Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

Jul 8, 2008

Why Nerds Are So Unpopular

Click on the post title to go to a truly excellent essay by Paul Graham. I came across it because one of the forum members posted a link.

It's hard for me to think of something to say about this article because the article says it all. I remember very distinctly complaining that school was "pointless" and feeling trapped in a cage with a bunch of hostile nitwits--and it didn't wait until high school to start. My problems began as early as third grade. But, according to my parents, it was just the way things had to be and it was my duty to tough it out.

Why is it your children's JOB to be miserable for years and years? I never gained anything from it, I only lost. I resent the necessity of working now, it takes an effort of will for me to read non-fiction books (even though I LOVE reading) or work on my novel or do ANYTHING that isn't "just for fun". Why was I locked into a box with the purpose of making me over into the biggest obstacle to my own success? It doesn't leave much energy left for actually accomplishing anything when the first thing you have to do is to climb over the mountain of your own neurotic behaviors. I don't think I'm ever going back to college simply because I can't stomach any more of that bullshit. I had my fill and more than my fill. I'm done.

Don't send your kids to public school.


Anonymous said...

Paul Graham is a GREAT writer! Good post.

Nancy said...

Don't send your kids to public school... What are you proposing as the alternative?

Jennifer Snow said...

Homeschooling, school co-ops, private schools . . . anything but the government indoctrination improperly titled "education".

Nancy said...

You'd have to go very far to find a private school that didn't have the same culture, requirements, pitfalls, etc. of public schools, at least as described in the essay.

Homeschooling might be an option for some, but it takes a parent with the ability to commit huge amounts of resources (time especially) to it. Not all of us have this luxury. It also takes a respectful, helping relationship between parent and child, plus a parent who has mastery of the subject matter, and not all of us have been able to pull this off, either.

School co-ops sound interesting. Do you have any experience with these?

There are also alternative high schools, which many districts have for students who are in danger of dropping out, whether for behavior, family or social problems; pregnancy/parenthood; schedules; or any number of other reasons that a student doesn't "fit" into a mainstream high school. Some of these are very good. But they are still public schools whose purpose is the government indoctrination improperly titled "education".

Have you thought about ways to reduce the "popularity" pressure within our current schools? There's some research showing that schools limited to one gender may help, although then you have to be sure that the quality of education for each gender is comparable.

This is a big enough issue that it deserves some serious thought about solutions. Thank you for bringing it into the conversation.

Jennifer Snow said...

In my *personal* view, having children at ALL is a luxury. And not *all* public schools are equally bad--the situation at BHS was very good, actually. The problem is that the principle that results in the *existence* of public schools is going to necessarily continue to destroy the best elements and reward the worst.

I believe the reason why "private" schools are so similar to public schools is that their standards are set by the same body. Private schools are operated by permission, in the U.S., at least. They have a list of rules they have to follow.

Pressure for alternative educational methods in Ohio has led to the creation of online schools that cost next to nothing (just the price of a computer) and, from what I understand, yield quality results.

The co-ops I've read about were in India, which were a kind of bargain-basement education that taught reading, writing, and arithmetic for *ten cents a day*. The people in the community who couldn't afford even that very modest fee were cheerfully (and voluntarily) subsidized by the slightly-better-off families.

Granted, those kids weren't receiving a spectacular education--but many children who go to public schools in the U.S. receive an incredibly crappy education, too. High schoolers who can't read?! And at least they're not picking up a vicious antipathy toward learning.

The real argument against public schooling, however, is not any of the above "practical" arguments, though, it's simply the fact that it is wrong, wrong, wrong to forcibly take anyone's property for the purpose of paying for something he may or may not desire to support. Even if it were true that everyone would benefit from public schooling, it would STILL be wrong. No supposed good can justify slavery.