School Sucks: Here’s 133 Reasons Why
School sucks. A lot. And you know it’s true, regardless of how many well-meaning people have tried to convince you otherwise.
But have you really taken the time to analyze just why it sucks so bad?
Few people do, which is really amazing when you consider how much time is spent on school: seven to nine hours a day, five days a week for thirteen years during K-12, four more if you go to university, and even more, sometime more than a decade, spent lost in the academic haze should you decide to go on to graduate school.
And yet, for all that time spent, you enter adulthood not knowing the first thing about how to handle real responsibilities, pursue your dreams, and the like.
It’s inexcusable – this is, after all, the institution supposedly responsible for preparing us for adulthood.
Still, every year we dump a new generation of kids into the system, hoping things will be better. It might surprise you to learn, however, that school as we know it has been around for only about 100 years, or that before mass schooling was introduced, our country enjoyed much wider literacy and economic freedom than we do today.
So, if anyone’s ever told you you’re wrong to question the necessity of going to school, or has ridiculed you for voicing your complaints, perhaps it’s time you came armed with solid reasons for your disdain. We here at Dead Mailbox Society have drawn up a little list of our own, for your benefit – a list not just of the bad things school does, but also the things it shamefully does not.
We give you 133 reasons school sucks:
1. Standardized Testing Is a Complete Waste of Time
After millions of hours and billions of dollars spent on the introduction and massive expansion of standardized testing supposedly meant to track the progress of schools our schools have…not improved in any meaningful way.
That alone should be cause enough to reform, or even do away with the testing regimen. But it doesn’t even begin to take into account how these things actively harm young people, not only by wasting their time and energy, but by filling their heads with false notions about themselves, and convincing them they’re stupid.
Later in life, Richard Feynman, one of the most brilliant minds of the previous century and a great populizer of novel scientific concepts to the public had his I.Q. tested. The “expertly calibrated” test determined that Feynman had a below-average level of intelligence.
What’s worse though are the many tens of thousands of kids who each year are convinced that they’re idiots and future fuckups, all because of an arbitrary score on tests that have never been shown to have a meaningful correlation to anything, other than how well the same pupil can be expected to do on the next standardized test.
Your teachers never told you how many people with perfect 1600’s/2400’s on their SAT’s amount to…well, nothing, later in life. They also never tell you how many low-scorers go on to be amazingly successful, so long as they don’t let some meaningless quiz turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy: Radio superstar and multi-billionaire Howard Stern scored 870; Bill Clinton, 1020; Al Gore, 1035 (all of which, you should know, were lower than infamous dummy George Dubya’s score of 1206).
I know, I know…what a pack of losers!
2. You Will Remember Almost Nothing You “Learn” in School
Cram. Regurgitate. Forget. Repeat. It doesn’t matter what you retain or how you use it – only how much of it you can conjure up in a brief window of time, in order to get that all-important ‘A.’
Intellect is not the compilation of numerous facts and useless trivia – it’s the development of the thinking tools needed to make connections between different ideas, draw conclusions, and see things others haven’t before.
Good luck on having that take place in school.
Why so much emphasis on memorization instead of genuine education? Why, to sort the compliant (“good students”) from the insufficiently compliant (“bad students”) in a manner that funnels people into appropriate channels later in life in support of our corporate economy. The “smart” kids prove themselves yes-men and order-takers, thus making them safe for the more sensitive positions in the corporate pyramid (executives, managers, etc.) where an independent thinker could really do some damage, and the “dumb” kids get put into low-level positions with little hope of rising up economically.
In this fashion, the illusion that “good students” are the same thing as “smart” students is created, as well as the illusion that our society is meritocratic, when in reality it’s a rigged game designed to create a kind of creative, social and economic stasis where the vast majority of people stay in the same position as their parents – a de facto caste system.
In reality, before school, there is very little difference in terms of potential intelligence or aptitude between one child and any other – children of the same age happen to be at different levels of readiness to take on schoolwork. The Bell-Curve of achievement that takes shape soon after school begins is not the result of some innate, genetic difference, but the fact that different individuals with different needs and learning styles are forced through a meat grinder. Some will do well no matter the quality of instruction; some will do poorly, with most falling somewhere in the squishy center.
3. Moronic Bus Schedules Waste Massive Amounts of Your Time
When I was going to elementary and middle school, my home was a mere five-minute drive away. And yet, somehow, my ride on the school bus took nearly an hour, both to and from, thanks to the winding bus route the school drew up.
My parents couldn’t drop me off or pick me up because of their work schedules, so I was stuck with the wheeled yellow log, effectively adding two hours to the school day. Five times a week, thirty-six weeks a year, that’s an extra three hundred and sixty hours (or fifteen full 24-hour days) taken away from me against my will in a single school year. Doing this for the full K-12 schedule, I lost one hundred and ninety five days of my life, just sitting on the bus.
That’s more than a full additional year of school, in case you were wondering. I’ll allow you to make the appropriate calculations for your own life now.
4. You Never Get Any of the Time Back
Now that you’ve discovered how many months of your life you’ve spent on the school bus, I invite you to also consider that none of that time is ever coming back. Same for all those hours you spent in the classroom, watching movies, filling out useless worksheets, screwing around, or being lectured. For your own good, of course.
Childhood, precious and brief, never comes back once it’s gone. You could have spent that time communing with nature, starting a cottage business, exploring your neighborhood or hometown, talking with older relatives, volunteering at church/temple/mosque, reading, stargazing, painting, singing, skipping, learning to interact with animals, playing, or figuring out what it means to love.
Instead, you went to school.
5. You Have to Ask for Permission to Piss or Shit
Your poo is nobody’s business but your own. Or at least it would be, in a sane world that treated you with a basic level of respect (i.e., any place other than school, prison or a war zone). By taking away a child’s most basic rights over his own body, school habituates him to arbitrary authority (not to mention, factory work conditions where time is money).
6. You Can’t Eat When You’re Hungry or Drink When You’re Thirsty
Similar to the above. Taking away your freedom to respond to your own needs alienates you from yourself and makes you dependent on outside authority to make decisions.
And in the case of those with low blood sugar or other metabolic disorders, it can actually be life threatening.
7. Homework Uses Up Your Free Time
Eight hours to sleep, eight hours to work, and eight hours for leisure – such was the dream of the 19th century labor reformers.
In a school system designed to accommodate the needs of 19th century industrialists, it makes perfect sense that school should be eight hours long. After all, you’d better get used to those hours now, rather than later when you’re on the assembly line!
Except, school’s long fingers extend long past the eight-hour mark and into the time that’s supposed to be your own, thus ensuring you never get any time to yourself to think up seditious ideas, or put your life on a track that doesn’t end with you pushing a broom or pushing a pencil. Homework is not, by any means, intended to help you learn (despite what you, your parents, or even your parents might think); it’s in fact intended as yet another instrument of control.
8. It’s Designed to Humiliate You
Without any hint of exaggeration, it can be said that schools are hotbeds of emotional abuse: teacher on student, student on student – and even, sometimes, student on teacher.
It makes sense, from a managerial point of view. With thirty kids and only one teacher, chaos and disruption always threaten to erupt in the classroom, particularly when there are more than a few perpetually unhappy kids looking to take revenge on whatever and whomever is close at hand. Humiliation serves the purpose of making an example of those who don’t follow the proscribed patterns and dismal expectations of the school. Putting kids on the spot, disgracing them in front of their peers, singling out for extras scrutiny are all potent ways to discourage kids from asserting themselves (what do you think those loud announcements on the intercom calling you to remedial math or “counseling” are meant to do?).
Student on student bullying and teasing similarly fulfill this managerial prerogative. Anyone daring to show too much individuality or too much vulnerability becomes a prime target for all sorts of harassment, name-calling, physical intimidation, and worse. Normal bodily functions, going to the toilet, the expression of budding sexual feelings, experiments with fashion and personal style – all these normal, important parts of living and growing up – are turned into sources of shame by the campus kapos. After enough of this, you’ll never want to try anything daring or different ever again.
“Kill a chicken to scare the monkeys,” as the Chinese say.
9. It’s Designed to Make You Feel Powerless
Even if this weren’t intentional (hint: it is), it would be the result nonetheless. Consider what the effects of any of the following would be:
– Never getting to choose or have a say in who will be your teacher
– Having no choice or influence in what subject matter will be taught in your class, which texts will be used, or what material will be assigned
– Not being allowed to make your own decisions about clothing, transportation or time scheduling
– Not being allowed to use the bathroom or visit a drinking fountain whenever you need to
– Having strangers “grade” you on work you never volunteered to take on
– Having to get a license (“hall pass”) just ot leave the classroom
– Keeping you in a chair behind a desk five days a week for more than a decade as you grow up
– Being expected to comply with any and all orders given to you by “authorities,” no matter how stupid, petty, or pointless
You’re in school to learn your place, peon.
10. It’s Designed to Make You Into Either a Snob or a Malcontent
Depending on which caste your school sorted you into, of course. Forget the lip service paid to “equal opportunity,” “no child left behind,” and other such bullshit – the schools run on a divide-and-conquer strategy, turning kids from similar ethnic, social and economic backgrounds into enemies by throwing them into a rigged race designed to divvy up “human resources” according to the needs of big business.
The “winners” are thrown into so-called gifted and talented classes, AP/IB, honors, and the like, putting them on a course for college. The “losers” stay in the bottom rungs of the regular classes, are put into remedial, or worse. The egos of the winners are inflated with special field trips, reading champion lists in the hallways, plastic trophies and other knick knacks, certificates, smiley faces and gold stars, and other worthless prizes. These little strokes of the ego are more than enough to convince them of their inherent worth and superiority.
I should know, I was one of them.
Conversely, a whole gamut of humiliations is in store for the kids placed on the lower levels of the pyramid. Being marched out in front of everyone for your “special” afternoon class is a subtle but powerful way of turning you into the Other. So are C’s, D’s and F’s, “emergency interventions,” and the insults and backhanded compliments teachers, counselors, principals and the like pay you day in and day out. It’s the death by a thousand paper cuts approach to managerial theory.
The losers and winners actually start school, typically, with very similar levels of intelligence or capability, but small decisions and their outcomes get exaggerated, and seemingly trivial details are used, insidiously, to create vicious or virtuous cycles; self-fulfilling prophecies, for the kids who accept them.
As the division process takes place, the different groups come to resent each other: the “smart” kids for the rudeness, the bullying and the seeming laziness of the kids at the bottom; the “dumb” kids, for the special privileges the kids at the top receive. Remember how freely everyone played and interacted in kindergarten? Now compare that the the 5th grade, or, God help you, middle school. It’s not an accident, nor is it a natural consequence of people’s development. It was a conscious design decision put into place over a hundred years ago by the social engineers who created our system of mass schooling.
In a world that, more than ever, needs empathy, compassion and communication, our schools train society’s winners to look down on everyone else, and the losers to resent those who got a bigger piece of the pie, all so they don’t band together in defiance of the people who really control things.
11. It Encourages Cruelty and Bullying
Oh, I know – schools are really talking up their recent anti-bullying campaigns. But as was already discussed in point #8 above, bullying actually serves a useful purpose to the school institution by discouraging self-assertion, self-expression, and smoothing the homogenization process along. It’s a tool of conformity that schools cannot function without.
