How to Not Make Friends

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Want to see me alienate virtually anyone who may be reading this?

  • Schools: You are filled with caring people, but that doesn’t change that you’re a huge institution, and institutions are sociopathic. Your instincts will continue to drive all decisions to meet these two goals: survival and growth of the institution itself. You grind souls into hamburger meat and use the grease to lubricate your gears.
  • “Opt Out” Movement: I would opt my kids out of the tests, if they were in school. So we’re in agreement with the action itself. However,
    • Unions, you collect dues to protect workers, which isn’t bad in itself, but don’t pretend that you’re in this for the good of kids. You are in this to protect workers.
    • Teachers, I’m glad you support this movement, but too often it’s with a dangerous kind of single-minded hubris; in calling yourselves “Bad Ass Teachers” and “Rockstars” you put yourself on the same level the State would put the tests themselves. You don’t want to get rid of the tests because they’re harmful to students, but because they threaten the control that you perceive you should have.
    • Parents, stop picking facebook fights with parents who choose not to opt-out their kids. Discuss, debate, share information, but cease and desist with the name-calling. We all want what’s best for our kids, and it makes you look like children yourselves.
    • Administrators, if a parent opts their child out, don’t give them an alternative assessment. You’re doing an end-around the parents’ wishes, and their wishes for their children are more important than your wishes for your school. It’s an underhanded way of running a ship, and as a leader, your integrity is invaluable and irreplaceable.
  • The State: You know how I feel about you. My family, our students, this community, these cultures, is all greater in value and in power than you. You should read a bit more history about what happens when you jab at the plebeians for too long.
  • Homeschoolers: We homeschool. We love it. And schools are not the ideal place for “socialization”, for all the reasons you give. However, it’s where the majority of kids currently are, so let’s not pretend everything will just happen, and we’ll have 1950s style play-neighborhoods without any kind of work or community buy-in. Also, schools won’t destroy your kids, so long as your kids have their head on a swivel. Schools value obedience, conformity, and tend to be narrow and myopic in what they consider important to learn, and have an unholy focus on external facts rather than internal development, but they also have resources we homeschoolers would have a hard time replicating, e.g. science labs, technology, clubs, organized sports, big events such as prom, formal classes, an array of caring and knowledgeable adults, experience with the institution itself, etc. You can be smart in how you utilize school as a tool without being so dogmatic in your homeschooling that you’re depriving your child of potential resources. I see school as the same as church (which is why they’re always at odds with each other; neither enjoys the competition). Church could be used to develop a closer personal relationship with god, or it could be used as an excuse to blindly follow a gang of Conquistadors to spread the one true word via torture. School could be used as a tool to develop a closer relationship with yourself and the world, or it could be used to forge a human being into a mindless robot.
  • Students: Stop allowing yourself to be mindless robots. The onus is on you to live a life worth living. Stop allowing grades to affect your decision making. Read a book, for crying out loud. Put down the cell phone, not because it’s the class rule, but because you’re using it for the same reason a drunk uses alcohol – to escape. Don’t escape! Plunge in. Fight against the will of an arbitrary and self-serving hierarchy of power. Think long and hard about what’s important and what you stand for – more of you would be willing to go to greater lengths to protest the venue for prom than you would the use of metal detectors, in school suspension, state dictates in education, closed-campus policies, the use of police in schools, dress codes, limitations of your free speech, or any number of other things that keep you on the master’s teat. Stop being so damned distracted and dependent and wake the hell up, put your hands on the steering wheel, and control your own destiny. Stop fighting over the scraps management tosses you and seize your right as a being on this planet. Education isn’t something that can be given, it’s something that must be taken. So knock off the nonsense and go get it!
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