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Don't Stay in School


Jul 15, 2010
Lost in my own mind
I dont usually post in this forum cause Im not much for debate...and on the occasions I am I can get pretty heated. But I recently found this video and its pretty thought provoking.

I didnt learn the majority of those things in school, granted thats definitely partially on me and the courses I took. But it has me wondering on other peoples thoughts and experiences. So my question up for debate is this:

Do you agree with the message in this video, did school leave you Ill prepared? And if so why? What changes need to be made to give students a more rounded education that will prepare them for life after they leave highschool?


Mr Quixotic

The Lowest Form Of Wit
Dec 14, 2012
I'm unable to watch the video at the moment, but will still throw my two cents in, as it's a subject I have strong thoughts on.

I never attended University/College to obtain a degree, and left straight after High-School as formal schooling never suited me, and my grades were nowhere near what I would've been capable of if i wasn't bored to tears, or the subjects were taught in a way that maintained my interest. I remember once asking my year 12 maths teacher, when learning algebra, 'What are we ever going to use this for in real-life?," and his response? "It'll come in useful if you ever want to be a maths teacher."

I believed then, and still do, that school is is too focused on teaching people what to learn rather than how to learn, or the art of critical thinking and questioning what they're told, and resolving problems by themselves, and in a lot of ways, it does leave people unprepared. I've found that I've run into quite a few of book-smart and extremely intelligent people - particularly when traveling, which I think the best teacher there is - who come across as extremely naive about how the real world works, and think there should be a greater concentration on life-skills.

Interestingly, there was a news article on this very subject, I read yesterday, on how some major firms, such as Random House and PriceWaterhouse Coopers, are starting to drop their requirements for degree qualifications as they believe students are exiting University without any real skills, or having been taught the wrong things. There are many more skills required in a working environment, and applicable to all, no matter the industry, much more relevant and important than 'knowing the material'. However, of course, there are many professions where formal qualifications are a must.


Dec 6, 2015
This video really shows that there's a HUGE difference in education levels between states. I'm from Texas, and most of the things this guy says he didn't learn were required to graduate in my school. "I was never taught my human rights", our US History course was all about the US constitution, the bill of rights, and what amendments were made to make up our laws. Economics had us learn about the stock market, balancing a budget, what taxes are for, and how to live off our "dream job". "I never learned how to get a job" is probably the most apt point in the video. I didn't learn much about writing resumes, or listing appropriate skills in highschool, but I did learn that in college.

The problem isn't how schools are failing our children, it's

A: Not all schools give the same education
B: Students aren't being engaged to learn

I feel like this guy is asking a little too much of our schools. "I was never told current event", that's what friends are for. You don't need a course to tell you gas prices are BS, Trump's a racist, and everyone hates America. "Why don't they teach us about medicine and mental disorders"....FUCKING WHAT!!? I'm trying to master Excel spreadsheets, and you want me to tell if the hobo at the McDonalds has paranoid schizophrenia? Come on, that's a college course, and you know it...asshole.


I was taught how to apply for a job, how to prepare for an interview, and how to write a resume all on my 4 years of high school English... Including the two years of AP Literature I took my junior and senior years of high school.

I was taught how to pay taxes as part of the 'personal finance' unit in my required Economics class senior year. In fact Economics was also about where money came from, how it's used by the government, and how to use your own money... Including how stocks worked, taking out loans, how banks work, etc.

I was taught how and why we should vote in my required US and Texas Government class, as well as all of my 3 years of high school History classes. It covered major policies of both political parties and also how to realize and form your own political beliefs.

Current events were always part of my high school curriculum, and not even just in history and/or politics. I had to research and understand current events in STEM fields as well. Granted, no, I was not taught all the laws of the country, but I was taught the ones that were considered the most relevant for the American public to know.

Basic first aid is generally taught as part of a required health class in high school. That health class also covers major diseases, sexually transmitted and not, and it also covers sex ed, drug use, and the cost of parenting.

