Learn Anything: Hacking Your Education


Lesson Info


So much of what we're talking about is about learning it's about education but it's not necessarily about school and learning and education are definitely things that happened in school obviously school works works quote unquote debatable how you define what works for a large number of people most people have gone to school obviously society functions to wood to greater extent I mean there's there's no control experiment for lives we don't know what the world would look like in which nobody went to school but we can only assume that you know it's it would be ok thinking about things but education and learning in the difference between those two has guided a lot of my thought in the last couple of years on its it's led me on some interesting adventures and to make some interesting connections with with companies and people in silicon valley there's one company that I have given some advice to call it everest and they make an iphone app that helps people set goals keep them on track and ...

as part of a community in enable people to support and challenge each other as they go about reaching those goals and this is this exercise actually came out of a board meeting that we had it ever so they ask people to write down their dreams because ever is about achieving people's dreams andi it was out of that meeting those sorts good thing about how dreams are really about learning about what you need to learn to get there and whether that's a dream of wanting to climb everest or wanting to go skydiving or wanting to write your own song or sing or whatever it is there's certain skills that you need to learn that you can break down together. I think what's interesting to me is seeing the seeing the connection between learning and between computer science in silicon valley because I'm not a technical person. But all of my friends are I live in san francisco that's just the culture there the parallel to me between the two is that learning and writing computer programs are various similar and that you have a big problem when you have to break it down into smaller chunks and that's true for whether it you know, you decide that you want to learn french and you have to figure out but the grammar that you need to know in the different the different, you know tense is that you need to learn dramatically and, you know, the vocabulary or whether it's that you decide that you want to write this physics give you ever I mean, you need to, you know, set up the database and women like right different, you know, define different variables and so on and so forth that's about taking a larger problem in breaking it down into smaller chunks so I had, uh, worksheets out earlier to everyone in the studio and I hope you've had some time to think about the dreams that you have the things that you want to learn, the things that you want to do this could be professional, this could be personal, you know, it could be that you want to meet a certain actor, it could be that you want to learn how to speak german fluently, it could be anything that you want. Hopefully we have these worksheets online, if not still big deal, take a piece of paper and take a few minutes to write down, um, write down twenty or thirty dreams that you have things that you want to learn on dh while while the online audience is taking the time to do that, we're going take some time in the studio to talk about what those are, uh, for fifteen or twenty minutes, and then we'll take some time to use the late part and brainstorm out one of the things that we need to learn to get those schools awesome. So let's in the studios just go around the circle and share what your dreams are first don't start with sorry, shorter, just our career or life both okay? Um, I didn't say I didn't get to write all the law honestly, which most people probably won't um for career I said running my own business um creating aps I'm really interested in like that kind of stuff um I'm kind of interested in creating a social network she's kind of weird but um I think facebook's really still uh writing a book and motivational speaking sunday once I've had more life experience is to talk about um some life goals just being surrounded by technology and like that kind of stuff um consider moving the silicon valley uh extensive traveling I love traveling I think there's so much to learn from traveling and benefit from from traveling um just like being a well respected business professional person um creating my own kind of brand through that on ben someday again down the road I like to create a foundation support stuff like on college in these kind of cool things that need to be supported. When I first graduated, the first thing I did was I taught myself spanish in it uh took me about eight months but using those methods kind of like what you just mentioned I want to apply those learning become fluent in french and then also I've been trying to learn computer programming so there's air one of my two main goals but I'd also like to become a better public speaker and get better at drawing and for a career I currently work for start up energy company and I decided to treat it like a practical mba, and I'd like to learn more about becoming successful and helping your company become better um, you know, most of my professional goals that I've actually achieved, so I'm pretty content with that, and I really don't have that on here, most of them actually have to do you overachiever, but, you know, it's actually at this point, like doing things with my family, climbing kilimanjaro with my kids, they you know, they talk about it and they've seen pictures of it and they want to go course, you've got to get there soon before there's no, before the snows are all gone and like I mentioned earlier, you know, a big thing for me is making sure my kids, they're educated tio to a level of that I'm educated at or higher andi just learning anything that interests me, you know? I don't have anything specific that I want to learn, but if I come across something, I see something on a book or I see, you know, something creative, live, you know, I want to dig deeper into that and learn more about it and, you know, and then another thing is like it's also said, I'm teaching the people that work for me and my fire crews, I want them to be able I want to pass along to them how to effectively learn in a short time frame I'm you know feel that work for me work for me for the summer basically, you know and so I have tio work on getting them up to speed and you know, and they have ah very short training window, but I want them to be ableto still learn in that environment and take that