Oh, sure, occasionally there’s some blowback…
…but that’s pretty rare (call it a cost of operating). Most kids keep their heads down and tolerate the abuse. Get back in line, rabble. This is the way things are going to be for your kind for the rest of your life.
12. It’s Mind-Crushingly Boring (And That’s Really Not Okay)
I know I don’t need to convince of something you already well-know. School is extremely, tortuously in a PBS funding drive kind of way, and everyone knows it.
What I would like to tell you is that you’re right to feel this way.
Too many people have told you that calling out the emperor on his invisible robes is a sign of immaturity. That you should just “toughen up” and learn to deal with it. Because, after all, some really important stuff is going down in school, and you’d better pay attention and do what you’re told no matter how pointless or uninteresting, or else you’ll end up flipping burgers (the horror!).
But the boredom is intentional. If bored people are boring, as the old saying goes, boredom is a powerful tool to take fresh young minds and turn them into boring adults.
The omnipresent boredom of the typical classroom serves to cause you to withdraw from yourself and the world around you. It’s there to teach you that you have no control over your destiny, and that you have to accept whatever is given to you, no matter how shoddy or disappointing. That you are somebody else’s fool.
Nietzsche once said that the true aim of philosophy was for man to rediscover how to absorb himself in his work the same way a child absorbs himself in play. Similarly, Bob Dylan was quoted as saying, “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.”
The point is, when you’ve found something to do with your life that really speaks to your heart, that you really enjoy doing, there is no distinction between work and play. Do you think people like Walt Disney, Richard Branson or Picasso could have become the successes they were if they didn’t enjoy what they were doing? No way!
Maybe the reason so many young people these days have an unattractive dependence on video games, porn drugs or alcohol is because there are such wide and deep feelings of dissatisfaction found across our society. People don’t know what they want or what makes them happy, and most end up in jobs they hate. If we taught out young to trust their instincts and stay in touch with the demands of the heart – to “follow their bliss” as myth man Joseph Campbell called it – maybe we’d all be happier, healthier, and more fulfilled.
Life’s too short for needless boredom.
13. It Intentionally Prevents You from Maturing
Just a hundred years ago, 13 or 14 was old enough to start taking on serious work. Most kids didn’t bother attending high school for this reason, preferring instead to begin apprenticeships, or start work on a farm.
As one can imagine, this was a big deal to labor unions that wanted to inflate workers’ wages, and it also posed a problem to those who had a stake in keeping people timid and ignorant, so a plan was hatched to keep people in school much, much longer, extending childhood by several years, tightening the labor market, and discouraging young people from taking on responsibility and independence (and thus the invention of the concept of “adolescence,” which is nothing more than a period of childishness extended into physical maturity).
Today we have ample specimens of the product this process has created: sullen, superficial, and totally useless “teenagers” sitting around, waiting for life to begin long after it already should have.
14. It Devalues Your Family Traditions, Customs, Moral Code and Religion
Don’t ever talk about Jesus, the Quran, abortion (pro or con), prayers to the Virgin Mary, any sort of traditional view of the relationship between the sexes, your deeply held pagan sentiments, female circumcision, male circumcision, or such.
Also, don’t dress in folk costume, unless you want to be mercilessly teased and attacked. Don’t eat your traditional foods (particularly the aromatic ones) unless you want to pick between eating lunch alone or answering endless, stupid questions (just ask a Sikh what school was like for them).
Definitely don’t maintain your culture’s social protocols or codes of modesty. Hijabs are for people who blow themselves up at train stations. Bonnets are for humorless, Bible-thumping viragos. Don’t say ‘no’ when you mean ‘yes,’ you dumb Slav. So what if my t-shirt has a picture of Buddha weary Mickey Mouse ears?
You’re here to become another worker drone, indistinguishable from everyone else, devoid of culture, roots or meaning in your life. Now, run along to the GAP store and buy some new threads. Your beautiful traditional clothing is so lame, lol.
15. There is No Respect for Your Privacy There
Get used to the panopticon, future wage slaves – there’s no hope of privacy in school. Many schools don’t even let people to the bathroom without an escort anymore. The most private, intimate workings of the body are not yours to protect. In fact, everything you do is the school’s business, at least in the eyes of the school.
When a police officer comes to your house, he needs a warrant in order to enter or perform a search. When a teacher demands a look inside your desk, your journal, your hands, you have to comply. This is not the education system of a free country; it is training for authoritarianism.
These tiny violations do matter, by the way, as they accustom you to constant violation. And it only gets worse as the years go by – photo ID’s hang around the necks of more and more students, and armed campus police officers seemingly send drug-sniffing dogs to your locker with no regard to your right against unreasonable searches.
16. It Trains You to Obey Authority, No Matter How Stupid or Arbitrary
17. It Will Likely Scare You Away Forever from Learning a Foreign Language
This criticism is more specific to schools in the United States, as European public schools actually do a better job at teaching strong foreign language schools (though they do benefit from being in close proximity to numerous other countries).
American schools have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to teaching foreign languages – even languages as easy to learn and useful as Spanish. Not only are almost certain to not be able to speak a second language even after four years of classes, the experience is also likely to be unpleasant and discouraging enough to never make you try again.
18. The Money Spent on You for Your “Education” Could Be Put to Much Better Use If You Were Allowed to Manage It Yourself
What do you think you could do if you were given $11,000 every year, from age five to age eighteen, and allowed to invest it however you’d like?
Let’s assume you’re responsible and make sure you get something in the way of education. Following a homeschool curriculum, you wouldn’t need to spend more than, oh, $500 a year (national average spent by homeschooling families per child), leaving you $10,500 to use as you see fit.
Thanks to compound interest, a very mediocre return of 5% spread out over the full thirteen years of K-12 education means that, by the time you reached legal adulthood, you would have nearly $200,000 worth of investments in your portfolio – that’s enough to buy a house in many parts of the country, or fund four years of college, including room and board, and still have enough left over for a tour of Europe, the purchase of a formidable personal library, an automobile and insurance, and still enough yet to create a savings account.
Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? $11,000 is, after all, about how much is spent per pupil each year in the public school system – the major difference between that system and the one just suggested above being that students in the former are generally less literate, less informed about the world, less well-socialized, and lacking in self-confidence or any coherent plans for the future.
And of course, short a fifth of a million dollars.
19. It Teaches You Lies about Marijuana and Psychedelics
That might have something to do with those substances known ability to inspire a radical reevaluation of society’s mores, cultural expectations, spiritual beliefs and personal priorities in the people who use them safely.
No, LSD isn’t going to make you jump out of a high-rise window, and no, pot isn’t going to give you schizophrenia or lower your I.Q.
This isn’t to say, of course, that using any of these substances comes completely without risk. That’s why you do the smart, sensible thing of performing some basic research first, and making sure you use them properly in a setting that minimizes potential hazards – just like people who are given prescription sleep aids or painkillers are expected to do, despite those substances being far riskier and more toxic than acid, weed, shrooms, or the like.
They’ll also conventionally fail to clue you into the fact that many, many cultures across the world have incorporated visionary substances into their medicinal systems or their rites of passage. There’s even promising evidence now the psychedelics are of great benefit to PSTD (post-traumatic stress disorder) sufferers, and that marijuana is useful in the treatment of cancer, auto-immune disorders, and other chronic conditions.
Instead you’ll be force fed the usual regimen of lies, distortions, half-truths, scare tactics and old wives’ tales.
20. It Makes Simple Things Appear Complicated and Difficult
In a (mostly) phonetic writing system like the one we use in the English language, learning to read, if approached properly, doesn’t take long at all. In fact, it’s been consistently demonstrated that a young native English-speaker can go from total illiteracy to an adult reading level in about a year and a half (and sometimes less).
Schoolchildren, by contrast, unfortunate souls they are, become test subjects for whatever trendy theory rules the day as the national literacy continues to slip. Instead of being taught phonics, they’re given phony “whole word” exercises that treat English words like Chinese characters (think “Dick and Jane”), bizarre tactile exercises involving colored blocks meant to represent words, and other such nonsense that turns the basic and easily approachable task of learning literacy into an arcane, confusing and often futile quest. No wonder so many graduate from high school with the reading skills of six or seven-year old’s.
That’s reading, but this same phenomenon applies to anything and everything the school system puts its corrupting touch on. So successful is it in making learning and the acquisition of new skills seem intimidating that most people never try to do anything on their own ever again.
21. It Makes You Physically Lazy
Forget the lofty rhetoric about fighting obesity or encouraging healthy habits – what sort of habits do schoolmasters think they’re encouraging by having you sit in a desk for seven hours every day? Combine that with contemporary hysteria about almost non-existent child kidnappings that have made it taboo to let kids walk or bike to school, and you’re well on your way to instilling a lifelong habit of laziness.
Which, incidentally, is great for funneling people into boring, sedentary office jobs later in life. But I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.
22. It Makes You Fat
Not just by training you to sit on your ass for hours on end (see above), but also by feeding you greasy, low-grade food (see below). Schools aren’t solely responsible for skyrocketing childhood obesity, but they certainly haven’t helped.
23. The Food’s Shit
I don’t know what it’s like these days, but back when I was still wearing short pants, kids who brought lunch from home (“cold lunch”) were teased for it mercilessly.
Which never made sense to me, considering the slop the school served to the hot lunch kids: bland and unpleasant fruit cocktails, burritos that were more grease than meat, spaghetti so unappealing it looked like a fat Italian guy’s sick. I was downright happy to have my sack lunch.
If this sounds like nothing more than a petty gripe, consider these three points:
(1). School lunches have been implicated time and again in the rising childhood obesity rates. Which isn’t surprising – what do you think would happen by serving kids nothing but French fries, reheated pizza squares, chocolate milk, hamburgers and cheese zombies?
(2). A huge industry exists to supply public schools with this outright junk food. Food nobody in his right mind would ever voluntarily purchase anywhere else, because it’s shit. Essentially, it’s a government-supplied monopoly; a guaranteed market because the “customers” have no choice in the matter. It’s the same kind of cynical, closed-door kind of deal that greases the wheels of our nation’s military-industrial complex, with everything from cruise missiles to ready-to-eat meals foisted on our soldiers. It’s great work, if you can get it – no matter how awful your product is, there’s no competition!
(3). Time and again, serious questions about the sanitary conditions of the places where this crap is made have been raised. Ever read Fast Food Nation? Who knows the amount of rattails, sawdust, industrial soaps, cow poop and other adulterants have made it into school children’s lunches.
24. It Makes You Intellectually Lazy
If you’ve ever been around young children, you know that they want to know everything. Heck, maybe you remember when you were like that yourself.
So, what happened?
Well, years and years of not being allowed to read whatever you want, getting put down or teased for “stupid” questions or “disruptive” talking, and puerile learning materials take their toll. It takes about two to three years to break a child’s spirit – just compare the bright, inquisitive and energetic nature of preschoolers to the passive, petty, apathetic and bored third and forth graders within the same school district.
Worse, standards are so low as you get older, and so little effort is made by your teachers to assess the actual quality of you work (how easy is it to write a book report using SparkNotes or Wikipedia synopses?) that it would be miraculous if you didn’t complete the experience with a heavy contempt for academia and learning in general.
25. It Cuts You Off from Your Community
Schools segregate you by age, and often, by household income. Rarely to never will you have any meaningful, extended contact with people substantially older than yourself. Nor will you spend much time with those younger than yourself – unless it’s to bully or tease them, as is often the case.
We accept this as normal, despite it being a completely unnatural, recent reordering of things.
Without a connection to the past and the future, as there is when people of different ages mix freely, there is no community, no crucial continuity of ideas, traditions and culture. The young learn to dismiss the old, and the old learn to fear and distrust the young. In this way, people never learn to develop a firm footing in the world immediately around them, and towns and neighborhoods become exchangeable, almost identical places, amounting to little more than living quarters shared by strangers. No wonder modern life is so lonely.
26. It’s Taught by Idiots
Yes, your teachers really are, by and large, idiots. Notice how little curiosity your history teacher has to learn more about history, or your science teacher for science, and so on? And have you also noticed how they usually know next to nothing about anything that doesn’t fall into their narrow “specialty”?
Here’s a fun tidbit: of all the different majors in our university system, guess who has consistently ranked the second lowest ranked students across the board?
Education majors. Yessir, the people (supposedly) tasked with encouraging learning and intellectual investigation in the young are almost all substandard students themselves. Just an accident, I’m sure. Nothing to see here.
Curious as to who the very lowest people are, and what field they go into? That brings us into our next point…
27. It’s Run by Even Bigger Idiots
School administration majors have consistently been rated as the poorest students in the entire university system for years on end. Naturally, they are the people we put in charge of our K-12 schools. Make sense to me.
As an adult, I suggest you get to know some people in this profession. You will be amazed by the widespread ignorance, bigotry, dimwittedness and retrograde thinking you will find among them. Some of them even seem barely able to function as human beings.
This is of course by design. Principals and superintendents don’t really run the schools – they’re puppets to subtly hidden, centralized powers with a vested interest in controlling the education system (if you’re curious as to just who those people are, well, just follow the money), a fact that also explains why people tend to not last very long in these positions: as long as they’re content to play the useful idiot, they can sit content, but once trouble comes or they do something that gets in the way of the insidious systemic imperatives of the mass schooling project, they’re tossed into an invisible, dead-end, make-work job at school district headquarters, never to be seen again. This is true all across the country, at all schools that receive public funding, and if you pay attention, you will notice the pattern playing out in your hometown just as much as it does anywhere else.
28. Large Corporations Count On You Being There to Make Themselves Richer
With a captive audience (that’s you), schools present an excellent advertising opportunity to both big business and small-time opportunists, whether through “sponsorships” by Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, or Nike, to the vending machines in the hallways peddling crap to you at inflated prices, you’re nothing but apples ripe for the picking in the eyes of those looking to make an easy buck.
29. It’s Designed to Turn You into a Mindless Consumer
By denying you training in even the most basic financial skills, by preventing you from developing genuine critical thinking skills, by turning you into a shallow, petty individual through a never-ending gauntlet of competition, age-segregation, humiliations, contests, bullying and unwanted attention, schools don’t have to explicitly brainwash you into certain buying habits – you’ll develop them on your own well enough, for the same reasons many people develop binge eating problems, drug habits, pathological personalities of narcissism, sociopathy, or histrionics, and other characteristic maladies of our day; alienated from yourself, you will seek satisfaction from external sources, which of course can never actually provide satisfaction but do stimulate your brain into releasing a little dopamine in the short-term.
The logos on everything from ledger boards to the gymnasium floor also don’t help.
30. It Uses Powerful, Mind-Altering Drugs to Control Your Behavior
Bored out of your skull? No you aren’t, retard! You have Attention Deficit Disorder! Your totally normal reaction to having your time wasted is actually an increasingly common mental health issue, which, as luck would have it, can be treated by ingesting extremely powerful drugs that will put you into a stupor!
Oh, and by the way, you need to take them for the rest of your life. I’m sure that’s just a lucky coincidence for the companies that manufacture the stuff – the stuff to deal with a problem that was nonexistent just a few generations ago before it mysteriously appeared from nowhere. Fancy that.
Don’t worry about the permanent brain damage or the fact that it’s as potent as cocaine. That really shouldn’t bother you. We know what’s best. And could you have these on my desk by Friday?
31. It Smells Bad
Don’t think it matters? How doesn’t it? It would matter if it was a hotel room you were paying a hundred bucks to stay in for a night – why shouldn’t it matter for a place that spends nearly $11,000 per student per year?
Bottom of the barrel cleaning supplies, BO, and unflushed toilets. Mmmm….
32. It’s Dirty
When a restaurant or a movie theater is dirty, you can complain to the manager. You can also vote with your feet and not go to those places to spend your money again.
However, if your school is filthy, you’d better get used to it.
33. The School Busing System Eats Up Resources That Could’ve Been Used to Give Your Town Top-Notch Public Transit
Why on Earth does a school of three to five hundred need a fucking fleet of heavy duty buses that are only used twice a day, tops? That money could have been spent on providing your town a fleet of buses – utterly important, considering how lacking our country’s public transit system is.
34. It Forces You to Recite the Pledge of Allegiance
Creepy, creepy, creepy. No other word better describes this daily ritual.
Whether you think the flag is a beacon of justice and democracy, or a bloodstained symbol of slavery, genocide and relentless war, what business does any institution have making you treat the damn thing like it’s the Shroud of Turin?
Compulsory shows of obedience belong in North Korea.
35. It Fills Your Head with Propaganda, Distortions and Lies about History
Among them: America and the UK are the best of friends and nothing questionable could ever come out of that relationship; Abraham Lincoln was a moral and unambitious man who wanted nothing more than to help integrate African Americans into mainstream society; Christopher Columbus was a humble man just trying to make an honest buck who would never hurt a fly; the United States was just minding its own business and never dreamt that the Empire of Japan would lash out at them (and better still: the dropping of atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were necessary to end the war).
Worse than these are the lies by omission the official curriculum has built into it – you will never learn or even hear mention of: Benjamin Franklin’s involvement with the Hellfire Club, the formation of the Federal Reserve system, the Rosicrucian Renaissance, the contrivances of Elizabethan schemers like John Dee or Francis Bacon, the role of secret societies in the outbreak of the French Revolution, the intellectual and artistic flowering of Weimar Germany, Celsus’s critique of Christianity, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, MKULTRA, serious allegations about happenings at the Hanford nuclear site…just to name a few.
36. It Puts You in Danger
Harassment, intimidation, fights, cyber bullying, gang violence. The list goes on.
37. It Gives You Poor Eyesight
You see so many Chinese people with eyeglasses not so much because the Han are genetically prone to nearsightedness as the fact that their children are forced to study from toddlerhood forward.
What effects did squinting at the whiteboard of being forced to “read” long before you’re developmentally ready have on you?
38. It’s Simultaneously Sexless and Highly Sexualized
Only in a place as insane as our schools could a person be subjected to an obscene level of sexual innuendo, inappropriate leers and gestures, crude jokes, revealing outfits, locker room banter, cosmetics, colognes, and titillating activities (dances, cheerleader routines) – and then get punished for talking openly about making love, or handing a friend a condom?
This is perhaps just a microcosm of a larger cultural problem, but it’s worth noting, as it’s one of the most Kafkaesque aspects of these places.
39. It Gives You False Expectations about Life
40. It Makes You Shallow
By removing you from the wider world and putting you in the passenger seat to your own life, school builds a bubble of delusion around you, distorting your values and priorities, and drawing attention away from things that really matter – things like deciding what kind of person you want to spend your life with, learning about your family history, following the example your older siblings while helping to shepherd the younger, devoting yourself to a cause that’s important to you, growing a garden, traveling to distant places to consider the multitudinous possibilities of living, and the like.
Without any real work to do, and with little to no say in how each day unfolds, most kids withdraw from their culture, their families and indeed, even themselves, coming to focus on the meanest, stupidest things imaginable: fashion, social position, parties, physical comeliness, and the like. It’s Versailles writ large in 100,000 locations across the country.
The worst thing about this is how getting into the habit of focusing on these tiny, trivial matters will make adult life all the more difficult. In a world that expects results, we set up people to begin the difficult journey of life with a completely screwed up set of values.
Science is starting to confirm what many of us have always known: the “cool” kids grow up into losers, and the nerds, freaks and nobodies who actually make something of themselves later on are often so damaged from the experience that they have trouble forming healthy relationships, relating to other people, or showing compassion to those less fortunate than themselves.
41. It’s Ugly
For buildings that typically run into the tens of millions of dollars to build, they sure are a homely bunch.
Okay, in recent years, a little more effort has been put into school design, but by and large, they still resemble prison, hospitals or factories (another coincidence, I’m sure). What effects might this have on your spirit?
42. It’s a Hotbed of Corruption
Many, many substandard, poorly-run companies could not survive without sweetheart contracts given to them by the school system: junk food purveyors whose products end up in school cafeterias, textbook companies whose poorly composed materials are sold at highly inflated prices, and perhaps worst of all, the outrageous “overrun” costs of school construction projects.
Sure, it’s not Third World, bribe-the-health-inspector style corruption, but it is corruption – perhaps worse, even, because it’s far less visible, and it’s comfortably built into the system, making it near-impossible for any meaningful reform to take place from within.
43. Nepotism Runs Rampant
The sooner you start viewing the public school system as, among other things, a massive jobs program for the otherwise unemployable, the more the waste, the apathy and the low standards begin to make sense. And like any corrupt and bloated institution, schools prefer to hire among their own, saving the cushiest positions, benefits and promotions for those in the system who’ve rocked the boat least and always done as their told.
You wouldn’t think that low-level data entry jobs, petty bureaucratic planning positions or playground supervision and library assistance would require many years’ prior experience working in a public school in order to master. You’d also prove yourself unaware of the inner workings of these places.
44. School Incentivizes Cheating and Dishonesty
Sooner or later, the sharpest kids see through the bullshit and ask themselves why they should be slaving away on busy work completely irrelevant to the larger world or their futures. These budding freethinkers sometimes take back their time by outsourcing their schoolwork to a ghostwriting industry online.
On a much more basic level, when you artificially limit access to “elite” degrees and job opportunities by state-sanctioned rationing (“professional” licensing, educational privileges based on compliance, etc.), why should you try to do things the honest way? Many children of immigrants from Eastern Asia have no qualms about paying someone else to do their homework, smuggling in answer sheets to high stakes tests, and the like (this is not controversial). They scrimped and saved to make it to the country; they’re not going to allow a completely arbitrary system keep them from rising through the ranks. It’s a perfectly rational response to an idiotic and unfair system.
To put it another way: Why is it okay for the system to cheat you, but not okay for you to cheat it back?
45. It Encourages Depression
It’s not hard to figure out most people at school don’t care about you, and the few who might are nowhere near the same level as your parents, your siblings, your church community, or a beloved pen pal. It’s amazing how a place with so many people can also make you feel so alone. Your classmates are shallow and bored. You’re bored. And the same, dull routine repeats itself day after day, year after year. With an environment like that, it’s impressive how many kids don’t develop depression.
Plenty do, though.
It’s not a poverty thing, either. Youth suicide, by and large, is an affliction of the middle and upper classes. The kids given everything are the one who feel like they have nothing; combine that with insane pressures related to standardized testing that correlate to nothing of value are advertised as determining one’s future, bogus grades, jockeying for petty social power, and all the rest, it’s no wonder some people crack. In fact, it might interest you to know that National Merit Scholars are, among all the possible designations researchers could identify, the group with the highest suicide rate in the country. With that in mind, it should also come as no surprise that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the most prestigious schools in the world, has a dismal record of student suicide, self-harm, and nervous breakdowns – just the same as most of the other “elite” schools.
46. You’ll Be in Deep Shit If You Use Pot at School
For a plant that’s been used for humans for medicinal and recreational purposes for over 5,000 years, marijuana sure has a lot of enemies obsessed with eradicating it.
It’s totally understandable if you want to puff on a joint, just to get through the day. School is a boring waste of time; a baffling labyrinth of arbitrary rules, aggression, and coercion. It’s not a mystery why you might turn to herbal help to get by. I can attest that plenty of adults do it to make their soul-sucking jobs tolerable.
But, my oh my, the things that will happen to you if you get caught with the stuff at school. Goodbye college. Hello “alternative” school and “interventional education.”
47. It Spreads the Lie That an Ivy League “Education” Is Valuable and Desirable
There’s no shortage these days of disenchanted current and former Ivy League students trying to warn others about the waste of sweat, blood, tears and money getting into one of these schools is.
Their warnings fall on deaf ears.
After all, everyone “knows” what an excellent school Harvard is, and the sort of doors it can open up. Never mind the fact that a sizable portion of Ivy League grads end up in the same sort of careers their state university counterparts do, or that a quarter of them are either unemployed or chronically underemployed a full two years after graduation.
Also never mind that fact that the vast majority of kids who make it into these institutions sacrificed the opportunity to develop interests or a unique personality when they spent all that time making SAT flashcards and joining nine clubs during high school. If you like to hang out with people who manage to be both toweringly arrogant and amazingly boring simultaneously, perhaps the Ivy League is for you. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother.
48. It Convinces You You’ll Be a Failure If You Don’t Do Things Somebody Else’s Way
How many times have you heard it: If you don’t get good grades and go to a good college, you’ll be flipping burgers for life.
What is the point of constantly instilling this fear? To make sure you toe the line, of course. And it’s proven a remarkably effective scare tactic over the years (after all, what could be worse than working at a restaurant)?
Your teachers never tell you how many insanely rich, insanely talented people either didn’t bother with college, or didn’t bother with finishing it: Paul Allen, Wolfgang Puck, Bill Gates, Quentin Tarantino, George Lucas, Ted Turner, Larry Ellison, Danica Patrick, Gore Vidal, Penn Jillette, Michael Moore, Rush Limbaugh, Brad Pitt, Steve Jobs, William Faulkner, Richard Gere, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ralph Lauren, David Karp, Walt Disney, Tom Hanks, Al Pacino, John Mackey, Richard Branson, Ingvar Kamprad, Henry Ford, Larry Page, Joel Olsteen, Michael Dell, Sean Parker, Ben Affleck, Woody Allen, Channing Tatum, Louis Armstrong, Dan Aykroyd, John Glenn, Bill Murray, Craig Ferguson, Harvey Firestone, Ray Kroc, Harrison Ford, Robert Frost, the Wachowski’s, Scott Walker, Buckminster Fuller, H.G. Wells, Keanu Reeves, Stan Lee, George Carlin, Seth Rogan, Teddy Roosevelt, Louis C.K., Ozzy Osbourne, Don Imus, Stanley Kubrick, and motherfuckin’ Oprah, just to name a few.
49. It Makes You Tired and Cranky
We’ve known for years now that during puberty, people’s circadian rhythms change, making them more prone to staying up into the night.
This isn’t a trivial complaint. Not getting good sleep regularly is hazardous to your health, decreasing cognitive function, weakening your immune system, and putting greater stress on your heart. Yet, schools refuse to adjust their schedules to accommodate this now familiar phenomenon, and instead increase workloads, extracurricular activities, and the like. Combine this with the distractions of video games, smartphones and computers, and you have a recipe for mass chronic fatigue, which means raccoon eyes, irritability, and anger management problems on top of the aforementioned health hazards.
50. You Will Never Be Challenged to Tackle the Big Questions of Life in a Meaningful Way
Aristotle, Plato, St. Augustine, Siddhartha Guatama, Lao Tzu, Jesus Christ, Thomas Aquinas, Dostoyevsky, Thoreau – you’ve probably heard mention of a few of these names during your time at school. How many times did you ever get a chance to read them in their own words?
Yeah, I thought not.
Instead of tackling questions like “What should I do with my life?” or “What things make me happy?” in a non-superficial way, school is a maze of coloring sheets, flashcards, videos, workbooks, Social Studies dioramas, quizzes, entry tasks, and other distractions. Attention is given to the tiny details of an incoherent and poorly organized lesson plan that extends a simple lesson into a weeks’ long ordeal. Never, or nearly never, is there any in-depth and extended conversation about the deeper questions, or an inquiry into the thoughts of those great questioners of yore. Without an extended investigation into the most important matters of life, most are doomed to meaninglessness by the school system.
51. You Do Not Have Freedom of Speech
If you think you do, try handing out pamphlets on campus about abortion, 9/11 conspiracy theories, gay sexual liberation, or anything to do with fundamentalist Christianity.
52. Plenty of the Most Interesting or Successful People Have Named It As One of the Worst Things That Ever Happened to Them
Paul Orfalea was called a loser and an underachiever by his school, and he was convinced he would die in a homeless shelter as an adult, since clearly, he was a useless idiot. After graduating dead last in his class, he decided to become a self-made billionaire and one of the greatest business innovators of his day by founding Kinko’s.
Ray Kroc, the man responsible for turning the tiny McDonald Brother’s burger shop into a fast food empire with more global reach than Gengis Khan could have hoped for, was so bored and frustrated by his high school that one day at the age of sixteen he announced to his mother that he was leaving school forever – he was tired of having his time wasted.
David Lynch, master of American surrealism and the best-known avant-garde filmmaker of the last 40 years, had this to say on “education” as we’ve defined it, “School was a crime against young people. It destroyed the seeds of liberty. The teachers didn’t encourage knowledge or a positive attitude.”
Shigesato Itoi, creator of the cult-hit “Earthbound” game for the Super Nintendo, already insecure from his complicated homelife, felt school to be a stultifying, desolate place. In very un-Japanese fashion, Itoi neglected his studies and turned to comic books, delicious herbs and the Beatles in order to escape (something he later gave credit for helping him to develop his unique creative style). He is the only man Mario and Legend of Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto has called a genius.
And most famously, for Thomas Edison, school was pure “torture.”
He dropped out at age 11. Presumably, he became a meth-addict and fast food employee.
53. It Fills Your House with Garbage
This one you can’t even argue. School results in a lot of outright garbage accumulating in your house (and later, car). Old notes, old essays in their binders, craft projects that you can’t bring yourself to throw away even though you couldn’t give a crap about them otherwise. There’s just so much junk. It’s messy and bad for the environment.
54. Head Lice
Farmers know that if you plant the same strain of the same crop over and over in tight, rigid spaces, the price you’ll pay for the “efficiency” such a system affords is a grotesquely higher susceptibility to disease and parasite attacks…hence our agricultural system’s appalling over reliance on pesticides.
Much the same, cram dozens, hundreds or even thousands of kids together in near-cattle car conditions, and you create a literal breeding ground for all sorts of nasty things. Chief among them, as you are no doubt familiar with, is head lice, a plague responsible for countless disruptions and invasive, compulsory medical inspections, not to mention unimaginable humiliation and stigmatization for the kids unlucky enough to play host to these disgusting creatures. You don’t see homeschooled kids missing their studies because of lice, now do you?
56. Flus, Colds and Other Viral Unpleasantness
Same as the previous two points. We wouldn’t have nearly the problem with viral infections we do if we didn’t force (messy, nose-robbing, cough-not-covering) kids together into a confined space for hours on end, before bringing all the wonderful germs home to Mommy and Daddy.
57. Problems, Shortcomings and Deficiencies Are Never the School’s Fault – Unless There’s Money to Be Had
Curious, no matter how low the literacy rates drop, how violent and unpleasant schools become, how stupid and lazy children turn out, or how much farther our country falls behind the rest, it’s never related to how the school system is organized, how things are taught in the classroom, or how students and their parents are allowed to participate (rather, not participate) in the decision-making process – unless, of course, some juicy government grants or increased tax revenues are available for the taking, for you see, clearly the school is failing because a lack of money, forever and ever, amen.
58. You Have No Choice Who You Spend Your Time With
If someone walked up to you and said that he will choose your friends for you, you’d quite rightly tell him to fuck off.
As an adult with a job, if you don’t like your boss or your coworkers, you can quit and go somewhere else.
Things are a little different at school, however. Not only do you get no say in who your classmates are going to be, the situation is rendered even more absurd by making the decision based off of age, and little else – not learning styles, personalities, interests, or the like.
59. You Don’t Get to Choose Your Teachers
When you and your partner are going to be having a baby, you’re expected by friends and family to shop around among the OBGYN’s in your community until you find the one you think will do the best job. When your refrigerator or your laptop breaks, you’re the one who picks which repair place you’ll call in order to get it fixed, or which store you’ll go to if you’d prefer to buy a replacement. Even the most trivial decisions in life offer a dazzling array of options people would never dream of interfering with (next time you’re at the supermarket, consider how many toothpaste brands there are, or how many different kinds of shampoo on the shelf – and who there would dare tell you which one to buy?).
Yet, when it comes to education, something we’re constantly told is absolutely crucial to the future success and welfare of an individual, you and your parents are never consulted as to your preferences in who will be in charge of your schooling.
Some might defend this by saying that the school people are “experts” and thus are better equipped to make that decision, but again, if that’s the case, why don’t we have people decide who our surgeon’s going to be when we need an operation, or who will build our house, or who will watch our children when we need to go out of town on business? These decisions are absolutely critical, as well, even life and death, yet no one would be brazen enough to suggest that none of them should be up to the individual (and this is to say nothing of the “experts’” dismal track record in educating kids).
Putting that aside for a moment, being the son of two public school teachers, I can tell you the other reason this system is bogus – NO thought is put into whose class you end up. It’s a completely random process, with about as much thought put into it as you put into which garbage can at Costco you put your greasy napkin into. Teachers don’t even get a say in who’s in their class, and who isn’t; it’s a human combine, these days controlled mainly by computers, where you are not a human being, but a number, with a few tags attached to your name (“grade,” “special ed,” “gifted and talented,” “male,” “female”).
If the decision of whose class you’ll be attending is so important that you and your family cannot be trusted to make it, why do schools put so little thought into it?
60. School Creates a Highly Artificial Environment That Makes You Focus on Meaningless Bullshit
In case no one told you before, I’m telling you now: Once you’re an adult, nobody could give a shit about your fashion sense, your height, what neighborhood you originally came from, or other such nonsense. In school, it often seems like these things are the only things that matter, and if you’re too aloof or inept to master them and wield them, you can expect to be on the receiving end of copious abuse from your “peers,” or worse, being ignored completely. It’s the vapid logic of Versailles foisted on the working masses.
61. You Get in Trouble for Talking
Yes, talking. One of the defining traits of human beings, and a skill that needs to be practiced constantly by children in order to gain social and linguistic mastery is a punishable offence in school. …Never mind that verbal agility and free-flowing eloquence are perhaps the most useful skills a human being can have – it’s mildly annoying to Teacher to hear your voice, so it has to go.
