Notes from an Imaginary High School: A Quick Reminder
We knew there was no conspiracy, no deliberate ill intent, no plan to
betray a student for a paycheck.
Many of the teachers were our friends, family, people we admired. Many felt
bad about the level of education we were receiving.
But, whether they liked it or not, consciously or subconsciously, at the
end of the day, it was clear that the teachers were forcing us to memorize
for long enough to pass standardized testing, and the administration didn't
have a problem with that.
Paved with Good Intentions
They meant no harm, they did it so that they could get paid, so that the
school could get funding, so that everyone would keep their job. But those
who didn't rise against it caused harm. They interfered with our real
education, harming creativity, erasing individuality.
In K-12 they taught us that delicate hearts belonged with mommy at home,
that bullies were a fact, and life is never fair. They hurt our hearts, and
shamed us by saying. "Oh, just grow up, already! Because, you need to
improve your grades."
We Were Mislead
"Today, we'll get it all working, and today we'll get paid. Tomorrow,
tomorrow, when everything is worked-out and working, we'll get to the
students - one thing at a time." - They'd say.
But we knew that tomorrow never comes, once the new day starts, it is
already today. The tomorrow they thought of, was more of a garbage can for
They were working very hard, and it was all very hard work. But they didn't
have the strength to do both, their job, and make schools work.
In effect, everyone forgot about us. They forgot we were the point and the
future. Their aim was no longer our education, but merely staying in
business by arranging for what in effect became, an impression of one.
Twists & Turns
To accomplish all this, some changes needed to be made, they first
convinced themselves that they were doing a great job so as long as they
were working hard, and then some things needed to be taken away, and a few
needed to be twisted around.
We were forced to recognize that teachers work really, really hard, that
the administration works very hard, it is all hard work, extremely
stressful. People give up days off, cancel vacations, make sacrifices.
To question administration or teachers while they work that hard, makes for
a heartless, cruel, shameful petty little student.
"Focus on the positive, on how hard we work and how far we've come
together." - They'd say, ever so lovingly.
Void of context, many of the shallow arguments the teachers made could
almost stand up to a proper debate.
But we remained unconvinced because teaching is not just a job. It is not
an ordinary job, and it is not just about knowledge.
Teaching is Complex
Teaching requires that the Teacher first comprehends each of the Students,
understands their existing body of knowledge, manner of learning, and finds
a way to genuinely communicate with them.
Tracking is not that hard, a pencil or a Concept Mapping tool will do.
Teaching is Complex and Rewarding
Teaching should respectfully extend their existing knowledge. The teacher
must know if fascination with Dinosaurs will head towards Paleontology,
Biology, Ecology, and keep an eye on progression of that path (if said path
continues) to see is they have a Cell Bilogist, Astrobiologist,
Evolutionary Biologist, or maybe a Writer, in their class.
The complexity of teaching may actually scale with the reward, how
fantastic it must be to help our Dino Girl to ponder inter-planetary
cross-contamination from the Chicxulub crater and witness her journey lean
towards Astrobiology and an internship at NASA/ESA, possibly a career.
Now, pushing her away from what moves her, grading her down for it, and
forcing her to memorize whatever is in the curriculum so that she may pass
the grade. That is something else... And the answer to how many children
were hurt this way, is: all of them, in every school, on every
continent, in every country, state and district.
Schools interrupt education.
They destroy careers, passions, inspirations, talents, and genius. They do
it just a split second before the Kids know how to protect it.
They destroy The Shy, The Delicate, The Compassionate.
They destroy Pacifists, Leaders, Scientists, Inventors, Dreamers, Poets,
Artists, Sculptors, Musicians, Adventures, Writers, Makers, Heroes.
A picture of a real blackboard in a library taken from F**k Grades by
Prof. Dutton does not postulate a 2.* GPA student in her talk.
I think the person that wrote this was a young woman. And this might have
been her last act of defiance in that school.
We lost a wise and delicate being, a leader, a scientist, maybe a writer,
to silence, rejection, shunning.
That late-night scribble is clear Evidence of Exceptional Ability. This is
someone we each admire, someone Beautifully Courageous.
