Stop Trying to Fix Education System, Let Kids Choose

Presidential candidate Andrew Yang tweeted:

Many of our high school students check out because they don’t feel they are learning things that will actually be relevant to them.  We should be teaching them financial literacy, positive psychology, communication and healthy use of technology in high schools.

No we shouldn’t.  Not just because there are as many ideas of what education ought to be as there are individuals — the incessant debates about curriculum aren’t worth it, save it for another battle.  It’s because the second line of the above tweet reeks of tyranny. “Financial literacy” for whom? Each individual, after all, has their own tolerance for risk and life goals, one size fits all doesn’t work here unless you want everyone to be equally risk averse.  “Positive psychology” — all the rage in Middle Class America — hasn’t worked because it turns out overthinking and denying certain emotions isn’t healthy.  “Communication,” which they already try and fail to teach in most English classes, sounds like an invite to Orwellian language police. And finally, what’s  “healthy” and what the fuck does “technology” mean? What’s more problematic, the toilet or the phone when I take a shit while texting?

Yang’s right, many if not most high school students check out. As they should because most people learn from working, not from lecture and whatever they’re learning at 98 percent of schools is garbage anyway and they know it. They’re not learning algebra or trigonometry, they’re learning how to pass those classes to get a virtue signalling degree. What makes people think a “financial literacy” class would be treated any differently at the high school level? People learn financial literacy and anything else when they want to, not when someone tells them to learn it.

Kids, be like Donnie.  He’s a good boy because he tells teachers to fuck off when forced to learn touchy-feely bullshit.  

Why We Shouldn’t Fix the Problem
Because it’s like teaching a dog to climb a tree, it’s a waste of time.  Just because a few dogs have climbed trees doesn’t mean we should try to teach all dogs to do the same.  To satisfy your curiosity, here’s a clip of a dog climbing a tree:

Would you be disappointed in your dog for not climbing a tree like the one in the video?  Then why are we trying to fix schools, which are just dogs trying to teach dogs to climb trees? Most dogs don’t want to climb a tree and most people don’t learn in a classroom setting. Stop lying to yourself, what the fuck did you learn in school other than how to pass courses without learning anything?  Can you even do basic algebra and geometry, can you manipulate a binomial equation and finish a geometric proof and explain the point of doing so?

Again, most people learn by DOING what they want to do, not by being told what to do. Leonardo Da Vinci never had a formal education, he informally learned Latin, Geometry, and Mathematics before beginning his apprenticeship at a leading workshop at age 14, where he “was exposed to both theoretical training and a wide range of technical skills,including drafting, chemistry, metallurgy, metal working, plaster casting, leather working, mechanics, and wood-work, as well as the artistic skills of drawing, painting, sculpting, and modelling” (wiki). Bill Gates taught himself to code when he was in 8th grade, not from any class at Lakeside and Harvard, and used this skill to create mischief that later became Microsoft.  Same with Mark Zuckerberg, except he read “C++ for Dummies” his dad got him when he was 11 years old so he could create fun games for himself and his sisters. If the geniuses of past and present lived a life of technical pursuits supported by theoretical training, then why are we forcing kids to learn abstractions they won’t understand without proper technical experience? You can’t use the clerical approach to education — schools were originally created to train clergymen — if you’re trying to provide technical training. And if all the geniuses in history learned primarily by doing, then why are we living life ass backwards?   

Telling kids what schoolwork is relevant to their lives instead of letting them figure it out for themselves is an even worse idea, that’s how people lose their individuality, when they’re taught to think and act like everyone else.  (And they’ll make up for their lost individuality with shallow expressions of individuality in dress, hairstyle, etc.).

Let Kids Choose
Let schools do whatever they want to do, it’s nobody else’s business. But what we can do is let people, after they graduate from 8th grade, choose their own coursework, if they want to take any at all.  This is similar to how Andrew Yang wants tech tax dollars to go to the people instead of the government — trickle up economy — so the people can choose individually how that money should be spent.  Put simply, end mandatory education at 8th grade, and let people decide what’s relevant to their lives, whether it be coursework or work, and without stigma. That’s how it was — most people started to work after 8th grade, just as Da Vinci did — when the US grew into the superpower that’s now strangling itself because of its eroding freedoms, including the freedom from having to attend Education Camps. Let’s get back to what worked for the people, not the education-industrial complex that’s more concerned about legitimizing its existence than educating people.

Why School is Bad For You
And not just because it’s inefficient and mostly ineffective at educating people. The most insidious part of school is that turns students into mental cripples dependent on being spoon-fed by teachers in order to learn anything. It turns people into slaves, really.  At the same time — and this is what’s really sick and twisted about schools — they convince their students that they’re actually getting smarter and more educated solely because they’re in school, even though they’re not learning much there and would learn a lot more by making, fixing, and experimenting with things, as Steve Jobs had.

So you end up with graduates who think they’re smart just because they have a diploma. And that they’ll be even smarter if they spend more time in school and collect more diplomas. For some, school becomes a fetish except it costs a lot more than the schoolgirl panties that some Japanese guys sniff to sleep.

How to Go to School Like an Asian
Asians do well in school because they DON’T follow the pace set by teacher and they learn most of the material AT HOME (during the Summer), not at school.  That’s why they go to churches that provide free tutoring.  That’s why they borrow from library extra math books, so they can drill, drill, and drill through the summer and every weekend during the school year. That’s why they start studying for the SATs in 7th grade instead of never. That’s why they save enough to go to summer robotics camp, so they can figure out how to have fun with Math and Physics.  They think of schools as the place to test knowledge and skills in a competitive setting, not as a place of learning.

Chart suggests that how good or bad a school is is irrelevant, so it’s not worth trying to change a school. It’s the mindset of the student that matters the most.


It was the same way for Da Vinci, Mozart, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln…all the way up to Mark Zuckerberg, who got his start at age 11 with a “C++ for Dummies” book.  For them, learning primarily takes place at home, in the community, and at work — as it had been for hundreds if not thousands of years — not at an Education Camp.  They became who they are because they understood that if you can’t learn something on your own, you won’t learn it at school.  The difference between top students and average students is mindset, nothing else.

Most people learn by doing, not by listening. Which means people should begin work the moment they can, not at some arbitrary age decided by bureaucrats who think of people as data rather than as individuals. Work, not school, is where one becomes educated, school is just a supplement when needed.  By living life ass backwards, we are, in former teacher and anti-school activist John Taylor Gatto’s words, “drilled in being bored, frightened, envious, emotionally needy, generally incomplete” because “life, according to school, is dull and stupid, only consumption promises relief: Coke, Big Macs, fashion jeans, that’s where real meaning is found, that is the classroom’s lesson, however indirectly delivered.” And you still want to send people to school against their will, you still want to try to fix it?

The film Breakfast Club is about Education Camps in the USA.

Or we can make school optional and return to the apprenticeship model of learning that has reliably produced the greatest minds in history.





Notes on 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang Part I


I. Candidate Yang’s Universal Basic Income platform: unconditionally give $1000/month to everyone (citizens only?) between ages 18-64, no strings attached and untaxed.

II. Rooting for Yang. His Universal Basic Income platform needs to be debated on national stage, but not endorsing him.  Disagree with many of his policies.

III. Don’t agree that automation will significantly shrink workforce.  Automation has been happening for awhile now — ATMs, self-checkout, etc. — yet there’s a severe labor *shortage* as I write this.  I support Universal Basic Income, just not for the same reasons as Yang’s.

IV. Yang cites labor participation rate of 62.7 percent as evidence of automation shrinking workforce.  So that’s down from 67 percent in 1996.  Is that supposed to be a big deal?  Context: labor participation rate has decreased since economic recovery;  labor participation rate has decreased as unemployment rate has decreased.  Yet Yang envisions doomsday.  I see people choosing to be stay-at-home moms and dads because they can afford to do so and a bunch of people who are either unemployable or employed in the black and grey markets (eg. sex work, etsy, ebay).

V.  Automation doesn’t destroy jobs, it only makes people more productive.  Just because Artificial Intelligence (AI) can do the job of a corporate lawyer better and faster doesn’t mean we don’t need most corporate lawyers anymore.  There’s a bottomless backlog of shit that needs to get done.  Once done, there’ll be unimaginable new frontiers to explore. So AI doesn’t mean fewer radiologists or police officers or lawyers.  It just means more of what needs to get done gets done, and at a lower cost to consumers because shit gets done faster and more efficiently.

VI. Next stage automation — Artificial Intelligence Economy — won’t happen as quickly as Yang predicts (10-15 years).  Technological change is as much a social and political issue as it is an economic issue.  People will eventually get used to driver-less cars and trucks, just as people got used to using elevators. But it’ll take longer than Yang thinks and the changes will be gradual rather than radical.  Americans don’t like radical change.

VII. Universal Basic Income will help keep unemployable people out of the work-force.  That’s a good thing because there are a lot of people who produce negative value.  Meaning, their screw ups cost a lot of money to fix.  Then there are those — most of the workforce — who produce little value above what they’re paid. Best to not let them work too much.

VIII. Critics say that work is how one builds good character.  Let’s assume that’s true. But why does everyone need to have good character?  We keep useless, lazy pets around and aren’t concerned about their moral health and lack of grit.  So why should we be bothered and concerned if someone doesn’t want to work, especially if we don’t need that person to work?  Let them be and give them enough money to stay off the streets.

IX. Yang mentions Alaska as a test case.  Alaskans get a dividend each month and that hasn’t resulted in societal breakdown and rise in slothful behavior.  Same with other UBI pilot projects around the world.  Link here to pilot outcomes

In fact, have shown improvements in physical and mental health, increase of IQ scores, higher graduation rates (ugh, that’s not necessarily a positive outcome) and reduction of crime. A UBI experiment in Canada saw hospitalization rates go down 8.5%.

X. That makes sense because the lack of economic security is a source of poor mental health, which often leads to poor physical health and nutrition.