62. Science Fairs
Fuck science fairs. Nobody even likes them: Kids hate doing them, parents hate having to make trips to the store and deal with crocodile tears the night before things are do, and teachers really don’t seem to like grading them much. So why do they keep happening? Nobody – nobody – is actually learning anything about science …and that’s to say nothing of all the time, effort and money that goes into producing these cardboard and paper turdpiles.
63. Sexual Harassment Everywhere, All the Time
I’m not talking about some bogus “rape culture” (though that is far from saying that girls don’t get lots of unwanted and inappropriate attention at school) – I’m talking about the sexual pressure cooker of your typical middle or high school, particularly intrasexual pressure, where hundreds of insecure and recently-pubescent young people compete viciously to prove their worth; among young men, it’s constant power games, tiny dick jokes, ball tapping, towel-slapping, fat shaming, chokeholds, Onanistic gestures, mushroom stamping, allusions to possible homosexuality, threats and hard glares, ass patting, and the like. It’s little wonder so many young guys end up as loners, basement dwellers or cowardly 30-year old virgins.
64. Teachers, Administrators and Parents Go Insane Over Tiny Issues
Are girls who wear colored snap bracelets covertly advertising sexual services they’ll perform? Should students be allowed to walk near the loading zone after regular busing hours? Does Dungeons & Dragons promote Satanism?
These debates barely worth having will eat up your school’s collective mental energy much more than questions of securing an apprenticeship for you, arranging studies abroad, bringing in meaningful guests who would benefit any classroom they entered, creating a community garden, or anything that might actually make a damn difference.
65. Awkward Boners. Awkward Boners Everywhere
“Peter, come up to the board and try to solve this equation for us…Peter?”
66. It Prevents You from Making a Fortune While You’re Still Young
Far from being a time to keep your head down and do as your told, youth is actually the best time in your life to take major risks and make a shitload of money, even without a college degree or special credentials.
If that sounds farfetched to you, consider the example of Andrew Fashion, who made his millions by age nineteen by posting MySpace tips online and selling goofy classroom products.
There’s also Napster creator Sean Parker, Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and numerous others to take into consideration.
That being said, how can you expect to replicate even a tiny portion of their success if all your time is being spent in a classroom, working on homework, or “decompressing” from school on the weekends?
67. It’s Increasingly Anti-Male
Lots of little boys like to draw army men, guns, sword-wielding warriors, and the like. In a saner age, this was seen as a normal part of a boy’s growing up. Now, it’s seen as a sign of violent psychopathy that absolutely has to be punished to the fullest extent possible. Other little boys, as young as six, are literally arrested for “sexual harassment” if they plant a kiss on a little girl’s cheek. And none of this is even to touch upon the structural complaints against the schoolday, in which sitting still, being quiet and waiting in lines are proscribed rituals better taken on by girls whose bodies aren’t pumping them full of testosterone.
68. School Is an Extremely Alienating Experience
You’re not a person at school – you’re a number in a database somewhere. You will be given a desk identical to all other desks in the school, a locker identical to all the other lockers, and classmates selected to be with you because you happen to be the same age, and nothing else.
Oh, sure, some bleeding heart, Koolaid drinking teachers will wax poetic about their love for you and describe in fine words the marvelous things they hope you do as you enter adulthood. You should also consider what a formidable (read: impossible) task this is when the average middle or high school teacher has over 180 different students each year, every year, over the course of his entire career.
Make no mistake: you’re there to do as you’re told. You’re there to fit in. You’re there to go with the flow, and cause as little trouble as possible for the people task with organizing all this nonsense. You will comply.
This is no accident. No unfortunate byproduct of a poorly thought-out organizational procedure. It was in fact that main goal of public education.
Outrageous? Not at all. Consider this quote from William Torrey Harris, America’s very first Commissioner of Education:
“Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual.”
As well as this other charming quote:
“The great purpose of school can be realized better in dark, airless, ugly places … It is to master the physical self, to transcend the beauty of nature. School should develop the power to withdraw from the external world.”
Public school, helping you to be the best automaton you can be.
69. Your Goals, Plans, Ideas, Dreams and Ambitions Are Treated As Nuisances
If you wanted to, say, spend two years in the Amazon rainforest studying native poison dart crafting techniques in a video documentary, would your school be thrilled at the prospect?
Hell no! One less ass in a seat is thousands in funding lost. Expect resistance.
Even less baroque things like getting to pick your own books to read or having final say over what electives you’d like to take are routinely disregarded. Because why would you know best what you want or what’s good for you?
Exercise and developing healthy habits are good things. Daily reenactments of “Lord of the Flies” are not.
71. The Presidential Physical Fitness Week
Fat, unhealthy, or otherwise out of shape? What better way to boost your confidence than showcasing your inadequacy to the entire school! Yessir, after nearly killing yourself with a 15-minute mile, failing to do a single pull-up, and in general being a massive (lol) embarrassment to yourself, you’ll never want to have anything to do with exercise ever again, and the toxic self-loathing this ritualized public shaming instills in you will no doubt be self-medicated by you with food and, later in life, alcohol, thus making the problem even worse and likely sending you to an early grave after a miserable existence characterized by loneliness, low self-esteem, and disease. Thanks, school!
72. Basic Life Skills Aren’t Even Taught Despite School Allegedly Being “Training for Adulthood”
Mentioned already in different parts of this article, it’s important enough to get its own section. All the things you’ll wish you knew once you’re living on your own will be a complete mystery to you, since things like renter’s rights, opening an IRA (or what the hell an IRA even is), couponing, how to start a voter’s initiative, website design, how to get a business card made, black tie etiquette, and more are not taught. They’re not even mentioned.
Instead, you wasted your time learning the Ideal Gas Laws, declamating Maya Angelou’s poetry, and making book report posters.
73. Initiative Is Mocked and Discouraged
The crooked nail gets the hammer, as the Japanese say. Kids who put in extra effort are treated like freaks by their classmates, and all too often, with condescension by their teachers. Going above and beyond or showing enthusiasm are probably the easiest ways to become a pariah in school, short of being a conjoined twin or having regular epileptic fits.
74. School Elections, Part I
So obvious it almost isn’t worth mentioning, but let’s review the typical (and valid) complaints while we’re here:
- School elections waste a humongous amount of time, forcing uninterested kids to gather to listen to half-baked speeches by cheerleaders, dudebros, and those tragically deluded intellectual types who don’t realize they don’t have a ice cream cone’s chance in the Sahara.
- They inflate the already over-inflated egos of the prematurely popular
- They waste tons of materials (posters, buttons, etc.)
- It’s all pointless anyway because the people elected into these positions don’t have any real power anyway
- Obnoxious, chauvinistic displays of dominance in the hallways, classroom and online in the lead up to the final vote
75. School Elections, Part II
So those are the usual complaints. A lesser-discussed point is at least as important, and deserves its own section.
What point, you might ask?
It’s rarely mentioned, but have you ever stopped to consider the considerable damage school elections cause to your opinion of democracy and representative government?
With school elections, you learn that nobody with good ideas will be vetted by the establishment on the one hand or popular support on the other. You learn that elections are a farce to conceal the true nature of the power structure and preserve the status quo while maintaining the illusion of “choice.” You learn that the meanest, crudest, least far-looking are naturals at navigating the corridors of power. And you learn, rightly or wrongly, that “democracy” doesn’t really mean rule by the people.
Not sure if bug or feature…
76. The Body Is Desecrated and Normal Bodily Functions Are Penalized
God help you if you have to fart in class. You’re never going to get the chance to run out to the hallway to let that sucker rip. And your classmates are never going to let you forget it, either.
Isn’t it a bit creepy how little control you’re given over your own body at school? Hall monitors make sure you don’t take too long of a sip at the drinking fountain. You have to fill out paperwork to use the bathroom. And who can forget the deep, psychologically scarring experience of being weighed in front of everybody when you’re either “too skinny” or “too fat”?
If you enjoy being treated like cattle, perhaps this is all a pleasant experience for you, but I for one want to punch every teacher in the face who was responsible for this crap as I was growing up. They’ve earned it.
77. Everybody Is Punished for the Mistakes of One
This isn’t Full Metal Jacket, but apparently your teacher thinks it is. You know the score: one person fucks up and you all have to suffer. Did somebody vandalize a bathroom? Watch as the doors get removed and a guard put into place. Did somebody commit the unforgivable crime of talking at the same time the teacher did? Congrats, you all get to write a 1,000-word essay now. What a joke.
78. Pep Rallies
Imagine the Giggle Wiggles were tasked with organizing the Nuremberg Rallies, and this is pretty much what you get. Sis-boom-bah, rah rah rah! Have functionally retarded cheerleaders shriek into the microphone as you pretend to care about your school’s newest upcoming sporting event. We don’t have time anymore, apparently, to hold art classes, woodshop or plays, but far be it from us to question the importance of pep rallies.
79. School Rivalries
Unless your family is that special kind of stupid that makes a “tradition” of attending one monolithic big-box public school over another, you, like most people, didn’t put too much thought into where you went to high school. Yet, you better show some damn enthusiasm, son! It’s your TEAM, for Pete’s sake. Don’t you have any SCHOOL SPIRIT? Or are you a PUSSY?
People who’ve never met each other and are otherwise pretty similar are encouraged to hate and vilify each other because…reasons? It’s no joke, either, at least not in the minds of those who are really, really into the school spirit routine: vandalism, “pranks” causing hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage, fights, harassment, stalking behavior and, if nothing else, hopeless distraction come about as a result of exploiting in the tribal instinct in young people, to the benefit of no one.
80. You Aren’t Allowed to Make Your Own Reading Decisions
Isn’t it crazy how often you hear people say, “I love to read, but I never get the time when I’m in school”? Think about the implications of this statement: numerous people, without realizing it, are admitting school gets in the way of reading and self-education. Of course it does. It uses up all your time during the week, and when you finally do get some free time, you’re too exhausted – emotionally, physically – to do anything worthwhile, including reading some really good books.
Want to crack open Tolstoy, Faulkner, Vonnegut, Watership Down, or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, instead of whatever politically vetted, dumbed-down crap your school is forcing you to read? Good luck. There are only so many hours in the day, and your oh-so-important grades will suffer if you use your time as you see fit, instead of keeping your head down and following along.
81. You Won’t Be Told About the (Many) Alternatives, All of Which Have a Better Track Record
Most of the criticisms here are directed at government schools, but one should take into account that many if not most can also be leveled against most private schools. That being said, even a shoddy private school experience is superior to the average public schooling.
Far better, though, are the wilder and woollier alternatives more and more people discover each and every year. Things like “free schools,” homeschooling, and perhaps the most radical of all, unschooling.
Little to no structure (at least in comparison with mass schooling), self-directed learning, individually tailored lesson-plans, loads of free time to pursue your own interests…if we are to believe the lies about human nature we’ve been told again and again by the media, politicians, and of course, the schools themselves, such a form of education should be a miserable failure, with young people frittering away their time on video games and Facebook instead of learning (that never happens with public school students).
Examining the facts, however, paints a different picture. Not only do homeschooled students vastly outperform their public school counterparts academically, they also are more healthy emotionally, and better socialized, contrary to the stereotype of the socially awkward homeschool kid.
