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Thursday, May 29, 2008

You can take the kid out of the school…

I'm working on Smilie, I've got a small paying job, I have access to great games, I've got enough free time, I've got friends, I've got music, I've got shows and comics. I've got a decent balance between what I need and what I want. I can live for both the present and the future.

And my past still haunts me.

I still dream about school. I don't know how often, because I don't usually remember dreams. But I shouldn't be dreaming about it at all. I've moved on! I've left it behind! I don't want my past to have anything to do with my present.

I was in school for a decade. That's a long time. Each year had ten months, which is also a long time. And there were weeks, and days, and classes, and minutes, and seconds, and moments. The longer I waited for a moment to end, the less meaning the passage of time seemed to have.

You can't go through something like that and not be affected by it. I get it. But I'm not comfortable playing the victim. No, really, I'm not. I want to play the indignant rebel.

When I'd see reality, all the boredom and struggle and meaninglessness, I'd ignore it and replace it with other worlds. The knowledge that I was supposed to be studying was always underneath the surface, but I could push it out of mind.

Now there's nothing to run from. And yet it's still there, underneath the surface. Deep down, I don't understand that school is over. How could it be? School is a fact of life. As soon as I wake up, I'll see the classroom around me.

I still owe those ten years of homework. I still have ten years of tests to study for. I used to say: "If I ignore it enough, maybe it'll go away." No, I mean I literally said that. But it doesn't go away, does it? Even if every school everywhere were burnt down, it still wouldn't go away.

I want to hate my classmates for that. They never gave me an opportunity. They ignored. They mocked with nicknames. They failed to understand. They did absolutely nothing wrong. They were, on the whole, good people.

I want to hate my teachers. They oppressed. They bored. They were incompetent and unqualified. They didn't understand. They did plenty wrong, but how could they know any better? They were only stupid adults.

I look at myself, and see the effects of school everywhere. And the only person I can hate is myself.

And whatever I hate, I ignore and replace.

So I ask, what if I hadn't been in school?

I'd be incapable of sitting still. I'd be less interested in gamism. I'd sing in public. I'd alienate everyone even quicker. I'd be violent. I'd be loud and obnoxious.

I didn't need less misery, I needed more. I think I've suffered. Well, I haven't. I don't even know what suffering means! So I have bad dreams. Boo hoo. A few bad dreams, on top of a wonderful life, and I come to my blog whining.

I should have learned humility.

I should have learned patience.

I should have learned discipline.

I should have learned perspective.

I don't need a life without suffering, I need a life with the right kind of suffering.

So let's ignore the way schools really are. Let's imagine the perfect school.

It would be harsh and merciless. You can never get away with anything, no matter how small. If you fail a test, you start over until you pass. No exceptions.

It would not try to teach information, because knowledge and suffering should always be kept far apart. What is taught and tested is the basics: dealing with boredom, coming out on top in hostile social environments, perseverance, good manners, dealing swiftly with random and meaningless goals, and most of all a tolerance for every type of pain. Without these qualities, one cannot function in a working society. With these qualities, everything else (including knowledge) can follow.

Granted, school already teaches these qualities. But only to a very small degree, because it is teaching them by accident! As my lack of all these qualities proves, the school system is broken. Where it falls apart is in focusing on anything at all other than general qualities. Specific subjects, like reading and math, should come only later and by the person's own initiative. When you mix the general and the specific together, you lose both the general and the specific. The specific, because the student will learn slowly and unwillingly and forget everything immediately afterwards. The general, because the curriculum is not designed to teach it optimally.

There should not be a set number of years. If someone can learn to lose their personality in less than two years, then they will be ready for life at that point. And if it takes more than ten years, then so be it. But no one may leave who is not prepared for the misery and boredom of adult life.

You think I'm kidding with all this, don't you? I'm not kidding. School left me tiny little quirks, when it should have defined me. I should not be who I am. I should never have escaped school.



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