"It made me gladsome to be getting some education, it being like a big window opening."
-Mary Webb, Precious Bane (1924)
As you consider various ways that you can "stay in school," try to remember what, if anything, you liked about being in a classroom. Maybe you hated being inside but liked what the world could offer and took your love of learning outside the four walls of a classroom. Maybe your passion for discovering something new didn´t catch on until you were well into your twenties (or thirties or forties or . . . ). It doesn´t really matter when you decided that learning something new on a continuous basis was something that you wanted in your life; what´s important is that you figured out how to incorporated the love of learning into your everyday.
Here are some questions to ask (and remember, real development and growth can only happen if you´re truly receptive to points of views that before you might have ignored, disagreed with or considered without merit and value):
"?? Do I learn something new every day? (Would I like to learn something new every day?)
"?? In what three areas would I like to expand my knowledge?
"?? As a child, did I enjoy school?
"?? What is my favorite school memory?
"?? Do I still have teachers who make a difference in my life?
"?? What would I study if I were to go back to school?
"?? Are my mistakes an opportunity to learn?
If you´re at all like me, you couldn´t wait to get out of school and into the "real" world where you could be your own boss, use four-letter words with impunity and stay up past midnight. (Of course I ended up staying in school for a long time; it took me a year to get my first masters but I spent nearly seven working on my second. Go figure"?¦) Yet even the real world can make you restless, especially when your mind and body ache for spring breaks and summer vacations. We can´t go back in time, but we can immerse ourselves into environments that stimulate our intellects.
Staying in school isn´t about becoming a professional student. It´s about expanding your knowledge both horizontally and vertically. You may finish a course or complete a degree, but you´re never done with learning. You´re never going to know everything, so why not be open to broadening your base? What might have been fresh two weeks ago could be stale within a month, which is why it´s so important to try to apply what you learn outside the office at a conference or workshop as soon as you return. That can be difficult, since technology and economics converge daily to effect change in every sector.
Staying in school is, at the very least, an attitude. It´s accepting the notion that each day we can soak up new experiences that can enhance our journeys. But it´s more than merely accumulating an encyclopedic sort of knowledge. If you´re simply picking up facts and statistics without mulling them over and discovering where they fit into your own life, you´re not going to get closer to your goal. For example, if you read the technology section of the newspaper, think about how a new technology will affect industries that you work with or want to work with. Or instead of waiting until you´ve completed an eight-week workshop take the knowledge you get on the first night back to your office and apply it the next day. But I already said that, right?