on, you know, kind of what you're doing tio distribute that knowledge it's my dream to own a mobile vintage clothing and craft store and travel around the country for street fairs and doing workshops, and that all kind of started after I did that my my toe around the country of my other nonprofit on besides that, I want to learn how to rock climb and traveled every continent before I'm thirty odd three so far, so nice. Anything else? Um yeah, it would be like, surrounded also by people that I can always be challenging me, which I think is a it's a conscious goal that you have to I am really interested in working to alleviate poverty because growing up abroad, that something that kind of hit me in the face a lot especially coming from the u s and coming from that privilege so I'm interested in working in health and health is a way to alleviate poverty so lots of ways to do that not really sure how I want to go about it but then I also know that I want to have the freedom to travel because I love traveling and I don't do well staying in one place for very long um and I want to have be ableto learn languages um and then I think at some point I'll probably end up teaching in some capacity because I really like helping other people learn things on dso whether that's in school or whether that's health education I don't really know what you have responses from the internet that we dio thank you all so exciting to hear all the divers dreams and a lot of people are commenting and saying, oh, I want to do that too there's a I want to own a vintage clothing store you know s o we have way have are making file says I don't want to travel the world live with family and italy and sicily for at least one year I think a consistent theme but a lot of it is travel getting out of a great today and where we're based yeah, we have dorian who also wanted to have a book published p j chipman would like tio broadens artistic media skills you have to start from the bottom more doing more sketching right now and work up there to explore many different branches including painting and digital allen says he wants to buy a football club, were part of the world are you and alan and thinking that might be what we call south? We're robi you're took would like to write screenplays and stage groups, direct and produce stage productions, arrange and write music right, and maintain a successful blawg run a successful online retail business. I mean, these are some gold gators right now in the creative life community. Absolutely we have kelly j, who says dreams learned to write screenplays and stage scripts, direct and produce stage productions, arrange and write music right, and maintain a successful blood run, a successful online retail business I love seeing, like very concrete here's what I want, tio that when some of a vaguely familiar with ah red box wants to live in france for three months and in study cooking at a top cooking school, uh, whilst we have the rainy day store would like a built of business with his family on the internet through travel, nice, nice, uh, and red box says he wants to finish my phd someday, so we have all types. What about you? While a dream of mine will? One dream was already accomplished today, dale, I'm co hosting creative live what that's exciting you got some laughs out there? I think another one of my family is from the cape verde islands, which is on with northwest coast of africa and never been their grand parents immigrated here so it's a passion of mind to find my way across the atlantic ocean to the caper islands like so they're still coming in, but we got which is great to see awesome. We'll check back in a few um you you started you started explaining a little bit of a little bit of context uh, to your dream and I think that's, that's, that's really important we'll get into this more on sunday when we talk about some of the neuroscience of learning. But one of the most important things is that when you're learning, you have to have context because, uh, it makes it more interesting and the way your brain works neurons firing wired together is the more connections you can make, the easier it is to recall something so you you start giving us context as to why you're interested in living in poverty. Is there another one of your dreams that you could give us more more context to the why of it? Sure, one of my other dreams is tio learn more languages I speak spanish because I lived in latin america and at various other points have known more of different languages but I think that learning languages is a really different way of communicating with people and you can't really relate to an individual or culture unless you're doing it in their language um and I think it's just a lot of fun tow learn new words can you elaborate on more of why some of your dreams yeah, I mean, I I kind of the same as morgan I don't like to be in the same place for very long, but I and I wanted to create something that I could could combine my like love of the road and level of traveling with like my love of like crafting and all of that like d I y aspect so I was kind of struggling with how how to make that happen and then, um I just one time I was at and a street fair and there's this little mobile vented shop and I was like, that is it I found it. So yeah, I just just gave me like, the inspiration to go and do something and like, create combine all of my passions into one one thing and that was was working with a nonprofit the first time you need that you spent time on the road traveling or yeah, I grew up I'm from olympia washington and I was in the same school district for my entire my entire life I went to africa for a summer um and my sophomore year of high school but that was about all the extensive telling I've done um it was just for a week or so and when I went down to l a and I just got exposed all this stuff and I was offered the position to go we did thirty three cities in two and a half months it's just like a world way yeah every night a different city talking about like peace in congo and what that means and how we could get that um and just like being on the road and meeting all these new people and hearing so many different stories and that really inspired me and I just couldn't I never wantto stop being basically brian have you done a lot of climbing or what's the what's the is that is that your dream or your kids? Yeah, I mean it's something that my wife and I dio um and I think that my kids have seen that you know, we have mount rainier in our backyard, right? You know? And we'll take our kids, you know, the mountains all the time and you know, we'll goto terrain here and they talk about one in decline that