh, college at the at the beginning of march of two years ago um, not really with much of a plan in january of twenty eleven, I'd started writing publicly about my frustrations with college college debt oregon I'm sort of thinking about what it meant talking outside school instead of wondering why, if I had not gone the middle school or high school, should I need to go to college? Right there's? No reason that I shouldn't be able to do the exact same thing and directly on education as I had the right middle school high school for higher ed, I started reading publicly about that, uh e mailed some people to ask their opinions. I gained a bunch of press attention somewhere along the way. I told someone I was reading a book and the rest of sort of history, and in the last two years, I've had the chance to really think a lot about what it means to learn both for myself and what idea doesn't on school, because prior to this, I never really thought about it, right? I did it, um, but I never thought about how I did or what I did. And so into the down time, people say, well, you know, there's only work for you because, you know, naturally gifted things all in eight and reality is that it's not that it's, not that I survived without systems. The reality is that I built systems for myself that allowed him to thrive outside of school, but I never taking a chance to go back and think about what those were or how I built them, um and I also have a chance with the book to interview about forty or so they will have gone on to do interesting things with their lives without relying on formal education so someone and became architects or doctors or lawyers or entrepreneurs are artists or djs but the common thread is that what they do professionally, they did not learn in the classroom also in the last year on college has grown to be a really global movement I think I've been to about eighteen countries in the last year to talk about this and to talk about new waves of learning and the thing that's interesting, I think is that um people assume that because I'm from san francisco in silicon valley and that's where technology and innovation happens that everyone is unschooling in silicon valley which which works to my advantage but but that's not the case in fact it's it's just this controversial to talk about unschooling and learning outside of school here in silicon valley as it is in malaysia or qatar or wherever else in a world I happened to be on and it's interesting to see that you know this is talking about not going to school is eyes as sacred as a cz religion or something it's it's amazing to see it's something that you know school is something that almost everyone has called right and to question it is really challenging um and I was amazed to see that when I when I left school both in twelfth grade and when I was twelve and during college the amount of animosity that really came out of other people because they saw my decision to leave school as a value judgment peoples decision to stay in school and really that's that's not what it's about right? This is not about dropping out of school that's what I happened to do that's what I did because I didn't have to patients to make it work. Ultimately the unschooling philosophy is about learning how to educate yourself and taking responsibility for your education if you want to be in school and you know why you're there that's awesome right? He want to work with a certain professor or being a laboratory then more power to the problem is, um when you're spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to graduate with an average of twenty seven thousand dollars of debt in the states with, uh with job prospects that aren't too hopeful that's that's a real reason to think about whether or not it makes sense to go to school. It seems really hard to me to figure out what you want to do with your life or who you are if the only way that you're ever going to figure that out is supposedly by sitting in the classroom for eight hours a day I think they're much easier and more productive ways to figure that out by going I'm actually doing things, andi I hope that we can weaken sparked your interest in inspiration and doing some of those things um this weekend so I wantto I want to start by getting to know so that we can get to know each other. I know we talked a little bit about this in the in the videos that you made but what we usually do it academic camps is go around and, uh, go around the room and answer three questions. One is what makes you a academic second is why were you interested in coming here? The third is what is it that you want to learn by the end of this weekend's that we can tailor this experience to meet your expectations so let's start over here, okay? So first one is why am I here? What makes you what makes me academic? Yeah, I grew up living abroad and not really going to school and then got back teo I lived all over asia and latin america and then came back to the u s and managed to get a lot of leeway with school and I managed to miss three months about every year five through twelve now I find myself in university which is supposed to be this like really great intellectual experience and it's not like there are a lot of really great things about it, but I'm not feeling as fulfilled and like I'm learning as much as when I had some more options um so that's why I'm here and why I'm interested in academics and where are you a university I go to seattle you? Um next question is why were you interested in coming to this? Okay, so I'm interested in coming to this teo, figure out how to make how to be able to learn what I'm interested in learning um and right now I'm not sure because I know that I have finished college because I'm doing it on a full ride scholarship uh quick, no it's great. Um how how I can figure out how to do what I want tio within that context and then outside of that context as well and third question yeah, what is what? What are what are things that you want to learn this weekend? Okay, I am interested in learning how to make how to be a ble tio learn what I want to learn um whether it's inside of the higher education structure or outside that structure. Yeah, um, I after I got in high school, I went down to los angeles for two years and took an internship um and during that um all my friends had gone to college, and I decide to do something different, and it taught me so much, I got to travel around the country and like to speaking tours and everything. What was it wasn't from falling whistles, it's a campaign for peace in congo? Uh, yeah, so I met people who just had, like, tons of creative energy, and we just like doing what they wanted to do, regardless of, like, what people were telling them, and I really like messed with that mindset, and then I went back to school because I know if I if I stayed there, I would just never go, and it was always something that was important to me, and then I got back into the classroom, and I'm just so now I'm just so tired and bored of sitting there, and I like hearing these things that I know I could learn faster and easier and get and be more like in tune with what's going on if I was back in l a and I was back at an internship, um and it's just really frustrating for me to see a lot of my friends graduate with with no experience, but they have their degree and then and they can't take internships they can't go do what they want to do because they have to go pay their student loans and so they move back home and they get a job like back at home when they don't want to be there and I was don't want that to happen to me I tell you my friends um so that's kind of why why I'm here is to create those plans and c I really want to see it I'm on the fence right now about whether I want to stay in school I only have