But she left, she's gone. They gave her a 2.0 for Leadership,
Unbreakability, Heroism, for spending her last semester reading books she
loved, at the school library she loved, right before getting thrown out.
Thrown out by people that didn't know what they were doing, but they sure
as hell worked hard at doing it.
Thrown out for unobstructed pursuit of Wisdom.
Lux Et Veritas (Enlightenment and Authenticity)
Above all, school is a place of healing, it is a sacred place.
The School Library is even more sacred, it is a place for Young
School is about safety and security and protection, first.
It must be a place where we can safely grow, study both Life, and Wisdom.
Search for Enlightenment and Authenticity.
Education is about mental health, learning to live.
Learning to avoid what is not life.
Not starting at zero, but rather resuming at where the greatest minds left
The teachers were supposed to work for us first. Only upon genuinely
enabling us to comprehend new things, should they be rewarded.
Alas, teaching whilst failing to educate, is fraud.
Parading the coffee lovers, who want to breeze through with a 4.0 GPA, to
get the hell out, and move past this damn charade. Parading them as
successfully educated students, is fraud.
Making the quiet girl cry because she wanted to comprehend and not merely
memorize, is evil.
Turning face away, when the fat kid is being bullied, beaten, assaulted,
threatened, kicked, held down, spat upon, is evil.
Sending a kid back home, when you just witnessed his father beating him in
the bathroom for the bad grades he ended up with, because he can't memorize
anything when he is under constant threat from everybody, is evil.
Failing to authentically educate, and then grading down those who rejected
the memorization dog and pony show, is evil.
Pretending to teach under the poisonous threat of repeating the grade or
year, semester or class, threatening kids to stop learning, and start
memorizing, is evil.
Sending kids home to angry, often violent parents, because they rejected
fake education, fake tests, fantasy GPA, is evil.
Toxic, Fractured, Hoop Jumping
School doesn't just kill creativity, genius, talent, inspiration and
passion, it kills learning too.
The toxic mixture of irrelevant babble, easy to cram for tests, and Life &
Career threatening GPA; forces the student to abandon Authentic Education
for curriculum-hoop jumping.
We Were All Geniuses, We Were Mislead
We were taught that genius is rare, that creativity is reserved for those
who have talent, that good grades get a good job, that only the smart ace
the tests, and that to pass a test we need to cram harder and take more
notes, that grade-point-average is the measure of a human - because that is
how the world works.
Work would set us free.
We were scared, because there was no road ahead. There was no clear
Not without that same charade, that inauthenticity, that glass of fashion,
that mold of form that we were being pressed into, and everyone else
already accepted, and blindly participated in.
Trigonometry, Triceps and Triceratops
At first we thought we were the losers. We certainly had the grades to
prove it. We formed a club. We sarcastically called it The Breakfast Club
after an old movie. We expected to be held back, and eventually kicked out.
We didn't expect to be seen as the gifted ones.
But we had the gift of courage, the gift of search for a clear road ahead.
And that road turned out to be becoming a Businessperson, a Founder, a CEO.
It was a path that mixed education with rewards, leading onward to
independence and a majestic triumph, albeit through many a failure.
In school, we were being forced to memorize Trigonometry, Triceps and
Triceratops, when what we really needed was help with finding investors to
scale our little Breakfast Club business.
The Courageous & The Fallen
The others secretly saw us as courageous, strong and unbreakable, healthy
and authentic. But they didn't really know how to relate to us. We were the
same but they were too confused by the noise of homework, quizzes, tests,
and grades, chores, parents, circles, and punishment, punishment everywhere.
The threat of repeating classes, reliving the same noise, or being held
back was exactly like prison. Neurologically, Threat and Punishment
interferes with Neurogenesis. For the most Delicate, it wasn't just
difficult to cram and memorize, it might have been neurologically
The biggest of the troublemakers had the most brittle souls, they were the
first to shine, the mightiest of the thinkers, the best of the survivors,
but tragically also the first to have their spark dim under threat and
Already forged in battle at home, the betrayal of schooling was the tipping
point for many.
They just couldn't resist parents, or pressure, or grades, not for that
long, it was not human to live perpetually frightened in constant fear.
