Viral rebuilt a 1978 motorcycle using the Internet, and it runs. Gary decided to knit a blanket for a baby and learned how on YouTube. Lucy and Elaine can video and edit as if they were technically trained videographers. Calvin actually can weave baskets and play the ukulele. Danielle can sew you a dress or shirt. The thing that strings them together is that none of them learned these things in class.
Innovative people are the ones who take what they learn and apply it to other situations or scenarios. They are the people who think critically and have harnessed problem-solving abilities. I told Calvin I wanted to be a Ninja Turtle for Halloween this year, he told me some ways I could make it happen that I had not thought of before. Creativity is not limited to those in the arts but can be cultivated in every discipline.
The problem is that college has become an extension of high school in the sense that it is a factory of manufacturing professions and social robots and is lacking on the side of thinkers and doers. Business schools are more about the money you can make if you can take the academic hazing and not about producing ethical decision makers and collaborators. (Didn’t Blackwell just get out of jail?)
The problem is that education has fallen away from the thoughts that it is a liberatory process of stretching and your mind and wrestling with the hard issues that birth from everyday life. Most of what you do at college is what you do when you are not in class. Class is just the jump off; it is not the stopping point. Class gives you the equipment in part, it is up to you to earn and learn the rest of it.
“Don’t let your education get in the way of your education.” This is something I heard in the 8th grade and still hold onto today. There are some intangible lessons we should all leave higher education with.
Stay curious: This means you can be devoted to lifelong learning by never losing that thirst to learn something knew that is especially outside your discipline. Do not become so highly specialized that you cannot visit another discipline and have some understanding.
Be consciously adventurous: Do things outside the box you come to school in. I do not think that I would have ever tried anything but soul food, but my favorite food now is Korean food. Give me that #spice. I also never thought that I would finish college with a friend in every nation we probably have people accounted for here at Ohio State. You cannot be culturally aware unless you talk to people who do not look like or think like you.
Recognize your privilege: Whether its wealth, whiteness, citizenship or knowledge of something that others do not know, recognize your space and ownership of that. And for maybe the first time in your life, think about what you can do to help others with it. This goes along with making the invisible people more visible: Speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. Think of the trafficking of girls and women around the world and in places like Toledo, Ohio. Think of people who are invisible and how it is present and necessary for folks to speak for them.
Have some core values: As the old saying, “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.” Tolerance and engaging difference does not mean that you are changing at your core but it could mean you understand people better and understand yourself better.
Do more than just graduate and get a job. Desire a profession that helps you leave your mark on the world that is bigger than your carbon imprint. Live your life to be proud that you have served the needs of others more than yourself. Help the lives of the children around us in the global and local context. Do life afraid and you will realize that bravery is attained at the summit of fear. And perform all of this on #repeat.