This Way Out
The Self Education Foundation

–Excerpted from This Way Out

Disclaimer: This article was not written to encourage every student to drop out. It is a personal choice that takes a great deal of thought. This article merely provides information and a resource to represent another option for schooling that is not made available in schools.

Every day young people leave school because for some reason it doesn’t work for them. Some people leave school because school makes them feel like a failure. They become convinced they are inherently stupid and don’t think that more years in school will help them to become more intelligent citizens. Other people leave school because they don’t like it and think they can find better, more creative ways to learn on their own. There are people, often labeled as having “learning disabilities,” who leave because they can’t learn in the limited environment that the traditional school system provides. Many women are forced to drop out due to pregnancy because compulsory attendance laws do not allow them the time they need to take care of themselves and their child. Some people are leaving school to avoid being harassed or arrested for their choice of sexuality, clothes and music.

Those young people that leave the traditional educational system often go on to learn anything they want – they learn skills by doing them, starting their own businesses, obtaining good jobs, going to college, traveling and following their passions.

Unfortunately, for people under 16, making your own decisions about your learning situation can be difficult. Until 16, schooling is mandatory unless the parents or other adults are supportive enough to officially register them with the school board as a homeschooler. Some youth choose to stick around in school until this age so that they can drop out legally, while others simply leave when they know that’s what they need to do.

Even the most obedient and devoted students, the ones who insist that they love school, will admit that they dislike many of the aspects of school. Some students dislike getting up early in the morning, they think most of the rules at their schools are unreasonable and they find much of the information taught to them not to be relevant to their everyday lives. When they say they love school, what they are trying to say is that they love learning.

What most people don’t know, or at lest have a good sense of, is how we learn best. This is very personal, something you figure out by reading, for example. Some people learn better by hearing than by reading, for example. Some people want structure; some people cringe at the hint of a rule. The most important point is that you should be able to choose. Some people choose to formally homeschool, while some youth choose to study with other high school dropouts. Others find they learn better from everyday experiences like jobs and internships. And others prefer to read books on their own in their rooms.

Those people that are labeled as having “learning disabilities” may need a new of way learning, like some of those listed above. Most of the information about youth who drop outs of high school focuses on the problems and failures of the individuals. What about the problems with the schools? Why are more parents turning each year to homeschooling? As a society, we need to consider the damage that is being done to youth who stay in traditional school systems.

Things I Learned How to do in School that I Wish I Hadn’t

* Follow authority.
* Believe in the prescribed path of school/career/marriage.
* Write and create to please others or to keep “busy.”
* Choose between someone else’s choices.
* Discriminate and hate those that are different.
* Drink alcohol to excess and brag about it.
* Blindly trust the opinions of “experts.”
* Become like everyone else.
* Not know what I want.

Read Up

Deschooling Our Lives, Matt Hern, ed.

Pathways to Privatization in Education, Joseph Murphy, 1998

This Way Out pamphlet, The Self-Education Foundation, 1999


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