My Story (And Why I Created This Site)

People ask me why I’m so passionate about self-education and why I started this blog. Here’s why.

As a young child, even before I entered first grade, my father was fostering the hunger in me for self-education. My father was an esteemed Ph.D. in his field with an extensive education and many academic honors. That wasn’t what made an impression on me though. Rather, it was his constant desire to learn, and to learn about all sorts of things, that acted as my model and motivation to do the same.

My father is a superb self-educator and I recall loving the process of learning in all sorts of ways alongside him or as inspired by him. Then came first grade and my fascination with learning was put to the test against the backdrop of the now traditional educational process.

I went to an excellent religion-run grammar school for grades 1 through 8. Was it entirely enjoyable? No. The religious dogma I learned never really resonated with me very well, but apart from that I probably received a far better academic education than most kids in grammar school, then or today. And while the value of learning such basics as reading, writing, basic math and science can’t be underestimated, the school structure and process strained against my own personal educational process.

Probably because I was an excellent reader and a quick study (thanks again, Dad), I made it through grammar school with excellent marks without really studying too hard. Instead of attending to my school studies as expected, I worked just hard enough to get decent grades and then I put school work aside and began to learn and explore things of far more interest to me.

I’d read incessantly. I consumed books. They were and still are my closest friends that bring me comfort always. I learned a lot. At the same time I was learning through reading, my father allowed me to explore various interests, hobbies and sports with never a judgment and never a hesitation. If I found it interesting, he supported me 100%. My path to enjoy education in all its self-directed forms was set.

High school ushered in a time that was more social and with an even greater array of interests. Again, I stuck with my regular studies to the extent necessary to receive good marks, but that was it. As soon as I’d complete an assignment I’d dump the schoolwork and replace it with the latest book I was voraciously reading or the pursuit of my latest hobby, sport or social group. High school marched on to graduation.

(At this point I’d like to personally thank Isaac Asimov for the countless books of his I read during this period. Your knowledge, wisdom, creativity and breadth provided me endless hours of enjoyment and a fine education as well.)

Then came college. Forces strained my relationship with college from the start. My disillusionment with college athletics (part of my reason for going to my college at the time) was part of it. So was my similar disillusionment with the educational path I was expected to follow in college. Add to that coming into adulthood and wanting to spread my wings more than college would allow and the end result was me leaving college during my third semester.

I was, in fact, encouraged to leave by a visiting professor (I’ll never rat her out though – thank you again to her for the push). Early in college I left my lifetime sport of gymnastics and that left me with a void for physical activity. On a whim, I took a physical education dance class. I was good at it. Quite good. Within just a few classes the teacher took me aside and asked how much dance training I’d had. I had none. When I told her of my gymnastics background my aptitude made more sense to her. She encouraged me to try out for the dance department. At the time I was an accounting major with the goal of adding a law degree to that later. Needless to say, dance had never been part of the equation. I auditioned for the dance department and got in. During  a visiting dance professor’s class she pulled me aside and told me I was a good dancer. She asked me if I wanted to dance professionally. I said yes. She told me to get out of college, that my years as a dancer would be few and that I should start doing it now. I left school the following week.

My life then followed a fantastic journey from that point on that included careers as a dancer, actor, singer, bartender, waiter, retail clerk, designer of windows for a high-end department store, makeup artist, word processor, Hollywood script reader, script doctor (improved other people’s scripts), aerobics instructor, Hollywood film researcher, administrative assistant, corporate trainer, software specialist, instructional designer, network administrator, freelance writer, owner and manager of a book publishing company, internet talk show producer and host, business policies and procedures writer, technical writer, business analyst, marketing writer, project manager, corporate manager, and corporate senior manager. (And now a blogger.)

What did all of those professions have in common? Apart from some excellent dance teachers early in my dance career and a few other scattered teachers, I learned virtually all of what was needed to pursue those professions on my own through self-education. My father’s gift has proven quite useful.

Those were just my professional pursuits. Add to those my non-professional interests and pursuits (community activism, politics, physical fitness, healthy eating, public health, social dancing, various sports, movies, computers and software, visual arts, music, and more), and it illustrates a life in which just about everything I’ve come to value, find interesting, or that secured a fulfilling professional life came about through self-education.

So, self-education isn’t just a passionate interest, it’s the very stuff my life is made of. It’s what has made me who I am and made my life comfortable and fulfilling. At 55 years of age, the time has come for me to share what I know about self-education, but even more importantly to help facilitate the discussion and action around this topic that’s so desperately needed. This site is my chosen way to start that process. I hope you find it useful.

Race Bannon