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a blog by Chris Barrow

Why it’s important to remember that you can never leave school

In the 20th Century, learning was viewed as a phase that took place early in one’s life.

The objective for all socio-economic groups was to “get an education” and then decide on “a trade or profession”, whether or not that was in the public or private sector.

Game sorted – 45 years of work, marriage, children, debt, stress.

Then “get a similar/better education for the kids” before a (hopefully) debt and stress-free retirement and a slow ride into the sunset.

A linear progress from cradle to grave.

In the 21st Century that linear process is being replaced by continuous cycles of personal and professional development.

On average we are living around 25 years longer this century and those of us who are approaching that bonus quarter century are doing so with an ever increasing bucket list of things we want to do.

Our parents would have been contemplating gold watches and life out to pasture as unpaid babysitters.

My father was compulsorily retired from the police force at age 57. I recall his main comment – “no more get ups”.

He lived a sedentary lifestyle for another 20 years, put on weight, had a nervous breakdown, became (with my mother) a heavy drinker and, frankly, lived vicariously through my achievements and defined himself as a grandfather and not much else (although he derived much pleasure from both).

He was a true example of a man who “leads a life of quiet desperation”.

I begin my 65th year in just a few weeks.

I’m in the early stages of a new 5-year business plan. I’ve hired my own business coach (she’s Stella – no that’s not her name, she’s just reassuringly more expensive than me!) and I’m educating myself on how technology can assist in growing my business 400% in that timescale.

I’m planning some challenging fitness goals to celebrate the year.

I’m taking my test for a full motor bike licence next week.

I have places to go, things to do, people to see.

I’m sending myself back to school all the time.

In the last few years I’ve been to writing school, singing school, survival school, biking school, technology school and business school.

Well bully for me – what about you?

Whether you are in your 20’s or your 80’s, the landscape is the same – your life still has cycles through which to pass.

The old questions were:

  1. what did my parents do?

  2. what are my peers doing?

  3. how am I going to climb that ladder?

The new questions are:

  1. what fascinates me?

  2. which schools do I need to attend (physically or virtually)?

  3. how many more 25-year cycles am I potentially going to experience?

  4. who will I be in the next cycle?

School’s no longer out – ever.

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