Is Free Education the Ticket to Happiness?

When you were a kid, did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? I sure didn’t. I was trying to be the best right then and there: the best student, the best class president, the best safety patrol. I was happy chasing rainbows and there were certainly lots to chase. This was the late 60’s in northern California. I had lots of choices and I explored a lot. I did have a tendency to look to art and medicine but I was involved with school politics, sports, and of course, the three R’s. I signed myself up for summer school and loved to choose English, Math, P.E. and Arts for my summer companions. Learning was fun and I enjoyed it.

My parents never boxed me into anything. I could have been whatever I wanted to be and it was up to me.

What if everyone had that opportunity? What if everyone could get a free education in what area called to them?

I started working early to have some spending money. It was good experience. I did sales and office work. I tried babysitting but that was not my cup of tea. I worked my way through school, then got a super job and dropped school but later went back with lots of experience under my belt. I was fortunate that school was affordable. I continue to accrue experience through work and continue to educate myself. Now I also get to give back to share, mentor, and teach.

If everyone had a free education at every point in their life, I think that we would see more happy people from primary to advanced level education. We would experience the joy of learning. I think that if I wanted to be a carpenter, I could go to trade school and become the best carpenter I could be because the school would allow me to apprentice with the best tradesmen who were waiting to pass on their hard and long-earned skills to someone who loved the craft not just someone who couldn’t get any other type of job.

I think that if later in my life I wanted to become an engineer or an industrial designer, a writer, or an inventor, I should be able to go and pursue that education and become the best in the field that I could be.

Dawn by the pond

Lilibeth André, Dawn by the Pond, oil, 16×20. Sold.

What if I was suddenly retired after building widgets all my life? I think I may want to explore photography and be the best or perhaps I may want to be a lab tech or a chef. I should be able to go to school and become the best I could be. Even if I just wanted to be a fisherman out on the lake. I would be a happy fisherman.

What if I was gifted and talented in science or technology? I should be able to get the best guidance counseling and optimize my learning to the best of my abilities throughout my lifetime so that I would be able to contribute to science and advance research and progress.

What ever I chose to do, I should be able to go back to school and hone my skills or acquire new ones through continuing education, if that is what I wanted to do.

Why? Because it would make me happy to pursue my calling, to gain the skills that would allow me to maximize my career when I wanted to do so. And in this pleasure for learning I would gladly give back through mentoring, teaching, or in practicing my skills and knowledge for the betterment of my community.

Free education would let me explore learning for fun and pleasure. It would open the door to giving back, self-fulfillment, and happiness.

Also read: the Future of Work-An Artist’s Perspective. Why we shouldn’t worry about robots and automation.

Ruthlessly Creative

My flight plan gives me approval to be ruthlessly creative. I grew up in a world of artistic minds and though some went the science route too, the unwritten law gave me authority for free invention.

As a designer and artist I recognize I received technical and creative training to develop and rely on good tools and skill sets but prior to that I had already delved in drawing, various art and craft forms, fashion and jewelry design, and done earth science experiments to further my understanding, just for fun. I was never discouraged. I was expected to be creative, innovative and inventive, to think and solve problems continuously through my inventiveness. That’s why my cooking was tolerated as “inventions” and “experiments”. It finally improved when I took to learning from Julia Child‘s expertise, explored Justin Wilson, combed through Japanese and Italian cookbooks, and received personal Spanish cooking lessons too.

From my first jobs (before college), these were also open to creativity and my favorite job was in marketing, a combination of statistics, analysis and creativity. All fun and exciting.

My point is, all of this training welcoming thinking-on-the-fly taught me it was OK to allow myself to toss out “hairy” ideas like air-filled balloons, on my own or in a group of other creatives, to volley the concept or toss in their own. This ‘welcoming’ environment provided receptivity to receive critique and improve on things. This receptivity was further compounded when working as a creative in a professional environment, redlining became an expected tool instead of an insult. All this exercise made for expeditious and limber thinking.

In more structured areas of study, it seems that free thinking is not welcomed. Structure and procedure are critical to the final proof. Attention to the acute concepts is preferable to the broad scope. Slow and methodical thinking is required and documentation is vital before any idea is presented, not without all the proof already documented, so spontaneous speaking of ideas as they are birthed is not a common habit.

For these reasons, thinking together is key. We should all have a flight plan with permission to think without critical judgement. And allowing and inviting ruthless and creative tossing of ‘hairy’ ideas should be a must.

10-4. Roger that.

Three Vessels

Today, I’m going to tell you a story.

Not long from today, there was a small group of people on a planet called Earth. They were the lone survivors in what had been a series of unleashed devastation like no other witnessed before. Some of the signs had been there to foresee some tragedies. Others crept in slowly or unexpectedly.

The small group of people were those who had proven stronger than the ones who died of disease and injuries.

The ground was razed. Structures were ruble. Drought took care of everything else and though their leader was wise in the ways of nature there was little she could do to go beyond the natural world.

She had led them to a small structure still standing, miraculously. It was only four masonry walls, three really, but it provided some shelter from the elements, proven wildly unknown now.

Their supplies, of what little they had recovered, were now exhausted. They sat on the ground, mostly dirt swept indoors by past winds and floods. Some leaves crunched underfoot. Only she stood. The rest sat on the ground. The walls helped to keep them erect. No one spoke.

She prayed often or sat cross-legged on the ground with her eyes closed. Her breathing changed. Then, in stillness, her eyes moved rapidly and the expression on her face would changed. She appeared almost happy. To see her you would not expect much. She was small and not particularly fit or attractive. She did possess a certain calm that in these circumstances gave them all a reason to follow her as her instincts led them to better environments. Not that there was was much to be reaped for miles and miles.

Now, exhausted of everything, as they sat and hid from the sun with ongoing hope for clouds, she stood and walked towards the opening. She stopped and appeared to listen.

This is what she heard:

“…and in that vault there are three vessels. You can only have one of the three. The rest are rendered useless and cannot be removed. The other you can lift and return to your people. One vessel contains liquid energy as you know it, the other contains water in its purest form, and the third contains seeded fruits that are fresh.”

She was to make a two-day journey, and with that she walked out. The others waited.

—– o —–

What vessel would you choose? Why?

Houston, We Have An Experience

I just read the Opportunity Urbanist article on A Targeted Tourism Strategy for Houston. I agree with his idea and apparently so do a lot of people.

My 2 cents has to do with adding icing on the cake. Not just building something and hoping they will come but finding what it takes to create a full experience. For this I refer to the down-to-earth practical sense learned from my grandparents and mother. In making an inventory of what we have, why not take an inventory of where we already  have assets and investments, and boost those ‘new’ areas up even higher.

Nebletts Creek II

Lilibeth Andre, Nebletts Creek II, oil, 30x20

So what do I mean? Well, instead of building an attraction, as many areas have to do for lack of one, we can look around to where we already have tremendous natural attractions: environment and creative people.

Houston Wilderness published the Houston Atlas of Biodiversity that lists 10 different ecosystems within a short drive of Houston downtown. It’s an easy read about these assets.

People around the world are aware of these natural assets and come to pay them a visit. How do we make them welcome? Do we have eco-friendly lodging that is convenient and protective?  Do we offer green transportation options? Do we provide information on other activities they can enjoy while relaxing after a day counting our diversity of birds and trees?

How do we tell them about our tremendous amount of art museums, galleries, studios, ongoing shows, festivals and activities where they can, in another way, recreate their senses and enjoy a glass of local wine, beer or aguas frescas? We have a wide and varied amount of art production in town. From the contemporary to the classical and many genres in between. The art experience features the work of new and old up-and-coming artists yet to be discovered or those local jewels that have already been found at the national and international level but have yet to be ‘discovered’ by our visitors or those stars who have chosen to make Houston their home.

GB Heron

Lilibeth Andre, GB Heron, colored pencil, 9x12

Painters, sculptors, musicians, chefs, designers, writers, producers, performers, all locally grown, trained, skilled and educated because we have the talent to do so.

Many of the artists pay tribute to our cosmopolitan flavor infusing our daily living with a lagniappe of  culture and creativity brought to Houston from around the country and the world. And there are those who are inspired by our beautiful land, wildlife and people, along with the features of our daily living right here at home and offering mementos of an enjoyable visit.

So let us think about educating nature guides, art guides, hospitality and transportation entrepreneurs along with those providing the skills of a science, environmentally, and culturally rich destination because Houston, we have an experience to offer.

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    © Lilibeth André and Art by Lilibeth André, 2009-2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this text, images or content without express and written permission Lilibeth André is strictly prohibited. For permission to license, exhibit or purchase any of the artwork, email Links to this site may be made with full and clear accreditation to Lilibeth André and Art by Lilibeth André.