82. It Fools You Into Thinking Schooling Is the Same Thing as an Education
School is regimentation and habit-training, much like boot camp in the military. Etymology enthusiasts out there should follow the breadcrumb trail the “school” name left – in a neat linguistic trick, the social engineers who created mass schooling intentionally chose a homonymous word in English with two radically different meanings, stemming from two completely different languages, in order to use the same words to say two completely different groups of people – a secret message to those in on the shadowy designs of the project, and another for the ignorati on the outside (in politics, this common practice is known as “dogwhistling”).
The first origin – the one used to fool the public when mass schooling was first seriously proposed – is related the ancient Greek word skole, meaning a kind of garden in which one was free to play and explore at his leisure. Education for free people in ancient Athens consisted mostly of open-ended discovery under the guidance of a learned man, with little in the way of pre-proscribed lessons, subject learning, or set schedules. This free form educational style resulted in the most thoughtful and inventive people of the ancient world, the same people who gave us philosophy, geometry, classical sculpture and democracy.
“School” as we know it, comes from the German schule, meaning a rigidly ordered group of identical units (“a school of fish”). The Prussian philosophers, politicians and social engineers who invented modern schooling had this in mind, modeling their classrooms after military organization (Prussia got by as essentially a private security company for other European nations, renting out its soldiery for handsome prices).
One can see in the difference between these two terms what constitutes the difference between a schooling and an education: schooling seeks to cut you down to size, make you like everyone else, and train you to take someone else’s orders; an education, by contrast, is non-coercive, self-directed, and rather laissez faire.
83. No One There Will Tell You That 1 Out of Every 15 Self-Made Millionaires Was a Dropout
84. You Won’t Learn to Cook for Yourself
The booming fast food and instant meal industries in this country didn’t come about merely as a result of people taking on busier schedules – they also thrive due to modern people’s inability to put together a decent meal on their own. How did this happen? Maybe you attend one of the few schools that still offer Home Ec. But in all likelihood you don’t, and even if you did, it’ll be a silly elective where very little actually gets done, as is the case with most elective courses.
Everyone believes feeding yourself and your family, learning how to create delicious foods, shopping smart, and knowing about nutrition are important. It’s egregious that the school system doesn’t agree.
85. You Won’t Learn How to Mend Socks, Pants or Jackets
Your great-grandmother knew how to fix tears and holes in her children’s clothes. So why don’t you?
It’s not just a hokey, old-fashioned skill; you can save literally hundreds of dollars in just a year by patching up mildly worn out clothes instead of buying new ones. Think of the money you’ve wasted. Who benefits from your ignorance? Is it possible they had something to do with keeping you from being taught this skill?
86. You Won’t Learn How to Haggle
You know this is expected at auto dealerships, but did you know you can bargain and make offers at almost all of the big box stores, such as Best Buy? No, of course you didn’t. You’re in school! Just keep paying the full price, sucker. The schools wouldn’t be doing their job if you weren’t entering adulthood totally helpless.
87. You Won’t Learn How to Form a Rock Band
Not important, you say? Why not? If it’s something that really matters to you, why aren’t you being encouraged to pursue it? Most of our best rockers were total fuckups at school – perhaps because of that, not in spite of that?
88. You Won’t Learn How to Get a Good Deal on Insurance
Ahh, insurance. The thing that will help you understand better than anything else why your parents always complained about never having any money. It will shock you, I’m sure, to learn that most insurance companies are crooked as Lombard Street. How can you not get fooled into paying more than you should? What kind of coverage is a good idea, and what kind isn’t? Who the fuck knows? Your school (again, the institution that allegedly exists to prepare you for adulthood) isn’t going to clue you in.
Sink or swim, baby!
89. You Won’t Learn Good Financial Habits
Keeping a budget, saving for future expenses, using debit and credit cards responsibly and the like are all things we need to learn. School will leave you in the dark about all these things.
Remember, it’s there to prepare you for adulthood!
90. Your Hobbies Are Banned
Do you like to design computer games, compete in rough contact sports like Judo or MMA, or dress in a Glam Rock style?
Good luck getting a chance to pursue those things. Don’t you know school knows better than you do about what you need to pay attention to? Now, get back to work on that macaroni sculpture of the Rocky Mountains.
Even worse if your hobby is a collectible card game like Magic: The Gathering, or some such, in which case the next point might be relevant to you.
91. Your Property Is Regularly Stolen (“Confiscated”)
Watches, card games, bracelets, piercings, phones, MP3 players…all goods that you selected for yourself in hopes of improving your personal happiness.
NOPE! They’re all “distractions,” in which case your teacher has free reign to take them away without your permission and hold them indefinitely (hint: in school Newspeak, “distraction” means “Teacher doesn’t like it.”)
92. It Encourages You to Grow Up into a Needy and Dependant Adult
When you’re never given real responsibilities, and you’re made accustomed to having people other than yourself tell you how good your work is or what kind of person you are, you lose the ability to depend on yourself, to be the source of your own emotional stability.
There’s no shortage of messed up, clingy and shallow people in our modern world. Culprit #1 is our school system, which leaves people bereft of even the most basic life skills. No wonder half our population is on antidepressants.
93. You’ll Complete the Experience Knowing Fuck All About the World
Thirteen years of “learning,” and you still won’t know what the capital of Canada is (hint: it’s not Toronto).
94. It Drives a Wedge Between You and Your Parents
Parents, by nature, are meant to love their children, and children, by nature, are meant to love and honor their parents. So why is it so many parents and their kids have such terrible relationships?
No doubt the discrediting the school environment does to an immigrant family’s home culture can have something to do with it. Or the teaching of a values system at odd with the one espoused by the parents, creating competing claims for authority in a child’s head. Or, certainly, the exhausting schedule of busywork that makes kids tired and impatient at the end of the day – the time they actually spend with their parents, who themselves are most likely wiped out from their equally tedious day jobs.
95. You Won’t Learn How to Feed Yourself, Find Transportation and Or Find Shelter without Money
“Do bad in school, and you could end up homeless.” You’ve heard some variation of that before, I’m sure. But have you ever stopped to consider just how fucking smart you have to be in order to survive as a homeless person?
A shortlist of skills you will need to master if you live rough: dumpster diving, hitchhiking, conflict de-escalation (police who want to beat your ass, other homeless people who want to beat your ass, etc.), panhandling (why do some beggars get lots of money, and others not so much?), navigation, sanitization, insulation (do you know how to not freeze to death on a chilly November night with nothing but a light jacket and what you can find on the streets?), mental math, price shopping, bargaining, bartering, persuasion, train hopping, river crossing, self-defense, camouflage, nutritional planning, wildlife identification, border crossing, deception, debate, salesmanship, shoplifting, how to navigate the legal system, budgeting, time planning, how to work for a temp agency without a permanent address…just to name a few.
All of these happen to be skills anyone would find useful in life, not just the homeless who just happen to need them more on a daily basis.
You will never learn any of them in school.
96. It Was Created by a Genuinely Strange Mix of Proto-Fascists, Utopian Socialists, Xenophobic Racists, Political Sellouts, and Robber Barons
This subject alone could have countless books written about it. Suffice to say, lift up the rock of history even just a little, and all manner of insects strange and vile will scurry about in the light.
Take Francis Bellamy, for instance. Bellamy, in case you don’t know, was the originator of American schoolchildren’s pledge of allegiance.
You also might not have known that Bellamy envisioned a new America ruled by an enlightened elite along revolutionary socialist methods, where criminality is treated as an “illness,” and no man can escape.
You might also take the time to explore the work of Horace Mann, an ambitious political opportunist from the mid-19th century often credited as the father of public education in the United States, who sold the mass schooling project to the Massachusetts elite with the promise that school would serve as “the cheapest police.”
And that’s to say nothing of the contributions to the project from the Rockefellers, the Morgans, and Henry “I Hate the Jew and So Should You” Ford, all of whom envisioned a new, centrally managed society where powerful business interests would be insulated from the vicissitudes of a robust free market, and the “best” people would not have to fear that the help would sprinkle arsenic onto their lobster thermidor.
97. People Were Smarter and More Literate Before School Was Created
“Sure, our schools aren’t perfect, but just imagine what things would be like if we didn’t have them!”
Okay, idiot, let’s do that. Except, I don’t have to imagine – I know.
In 18th century New England, long before most people went to school, and where those who did, did very little of it, literacy was close to 99%. The Bible, Pilgrim’s Progress, The Last of the Mohicans, and other incredibly long and difficult texts could be found in nearly every household. Paine’s Common Sense and The Age of Reason, both elaborately argued tracts on philosophy and politics, were major bestsellers. And incidentally, that impressive 99% literacy rate held steady for most of the country, excluding slaves and recent immigrants, well into the first decades of the 20th century.
Curiously, though, after our school system took the form it more or less has kept to this day, and extended its schedule to a full 180 days a year, for all people aged five to eighteen, this number began a steady decline, to the point where we are now at an 86% “official” literacy rate (hint: “official” means “lies”).
Mind you, that’s also the national “average,” meaning useless and misleading. In major cities, the problem is far worse; Detroit’s illiteracy rate is 47%. And none of this is to even broach the widespread phenomenon of aliteracy, where many people have basic reading skills, but choose to read nothing, ever.
Almost total literacy before schools was made widespread, mandatory, and government run. Steadily declining literacy ever since. That’s probably just an unfortunate coincidence, though, amirite?
98. You’ll Know Fuck All About Taxes
I’m pretty far past school age, and I still have no idea how my income taxes work. Considering the legal stakes, as well as the fact that most people pay more than they have to, wouldn’t it be neat if school – you know, the institution that’s supposedly there to prepare you for adulthood – taught you how to navigate the truly Byzantine tax code?
Or hell, even mentioned it in passing?
99. It Encourages Rudeness and Other Bad Behaviors That Are Hard to Unlearn As an Adult and Will Sabotage Your Chances of Success Later in Life
Oh, I know, there’s an 8” x 11” sheet in the corner of your classroom detailing the rules of respect, and your school’s mission statement says many fine things about standards of conduct and the like, but you know very well that it’s not a serious area of concern at your school.
Because there are a ton of assholes there! And nobody does anything to stop them. Nothing meaningful, that is.
Slaps on the wrist are given, but generally speaking, teachers and administrators are spread too thin to make any kind of meaningful intervention, and, truth be told, aggression and bullying between students helps keep the others in line, so from a managerial point of view, bad behavior makes the adults’ jobs easier. With little to no consequences for making rude remarks, dirty jokes in the wrong company, vandalism, petty theft, passive-aggression, grumbling, poor hygiene and dress, bad posture, and just generally acting like a jackass, schools set many people up for failure later in life.
If you’ve ever had a taste of the adult world, you know these things don’t fly. Why would anyone want to work with you if you’re a piss ant? You wouldn’t want to work with you with that kind of behavior. But you know as well as I do that this crap is largely tolerated at school, and it is in fact the place where many people learn it, classrooms being a sort of lowest-common-denominator environment where the flippant and the unserious possess the greatest social capital, thus incentivizing others to imitate the worst habits imaginable. At least that $11,000 price tag for every ass in a chair at school is going somewhere.
100. You Won’t Be Taught the First Thing About Starting or Operating Your Own Business
Self-employment. Independent livelihood. They’re a dream for many, and one of the most direct ways to accumulate a fortune for yourself, done properly.