you know, and I think that with kilimanjaro I don't know you have made it part of it's the travel part of it, you know, going to africa and and being there you know and then my kids you know have little kids they watch madagascar you know, you know and they see the talking about handling all of that are the kids what that I won't argue could uh oldest one seven then for two and a newborn um so that the four year old and the seven year old you know can you recognize that you know and they know where it is on the map we have a big map in our house you know, on the wall like big friend map that way have magnets all over it that they get to put magnets on places they want to travel to um you know, and kilimanjaro's on there and you know it shows up is the highest point in africa you know there's a magnet on there because everybody wants to go there and go climate you know, I mean there's not really in the aspiration teo you go climb everest or anything like that. But you know the family, the thing that the whole family khun d'oh you know at some point in the not too distant future, you know is that so yeah and why? And it just started as a hobby kind of something that we felt would be a good skill to have and it developed into something that we really care about and we find challenging and I'd like to continue learning more about it and combining it somehow with my business background and that's why I like it so much is because it's just something to work with uh alongside friends cool thing about programming to its very systematic yeah like we get people like that why do I want to do what I want? I am very creative person andi I find that that's that's my nature that's like thing I can create ideas for people with whatever they're trying to do and not because I'm smart or whatever just because that's my mind I have a very creative mind um also it's funny like he has time africa I've been there changed my life love that place um yeah um so you know we have more responses online wanted chime in with you we do a few questions there more responses online at one person lower making d want to succeed in her field as they feel designer and illustrator so her husband can leave the job do you have a great wife take her gender night give a high five kudos that she's washing dale's course today dale you're changing the world man a free that's, a good wife and a good why too good right exactly never one ism marco most is learning has always been a hobby for me and I just want to learn how to absorb information not just in books but also teach himself other languages and which otherwise is proven by heart so we have we have our m cinephile who says make art that inspires people as much as some artists, filmmakers and musicians have inspired me so the why come kind of around to that other people have done for him or her yeah and there's a thirteen year old washington right now bill and you give me an interest in why this thirteen year old is not in class watching this uh photos by parent is more I'm watching this right now with my thirteen year old high school junior who was faces college decisions at such a young age because of his intelligence he needs guidance. This is by the way, this this class right here with daily jay stephens is his home school of silent for the next few days you you become a whole workers landed e I love it I'm not sure if that's if that's antithetical so let's see I want to be this is fashionista I want to be editor in chief at harper's bazaar because it is my favorite magazine and I feel that it would be a position where I would always be learning new things having the world and collaborating with others so I like seeing the wise behind dreams now for sure awesome so what I want to do next is thinking about think, think about the learning that take place, too, to get to some of the dreams that way mentioned and weaken will do this with, uh, some of what we mentioned in studio and weaken do with if you want to suggest something we'd do online as well. Um, let's, see? So the ones they jotted down that I thought would work, but that way could think about the what learning needs to happen. We're running a business, speaking, writing, a book, getting a practical mba. I mean, come on, joe, running in mobile vintage clothing store in the health poverty thing, any of those, if we wantto it's specifically explicate, just jump in. So what do you need to learn to to run a mobile in vintage clothing shop sounds? Sounds well, I weren't goingto work in a vintage clothing store right now, so having that background of kind of what the industry like, what people, what people want in terms of minutes holding, so having that need, um, indefinitely, toure torn management is a thing that you have to learn as well, if that if you're going on the road and booking and being on time and something that I do not have at all is any vehicle maintenance skills, which is something that would be very like what? What sort of like is this like he rented rv and going by like one of those it's like I forget the name of it but this is a little vented like pull trailer okay extreme pools really? Yeah. Okay thinking about national I have options but he was like I was going to get out of there stream and fill it with craft supplies in bridges close and is like run workshops out of it on pull it along so I need to know and like how it having tio learning how to develop workshops as well andi kind of marketing that and having enough honey like a built in audience before you get to a city it's really important so you're not just driving then right? And you guys should chime in with other suggestions that was going to say sales sales now what about like sewing you know how does so presumably uh yeah I think like sewing and abroad like craftiness because there's a lot that go like sewing is just one aspect of root of craft but keeping but keeping up social media and marketing do you plan on having employees? We're just yourself yeah employees to feel like it's a major our teammates programming yeah programming which I have dabbled in um probably not to accept this out but you're developing nope a website um what else? Mobile clothing store what do we have there s o tour management um how did how did like manage your tour plan where you're going that sort of thing like this was like the demands of customers is that right yeah um how to figure out what the customers want which you're learning right now by working in a clothing store vehicle maintenance that you're going to pull your own airstream along and be able to fix it park it e way that happened seems like a reasonable thing that you need to know you know how to back up an airstream in