Eric Burdge was never a fan of the traditional education system. It’s not that he doesn’t think it’s effective, he just doesn’t believe it’s for everyone. And it certainly wasn’t for him.

Eric attended Rumson-Fair Haven High school and primarily took remedial classes throughout his time there. He was never interested in reading books or any academic class. But when he took a woodshop class, it all clicked for him. He learned how to use a wood chisel and plenty of power tools and discovered that making things with his hands was magical.

Eric, 25, knows there are plenty of kids in schools throughout America just like him–bored, uninterested and unmotivated by the typical classes, and no interest in ever attending a four-year college. Unfortunately, many of those kids fall through the cracks. Just like Eric almost did.

He grew increasingly frustrated with school and began drinking as a teenager. But his grandfather helped guide him to a better route, fueling Eric’s skill and fascination with woodworking. He ended up attending the American College of Building Arts as well as other vocational-technical institutions.

Now, Eric owns DRH Furniture in Sea Bright, making handcrafted furniture. His story inspired others at the TEDxNavesink Open Mic contest in January and earned him a spot at TEDxNavesink IDENTITY in May at the Paramount Theatre. He also was featured in the Asbury Park Press.

His passion and humor are captivating. And for those who find themselves frustrated with school, he’s inspiring. Here’s Eric sharing his passion with us after TEDxNavesink’s Open Rehearsal. (By the way, that bowtie he’s wearing? He made it out of wood.)

To hear Eric’s and other inspiring speakers live, get your tickets to TEDxNavesink IDENTITY today.

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