two porters left, but I just it's just seconds away. Um, so I want I'm really trying to see, like, if I can tailor something that will be better for me in the future and where is school right now? Western washington university were telling him, uh, why my academic, like he said, learning for learning's sake um, you know, I really relate to that and, you know, I think kind of different from everybody else here I have a college degree and and so and I loved the college experience you but I graduate from college fifteen years ago, so, you know, I mean, the student loan debt was a lot last baghdad on, but I see where it's going now with the mounting student loan costs, um why am I here? I'm here actually I have four kids and and I'm looking at this kind of from the next ten to twenty year period where education is going um you know, my wife and I are both educated my wife's actually college professor um but at university puget sound and um you know and you know it's a private school it's fifty thousand dollars a year and you know, with four kids you know, think about that cost you know, we're looking at a million dollars to educate our kids, you know, it's a scary process yes and it is very much so, you know? And I want to make sure that my kids are, you know, at least educated to the level that I'm educated, but it doesn't necessarily have to be, you know, through the traditional college experience, andi, what I want to get out of the weekend, you know, I kind of want to figure out a blueprint for supporting that lifelong learning I mean, something that I can pass along both to my kids and the people that work for me too, and what is what is work? I'm a wildlife firefighter when he was ashen I also went to college like brian and I graduated about a year ago and what makes me a academic was the realization that being in college just isn't enough it felt secure and I like that feeling when I was there but I got used to the idea that if I wanted to learn something I had to just take a class in it and it was until I realized that you can go out there and just learned days in the real world speaking with people that I really got interested in lifelong learning and that's what led to me being here I uh I would really like to learn more about developing a plan toe b'more adaptive and any environment so that if I want to learn something new I can devote my time to that and not be stuck in one path for the rest of my life and I like the idea that we'll be discussing working with mentors and reaching out to people in the industry because what I tell people that I'm learning on my own they just say so you're just reading a book and it's really way much more than that and to really learn something if they go out and speak with people and collaborate and that's what I'd like to learn more about here awesome um yeah similar fashion like I've done some university universe victoria capitano university as well in vancouver and the island andi I just found that uh yeah it was like taking a course for something and having us there for a specific amount of time with people that aren't necessarily there for the right reasons and yeah they just weren't as passionate and as kind of wanting to do stuff with their lives as I wass on I found that really discouraging um I'm really interested in just like reading as well because I think there's a lot of people and I think everyone in this room really right now that there's some natural intelligence and I think that's so important and like if you have that maybe don't necessarily need that degree whatever toe prove yourself right you have those creative ideas you have those inspirational things about yourself um I'm really interesting this course because of you but uh yeah just very of learning anything on your own I think that's so cool um and what I want to learn similar ashton mentoring I think that's something right now especially my life I'm really interested in um same kind of thing like how do you kind of present yourself to someone let's say in a job interview or in a certain circumstance where you can say you're a non school or whatever and no respect that and say you know that's really cool and what are you doing now right now I'm about to launch my first business which is kind of like an in home training company for technology so like computers and ipads um because there's like no it doesn't exist uh in vancouver in the north shore and from it in vancouver, so get that going sweet, cool can we chime in from the people? So all right, so we have lots of great dialogue going on online as to why people are here, so he putting keep throwing those in started with unlearn er of the chat name who says I want to get more direction as far as whether I should go to high school or home school more and then later go to college or not, I want to see what people do when they choose alternatives. I think that's so interesting is because when you are still in high school, at least for me, like you don't it's, you don't even know what all those alternatives are out there so good onya sure, with people of all ages, yeah, another one that we have right here is from I'm pronouncing this correctly that on we wrote, this person has a master's degree from an ivan the university and still must keep on learning for her whole life just tow improve who he or she is like, relax now, relax now is a college professor, and he wants to make the college experience more like academia. I don't know if you've trademarked that yet if you haven't, you should get that bail during a break in a also sam cox is retired I'm curious if he found this before sam cox is retired and interesting interested in pursuing new interests he finds that academia is a way that he can go about doing that well what I love earlier again it gave sam a shadow earlier but what's so cool about what you're teaching here is a lot of how it connects to what we're doing here create alive and so upon meta upon exactly very meta so let's read out a few more l richie says I'm a academic because I just retired and I had always planned to return to school for the liberal arts that I skipped in preparation for my professional career online courses might be a better approach for me especially since we're thinking of living abroad skipping from continent to continent for the next a decade is again part of the learning as well it's just very cool yeah flying kites is on my academic because I want to live with passion passion in every step of life I believe lifelong learning is incredibly excited um also d r debbie has three university degrees but still realize that there's a lot more to learn in this universe and in this life a shoutout to another regular fashion tv who says I'm a academic because I had enough of education I have a degree from the uk spent my last six year years on visual education and I realized that I learned faster visually I'm here because I want to live a purposeful life in the coming three days. I would love to learn new things in a creative and wise way. Basically, life is all about options. So we're so excited to have people who are here for all these many reasons, and I hope that helps awesome, yeah, I mean, I think I think the point that you made about having options is really important, right? Because, as I discovered in the last year and a half, so much of the conversation is has been about making, making learning outside of any formal schooling, admiring and options on convincing people that it is possible to learn if you even if you're not sitting behind a desk, which is which is, you know, fundamentally very obvious, right? It happens all the time. We don't take babies to speaking in walking classes, um, by the process and the environment in the culture of school is so ingrained that it's really hard to get beyond that thinking.

