Lessons Beyond Schooling

I remember that when I wrote my senior thesis, the professor insisted that all students should take time off from university before applying to grad school. I noticed that hardly anyone listened (the sort attracted to senior thesis are not lazy). I was already working and enjoying the end of my undergrad experience as a part-time student, through what was the good side of an otherwise bad coin.
The academy is hedonism of the mind if it does not feed back into practical life.
Many of the thinkers who influenced me most either had no postgrad experience or disdained it in one way or another (like a woman who went from being a model to a social worker who recounted how much Freudianism she had to stomach just to get the diploma). So, that I find myself in an academy (of whatever calibre it is) is at times a source of personal amusement.
Especially since I think that, ultimately, life is the school. If one cannot take back to life what has learned, and 'test' it, if you will, then how can be sure one is on the right track? Just because we can have ideas does not mean that they are right.
Today, I read the TLS review on Chatwin's Under the Sun and to a certain degree felt at home in that article: growing up surrounded by eccentrics in a foreign land (I wish I had someone to share this with who would understand); the rumours that follow these eccentrics and the myriad kaleidoscopic views of this personage depending on whether viewed through the eyes of friend or foe; the dedication to craftsmanship. This was the mark of my early days. My father was a defender of cratsmanship; urging young businessmen to hold out on financial gain until they had first mastered the craftsmanship of yesteryear - so as not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. My father would always praise the undergrad experience as the bootcamp of staying power.
Craftsmanship - does this go with schooling? The way I would define it, craftsmanship would have to do with practical experience, not so much the distanced viewing of the craft. So, to return to Chatwin, who was certainly more schooled by life than the academy, he cultivated an eye that would notice the unexpected; he would rewrite his books until they sounded right. So, articulation of the happenings around one, if one is a craftsman, can be a long and laborious process - a process that to the untrained eye could look disorganised, but is rather the shape of swimming a longer distance to greater depths: the movement is not in a straight line.
It has become a cliche that the independent thinker will depart from the well-trodden path (thus the school, too), but this path can appear to lack grace for some of us in the modern age. Possibly because there are more influences out in the open to contend with. That pandora's box used to be closed.
And the lesson lives in the life outside of the classroom.

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