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How to Survive School: An Introductionby SoulRiser
This article is aimed at young people who hate school and would rather be somewhere else. These young people often actually love to learn - the problem is that few subjects offered at school are interesting to them, or the way in which it is presented is just horribly boring.
Before I go on, it is possible to legally get out of school, and get your education in other ways, through homeschooling or unschooling (if your parents will let you). Since this article is more focused on how to survive school if you can't get out, more information about those options will be listed at the bottom of this article.
Here are five vital points that will help you keep your sanity:
1) Just because they like it, doesn't mean you have to.
Everybody's different. People like different things, people do things in different ways. Why should school be an exception? What were they thinking when they designed a school that would teach everyone the same stuff in the same way? Did they really think that would work? Fact is, it doesn't work. Not for everyone, at least. If you prefer to do things your own way, that's a GOOD thing. Those kids who function best when told what to do every second of their lives will probably be working for you someday.
What about those people who assume that just because they did well in school or even liked it, that everyone should be capable of the same results? Don't worry about them. You can't expect everyone to understand you, just as they can't expect everyone to react to school the way they did. You could try to reason with them, but some people just won't change their minds no matter what, so don't lose sleep over them.
2) You're not the only one.
Lots of young people hate school. Lots of older people still hate school. Does that mean people who hate school are doomed to "flip burgers the rest of their lives"? Nope. Just because someone hates school doesn't mean they hate learning - in fact, often people hate school precisely BECAUSE they love learning - school is so boring it gives learning a bad name.
Some people who won the Nobel Prize hated school:
George Bernard Shaw said, "There is nothing on earth intended for innocent people so horrible as a school."
Albert Einstein said, "Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school."
3) How educational is school really?
You listen to a lesson, you do some exercises, you are given a test. In order to pass the test, you must memorize information - this is often done by following elaborate "learning methods", none of which are really much more than ways to trick your brain into remembering things it otherwise would disregard. Some people actually remember some of this information later in their lives - especially if they happen to go into a career that's somehow related to it. Most people, on the other hand, don't remember much more than 20% of everything they ever learned at school - including the skills needed for reading, writing and working with numbers.
4) What's the point, then?
If you're stuck in school, and your parents won't let you get out and try something else, don't despair! There is some fun to be had in school. If you already have a good circle of friends there, you're off to a good start. If not, whatever you do, don't change yourself to "fit in" with any crowd so that they'll let you hang out with them.
If there's one thing people who like school are right about, it's that "school is what you make of it". This is true. If you don't want it to be boring, bring something interesting to do. Just don't make it too obvious or it might get confiscated for being a "distraction from your education". Make a "mission" for yourself to achieve in school - this could be anything you choose, or a good cause - like finding all the young people in your school who can't stand it, and handing them a printed copy of this article.
5) Getting your life back.
If homework and tests are taking up time that you could spend doing things that actually interest you, there are ways around it. If your parents aren't too fussy about your marks, you could just do the bare minimum required to pass. If, on the other hand, they want "nothing but the best", maybe you should try reasoning with them. Tell them how school makes you feel. Explain to them that you'd learn a lot more if things weren't forced on you. It's bad enough having the teachers down your throat about all sorts of things, but having your parents on your back as well is like being attacked from all sides with no escape. If you can't get a word in, try writing it down and having them read it when you're not in the same room with them. Either way, try not to show your anger, or at least don't make it look like you're angry with them. Most people take that the wrong way.
Having your parents on your side is really the best way to survive school with your sanity intact, and it's a luxury not many young people have. Put as much effort into reasoning with your parents as you possibly can, and only after all else fails should you consider other ways of getting good marks that don't involve working so hard, like finding a friend and helping each other finish the work off quicker.
Hopefully this article has helped you in some way, or at least cheered you up a bit. Don't ever give up - school may seem like prison or even hell, but it won't last forever. Maybe you can even help out some other people along the way. Good luck.
© Copyright 2006 SoulRiser, webmistress of www.school-survival.net
Update: 6 Dec 2011
There's now a German translation of this article here. :)
Written by: SoulRiser
7 February 2006