Sunday, February 07, 2016

How to overcome your education

‘How to overcome education.’ It’s quite sad to have to write that, isn’t it? But unfortunately with the way our system is built today, often young people are faced with that challenge.

We hear stories like it all the time, young people who are essentially forced with giving up their lives during an exam year: no more sports, no music, or something which I find most upsetting - no creativity. Now before I go ahead and say anything, I have so much appreciation for our education system. We are blessed in this country to be provided with free, quality, diverse education when so many all over the world are deprived of it. That being said, for teenagers who want to break from the mold, it can represent an obstacle rather than a tool.

Last month I spoke at TEDxTeen to portray a belief of mine that everyone has the potential inside them to change the world from inside their bedroom, in their pyjamas. It was an incredible experience, but what really stood out to me is that every young person who approached me after my talk asked the same question: “How did you manage to do this and balance school at the same time?”

Upon reflection, this question is quite upsetting. There in front of me I saw dedicated, passionate young people who actually cared about making a difference, who wanted to get involved, and they felt like school was holding them back. Education is a tool that should empower young people, not get in the way of their dreams and ambitions. Before me I saw boundless potential going to waste because young people felt like they couldn’t manage both education and innovation in their schedule.

But why is it so essential that young people innovate? Because, put simply, we have something which older people do not: naivety. We are brave enough to try the most crazy ideas because we haven’t yet learned about all the reasons why it might not work. And sometimes that pays off, because sometimes those ideas work.

So for all those kids who have an idea they really want to pursue, but can’t think of a way to figure out the balance between school and work, I have one piece of advice for you:

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

From personal experience and from speaking to my friends, most students would be finished studying and homework by 9pm at the latest, and goes to bed at approximately 11pm. That gives you two hours with which to get stuff done. Now I don’t mean you should use all that time, or you’d probably go insane (and I wouldn’t blame you). But if you give over 20 minutes of that time, three nights a week, that adds up to an hour per week. Progress will be slow, but it takes hundreds of nights to become an overnight success. And soon you’ll see that begin to pay off. It’s all about baby steps in the right direction. Take inspiration from your everyday life, from friends, family and school. The education system doesn't give us the scope to apply what we learn to our everyday life, but there's nothing to stop us doing that ourselves and finding ways to make life better for everyone.


Take that first bite of the elephant, and wait to see where it takes you. But one final tip: when you overcome your education, don't forget what you learned in school.

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