I almost always had life-application problems in my math and science classes, even in my AP Calculus and AP Chemistry classes my last two years of high school, which are generally not taught so you learn anything, but so you pass a long-ass exam at the end of the year for which you're supposed to earn college credit. Math is a universal language that can applied to literally everything in life... the language we use to understand the phenomena of life: population models, epidemiology and biostatistics, knowing how much money you owe after interest has accrued on your student loans for 'X' amount of years, figuring out how much a shirt will cost after a 30% markdown and tax, figuring out how much materials to buy if you want to build something with specific dimensions. Mathematical applications are endless.

This all being said, I went to an American public school, which many consider to be a pretty shitty school system, and I was in a state that doesn't have too hot of scores either. I wouldn't say my education was wasted. Even though the goal of public school now is to prepare students for college and higher institutions, there are still valuable things to be learned. It's about giving you the tools to do things for yourself. You want to (re)learn how to do taxes? Congratulations, school taught you how to do research and how to do simple math. You want to learn all the laws of the United States (or whatever country)? Congratulations, school taught you how to research and how to know which sites were reliable and offered quality information. You want to learn how to write a resume or business letter/email? Congratulations, school taught you all that and even taught you how to write properly, so that you don't look like an ass when you write to potential employers.

School is not meant to hold your hand in life, and so many people walk away from school--public and private--knowing critical thinking and problem-solving skills that can be applied to other areas of life. Having said this, I am the first to admit that there are several things wrong with the American education system; not really with the content of the material that is taught, but particularly with how the material is taught and tested.

The (original) goal of university was to provide you with the opportunity to be educated. It was your chance to tailor your education to what you wanted to do in life, giving you the opportunity to be more inquisitive with what you learned and took away. Unfortunately, bachelor's degrees are often being treated almost like a technical school, where there are courses you have to take because that's the job you're going to do for the rest of your life. Not that technical schools are bad (in fact technical school graduates often rake in the cash, woo!), but university is not meant to be a system for going into skilled labor. It's supposed to give you the basis for further learning in the career field you eventually want to work in. There is no chemistry major who is going to know how the chemical industry operates upon graduating; that is something they learn when they actually work for one. But having the degree in chemistry means they are able to understand what they need to learn on the job.

There is no university student that exits knowing any real skills, because that's not what university is supposed to be for. It's supposed to foster a mind for critical thinking. It's supposed to let you learn what YOU, as a student, want to learn so you can use those skills and general knowledge of your studies of choice and apply them to your career of choice. I'm fortunate enough to be attending a university that is consistently one of the best in the world by both academics and research, and that's the culture that is bred here. I do, however, know that culture is not bred everywhere, BUT I think it's possible to still take that way from any higher education if you're willing to put in the effort in school. Are you there to really learn and expand your understanding of the world/life, or are you there to fuck around and have a good time?

@Coldchaos: I'm also from Texas, so I know you had all of the things I had. I feel the exact same way as you do.

Rudolph Quin

Mistaken for some sort of scoundrel
Aug 2, 2009
I agree with ariamella. I learned a lot of what that guy complained about missing from public school. I went to highschool in Virginia Beach, VA. I learned about laws from my Government class in HS and about them even in middle school's Civics class; in fact, I still have in a box somewhere, Bill of Rights Playing Cards, done up ala Yugioh/Pokemon that I drew myself. I remember a project where we calculated cost of living and expenses for pur "dream adult life"(I still don't have that animation studio job, fireman husband, and one girl and one boy nuclear family I set up for myself, but according to my 13 year old calculations, it would have all worked). Both in Gov and Civics, we learned about taxes and current events; it was the Bush v Al Gore election, my last year of middle school and my teacher got us all excited and pumped about the debates, understanding the issues, and voting.

I also learned about laws in American History my junior year, and about the climate they were made in, so I could understand context and how/why they were even necessary. I also learned about US history in my English class that year, which pissed me off at the time because "no cross contamination!" I remember having to do a report about the American dream and westward expansion in that class because all the books were US classics authors.

