How to Be a Pioneering Student Outside the Box: Return to School V

Returning to School V

by Owen Fourie

How to Be a Pioneering Student

The prepared student who sees that the education system needs to be changed is also a pioneering student.

While you are in the system and change has not yet come, you can be a pioneer preparing the way for change. If you are fortunate enough to be free of the system, use this guide to sharpen your pioneering skills.

What is a pioneering student?

A pioneer may be described as someone who ventures into seemingly undiscovered territory or into unexplored areas of thought or invention.

In the following definition of a pioneering student, the cliché “thinking outside the box” will be used. I usually avoid using clichés, but this one is appropriate and meaningful as it describes people

  • who refuse to be locked into commonly accepted perceptions and restrictions—“boxes”;
  • who creatively explore and find new and better ways of looking at life;
  • who find new and improved ways of doing things.

If you are a pioneering student,

you are ready to leave home or dorm in the morning because you are

  • well-prepared for class;
  • conscious of being your unique self;
  • eager to apply your mind to learning for life;
  • aware that learning is a lifelong process;
  • aware that there are intelligences other than the two emphasized in your schooling (linguistic and mathematical; see the note about multiple intelligences at the end of this article);
  • aware of how your brain is wired (find out how at the end of this article);
  • aware that this third-dimensional life consists of worldviews, systems, and paradigms or “boxes” that influence your thinking;
  • aware that various boxes have their historical roots and present-day effects;
  • determined to think outside the box at every opportunity;
  • aware that thinking outside the box can lead to a new box;

you are, when present in class,

  • careful to fulfill all that is required of a prepared student;
  • careful to receive instruction with respect;
  • able to recognize worldviews, systems, paradigms, boxes—some beneficial, others harmful;
  • determined to think outside the box;
  • careful to express your thinking outside the box respectfully;
  • ready to challenge the box—with respect;
  • open to counterchallenges and correction;
  • ready to rethink and to improve your argument;
  • ready to challenge your own third-dimensional logic to eliminate non sequiturs (statements that do not follow from what has just been said; or conclusions or inferences that do not follow from the premises);

you go home

  • after you have done all that is necessary to fulfill the role of a prepared student;
  • with the resolve to think outside the box while still meeting the requirements and responsibilities of the present system;

you use your time at home to

  • complete all assignments;
  • review previous and current work;
  • prepare for tests or examinations;
  • think critically and constructively outside the box, calling everything into question;
  • become a self-learner—an autodidact—teaching yourself;
  • cultivate your unique individuality instead of the personality-mask imposed on you by your society.

The ideal for Generation Z students stuck in the system is to be both prepared and pioneering students. As such, you do still need study skills, particularly to teach yourself and to advance in your own learning. These skills will be outlined in the four articles following this one.

A short note about multiple intelligences

Seven of these other intelligences are

  1. Linguistic (words, languages, reading, writing, storytelling);
  2. Logical-mathematical (patterns, relationships, problems, strategies);
  3. Bodily-kinesthetic (physical activities, athletics, movement, hands-on);
  4. Spatial (thinking in images and pictures, art, construction);
  5. Musical (listening, sound, rhythm, pitch, tone);
  6. Interpersonal (extrovert, sensitivity to others, communication);
  7. Intrapersonal (introvert, deep self-awareness, self-motivation).

See Gardner, Howard. Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic Books, 1983; 1993. Print.

There is talk of more intelligences: naturalistic and also existential or cosmic intelligences. With the arrival of Generation Z, perhaps it will be found that cosmic intelligence is real.

How is your brain wired?

The personal online assessment that can be done at this link will give you some idea of how your brain is wired. It is a useful exercise that should help you to understand your own thought processes and actions:


As a pioneering student, which of these points would you find the most challenging? Which of these points would you find irksome? Which other points, if any, should be included here? Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome.

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