We're all connected by the experience of school. Just about all of us have experienced it. We've all been through the system, which internally felt like eternity. We've all had similar kinds of experiences in school. I hope that this article connects with you.
The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.
— Albert Einstein
Respect For Authority
Upon entering grade one in 2004 I quickly realized that school is not about learning. School is about respect for authority. You ask to go to the washroom, you are told when you can eat, you are told when you can go outside or relax. The fundamental truth I learned in grade one was not the alphabet or basic math, it was the simple truth that I had 11 more years of submission to a system that was not teaching me anything about life. But rather teaching me to be submissive and to do as I'm told.
In grade 2 I remember feeling like I was dreaming. Although I knew I was awake, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was dreaming. I felt like all of it was just too bizarre to be real. After our teacher let us go outside for 20 minutes everyone was speaking at the exact same time, saying the exact same thing, "thank you Mrs. Blake". It was then that I felt like a robot. Either that, or I was a person among robots. I couldn't shake that feeling for a long time. That everyone in the school around me, the teachers, the students, the staff all seemed so lifeless and robotic. Countless days would pass and nothing seemed to change, the same desk, the same projects, the same sound of chalk against the blackboard. I seriously considered, at 7 years old, if I was indeed stuck in the matrix. That everyone around me was stuck in a sort of delusional state of meaningless repetition, and I was bored. But at the same time it was frightening, I didn't know how to go about understanding it all.
In grade 3 I remember having to go to the washroom very badly. The kind of moment when you feel like your bladder is about to explode. The teacher told me I couldn't go. I sat there for maybe a minute before simply walking out, she yelled at me to return. But I knew what she was doing was wrong, and that I own my self and can decide for myself when I go to the washroom.
Around grade 4 I began to realize that school is about suppression of intelligence rather than encouragement of it. We were constantly choking back pointless trivia in class, not learning anything essential to life. When I would ask a serious question I was called a smart ass. It was in those moments that I would wonder, am I not here to become smarter? I slowly began to understand that it was not about becoming smarter, but becoming closer to a standard model of submission. You are told to submit your assignment, submit your homework, submit your time, submit yourself to the system of education, and don't ask any serious or meaningful questions pertaining to reality, or you will be punished.
Throughout all my years in school I was always very uncomfortable about the system of group punishment. That the whole class could be punished for the acts of a few kids. In grade 9 I was in a math class one morning. It was an 80 minute class and I had finished my work within around 20 minutes because I'm good at absorbing and spitting out trivia. A number of kids hadn't finished their work because they were talking for most of the class. Mr. M tells everyone that we have to stay in class through the lunch break. While usually I would simply conform to the power trips of the teachers, this time I had another Idea. I told the teacher that group punishment is immoral, and that he, and everyone in the class knows that. I walked out of the class as he shouted at me to sit back down. I wasn't going to have it. The other kids were all riled up and sarcastically saying how tough I was, I knew they were envious of my lack of fear. I left and had lunch, and later Mr. M admitted to me that I was right. But that showing defiance like that could disrupt order in the class, I told him his fantasy of order was merely the effects of coercion. He didn't quite understand that, but I learned something very important that day. That all it takes is one person to stand up, to shake the foundations of the immoral system of coercion.
True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country
— Kurt Vonnegut
Acceptance Of Coercion
The public schooling system is fundamentally based on coercion. You are coerced into paying for the system regardless of your beliefs in it's efficacy. You are forced to go to school regardless of your need for it. Can we improve the system? No, we cant, because we are coerced into conforming to it, rather than actively improving it.
Of course, one can make small changes to the system. But could you say, our education system should be voluntary? If you say that suddenly you are a dissident, and you must be suppressed. And why? Because a voluntary exchange of ideas would radically change the system and improve it. But it's not meant to be improved, school does what it is meant to do. It trains you and manipulates you into accepting coercion. Coercion is force, and force is wrong, we all know this, but it is so suppressed that most of us forget. We forget that we didn't enjoy school, we were so happy when summer break finally came around.
In this coercive system children are molded into quiet workers who don't think about ideas, but rather about time and about how busy they are. That's what school is about, coercing children into being busy, and feeling uncomfortable if they aren't.
The whole educational and professional training system is a very elaborate filter, which just weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves, and who don't know how to be submissive, and so on -- because they're dysfunctional to the institutions.
— Noam Chomsky
School is abundant in useless knowledge.
Lack of Importance
In school you're not taught about monetary policy, or about how nations go into debt. You're not taught about marriage or how to understand others. You're kept distracted from the real issues in the world, you don't hear a word about wage stagnation and decline, or about ever increasing income inequality. You don't learn about fractional reserve banking or why the economy has ups and downs. You're kept in a small cage called school, distracted by pointless trivia.
When you finally get into the real world you have no idea what you're doing. You hardly know how to do taxes, and you don't even know where your tax dollars are going. You don't know much about global economics, business negotiation, or any skills that would prepare you for life in the free market. You essentially come out of school with all the skills of a fully grown turnip. After 12 years, you can't help but feel that you've been played. It takes 4 years to make a doctor, and after 12 years you have learned little more than how to submit.
When you take the free will out of education, that turns it into schooling.
— John Taylor Gatto
Lack Of Social Skills
In school you don't learn social skills. What you learn is hierarchy. You quickly understand that as a student you are beneath the power of the principal, the teachers, and the dominant students. You socialize with your immature peers rather than adults. In this system the lowest common denominator is the cool kid. You learn that to be accepted in this system you must submit to the teachers, and you must conform to the arbitrary social structures built by your peers. Your greatest social skills become conformity and avoidance of awkward moments.
In this system of peer socialization, children remain children as they grow up. Rather than refining their social skills among adults, they conform to the foolishness of their peers.
The secret of this system is that without it children could learn directly from their parents and relatives, in which case they would pick up language and adult social skills much faster. But in this public schooling system they learn to submit, conform, and accept coercion without question. Kids are taught a fundamental truth about our society. That we value hierarchy, domination, submission, coercion, and conformity. Is that really what education is supposed to be?
John Taylor Gatto
“Children learn what they live. Put kids in a class and they will live out their lives in an invisible cage, isolated from their chance at community; interrupt kids with bells and horns all the time and they will learn that nothing is important or worth finishing; ridicule them and they will retreat from human association; shame them and they will find a hundred ways to get even. The habits taught in large-scale organizations are deadly.”
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
Sam Wickstrom (author) from High River, AB, Canada on November 30, 2016:
Ksenija from Novo mesto, Slovenia on November 29, 2016: