School advice from N.Taleb

COWEN: Based on your own upbringing as a boy, if you were giving advice to someone raising a child through the age of 18, what would be the takeaway you would offer from your own life experience up to that age?

TALEB: Get a degree from school, but become an autodidact. Don’t waste time trying to get an A because you’re not going — we’re gonna talk about it with Bryan — you’re not going to remember all that shit. You always remember what you try to read by yourself.

Read as much as you can, and try to get the lowest possible passing grades you can at school.

I remember the stuff I read by myself, that I was driven. I don’t remember stuff that was given to me at school. It’s an allocation of time.

I discovered that I wanted to be a writer as a kid. I realized to have an edge as a writer, you can’t really know what people know. You’ve got to know a lot of stuff that they don’t know.

I started reading books voraciously, and also read books that, with some instinct, that would be helpful 20 years from now. Therefore, it’s not the latest nonfiction best seller.

So I read a lot of stuff. And I think that I would recommend doing the same. Read as much as you can, and try to get the lowest possible passing grades you can at school. Don’t study stuff like history because it’s going to be revised.

Geography, history, all these. For instance, chemistry or stuff like that. Math is, I think, probably the only thing you can pick up at school that’s useful.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb on Self-Education and Doing the Math (Ep. 41 — Live at Mercatus)

Noted for when my dauther is in school and I’m getting too much wrapped around grades – provided she still reads a lot.