But they are also difficult when you’re first starting out, what with all the paperwork you need to fill out, the licenses you don’t know you need, the tax regulations, the supply chain, scaling, and the like. It’s a formidable learning curve, and your school has no interest in helping you tackle it, let alone putting the idea in your head in the first place.
Because the truth of the matter is, the people responsible for our education system (Teacher’s College, the Teacher’s Union, “philanthropic” organizations, think tanks, and big business) don’t want you to work for yourself.
School trains you to be somebody else’s employee. That’s what group work, “grades,” all the stupid and petty rules, bells, break times (“recess”) and the like are designed to habituate you to: the rhythms and absurdities of wage slavery, whether of the blue or white collar variety. In the eyes of the system, you aren’t a human being, but a human resource.
If you were given the skills and knowledge necessary to be your own boss, there’d be a much smaller pool of passive, exploitable pushovers for the Lumberg’s of the world to wring money out of. In fact, a whole generation of self-assured, capable young people going their own way would be an existential threat to our economy, which of course masquerades as a “free market” (despite massive amounts of government favoritism, subsidies, and legislation designed to maintain the status quo for major industries).
101. It Will Make You Into a Boring and Unoriginal Writer
Do yourself a favor and read a novel by Victor Hugo. Any of his novels (take a look at “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” or “Les Mis” if you don’t know where to begin). As you read, I want you to examine how the man formed his sentences. Are they all 8-11 words long, subject, verb, object, in equal-sized paragraphs? Hell no! We’re talking about the man who wrote the (formerly) longest sentence ever written, aside plenty of one-worders, and everything in between.
In fact, his versatility and mastery of construction are as renowned as the stories he told with them. And the same can be said of the other greats, as well.
Schools, on the other hand, want and even demand that you create endless variations of the same formulaic structure: five paragraph essays, each paragraph comprising three to five sentences, with an obvious thesis stated at the beginning, restated at the end, along with a summary and conclusion. Inventive language is frowned upon; unusual structures, virtually forbidden. How can we hope to produce another Sherman Alexie or Gore Vidal when we’ve settled for cookie-cutter crap like this?
102. You’re Never Given Time to Develop an Informed Opinion on What Makes Life Meaningful
Learning about yourself, who you are, and what you want takes an incredible amount of searching and reflection, the key ingredients being silence and solitude.
Good luck getting either of those things at school, which is so often little more than an extended exercise in “and now, this.”
You real challenges, followed by long periods of contemplation in which you can learn to become a good judge of your work. You’ll never get that, sitting in a desk for thirteen years, waiting for someone else to tell you what to do, or for that same person to tell you how much your effort is worth. That’s not a judgment they can make. Yet they do.
103. A Teacher or Other Staff Member Might Sexually Abuse You
It’s more likely to happen to you than getting abused by a Catholic priest – yet strangely, there’s no negative stereotypes about public school teachers being perverts and child molesters. Hmm.
And if you’re a guy, good luck having anybody taking your claims seriously, should you have the misfortune of being raped by one of your teachers, especially if it’s by a woman.
104. You Have No Choice Whether Your Tax Dollars Fund It or Not
Despite an absolutely disastrous track record, our worthless schools continue to vacuum up money by the billions. One might think with so much at stake, and so much being spent, the people providing the funds might get some sort of say in how their local schools are organized, who works at them, and what is taught.
Nope! Even if you have no children, or if you do have children but decide to take charge of their education away from the public schools, you are still expected to pay thousands in property taxes every year in order to fund these conformity factories.
105. The Great Philosophers and Statesmen of the Past All Correctly Understood That Mass Schooling Was Essential to Authoritarian Social Control
From Plato to Spinoza, Jean Calvin to Adolf Hitler, the great thinkers and power players of the past all understood that mass schooling was the means to a malleable and easily duped populace. In fact it was Hitler himself who famously stated, “He alone, who owns the youth, owns the future.”
106. It Will Scare You Away From Ever Challenging Yourself Again
School already offers you few opportunities to take on real challenges in the first place (note: midterm exams, SAT’s, obtaining perfect attendance certificates, and other such junk, do not constitute “real challenges”), so it makes the stakes so much higher the few times, if any, you are able to take such chances. The problem with this, by habituating you to having someone else tell you what to do, when to do it, and how, you are likely ill-equipped to chew on the tougher corners of life, whether that means hiking across your state on foot, starting a charitable fundraiser, getting into Space Camp, writing and finishing your own novel, or what have you, thus setting you up for failure and deep discouragement.
Secondly, you’re never alone at school. School is the stage for an endless play you didn’t want to star in, but do. With your peers ready to jeer at stragglers and overachievers alike, it’s already hard enough to try something different. When you fail, as usually happens frequently when you start taking on meaningful challenges and is a vital part of learning any real skill, you face laughter, teasing, and scorn.
In fact, between these two factors, it would be surprising if you ever tried to anything of substance ever again. Thus, your parents and everyone like them, who spend nine hours at work, then come home and eat their store-bought dinners in front of a television screen before hitting the sack, ready to start the cycle over again in the morning.
Or maybe that’s you.
107. It’s Poisonous to Literacy
Already discussed in bits and pieces elsewhere in this list. Not only did literacy rates drop in the United States after the introduction of mass schooling, so too did an unnatural, strange disinterest in reading begin to take hold. When you turn the simple act of learning phonics into an impenetrable mess of ivory tower theories and baffling games, when you deny children the right to choose their own reading material, and when you provide ample opportunities for embarrassment and teasing by forcing those with a shakier grasp on reading to stumble and stutter in front of all their classmates, you virtually guarantee that large numbers of people will end up incapable or indifferent.
108. It Discourages Genuine Critical Thinking
The one-sentence “critical thinking exercises” at chapter ends in your math textbook don’t count. I’m talking about real, in-depth dialectic that encourages you to pull apart and examine the workings of the institutions that have an influence on your life.
Which makes a whole lot of sense, when you think about it. If enough of you were equipped to challenge authority, the school system would collapse like the house of cards it is. Massively wasteful in terms of time, money and talent, no schoolteacher or principal is smart enough to stand up to people who actually give a fuck and have the intellectual tools to take on the otherwise unexamined assumptions underpinning the system.
So it’s really no wonder why so many of our fellow citizens are so easily fooled into buying into the two-party system, putting up cash for stupid luxuries and pointless consumer gewgaws, or racking up half a million dollars in credit card debt so they can impress strangers. Our system needs you to be stupid and easily influenced.
109. Authentically Excellent Teachers Are Regularly and Cynically Targeted for Official Harassment and Removal
Remember Jaime Escalante, the Bolivian teaching wiz who managed to turn his underachieving slum kids from East L.A. into calculus masters, and was the subject of the movie “Stand and Deliver”? Yeah, for all his hard work and success in turning those students’ lives around, Mr. Escalante was hounded by the other teachers and administrators at Garfield High, and was hounded and persecuted throughout his career.
Teachers who are just a little too competent embarrass the inferior riffraff around them, and it’s not long before a confederacy of dunces is assembled to go on the offensive. Administrators, by turn, do not appreciate creative teachers’ succeeding by their own efforts, or bringing unwanted attention in the media to the school’s activities.
Just look what’s happening now to Rafe Esquith.
110. Bill Gates Can’t Keep His Fucking Hands Off of It
Billy Gates, the man responsible for the company behind Windows Vista and Internet Explorer, sees fit to spend hundreds of millions of “philanthropic” dollars to influence the school system according to his designs.
What designs? You might ask.
Why, the creation a technocratic, centrally managed society of over-credentialed cretins lorded over by Silicon Valley ubermenschen like Gates and his other corporate buddies.
Gates is also largely responsible for spreading the “everyone must go to college” meme like it’s clamydia at a co-ed soccer camp. I hope you can appreciate the cosmic irony of a college dropout pushing the meme that “everyone must go to college.”
111. Sex Education Is a Hot Mess
Schools want to touch controversial matters about as much as you want to touch a herpetic penis, the reason being that schools want as few reasons as possible for outsiders (parents, in this case) to get involved and make their jobs more difficult.
If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, our sex education system is fit to convey us all the way to Mecca at a whopping mile an hour. While recognizing that you have to tell kids something about you-know-what, but also unable to satisfactorily balance the varied and often contradictory designs of parents, schools settle for a banal, bowderlized and downright embarrassing lesson plan, usually involving hopelessly out of date films, innuendos, and utterly sterile, vaguely mechanical descriptions of the deed. And that’s if you’re lucky enough to not be in a school that sticks to an abstinence-only curriculum. You’ll certainly never hear mention or hold a meaningful conversation about pleasure – giving or receiving – about how to integrate your sexuality into your life, and so on.
The unhappy medium you’re left with is a feature, not a bug of the system, and is a compelling argument in itself for why we shouldn’t cram 30+ people from different families, cultures and religions into a one-size-fits-all classroom.
But I suppose if we didn’t do that, we couldn’t flatten people into a uniform product.
As you grow older, you learn that some organizations, like the Freemasons, Phi Beta Kappa, or the Church of Christian Science basically have no reason to exist, other than to provide employment for a few otherwise useless people, and to give people vaguely good feelings about themselves despite doing next to nothing.
Which is fine. If that’s how people want to spend their time and money, far be it from anyone else to tell them not to.
However, some organizations don’t simply fail to accomplish anything good for the world – they actively cause harm, and even undermine the reasons they were began in the first place.
Prime example: D.A.R.E. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of having to sit through this inane, lie and distortion-ridden gauntlet of propagandizing and indoctrination, I don’t have to explain to you why it’s such a joke. D.A.R.E. has tried to rebrand itself in recent years as a total health and hygiene program, but it’s raison d’etre is still to teach lies about drugs (“Drugs Abuse Resistance Education”).
Over the course of the program you will learn old canards about marijuana being a “gateway drug,” or how it is impossible to use drugs (of any kind) responsibly and in moderation. This is bad enough, but the shocking (and hilarious) irony of it is, not only has D.A.R.E. proven ineffective in preventing kids from experimenting with cigarettes, alcohol and other substances – kids who go through the D.A.R.E. program actually are more likely to abuse drugs as they grow older.
And no, it’s not a correlation caused by inserting the program into already high-risk populations; there is a definite casual relationship between introducing D.A.R.E. and drug abuse rates rising in school districts (might have something to do with introducing kids to drugs they’ve never heard of – “Psilocybin mushrooms make you see magic colors? Cool!!!!”)
But maybe you already figured something was dodgy when you saw your D.A.R.E. officer take a smoke break by the dumpster after class.
113. Talent Is Regularly Wasted
If you show considerable promise in music, the performing arts, hard sciences, drawing, programming, or the like, you really need to drop the fuck out of school already. These years are the very best to hone your skills, as your brain is still quite plastic in what it can do, your sense of enthusiasm hasn’t yet diminished, and you’re probably at your prime in terms of health and physical capability. If it takes 10,000 hours to become a master at something, you should be building up that time as fast as you can at a conservatory, with a tutor, or even on your own following a self-constructed curriculum.
Your time is short. Use it effectively.
Did you ask to be forced to listen to a Polio survivor talk about his midlife crisis for two hours in a “motivational speech”? I didn’t think so. Also, here’s our cheer crew with their latest routine set to the musical stylings of One Direction, and let’s give a round of applause to our class president, who’s accomplished nothing and is going to spend ten minutes rattling off self-justifications and some empty slogans about “school spirit.” Also, the national anthem. PLANT YOUR KEESTER, MEESTER.
