Sunday, February 22, 2015

Not doing what everyone else is doing

Here is a little story from my High School Days that I now realise is one of the core things about my approach to everything.

In High School I did math, science and art. Never considered music, as it was all focused on the orchestral world, and the school orchestra. Not my thing.   Now the art wasn’t the typical thing math and science students did, unless you planned to do Architecture.  I originally thought I was going to design vehicles and machines, and hey, I had always drawn and was one of my loves. I wasn’t a brilliant student at school or university and found all but a very few subjects boring and pointless. They are taught as they are easy to access and not because they are actually useful. There were always more interesting and useful techniques to master and things to study.

I had some pretty ordinary teachers at school, but have to say all my art teachers were great.  When we were studying art history, one suggested we should make quick sketches of the works in question in our notes to help with remembering them.  This worked well for me and I applied it to most of what I did, in all subjects and fields.  Shapes, diagrams, schematics all ended up in my written notes. It was just completely natural.

Later an interesting thing happened after a 3rd year mid-term Geography exam. Must have been in 1973.  I vividly remember sitting in the school grounds eating my lunch when some kids from another geography class came over and started to talk shit to me about why should I do something different in answering an exam question. 

And I had the nerve to do it well!
How dare I!

What a bunch of arse holes many of those other kids were.  I had done something well, but different, and was being criticized for it.  I now see high school as just a subset of the broader society that does exactly the same thing. And I’m amazed to see middle management in Australian companies doing the same thing, but we are known for “The Tall Poppy Syndrome”.  But back in 1973…

When our geography class time eventually came around and they returned the papers, they used mine as an example of how to really answer a question.

So what had I done? 

An example; I had a small scribbled sketch of the layers from the ground to the leafy canopy in a rain forest in a small corner of my answer text.  The sketch was in brown and green coloured pencil with black pen.  My answer referred to the diagram in the places it needed to.  The sketch would have taken me 10 seconds in the 5 minutes you had to answer it.  To be as complete with just words would have taken 4 times the space to answer.

I was the only person in the history of the geography paper to ever answer a question that way, and so completely in the provided space.   All my answers were done the same way, and I’d gotten the highest mark in the year. But not being the year end exam, it didn’t count for much. Played my best cards too early as it were.

Other kids wanted to crucify me for it. Yeah, how not to be popular, and I never went to one of those Awards nights where the top 3 in each subject in each year got certificates.

I did go on to design machines that made world breaking music, such as this one

And still do other kinds of art too…


tropicalontour said...

Really interesting insights. My experience of school was similar.

Adrian Bruce @Megacurve said...

Thanks. This is must be the first time I've gone into our history like that, and I'm glad you found it inetersting.