Class Description

For most of us, getting a good education that prepares us for a satisfying, successful life and career means going to school and attending college. We pay our dues by sitting for hours in a classroom, doing the prescribed homework, and often paying tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege of getting a degree from an institution of higher learning.

But that’s not the case for Dale Stephens, who decided at a young age that school and college weren’t for him. Instead, he embraced “unschooling,” which is self-directed learning based on curiosity, confidence and grit. Instead of blindly following what society and institutions say we must learn and how we should learn it, Stephens offers an alternative approach that is richer, more dynamic and geared to our unique interests.

Stephens is the author of “Hacking Your Education,” founder of, a highly sought-after speaker, and a successful investor and advisor. He and his special guest speakers will help you devise your own personal learning path, figure out your dreams and how to pursue them, learn to embrace your outsider status, and discover how to find meaning and purpose while also making a living.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Create a personal learning plan that defines what you want to learn, why you want to learn it, and how you will learn it.
  • Keep yourself motivated when you don’t have the structures of school.
  • Identify what your goals and dreams are and what you need to learn to realize them.
  • Connect with mentors and advisors who can help you on your educational journey.
  • Build a community with other “hackademics” to help you learn anything you want.
  • Create a portfolio to communicate your talents rather than a traditional resume.
  • Find a well-paying, satisfying job using subversive job search techniques.


a Creativelive Student

I'm not able to afford this class now but I saw the live view on CL and want to thank you! So many things I have experienced recently it was nice to learn that I am not about filters, time managing as innovators, taking smaller steps instead of reaching for long goals...chunking. Great course!