115. It Tries to Fool You Into Joining the Military
Of all the sins of our public school system, this might be the most unforgivable. Brochures outside the counselor’s office. Militaristic rituals like the flag ceremony, presentation of colors, or the national anthem. “Guest speakers” telling you about the magical thrills of military life, which is a grand adventure where you’ll get to play lots of sports, see the world, and develop career skills.
Also, there’s a good chance you’ll have to kill or be killed.
116. You Could Be Out Nailing Lonely MILF’s During School Hours
Need I say more?
117. Guilty Until Proven Innocent
If your teacher accuses you of doing something bad, get ready for a bumpy ride. Unless you have sympathetic and supportive parents, pretty much every power-wielding person in your life is going to be against you, unless you are able to furnish undeniable evidence to exonerate yourself. It’s just assumed that you’re less credible than a teacher, and when it’s one person’s word against the other, you lose.
118. Metal Detectors and Campus Police Officers
Continuing with the “one person’s mistake means everyone is punished,” the extraordinarily rare phenomenon of mass shootings at schools has been used to justify all sorts of Orwellian intrusions. In many of the worst cases, school entrances have been turned into something resembling Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip.
119. “Special Ed”
No one’s arguing that kids with Down’s, schizophrenia or severe autism need extra help – but many kids in special ed typically don’t have these problems. They’re “disruptive,” “hyperactive,” or just “weird.”
You know who else was weird? A lot of history’s most useful, interesting people: Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Ray Kroc, Aleister Crowley, Algernon Swinburne, Einstein, and a whole host of people who’ve made our world richer would have been confined to these in-house concentration camps for the different (fortunately, for them and for us, they weren’t born in our enlightened age).
There are few humiliations as potent as being placed into one of these classes. You will never be looked at the same way again. You are now the Other, a freak, a space cadet, a “retard.” Good luck developing into a threat to the status quo once you’ve been completely crushed emotionally by school.
120. “Gifted” and “Talented” Students
Did you compose a full-scale opera at age 12, like Mozart did, or tame a bucking horse as a little boy, as Alexander the Great did in the presence of his father, the King of Macedon?
You aren’t “gifted” or “talented” – you’re less damaged than the other kids, so you got put into a half-assed program to placate your parents and make you develop an ego, to better prepare you for your future in mid-level management or investment banking. Fuck you.
121. It’s Largely Responsible for Making Our Culture Dull and Homogenous
Isn’t it sad how no matter where you are in this country, it’s all kind of the same? Where once we were a land of rich regional accents, customs, and cuisines, with diverse religions and ways of living, it’s all kinda the same now, isn’t it? The logic and looks of the suburban mall, writ large.
Though, what do you expect will happen when you cram everyone together and punish them for asserting themselves or “acting out”? You get a lot of people who act alike and can’t form their own opinions, that’s what. Thus, the TV dinner and Costco blue jeans culture.
122. It Will Teach You to Be Scared of Public Speaking
Speaking with poise and confidence in front of large groups of strangers is incredibly important. You will not go very far in life without the ability to do so.
School, by putting you on the spot at a young age before you’re ready, often trains you to be terrified of public speaking, or doing anything in front of others. In this way, the cripple for life many thousands, every single year.
123. Dangerous, Controversial or Original Ideas Are Verboten
See how far you get in class trying to discuss drug use in a positive light, sex, racial reparations, the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky, Neopaganism, radical environmentalism, white pride, black power, evangelism, Anarchism or Allen Ginsberg’s poetry.
124. It Fools You Into Thinking These Are the “Best Years of Your Life”
In a culture loaded with damaging myths, this has to be one of the very worst. How thirteen years of compulsory labor, tedium and self-congratulatory circlejerks spent with a random mishmash of like-aged humanity randomly and thoughtlessly tossed together by a computer algorithm, accomplishing nothing of worth, just sitting and waiting for “real life” to begin long past the point it should’ve constitutes the “best years of your life” is really beyond me.
Sadly, a substantial number of people buy into this lie, viewing the past with rose colored glasses long after the fact with such intensity that it prevents them from taking control of their lives in the present – or worse still, the poor youths still trapped in the system who’ve swallowed this codswallop and, lacking perspective or a clear picture of what life can be like after school, fall into a deep malaise, which is the normal response to being convinced that these harshly embarrassing, privacy-depriving and deeply frustrating years spent cut off from the world are as good as things get.
125. It Treats Unique and Individual Human Beings Like Identical Lumps of Clay
Just because you’re the same age or sex doesn’t mean you’re at the same developmental level. And it definitely doesn’t mean you have the same personalities, learning styles, tastes, hopes, dreams, desires, memories, religions, traditions or dispositions. But in a class where there’s 30 different students versus one teacher with one set lesson plan, it’s ridiculous to think that your school experience will ever be catered to your unique aspects in any way – it’s simply not doable, thanks to the structure of schooling, and if you don’t like it, the system is more than willing to let you fall through the cracks.
126. Kindergarten Has an Insidious Purpose
Do you care how Friedrich Froebel spent his time, or lived his life? Well, he certainly cared how you do yours. In case the name is unfamiliar, Herr Froebel was responsible for the creation of that familiar childhood institution: kindergarten.
Ah, kindergarten. Such sweet times of innocence and timid exploration. Sweet talking women with milky skin and honeyed smiles. Finger-painting, story time, and birthday cookies. What could be wrong with something so wholesome?
Everything. Let’s start with something basic, though – didn’t it ever strike you as a little weird that our first year in school has a German name? What’s up with that? Where did it come from?
Linguistics time: kindergarten is a compound word, as so many words in German are. Kinder, of course, is “children” while garten is “garden” – a garden of children.
That’s not just a quaint poetic flourish; Herr Froebel was an early theorist of human psychology. Unlike Locke or Rousseau, who believed in a “blank slate” theory of human nature, or Darwin and other naturalists, who believed human beings were essentially animals, capable of certain kinds of learning but locked into some definite behavioral patterns by nature, Froebel believed the correct analogy for the human mind was to be found in the world of vegetables.
Children are seedlings, you see. And just like seedling, their future outcomes are determined by certain environmental factors that can be controlled by an outside expert.
Inspired by Johann Fichte’s Addresses to the German Nation (a clarion call for German Nationalism that made mandatory mass schooling a major point of its program), Froebel wanted to produce a ripe “crop” of like-thinking, like-acting Germans to serve the needs of an all-powerful, paternalistic state. But how to do that, when religion, tradition, localism and the family all got in the way of state proscriptions?
The most important thing, argued Froebel, was the deliberately alienate children from their mothers, the traditional early caregivers, and thus make them susceptible to government “education” (habit training and indoctrination). By severing the emotional link to the mother, children would be easy prey for the state and its radical plan to engineer a new society hostile to the simple joys of family and the potent myths of revealed religion.
The invention of kindergarten was crucial in the scheme to introduce a form of widespread social control that had never before been tried successfully anywhere in the Western world – a form of social control that would soon find admirers, and then imitators, in England, France, Japan, and of course, the United States, which adopted Prussian (German) methods wholesale in a long term, frog-in-a-jacuzzi strategy spanning the pre-Civil War era to about the time of the First World War.
If you’re a parent, and you’d like to know why your teenage son or daughter is so defiant, hostile and sullen around you, don’t blame “adolescence” (a concept that didn’t exist before the 20th century). The seeds were actually planted back in kindergarten.
127. Musical Events and Class Pageants
Fuck this shit. Nobody, kids included, wants to have to sit through an insipid, off-key rendition of “Let It Go.” Kids hate singing in these. Adults hate having to go to them. Music teachers get stressed the fuck out having to prepare for them. Why do we keep doing them? Quit wasting everyone’s time.
128. Group Work
I don’t know about you, but as a kid in school, I hated group work.
Something about the dynamic of having one or two people do everything while the others whine or screw around put me off to it immediately, but it gets much worse than that: Group work is there to train you for office environments, to be somebody else’s employee. In fact, that’s what my own teacher specifically said:
“Employers these days want their workers to operate in teams, so we gotta do it this way.”
Why is your school training you to be a follower, instead of a leader? Group work sucks.
It’s also a devilishly effective way to make children distrust each other, divide themselves into different castes, shy away from taking on responsibility in the future, and fail to develop any sort of self-reliance or personal excellence.
129. You Are Given No Say In How Things Run
You live in a “free” country where you get to vote for the people who manage public good, can move around freely as you see fit, can spend your money however you please, and are protected by the Bill of Rights from abusive government force. The principles behind these liberties do not extend past the schoolhouse door, apparently, as you’re expected to accept things the way they are without complaint. In a supposedly democratic society, one of our largest and most institutions is run like an autocracy.
The example of the Sudbury schools demonstrates that, far from descending into chaos and subsequent alienation, democratically-run schools can not only remain coherent, but can and usually do flourish, producing literate, well-behaved students eager to engage the world around them.
130. There Is No Meaningful Connection Between Money and the Quality of One School or Another
Despite constant whining and complaining about how there’s never enough money, nobody has ever demonstrated the more money creates better results from schools. What’s more, while public schools have been spending $10,000, $11,000 or more per pupil, the average homeschooling family spends an average of $500 per child for education, with consistently better results.
131. School Boards Are Typically Composed of Busybodies
132. You Will Come to Be Disappointed In Yourself
Perhaps the worst of anything else on this list is the incredible sense of disappointment you will come to feel in yourself once you face the fact that your youth was stolen from you, and that you happily played the game, surrendering fun, excitement, love, adventure and meaning for grades, high test scores, and stupid prizes. Imagine what a whore feels like after turning tricks all night, and you’ll begin to get a sense of what that feels like if it hasn’t hit you yet.
133. You’re Treated Like a Freak or Anti-Social Weirdo If You Mention Any of the Previous 132 Things Out Loud
The cherry on top of this crap sundae: If you dare bring any of these points up in a substantive way, you will face ridicule, or come to be dismissed as a “kook” or a try-hard. Indifference is the first rule of the school program; care too much about anything, and you face social isolation for taking things too seriously. It’s a brilliant protective mechanism for the power structure.
Luckily for you, you live in the information age, and there are more of you thinking these thoughts and having these conversations than ever before. It’s now possible to hook up with school renegades anywhere in the world, and unlike the previous generations of the disaffected, who acted out by smoking in the bathroom or skipping class, you have a formidable arsenal at your disposal to help you fire back at the Man: alternative education resources, forums, Khan Academy, open source learning, legal advice, and more.
You may not think so yet, but the school behemoth is faltering. With anywhere from three to five percent of the total school age population now being educated at home (a trend that shows no signs of reversing anytime soon), along with an increase in awareness of how the mass schooling system has already passed obsolescence, there stands a good chance that we will be the generation that lives to witness the abolishment of school. And not a moment too soon.
For those interested in some more in-depth analysis, we recommend you check out the works of John Holt, Grace Llewellyn and John Taylor Gatto, to whom this article owes much in the way of research and inspiration.
Anything we missed? Let us know in the comments section below. We want to hear more reasons school sucks.
And, can we ask you another little favor? Send us your school horror stories. We want to hear ‘em, Mailmen. Just click on our contact section, and send it over. We’re all ears.
Till next time.