like a gas stations you never get in new york yeah singing today like contacts in the industry just so you know where you feel like hey, I'm coming tall you're right yeah I like to partner with local retail stores and have workshops like with them and elaborate that would definitely be something uh sales um you know how to sell and interact with your customers um sewing so that you can like mend your clothing which is presumably vintage so it needs to be mended right bookkeeping social media marketing to the iv when you get to the different cities you can I already have a following er way also missed developed workshops um hmm engines that if you have any employees you khun manage them and figure out what they need uh crudo of foot site for yourself how to back up your airstream uh don't think context industry there any other suggestions either here online for what it means to be learned? We'll have a very important point right now to bring up I think we're pretty much doing there right now but a question we have from unlearn er dale is what do you do when you don't know where to start achieving your dream when you're completely clueless is essentially what you're doing right now but if someone is at home right now by themselves what could be the first at bat here she khun take doing this by themselves get through your friends together and and ask them I mean so much of the time having having the collective power of a little brain party is all that it takes right to kick it off it's I think that definitely one of the biggest challenges about unschooling is figuring out how how to know what you don't know andan someone is that that's a really big challenge in some ways that provides for the greatest learning opportunity, right? I think one of the things that one of things that surprised me most when I got to college was that suddenly two thirds of my work was just taken away his someone was deciding what I was going to learn and then evaluating and I just actually had to do the work myself and that was really easy people like complaining like uh I have to write a four page paper like well someone gave you the topic for it and they're going great it for you like what are you complaining about right like that's not that hard doing the actual work is the easy part they felt like most of the learning actually came from you know having to go and look at the original text in the side of that is going to write about and then you know evaluate what I was doing compared to what my friends were doing going ask for feedback for from mentors you know and then compare that with my own feedback to get a better sense of how I was evaluating myself I think that I think the first step is is to go and ask someone who's more knowledgeable in their field then that then you are yourself right and and that doesn't have to be someone like if you wantto like what's the what's the example of this person of what they were going toe so they didn't have a bad example doesn't know where to start I mean you know if you wantto if you want to like I don't know get into the like oil industry or something right like you don't need to go talk to the ceo of bp right? Someone who someone who knows more about that me just be your parent um and you can slowly build up of people who know more about whatever it is that you want to learn so we gained more contacts and in fact, that's probably gonna be a great segway into our next section about mentors, right? Yeah, for sure. So we do have a couple people timing in with sort of more examples of what you need to learn a source for clothing would be one and as well as how to become a big name blogger, if that was one of your goals and then we did have somebody start starling who says, dude, I want in on this girl's vintage he tweeted her somebody already has a business partner way give five percent of that bythe and then another one from alan is how to brand your clothing. It's vintage, would you be acrylic creating new brands for your clothing? Or would it be, um, that depends I am not I'm not the best it's sowing, but I double, so I'm more interested in, like, kind of preserving, preserving vintage as it is. And then I also want o introduce independent designers and like local designers into the story as well, so kind of having all that blinked in under one one texas and you had your something down um, just for like, the finding out what you want to do like something that helped me was just finding out what I was really passionate about. What I really loved and then that made it so much more interesting than just like what I was being told to learn about what I think told to do right and I would also recommend when being open to getting feedback because I've realized that when I was learning something and I went out and spoke with people about it and I just made a mistake and that at the moment it was embarrassing but just getting the honest feedback and realizing that I was wrong, it was way more beneficial than just thinking that what I was doing is right and continuing on a path that might have let me elsewhere what were some of the things that made you open to getting feedback that first moment when I realized that it how beneficial it wass because I used to look at getting feedback or something that made me feel worse but that I was honest and realized they this person's right? And I'm improving upon it now I should just be open to any type of feedback anything else that we want to add to the mobile a clothing store well, something I haven't named because I'm stuck in school right now and I can't go and hit the road I don't have the money to get in there stream I've been going to the local flea market and kind of like starting small, so I think that doing kind of like a prototyping and seeing what works and what doesn't is really important fully invest and dive they have deep into it let's do the reading a book won some thoughts you see where I have directly relevant experience with one of the things you need to learn to write a book grandma? Grandma okay, uh grammar okay, the best mode of publishing how you want to publish it, publish and say you have to know how to brand yourself yeah say knowing the audience that you're trying to reach yeah, definitely and no topic well enough to write a book about it and to go along with knowing your audience, you know, being ableto narrow that you can't be everything to everybody. Is that, like, almost like being comfortable with yourself in your message? Uh, you're refining your message, finding your message someone else said something earlier, but I was writing and didn't get it you repeat, that goes you actually, did you say just, um I mean, you having