I remember learning about diseases and body parts in middle school and highschool health classes. I remember having sex ed and learning about eating disorders and how to eat healthy(how starving yourself is a losing battle of weakening bone structure and the body desperately storing fat for the "famine" you're putting it through).

I remember learning about the environment in Earth Science and Oceanography because I opted for those and Astronomy instead of Chem and Physics(mixing math with my science? How about "no"?). I remember learning about basic safety of mixing acids and bases in middle school science, about core cellular structure in Biology, so that I'm not a moron and don't just think "magic" when things happen.

I remembef learning how to sew, knit, and crochet in middle school home ec class. We live in rural northern PA now and my brothers learned about metal working and wood working in Shop class and auto class is available where you learn about cars and how to fix them. They offered a shop class in my middle school in Connecticut in which we learned how to make small propulsion vehicles with blocks of wood and rubber bands; we learned practical use for constructing something that could move on its own, just enough to whet our desire to follow through with deeper education if we wanted.

I learned how to look up colleges and write a college admissions essay, apply for scholarships and financial aid senior year of English. Which I hated. I threw away the hours working on it because I was a dumb kid, which isn't anybody's fault but mine. And I think that is kind of what bothers me about the video, is the immature shirking of responsibility.

I still collected those video game figures and played pretend town and doll house with them in my room until 16. I still LARPED until 17 or 18. Being an adult was something I have been fighting for years and it's not really school's job to make me into one. Equal opportunity not outcome; you can lead a horse to water and all of that. Adulting is something I've learned by doing because there were so many career choices and paths that my teachers and their classes couldn't predict I'd encounter when giving us all the basic run down. And I know how to research things for myself because of skills taught in school.

That being said, I think the dumbest thing about education is the attempt to limit it to practicality or put a fine point on it. Like that expectation 18 year olds face when considering college "what do I want to do with my life?" Unless you want to be a doctor, a lawyer, or a policeman there aren't a whole lot of jobs that make it impossible to get into the field or change gears later in life. My aunt laurie went to college in the 80s to become a relief worker and missionary school teacher overseas. She became a dress maker, a wedding planner and then a police officer, finally retiring from the force just last year. My grandmother didn't finish high school and she was a wedding cake maker, a caterer, and finally a lunch lady. My grandfather was a Marine in Vietnam, came home worked as a butcher, and security for IBM.

The real tragedy is we're tantalized and given basics in high school and then expected to fixate on one thing without a lot of wiggle room if your interests change. Who has the money to send their kids to college for 2-3 years only to change their major? But at that age who is thinking "Okay done. All set with that career. Now I just have to do the day to day thing for the rest of my life now."

Edit: I think one thing that was really hard for me was knowing right off the bat that I wanted to be an artist or that it was a huge thing, undeniable talent, and I didn't know what to do with it or what options were available to me. The idea of doing anything creative but not under my own steam/having autonomy over my creations and process was extremely unappealing but the opposite jumped headlong into the starving artist trope. But when it came to expectations and everything else I could possibly do with my life, it felt like I wasted this huge thing I could do.

That being said, you guys made me go looking through my old school stuff to try to find those Bill of Rights collectible cards. Couldn't find them but I found a Harley Quinn car I did for drivers ed and a... an angular pope for Algebra II.

I wasn't trying to be offensive, I just was really really ignorant. We had to make a picture out of all of these angles we had learned about and list their equations on a separate page. The loopy one, I forget what it was called, kind of reminded me of a pope hat and when I made his face, I had like a dozen more equations I had to do, so, I made him pissed off/crazy and gave him pointy teeth. Yeah, but didn't bring up math because as a right brainer, that was an extreme waste of my time. I had to take Pre-Pre-Algebra Freshman year of HS because I sucked at math so hard.


Dec 15, 2014
I left High School at age of 16, granted I am older (42) and it was a slightly different time I guess. But anyway, I left because it bored me to tears, the subjects being taught didn't seem to have any real world applications or for that matter make me a more well rounded person. I learned a lot by myself by reading all manner of books that we never seemed to go anywhere near in class.

