School is Not Like the Pub…


When teaching in Poland one summer, my coworker received a t-shirt from a student which read:

School is not like the pub… You do not have to go to school every day.

I’ve got a lot of mileage from this line — good for a laugh with students and bargoers alike.

It also recently served as serious food for thought.

I’ve been reading Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha’s The Start-up of You — an excellent book that I wish I’d read earlier.

One theme of the book is the need for perpetual education and self-improvement:

The rules are different these days. You can’t expect to know everything with your college degree at age 22 and get remedial training from your employer as needed. 

For me, this education has centered around data analysis, business economics, and Microsoft Excel. My blogging is in large part to keep me fresh and push me to expand my knowledge base. Similarly, I encourage readers not to wait for employers to teach them everything. It’s been difficult to comprehend the initiative it takes to stay fresh in the workplace. You must keep finding ways not to stagnate — for me, blogging is that outlet.

Back to the bar.

School is not like the pub… there is no age limit. It’s funny that US drinking age of 21 is about the same age where most people end their education. Once most people can hit the bar, they stop hitting the books. I’ve heard that around 40% of college grads do not read a single book after getting their diploma.

This may have worked in a previous age, where career skills changed slowly and employers were also active job trainers. But in the rapidly shifting knowledge economy, there is no “legal learning age” after which you are free to stop improving.

Maybe you don’t have to push your intellect every day, as the proverb implies. But you can’t see education as a 21-and-under pursuit.

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