I don’t usually tell people this, but I dropped out of high school. I was unschooled/truant for a couple years after being booted out of 8th grade, and then spent a week in high school before dropping out. In fact, I never did get around to finishing my high school equivalency, which means I don’t have a high school diploma.
Why? Despite attending a relatively well-regarded public high school, I was shocked by the inanity of the classwork and a social structure that felt more like a prison ward than a place of learning. Ultimately, though, it was just boring.
Turns out I was not alone. Researchers surveying HS dropouts had this to say about them:
They struck us as articulate, capable. These kids wanted to be doctors and nurses and engineers and astronauts and then they hit the schoolhouse door and they’re confronted with an environment which is not inspiring, not engaging and often disorderly and unsafe.
Some had high grades and were just bored out of their minds. They found no connection between the classroom and life and their career aspirations.
I frequently hear my fellow faculty complaining that the university is becoming much like high school, and while they are usually referring to the abilities of a large proportion of the students, I have a feeling that we are treading toward it feeling more like a high school as well.
I won’t articulate this fully, but the atmosphere of the university has become so involved in how to control students and faculty actions that learning is often swept aside. Our university has, over the last year, had a management consultant group meeting with focus groups. In one group that included faculty from across the campus, the facilitator compared graduating students to making hamburgers. It wasn’t a joke–at least not intentionally. The person didn’t understand why the analogy was not just flawed, but disrespectful.
For me, college was far better than high school. I could pick topics of interest, engaged with my peers, and located environments that were stimulating both intellectually and socially. I was still bored, particularly in classes that felt like high school (only bigger), but it was a step up. It was not until graduate school that I found an environment that really suited my temperament. Somewhere between third grade at a Montessori school and graduate school folks seemed to have forgotten what school was supposed to be about. Perhaps dropping out is the best way to graduate from such institutions.