Unnecessary education

I recently read Manage Your Day-to-Day (which was brilliant, by the way), and was quite taken with Todd Henry’s idea that artists should practice “unnecessary creation”. Unnecessary creation allows for trying out new techniques, giving life to creative ideas that no client would ever go for, and finding your artistic voice.

I don’t make art for a living, but the chapter inspired me to contemplate what activities I do to feed my creativity, sharpen my mind, and hone my voice. I’m in a rather busy patch with work at the moment, so it surprised me to realise that I actually spend time every single day on such activities, without consciously choosing it.

One of the things I spend a fair bit of time on could be referred to as “unnecessary education”. I’m not talking about professional development here (though I do plenty of that, too), but learning for the sheer joy of learning. The world is an endlessly fascinating place, when you start looking for things that might catch your interest. While the skills and knowledge from this kind of learning don’t have any direct relation to my work, I’m sure that deep in my subconscious they spark creative ideas, and make me a better thinker and writer.

Here are some ideas for “unnecessary education” activities that you can do in and around Melbourne.

Learn a new skill

  • Visit Rayner’s Orchard and take a fruit bottling workshop
  • Drive into the country and learn how to make sourdough bread at Redbeard historic bakery (and while you’re there, try the amazing gingernut biscuits and … well… anything else at all that catches your eye, because every single thing is absurdly delicious)
  • Spend $16 and take one of Laneway Learning’s many varied classes

Take a tour

Read a book

  • The Lost Painting, a fascinating narrative that follows the decades-long search for a missing Caravaggio masterpiece.
  • The Etymologicon, a very-often-humorous look at how words in the English language have come to have the  meanings they now hold.
  • One Summer, a history of events in the USA in 1927. (After reading this book, I’ve become firmly convinced of two things: America’s 1927 summer was the most interesting season in just about all of history, and Bill Bryson is at his best when writing about anything other than himself.)

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