XI. Nutrition in US will improve if UBI improves mental health.  Inability to cope with anxiety and depression, not lack of financial resources and access to nutritionally dense ingredients, is why people have poor diets.

XII.  UBI won’t help the poorest of the poor — doesn’t matter how much money you give them, they’ll figure out a way to fuck it up.  But it’ll help the working poor and up.  It’ll especially help the upper-middle class to become more entrepreneurial instead of playing it safe.

XIII. Use UBI to pay off student loan debt.  Then get government out of business of subsidizing student loans.

XIV. Welfare requires a complicated bureaucracy of social workers, administrators, and fraud prevention officers.  So much money intended for the poor is wasted.

XV. Welfare is psychologically crippling, UBI is emotionally uplifting.  Welfare stigmatizes, UBI exculpates.  Welfare racializes poverty, UBI humanizes poverty.  Welfare disincentivizes work, UBI encourages work.  Welfare is invasive, UBI is unconditional.  Welfare invites fraud, UBI is fraud proof.  Welfare requires bureaucracy, UBI is automated.








How Schools Produce Fuck Ups

Imagine two approaches to teaching students: either impart centuries old time tested wisdom and approaches to learning disciplines, as taught by Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, Da Vinci, Sun-Tzu,  Al-Khwarizmi, and so forth. Or rely on poorly tested pedagogical theories produced by academics from relatively new disciplines (eg. Education) that are based on problematic methodologies.

Most schools choose the latter. The best schools the former.  Here’s what students learn at each (latter = New; former = Classical):

New Philosophy: Be happy. Happiness is ultimate goal of life.
Classical Philosophy: You’re a dumbass, you don’t know jack shit.  Those who don’t realize they’re dumbasses who don’t know jack shit are dangerous, will never grow, and will be miserable (summary of Plato’s Republic and Socratic dialogues, which are foundations of Western philosophy).

New History: Bad people do terrible things to good people.  Good people are victims.  Be good and help these victims.
Classical History: People do some fucked up shit to each other.  Figure out ways to protect yourself from other people.  (Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian Wars).

New Science: Nature is beautiful and thus should be left alone, protected from human intrusions.
Classical Science: Nature is fascinating and unpredictable and thus will do some fucked up shit to people.  Figure out a way to work with nature, to protect yourself from its whims. (Francis Bacon).

New Math: Math is for boring people who are not creative.
Classical Math: Use of numbers is the most precise way to map and describe the world. It’s a language and critical to understanding many fields, including music and art.  (Leonardo Da Vinci).

New Literature: It’s wrong to feel hate, rage, and anger.  Such emotions must be repressed.
Classical Literature: Life is cruel, lonely, and painful.  Deal with it by embracing full spectrum of emotions, including hate, rage, and anger. Use such emotions to motivate oneself, to fight against failure.   (Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night).

New Writing: Good writing uses lots of big words, many adverbs, and strings of long sentences.  Good writing is an expression of one’s feelings.
Classical Writing: Good writing is succinct, concise, and precise.  Good writing is simple and focused on effective communication.  (Common Fucking Sense)

New Social Studies: Make the world a better place by protecting people, especially children, from stress, so they can maximize their potential and create a fair world.
Classical Social Studies: People, especially children, must be exposed to frustration and pain, and learn to embrace a wide range of experiences and emotions in order to prepare them for reality that’s often cruel and unfair. (Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile).

The reason so many schools choose new, untested, theories is because they promise dramatic improvement with less work.  Figuring out what the best schools do right and emulating them is too much work and likely too offensive to too many parents. The best schools are run by leaders who understand the value of and the extraordinary effort it takes to improve on time-tested wisdom.  It takes a lot more than simply being “nice” — easy to do — to a kid to make him capable of learning how to learn, to be sentient, compassionate, and passionate.  That’s why the best schools — public and private — expose their students to pressure packed environments that test their resolve, both in the classroom and on the field. The rest instead complain that students are too overworked, too stressed from this, that, and whatever.

Consider the above distinctions carefully, how they produce different results.  For instance, the kid who thinks nature is merely beautiful is NOT going to become a scientist working to solve problems that arise from climate change because she will NOT have the same sense of urgency as that kid who thinks nature is fascinating and sometimes cruel.  She will more likely become a self-righteous activist. That’s because the “nature is beautiful” narrative feeds one’s narcissism —  “so nature is meant for my enjoyment, my pleasure, and I must defend that which is made for my pleasure.” Nature as “fascinating and cruel” motivates because it understands science as the race against disaster.  Starting to see how a public school like Stuyvesant, full of working class students, can consistently produce world changing scientists from each one of its classes, while ours mostly produce activists?

Alright, so I’m exaggerating — I was trying to get your attention — our schools don’t produce mostly fuck ups.  The point is, they’re mostly producing mediocrities and we have to figure out why that’s the case.  Unless we’re fine with mediocre, which in this rapidly globalizing and competitive world can quickly become the new Fail.  Now that’s fucked up.