On a tangent here, but we spent half a year in English studying Romeo and Juliet for fuck sake and most of that time was spent because the teacher wanted us to act it out... ok got it out back on track now.

So I left school, did all manner of jobs before getting into my current field and worked my way old school style to Senior Manager. In my country you always have the option of going to University on mature age entry regardless of whether you have completed High School or not.

I find that a lot of the Uni grads that work under me have a great deal of trouble thinking for themselves, especially out of the box and have trouble working problems out for themselves as well. University has taught them what to think rather than how to comprehend.

I have met many women (It's usually women, although some men do this too) who are in their late 20's and early 30's who are racking up huge debts by doing course after course and I wonder if they will ever even work in these fields - often times they never do. I know one woman who studied law only to find out there aren't any positions for lawyers so now she is studying psychology. Huge debts again, it makes my head spin it really does.

This is just my experience and observations, it differs from country to country and which field you enter into. I would have loved to have stayed at school as I craved the classic education of learning about poetry and philosophy, history etc Instead they taught me very little and it wasn't until I left school that I really started to learn.


The arts, music, and theatre (so acting) have their own place in education. In my own opinion, you can't have any kind of higher thinking without the arts. It teaches things that studying and memorizing will never teach you, which is likely why many teachers try to have their students act out part of the plays that are studied in class. The arts have been shown to have numerous benefits on a student's cognitive abilities and learning capacity, as well as create an environment that allows students to think creatively and outside the box. It may seem stupid, but it actually has some great effects.

As I said earlier, college graduates not knowing how to comprehend and how to problem-solve depends on whether their school cultivates that kind of thinking, and what they studied as well as HOW they studied. There's a difference in learning something to pass a class, and learning something to understand it and being able to apply those concepts to whatever problem it is you're looking at. I've only ever had one professor who was more about learning what to think rather than how to think, and he was an old fart teaching freshmen general chemistry. He sucked.

I'm also wondering why those women are getting degrees in psychology considering it's arguably one of the most useless degrees to get these days, along with theatre/fine arts, communications, liberal arts, and biology, simply because they're a dime a dozen. No hate tho; I used to be a music major, and it's always better to study something you love rather than do it for the money, otherwise the debt isn't worth it. Even law is going down, which is odd because people generally perceive it to be high paying and highly respectable... But that's assuming you're good at it.

But getting back to the subject, there are plenty of fields where innovation, creativity, and out-of-box thinking are required, and to some extent, what you choose to study and the field you go into affects your ability to do all of that. I grew up around people who studied either something in science or applied mathematics in college, and they're some of the most creative people I know. Those subjects also tend to lend themselves to practicing critical thinking and problem-solving, so there's that. Undergraduate degrees are also generally easier to get by in just memorizing and regurgitating information given to you, whereas graduate degrees actually force you to think about what you want to learn and how you're going to apply that.


Dec 15, 2014
I'm not knocking the arts and would have loved to have learned about poetry and literature topics I taught myself anyway. I grew up in the working class area of my city and the teachers were pretty lacklustre so when I mention spending half a year on Romeo and Juliet and having to act it out it just bored me as I already understood it and acting it out didn't help anyone who didn't. Also we had teachers who show us films when they couldn't be bothered and I'm not talking educational films either.

Similar to what you are saying about learning to pass a class and actually learning, I think a lot of education now is just job training if that. They teach you how to get the piece of paper that says you are qualified to do s job you have never done lol.

I think some people study useless courses for the prestige as well as personal interest. It makes them feel good to say they have a law/psych degree but what's the point if you work in a totally unrelated field? I get when people are young they are still working things out but these perpetual students I've met are in their late 20's to early 40's. Maybe I'm simple and only ever wanted a job.
But I do think of the huge amount of money being spent and these people (again usually women) do complain about their self inflicted debts.

There are fields of study that can teach innovation and creative thought, experience is usually key although i do believe in the end it is something intrinsic about the person themselves, some with or without experience with or without higher education just can't think.
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