‘Now that you’ve learned all those rules, forget about them.’

In the past week, I have heard and read this at least four times. Too many times in a week, in my opinion. Once every two years, ok. But, damn!

So my question today is, Why do you think we need to learn so many rules – at least in advertising – if real success in the business comes from people and campaigns who breaks them?

I may be naïve for asking this, but really, what is the point of being in school for twelve years, then in college for four, go to grad school for two to four more? So at the end – when we find our dream job – are told: “Forget everything you’ve learned. Your teachers are a whole bunch of asshole who do not know what they are talking about.”

I am opening this for discussion because I am getting really confused with what I want to do with myself. I understand I should know about our history (so we do not repeat stupid mistakes) and recognize what sucks and what does not (again more history). But in the grand scheme of things, should we not think about the future rather than of what someone else believes should be? And who really knows what will work? My insights are not yours, and someone else’s are not my own. But, we could both achieve success.

Should our education system – at least higher education – focus on what we could do rather than what we have done? I mean, we did spend twelve plus years ignoring most of it. Not that is correct, I personally love history, but most people did and do not care. If they did, we would not create materials that speak to middle schoolers.

So what do you think? Are rules important? (And please, I do not mean this in a social or legal matter. I am speaking specifically about how we handle knowledge.) Should we begin shifting the way we teach and approach education? Is college really so necessary?


5 thoughts on “‘Now that you’ve learned all those rules, forget about them.’

  1. I guess it’s kind of like creative writing:

    There are many artists and writers out there who have built careers on breaking what we consider the traditional rules of grammar, syntax, etc. etc. but that doesn’t mean we start teaching kindergarteners to write like e.e. cummings. Same as playing a musical instrument– you might not know how to read notes, but you should at least know middle C and it’s relation to all the other notes, even if you’re a freeform jazz artist. Fundamentals are the building blocks of fun anyway.

    Now as for experience vs. knowledge: it’s easy for professionals who have been working in the field for 15, 20, 30 years to tell kids to “ignore everything you’ve ever learned!” because it’s been 50 years or more since they themselves were in school. But there is some merit in that you can rely on books and classes alone to pull you through a demanding and changing industry like mass communications.

    Ramble, ramble, ramble…

  2. Which I mentioned. History is one thing. K – 12 is one thing. I can understand that. I guess my focus is more in where we are now.

    And this comes from places and people IN there. They know we are going to hear this, they know at the end of the day those with the rule breaking heart will probably achieve more, but we still have to follow these bullshit systems.

    Should college, mass comm or most higher education, creative fueled classes be handled differently?

    Accounting, outside of software maybe, will never change. Media and ideas will… I am just really in a very different place. Perhaps even annoyed.

    Not sure what is happening or going though my mind, but nothing is making a lot of sense right now.

    Thanks for your comment.

  3. Let’s use ONE example, at least.


    Since eleventh grade in high school, so for nine years, I have been hearing and learning how to build and present a resume. Books, teachers, mentors, industry tells us how a resume should look like… right?

    In one afternoon, then two weeks later, I learn that for almost ten years, I had been presenting myself wrong. That is did not matter or made a true influence of who I am or want to be at the work place.

    Kind of a wasted ten year, do you not agree?

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