[PODCAST] #339: Don’t Stay In School? (With Derrick J and Ali Havens)


Derrick J. returns to discuss an email he recently sent to his two 7th grade sisters about leaving school. It has been two weeks and he is still waiting for a reply. His father, a former principal, asked him not to discuss it with them any more. What would you do? How would you follow up?

The email was inspired by this video from BoyInABand:

Read his article here: Don’t Stay in School.

Look Closer:
Derrick's Site: DerrickJ.me - http://derrickj.me/
Freedom Feens - http://www.freedomfeens.com/
Free Talk Live - https://www.freetalklive.com/
Flaming Freedom - http://flamingfreedom.com/
Derrick On School Sucks - https://schoolsucksproject.com/?s=derrick

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  1. I don’t know about the update that Brett mentioned in the podcast, but if Derek has not been able to resolve this issue with his family, the advice I’d like to offer is for Derek to apologize for offering unsolicited advice. Everything Derek wrote to his sisters was incredibly valuable, but I think it would have been received much differently if the timing had been different.

  2. First I want to say I’m a fan with two daughters that I would like to take out of public school, but that I am just starting to go through all your podcasts so I completely accept if part of your responses are: Please see episode ### for a complete answer.

    Now on to the question, which would be to play devil’s advocate.
    I understand and agree with your stance that the existing school system is horrifically flawed and probably useless for most people but…

    I think it is a little hard to look from the space of someone who has passed through the system and “possibly” receiving some benefits, even if indirect, from said system to plead for discarding a complete system. I think all would agree that the existing system has some benefit, especially in basic language, writing and math skills but besides that it also teaches part of two other skills. It teaches kids how to learn and it gives kids part of a high altitude view of existing knowledge.

    I’m not saying it does either of these well. It does the former in a way like a bad parent dropping their kid in water to teach them to swim and the later it does in a kind of fun house mirror with blacked out areas kind of way, but each are done.

    I think the very least education in any form should do is to start you on a path of knowledge which includes the tools to continue your learning, give you enough exposure so you know the paths exist and keep you learning a wide enough breadth of knowledge long enough so that you can make an intelligent choice on a path in life so that you don’t get to far down a path and realize your true path is now impossible to follow.

    I believe this last bit is the core of the fear that Derek’s father is worried about. Hopefully Derek has found his true path in life and it is possible that that path did not require schooling past a certain point, but did he know that path at age twelve? Maybe he did, but maybe he didn’t. His sister may love the idea of being a cartoonist now, but maybe her true calling is as a doctor. I realize that the money may not be there, but maybe she will become a OBGYN that delivers babies and derives more joy from that than any paycheck could possibly convey.

    I’m a dad of two beautiful daughters, so I speak from some knowledge of the massive fears that parents face. It is fair to say that if there is a pothole you should warn someone so they can avoid an accident, but unfair to tell someone to avoid a road completely unless you give them a better path to follow. There are other paths, but tough to pick the best path unless you know the destination.

    And sadly to continue to defend Derek father’s response, which I don’t completely agree with, but while I agree that children are not property, but they are … children. I wanted to pick a better term, but like a founder of a new company, parents took responsibility for bringing a life into this world and that weight of responsibility for giving that life the best possible chance at happiness, at least in my case, grips my soul. So for Derek, I would ask, are you happy? If so then your parents made some good choices. I’m sure they were not all the best choices but ask yourself if there was a possibility that your true path was that of an Architect or an OBGYN or astronaut and that someone told you school was not necessary, and you opted out to be a farmer, then whose fault was it? Is a 12 year old definitely responsible enough to make decisions that many 20 year olds have not made?

    It is only when you see this side, can your understand the context of the response from Derek’s father.

    Love the podcast and looking forward to listening to all the rest,
    keep up the great work.


  3. I am not excited about this video making the case that kids should leave school while bashing important fundamental knowledge. I contend the topics to which he objects are important and of value to learn. I concede there are many other valid problems with school that he should sing about. However, the topics are not school.
    I believe that basic knowledge that has lasted the test of time is the foundation of creativity. You have to know stuff to be creative. The quadratic formula, Shakespeare, Science topics, History are the foundation for the creation of new ideas and actions. The kids that can know the big ideas will set themselves apart with their creativity.
    I can understand his objection to being forced to learn knowledge that he cannot find relevance for. However, he does want to know how the stock market works and about human rights. The quadratic formula is relevant in how the stock market works and history/literature are relevant to the development of what is a fundamental right for humans. Are kids unable to make these connections? I contend that many if not most do not. Thus the song and the number of views.
    Topics the singer wants to learn can be learned without a teacher. Given his skill in music, he could likely learn the list of human rights in 15 minutes and have it memorized by the end of the day. However, he won’t know why without a serious study. His school did a pretty good job of helping him learn topics that are more difficult to learn on your own. He can even sing them. I certainly endured some hardships in school like the singer but the fundamental knowledge I carry now is a gift. In time, I think the singer will see that also.

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