The schools added to the dark forces already crushing them, the teachers
were supposed to kindle their flame, but they filled their vessel and often
extirpated their spark.
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving
hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient
heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night...
We Didn't Forget About The Fallen
We'd see it the moment it happened, overnight they'd end up switching
The teachers, who were supposed to be their protectors, and their hope and
inspiration, would eventually notice the transition as well, but perversely
they would think to themselves "I was correct, I always knew that one was a
People tried to help, but they didn't know how.
Someone said that the only reason the teachers seemed to know more than we
did, was because they had to regurgitate that same stuff every year to keep
Each time it came up; there was always someone to say that they wanted to
help us, but in the end they seemed to have wanted to assimilate and
destroy, embrace and extinguish. Get the gifted ones out of the system to
make things easier for themselves, to calm the waters - if nothing sticks
out, it must be all good.
Nobody, really, took grades seriously because of how easy it was to cram
before a test, pass it, and forget it. Since tests did not represent
student knowledge, grades did not represent the student. Everyone knew
this, nobody said anything because once the students realized the school
was mostly a charade they just wanted to graduate and move on.
Overwhelming majority of Teachers didn't want to change anything because
they didn't want to make their job any harder, they just want to get paid
and go home. Statistically half of them quit anyway.
Management was focused on grade points and funding.
Everybody else was parading solutions, but there was no time, any extras
were aimed at symptoms, extras just added to the weight of existing
The root cause was that we were not safe, and we were not learning.
We Set Ourselves Free, to Live Authentic, to Invent, to Triumph.
We accepted the responsibility for our own education.
We begun learning on our own, through internet, Audio Books, trial and
We begun building more and more small companies, and the more we failed the
wiser we became.
The moment schools begun interfering with our companies, with making money
that we used to support ourselves, we became dropouts.
But we did look back, we aimed to fix Education. To make all those
countless forgotten aches and pains count.
We Changed The World
At first, nobody wanted to talk to us.
There was a problem with how Investors viewed people who paraded their GPA
or even completed schools.
The Investors didn't want followers, and above all they didn't want
cheaters that tried to pass their GPA as something authentic or even
The Investors sought Natural Born Leaders, they sought Evidence of
The Investors sought people who rejected the inauthenticity of broken
education and didn't partake in stupid charades.
It was almost like High School became a mechanism to keep the
administration busy, the teachers blind, the students poor, and the parents
The Fierce & Authentic
Staying in school had a negative impact on our education, on our futures.
College and Premed brought sleep deprivation into the farce, it was a
In the end all we had was our friendship. The school was tearing us apart,
the Start-ups kept us together.
Looking back at how young we were, how unbreakable, how fierce.
Though we didn't believe in schools, we doubted ourselves for years. Now,
looking back, we searched for mentors, but none were to be found. But, in
the absence of teachers, we became the teachers.
To quote an old commercial: We were The Crazy Ones, The Misfits, The
Rebels, The Troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who
saw things differently, who were not fond of rules, and had no respect for
the status quo.
We were the ones crazy enough to think we could change the world...
... and we did ...
- 1. Hans Zimmer - interview influences and backgrounds (www.youtube.com)
- 2. Richard Feynman's Criticism on School Systems (www.youtube.com)
- 3. Elon Musk knocks the college experience (www.youtube.com)
- 4. De-Grading Education by Elizabeth Wissner-Gross (www.youtube.com)
- 5. The Surprising Truth About Learning in Schools by Will Richardson (www.youtube.com)
- 6. Nataly Buhr (www.youtube.com)
- 7. Concept Mapping with Cmap (www.youtube.com)
- 8. F**k Grades byDenise Dutton (www.youtube.com)
- 9. Do schools kill creativity? by Sir Ken Robinson (www.youtube.com)
- 10. F**k Grades by Denise Dutton (www.youtube.com)
- 11. Erica Goldson (www.youtube.com)
- 12. How School Makes Kids Less Intelligent by Eddy Zhong (www.youtube.com)
- 13. Mad World, Our Club (www.youtube.com)
- 14. Allen Ginsberg (en.wikipedia.org)
- 15. The Club (www.youtube.com)
- 16. Waiting For Superman (www.youtube.com)