The right approach to learning can make all the difference. A high school can become an incubator for entrepreneurship under the right conditions. For me, the right condition was self-paced learning – and it turned me into an entrepreneur.

When I was 14, I was bored at school. SOOOOO BORED. Mind-numbingly bored. You know when you go on a road trip with your kids and they are like ARE WE THERE YET? That was me in grade 9 every day. I was a major nerd, a voracious reader and extremely driven. Annoyingly so (some stuff doesn’t change.) My parents finally packed us all up and moved 4 hours away so I could attend a very special school: Thomas Haney Secondary School in Maple Ridge, BC.

It didn’t look that different from any other high school on the outside but on the inside, things couldn’t be more different. Instead of shuffling between scheduled classes, we were invited to work on our course work in designated learning areas where teachers were on hand to lend assistance if we got stuck. Everyone worked at their own pace. We balanced our workload, kept in contact with our markers, and were generally pretty responsible for our own success (or lack thereof, as the case might be.)

The thing that contributed the most to my ability to generate content prolifically as a freelancer and entrepreneur was the learning format. Our courses were presented in a format called “learning guides” which outlined what we were expected to learn. These were “learning objectives” and we had to produce assignments that demonstrated we had assimilated the required information.

What this meant for me was for 2 years (where I blew through 3 academic grades) where I was presented with deliverables (learning objectives) and I used them to design information products to convey information to an audience. Now, as a freelance writer, this is my every day. I have pitches that outline what I need to relay and I design something that communicates that message to my readers. I have deadlines now, but I can turn something in immediately if I want or I can stay up until 11:59pm the day it’s due and churn it out while self-soothing with ice cream and Netflix (which, while very specific, has never actually happened *cough* *cough*) I had two years of practice being an entrepreneur in an educational environment and that has been a game changer.

What I loved about it was it was basically an educational Autobahn. I could take to the open road and go as fast as I want. If I wanted to work my butt off and churn out a ton of content (assignments) I could do that and get ahead. I could also design my workday based on what was best for me. So if I’m a “no math before 10 am” person, I can design my schedule that way. I loved that and that’s something I love about my freelance life. I can work when I want. This freedom planted a seed in me.

I graduated from Thomas Haney and joined the corporate working world but part of me longed for that freedom. I wanted a self-paced, self-directed experience. I knew I thrived in that. I finally honoured that about myself and it has been the most life-affirming ten months of my life. I am so thankful for my educational experience at Thomas Haney that taught me to be responsible for my own success, to become a content generating machine and to revel in designing the life I want to live with confidence knowing I’ve done this before and I’ve succeeded.

I earned more than a diploma at Thomas Haney, I earned my wings and my entrepreneurial fire. I’m thankful for the incubator that helped me grow enough to come out of my shell. I’m still asking ARE WE THERE YET but thanks to what I’ve learned, I’m in the driver’s seat this time.

1 Comment

  1. This is so interesting to me. My son… well, we used to think he had autism but he doesn’t but has some other stuff where he can’t “get out” what he knows, and I love learning other perspectives about it all. Love that you’ve shared this about you and your learning process and also the getting past it part, which seems equal!