The Spark

--Originally published at TC2027 – Blog will Tear us Apart

First of all, sorry for taking so long on this post. Writing something personal has always been quite difficult for me, but actually that’s what this is about.

This past semester I enrolled in a course about digital security and privacy, a pretty different and unique course. I knew already who was teaching it, so I enrolled well informed of the teacher’s perspective to teaching: Flipped Classrooms.

My experiences with open and flipped classrooms are always fruitful, maybe my habits, personality and mentality fits this style. Being able to discover by my own (with proper guidance) and learn from things in a way that costed me not only reading and search skills, but also the skill to craft and find the right questions, it’s incomparable.

I know school is finite. My days soon will be over, and the skill I value the most is the one I learned from this kind of courses, being autodidact. Sure, the teacher is there, and hell, he was always, always, ALWAYS, watching. But the freedom was there too, we were told to select from a list of topics and investigate, discuss, ask on twitter, go into the darkest subreddits, and things of such. This allowed me to enjoy and focus on the process and experience of learning, rather than the topic itself.

Sure, I learned about the topic, and I learned a lot. But that depended on me and my own effort. I saw many classmates having trouble deciding what to do without a list of little weekly tasks, and they complained, quite a lot. But let me tell you guys something, the world will never give you a list of activities to do. In a job, they will give you a problem to solve, and your boss will expect you to solve

And if you start asking how to do it, well, he/she probably would ask herself why did they hire you, because I’m pretty sure that the point of hiring someone is to not having to worry about that specific thing no one else has the time to do it. No one will give you a set of rules and tasks if you become a parent, no pet comes with instructions, hell, even video games are avoiding the use of task lists. This world needs you to be a McGyver, not a freaking assembly line robot.

Anyway, this post is named “The Spark” and its because that’s what this course meant to me. I published my fair share (or less) of blog posts about the topic, then I actually created a podcast about security and the teacher allowed us to make it count to the grading. HOW FREAKING AWESOME IS THAT. And now that the course and the semester is over, I have felt the need to keep going, learning, blogging, pod-casting and I call it the spark. A spark that Ken Bauer planted on me while doing this course.

From now on I’ll be publishing my thoughts, investigations & random stuff on this blog, with no strings attached to any course. But let me explain to you why this is very important to me. Lately with the help from friends and very smart people we analyzed my personality and we found stuff rooted in my deepest places which gave me a lot of insight about where does my behavior comes from. Mostly my fear and reluctant position towards sharing my points of view, works and thoughts. And we have come to one big conclusion. It comes from bad teachers. Not only in school, but in life.

For example: as a kid I got once my homework being ripped apart in front of me and my whole classroom because my handwriting wasn’t good enough. This wasn’t the only case of anti-pedagogical stuff that happened to me, but its quite interesting to review. I was used to know that my work was a piece of trash because of stupid rules that don’t even apply to me in the present, like right now, as I’m typing this post on my laptop.

During my school life I’ve been taught to fear the failure. To fear every word I write because someone will say it’s bad. When I wanted to become a writer on middle school a teacher told me that my work was shitty and I quit it, for good. Then I chose my first major out of comments like “men shouldn’t be worrying about things that don’t involve getting their hands dirty”. So my life was full of pretty bad teachers.

And some of it is still there, my family has always been treating me as if my opinion is worthless because I’m younger, the son, the nephew or the grand-something. And it’s quite a living hell when you’re the oldest of my family’s generation, because that made me the perfect worthless opinion guy, thanks to the age gap. My parents told me that they couldn’t understand why I turned into an attention seeker as a kid and teenager, if I had tons and tons of attention. But this year I found out that it wasn’t attention what was missing, it was seriousness towards my thoughts.

And here I am, after all, sharing my thoughts and pretty personal stuff out in the open to the internet to read it. Will someone take them seriously? Perhaps. But I really don’t care, one of the key things Ken taught us, was that blog posts and sharing are for ourselves first. Writing and explaining something means that you fully understand it. And to share it means that you consider it as something useful to another person, that might help him skip two or three steps of trouble if they find themselves on the same situation and that more important than likes or dislikes about your work.

Then again owe this to Ken, one of the best teachers I have ever met. Now I feel this spark guiding me towards not only learning, but sharing. School has been one hell of a ride for my past 16 years. But right now, I can allow myself to shout out loud:

It’s okay to fail.