This is a super weird answer to a fairly simple question.
This question was a question that I answered recently on Quora, and the answer was considerably longer than I expected it to be. So, I decided to post it here on my blog. Here is that answer:
What’s my dream school?
The school of solitary confinement.
What? Like, prison? Yes, like prison. But not prison.
I think the best example of why prison is a dream school is Malcolm X. I quoted him in The Dropout Manifesto when talking about the importance of reading books to your education.
In his autobiography, he says that books are his alma mater. He ended up spending lots of time in books due to his stay in prison.
The school of being alone in a room for hours at a time is probably not a pleasant place, but it does afford you the opportunity to simply learn for hours on end and not think twice about it. There are no distractions, there sure as hell isn’t anything else to do, and there is no better use of your time than to simply sit, read, and think.
How can I do that? Could I go to solitary confinement voluntarily?
Well, I just looked it up on Google, and no, I can’t go to prison voluntarily for a quick vacation…
I’ll just commit a big crime and spend some time in solitary. Wait, no, that’s a horrible idea.
How about I commit a small crime? Maybe I’ll jaywalk until I get arrested...no, I’ll be in a weird holding cell with some weird people, and I won’t even get time to read. Jail sucks.
There is a way to take advantage of solitary confinement without actually going to prison.
Ask yourself this: What is distracting me currently from spending hours and hours doing deep learning?
- Social media
- Text messages
- Other obligations
Yes, some of these are pretty unavoidable on a daily basis, but I could very well avoid them for a day or two. How about this weekend? Here’s the plan:
- Turn off my phone. This solves the social media problem and text messages problem
- Turn off my internet. This definitely solves the social media and email problem.
- Don’t make any plans. Simple, but effective. No, I can’t go hang out with you guys this weekend. I’m in solitary confinement. What? Yes.
- Set aside a weekend of solitary confinement. You’re probably not working on the weekends or at school, and if you are, take a day off so that you can make yourself an artificial weekend.
Okay, but what should I do during my little stint in solitary? That’s an excellent question, but it’s all up to you. I personally would like to:
- Read a book (or seven). Again, with lots of time, you can just get out a book, read, and take notes forever. Easy! No distractions, nothing else to do.
- Think. Just think? Just think. That’s all it takes to get back on track sometimes! Of course, think about good things. Take some time to think about your short term and long term goals. Decide what you are going to do when you get out of prison. Contemplate existence, or whatever. And while you’re at it,
- Write. You could write reflections on all sorts of things that have happened to you, things you’ve learned, goals you have, plans you make, anything. Put it on paper. Start journaling. Write a muscle draft of a book you’ve always wanted to write. You’ve just got to put the pen to paper.
A warning on all of this solitary confinement, however:
Your stay in solitary should not be a long stay. You shouldn’t be spending days on end completely alone and isolating yourself from the world, though a couple hours at a time can be extremely helpful and enlightening.
- Solitary confinement is a really good way to get educated
- You don’t have to go to prison for solitary confinement
- There are plenty of things to do when you have nothing to do
- Don’t go crazy