that knowledge to write the book? Not sure how that residents in like, a like a base level knowledge, I'm having some content worth writing about what they were fighting about timing in online as well, kelly j says learning how to structure a book yep definitely structure is very important also, cindy had a promote above but I didn't know how to edit as well knowing when did when it's more valuable to take something away then add it something awful has a build authority and know your subject extremely well when writing a book and it sort of goes in the content piece here when I say get seth how to get seth gold goat in just his credibility yeah right because that's that's huge department credibility and dale something someone else as here andrea she has ah steve whitmore excuse me consider publishing options maybe an e book is a way to go first is the traditional way um what I'm goingto oh I was gonna say um knowing howto knowing how to follow through on a commitment writing a book is a big commitment definitely one of the things that I had uh convince penguin of was that although I just dropped out of college six months into a four year commitment I could actually commit to finishing a book um what else books knowing having like negotiate contracts all that fun stuff figuring out how to network with successful writers from cali guy to seventy three learning like getting specific here l s thirteen how do you copy right for a book a lot of people are talking about how to organize your research you have this a lot actually just doing a research right knowing good research practices wolf fx mentions testing the content to ensure that it ah has value for for readers research we like knowing how to cite things correctly this is against a broader question down that is from sam wall is are there any certifications that align with fear academic system I mean I don't have anything against certifications themselves if someone wants to get a certification and you've decided to do it on your own authority I think that's awesome and more power to you right um probably the universities that are most in line with um my philosophy are competency based university is so things like western governors university for example on they were kind of model where you can go in and take a test on day one and if you pass the test then you've passed the class and you get credit for the class and say well there's it's there's no need to sit through a semester of class if you have a knowledge and ableto completed on day one have a question from sam cox in loveland, colorado says when working on your dreams does it help to realize them by buddying up with others with similar dreams? Yes it does we're going to talk about that on something out cool excellent question sam was well, this question here and I can imagine a lot of people for potentially feeling this but but with susan role is so how do you know when you're just uninterested in learning on when you just chronically unsatisfied with yourself so some people maybe are putting a lot of different ideas out there right now they're thinking about so um do you kind of distinguish between something that's worth pursuing and others that aren't I mean, I think I think that's I think that's a valuable thing to be interested in curious right? I don't think that is a negative thing at all I think for the most part the bigger problem that people run into is that they've been they've been told but that it's bad to be curious and I hadn't told my teachers that they're asking too many questions so the fact that that you've maintained that diversity and that interest in life is awesome I think I think I think we discover what it is that makes us curious that we're passionate about by trying lots of things out right? Anything it's much easier to try a lot of things out when they don't all necessarily have to be in a classroom right? You don't have to take a four month course and something to know whether or not you like it. You could read a book that you could watch a video you could you think you can I think that what it does is allow us to decide whether that we're interested in something in a much shorter periods of time than previously so a good question from joanne cia, which I've seen a lot of people feeling already online is how does one not get overwhelmed by this huge list of learning tests? That's that's what we're going to be diving into for the rest of this weekend figuring out how how to find that tourists how to create effective systems for yourself to make structures had developed personal learning plans how to find accountability bodies, how to do all those things that will help you narrow down and evaluate create your own systems for learning outside school is that the thing is that normally a teacher does that for you right on dna? Now what we have to do is play the part of teacher for ourselves and down for you I'm curious I'm not sure if two years ago if you would have been able to fast forward and say it should be here creative live she teaching this but for you has it also been just part of the journey and not getting overwhelmed with everything in the beginning? Because measure if you knew you would have made it here. I think that I think the biggest difference for me from two years ago to now is that up until two years ago my time was spent one hundred percent learning right? And I think I think for the most part that's why we think that school is effective for the simple reason that in school you're spending one hundred percent of your time learning and no percent of your time trying to do anything that's not learning on and that's not to say that what we do professionally isn't learning. But now the generation time between when I have to learn something and what I have to do do it is much, much shorter, right? So now it's oh, I have to give a talk at this place in two weeks. You need to learn about the audience and what the topic is have to write the talk on before I might, you know, spend, spend six months learning about the political economy of, you know, mid twentieth century germany and then take a test on it for months later. Where is now it's? Oh, I have to do this, you know, in a week or two weeks so that that transition has been has been challenging even for me, as someone who's like very, very accustomed to self directed learning. So I think that's, I think, making that tradition of what's been interesting.

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 Uncollege.org, 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 alone...talk about filters, time managing as innovators, taking smaller steps instead of reaching for long goals...chunking. Great course!