If I may, allow me to let me the scene. It’s 9 o’clock in the morning, on any Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, only catch it, it’s a year and a half ago. It’s been about three months since I barely graduated high school. The leaves are turning brown, and the skies grey. I won’t call if fall, and I won’t call if autumn, because to me, only two seasons exist: School season and Non-School season. Seeing as im feeling like shit, it must be school season So that puts me in class at City College, taking Political Science and Psychology with the masses, right? Wrong. Where was I? Barnes & Nobles. What was I doing? Well, my own version of what I would have been doing at school, learning.
For about 4 months, I skipped class three days a week and went to Barnes & Nobles in the Tanforan mall for 3 hours to participate in a study group consisting, of well, myself. Armed with the necessary supplies: notebook, pen, and a calculator; I would grab some coffee, a table, and a book on a subject of my choosing, and I would learn. I don’t need a teacher to explain to me what they’re reading out of a book, I can do that myself. In fact, when I do it, there isn’t 50 kids all learning at a different level (usually lower than me), most of which are so lost they can barely survive 5 minutes without making the teacher halt, reverse, and restart her train of thought. In Barnes & Nobles, there's no idiot in the back asking questions about something I’ve understood seemingly since birth. Instead there's an old man in the chair across from me, perfectly content reading about dogs, and just as content, not bothering me. Furthermore, the teacher, aware of the lack of intelligence in her class, has curtailed her lecture to compensate for the slower amongst us. My condolences to the slower amongst us, and while im sure that driving in the slow lane of the mind is not necessarily a choice, and you have every right to an education, just not on my time. In my class, there's no waiting; there's no homework, no mid-term, and no finals, and your reading the closest thing to an essay. I learned what I wanted, when I wanted. I won’t lie; some days were spent fantasizing about G5 jets and Bentleys, which coincidentally, Barnes & Nobles has a book for. However, if I had an urge to learn about Metaphysics, I asked one of the many staff to point me towards where that knowledge might be found, and I was on my way to higher understanding. When I wanted to learn the principle theories of Socialism, I knew the appropriate text was lurking somewhere in one of the many isles--- so I found it, and I read it. For me, Barnes & Noble worked is a way perfectly described by Apples infamous slogan for the Iphone’s app store (with a twist): Let’s say you need to know more about international marketing? There's a book for that. Lets say you want to find a list of former Russian Czars, there's a book for that. Or lets say, all you want, is to know which rapper earned the most money in 2008, well there’s a book for that (well Forbes is a magazine, but you get the point). Anything I wanted to learn was instantly accessible to me, a vast world of knowledge and wisdom, at my fingertips. I read the Art of war, the Tao Te Ching, and portions of the Jewish Kabbalah. I learned the psychology of pop culture, as well as the difference between prototypes and archetypes. I read arguments for both nature and nurture, and I learned the definition of “cogito ergo sum,” which translates to: I think, therefore I am. Truer words have never been spoken.
Self-awareness can be philosophically summed up as “I think, therefore I exist, as a being that thinks.” I came to the realization, that no matter what, I was a thinking being; whether contained by a classroom, or set free to contemplate, on my own accord, any topic I choose. I exist in a world created by my own thoughts, not the one dictated and lectured to me by an underpaid professor, forced to water-down his lesson plan to compensate for idiots.I do, although, understand (or at least get) the importance of school, more specifically, the importance of the piece of paper you receive after 4 years of school. It’s possible, maybe even probable, that I might have just taken the wrong classes, been stuck with the wrong teachers, or enrolled at the wrong institution. Maybe I didn’t give it long enough, or I went in with the wrong attitude and was doomed was the start. I could just be lazy. I’ll never be sure, but what I am sure of, is that neither my attendance record, nor my classroom participation will define me. I am defined by my own actions and thoughts, my own world. I am not the man who gets taught, I am the man who teaches himself.