Sunday, March 04, 2012

Self-education and the school of experience

You may find this next quote about self-education personally relevant, but then again, you may not. From Claude C. Hopkins' autobiography, My Life in Advertising... 

"...To poverty I owe the fact that I never went to college. I spent those four years in the school of experience instead of a school of theory.  I know nothing of value which an advertising man can be taught in college. I know of many things taught there which he will need to unlearn before he can steer any practical course."  

Having attended college (for a time), and from my own experiences and observations, I know that this passage rings true. You could substitute the words "advertising man" with the titles "artist", "writer", "economist", or "trader" and still get the same meaning.

You may have heard many entrepreneurs or autodidacts make similar remarks about the value of self-guided education and experience. You may also have heard many experienced, degreed professionals lamenting the need to unlearn much of what they were taught in universities. 

Someone mentioned Claude Hopkins in a book review I read today and I found my way to the aforementioned memoir from 1927. I thought I'd share it here with you. Hopefully, it will spur your thoughts on the value of formal education vs. "school of hard knocks".

Maybe we'll find some more chestnuts of wisdom inside. In fact, I'm sure we will, as the above passage came straight from chapter one! 

In the meantime, can you think of some important lessons (business, trading, creative, or otherwise) you've learned through self-guided education or your own passage through the school of hard knocks?   

Related posts

1. Marc Faber's advice to young people and the meaning of "success".

2. Michael Bigger: Starting Over.