5,000 Hours is Too Long for High School


You’ll spend five thousand hours in a High School building by the time you’re done. I can’t think of a single reason why that might be justified. For a comparison, to hunt in New York you need to take a 7-hour class and be 12 years old. To legally drive a car in New York you need to be 16 years old, take a 5-hour course, and have 20 hours of recorded driving time. To be a paramedic you need around 150 hours of training. So you can legally kill with a rifle, drive a two-ton hunk of steel that’s full of an explosive liquid 65 miles per hour, and have someone else’s life in your own hands, all for 162 hours-worth of schooling. Yet you need five thousand hours (five with three zeroes) in order to be trusted out in public with sine and cosine, Yellow Journalism, synecdoche, and heterotrophs.

You’ll get no responsibility. You’ll get the responsibility of getting to class on time, with the consequence of having to spend more time in school in the form of detention. This is where they lecture you on how when you have a job, you have to get to the job on time. Because it takes the average teenager three or four thousand tries over four years to learn that a boss wants you to be on time. If you can’t figure out that your boss wants you at work when your schedule says you should work, then you have much bigger problems. I’m convinced that born-again truants find their way to class on time for no other reason than they are sick of hearing the same idiotic lecture from the lifer with the tweed jacket who relishes teaching the youth about life. You’ll also get the responsibility of doing the homework they assign you, dressing the way they tell you, speaking in ways they find appropriate, and keeping your cell phone, the single most powerful device the common man has ever had access to, away in your locker. All of this is a huge waste of your time, and completely unnecessary.

Whether or not a class is useful is probably not going to depend on how smart your teacher is. But the good news is that how “smart” your teacher claims to be is irrelevant. Whether or not a class is useful is going to depend on how passionate and dedicated the teacher is to their subject discipline, in the sense that if they are passionate and dedicated to a thing and not to you then you’re in trouble. The ones who are truly martyrs for five paragraph essays and Hammurabi’s Code are going to make your life miserable while simultaneously completely wasting your time. The ones who have consciously or unconsciously given up on their careers and are counting the days until retirement are much more willing to suspend the bull shittery for just long enough to respond to your individual interests.

Do yourself a favor and survey a dozen or more non-educators over the age of 30 or 40. Ask them the top five things they remember from High School. Odds are they’ll say something like prom, the big game, lunch with friends, the bus rides, a fight, breakups, cliques, drugs, a pain-in-the-ass teacher, an inspirational teacher, and just about anything but the actual “content” that eclipses everything else time-wise, good and bad, that happens in school. I’m not proud of this, I had no idea you had to register and insure a car when I bought my first car around the age of 20. Neither do most of the seniors I quiz on this little fun fact. They have no idea how to do their taxes, how much taxes are, how much college is, how to save for retirement, how to cook, how to fill out a check, how to make friends outside of school (or the internet), how to approach someplace for work, how to drive a stick shift, how to get a credit card and why you shouldn’t, etc. We teach virtually nothing of importance in High School. We teach how to determine the tone of a passage and use supporting evidence to justify your decision. Because that’s necessary, somehow. We teach factoring trinomials. We teach how many subatomic particles are paired with their charges. We teach that George Washington called for policy neutrality in the 1790s. We teach you how to waste your time with inane, disconnected, arbitrary trivia. You would get more out of volunteering yourself as a serf on a farm in a foreign country for two weeks than four years of High School.

For the “necessary evil” folks out there who claim you need the diploma in order to move forward: you’ll be asked for your transcript when it’s time to go to college or join the military. Nobody will ask for it after that, and if you decide to go into business for yourself or work the family farm, then nobody will ever ask for your transcript. Ever. Everything on there is arbitrary and the grades are indicative of nothing except what your future grades might be. They are irrelevant. Many colleges and universities will actually accept you without a High School transcript or degree. Where do you think all those homeschooled and foreign kids and homeschooled foreign kids on campus came from? Community Colleges will let nearly anyone in if they can demonstrate academic proficiency, then four year colleges will look at those grades when determining admission. High School transcripts are irrelevant.

Did you know you could publish and distribute a newsletter, independent of any teacher or administrator’s permission, for the purpose of criticizing, mocking, or otherwise profaning the sacred institute of the school? Of course you can. You just have to follow the normal rules, e.g. you can’t slander or publish pornography. You don’t know that because the school doesn’t want you to know that, just as they will quite likely actively (illegally) try and stop you. Instead, they’ll insist that school elections are the practical experience students need in learning about democracy. School elections…you know, the popularity contest in which the winners get to make such life-changing decisions as the theme of school prom. This myopic interpretation that emphasizes our individual impotence within the democratic system is the reason why our presidential options today are one fascist, one socialist, one criminal, and an unrelenting stream of the type of incompetent liars who put us $18T in debt, largely by bombing brown people.

You’ll get no experience, unless you join a club or a sport. Ironically, these are the only opportunities that may render High School necessary for you. It’s tough to find competitive football or a robotics team as a 14-year-old who is not in school.  These sorts of self-selected, experiential things are necessary for the proper development of a young person’s character. In fact, if the daily High School program was “pick an extra-curricular (henceforth, simply “curricular”) activity, see it through to a logical conclusion, then either pick another or continue with the same”, then I wouldn’t need to write this. School like that would more closely resemble a necessary use of time.

What you’ll get is shoved in a pod with a group of same-aged peers whom you may or may not know and like, with a stranger as a pod-leader demanding that you follow his script (really someone else’s script that he’s parroting) or face the consequence. Repeat for five thousand hours. It’s an unnecessary waste of your preciously short and rapidly dwindling life.


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One Response to 5,000 Hours is Too Long for High School

  1. Tiara Brown says:

    Wow Mr. Huskie when you put it into perspective it is so crazy how much time we spend in school. As a teacher you would know the ways we are manipulated to think what we are doing is the best way to go but it is not. There are plenty of ways to become successful without school. We spend five thousand hours in high school just to have a piece of paper with our names on it for the rest of our lives, even though we don’t get it on Graduation Day. I like the part when you listed what we take from high school rather than survival skills as adults in the real world that we do not know how to do. As a senior in high I am scared to ”adult”. I wouldn’t know how to change my tire if I got a flat on the road. I don’t even know how to do my taxes and I work. In high school we should be taught more things that are relevant to us. I wish we got to pick all the classes we wanted to take, academics we know would help us out after June 26th. I hope in college I see more life skills than y=mx+b.

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