Don’t Stay in School

My little sisters are in 7th grade. They’re good students. They work hard, they lead group projects, and they spend hours each night on homework. Tonight, I sent them an email encouraging to drop out.

School Hallway

I wish someone had done this for me. Both of my parents worked in government schools as teachers and administrators while I grew up. I was told to work hard, and it would pay off one day. That was a lie. I don’t think my parents *meant* to lie to me, but the reality is that I don’t think they ever considered what they were saying. They were just regurgitating what is popular: “Stay in school. Success in school leads to success in life.” Both of them had done okay, so why wouldn’t I believe them?

I don’t think my parents *meant* to lie to me, but the reality is that I don’t think they ever considered what they were saying.

I swept the awards ceremony in 8th grade. This was a total waste.

I swept the awards ceremony in 8th grade. This was a total waste.

The problem is that neither of my parents knows what would have become of them if they *hadn’t* gone to school. We can’t know what *could have been* because that opportunity is lost. The fact is, both of them lead mediocre lives. They have bouts of excitement when on vacation, but work for them always seemed draining–not uplifting. Both of my parents are workaholics, and I mistook this dedication to their work as interest rather than avoidance. They were avoiding much of the unpleasantness of life by burying themselves in their jobs. They didn’t have to. Both of them had cozy tenured positions and could be as lazy and incompetent as the other teachers around them. What could have become of my father if he became a pro-wrestler, or taught on-the-job carpentry lessons? What could have become of my mother if she finally opened the private schoolhouse of which she always dreamed? I’m afraid neither of my parents aimed high enough, or thought enough of their abilities, to try for their dreams.

Michelangelo said, “The danger for many of us is not that we aim too high and fail, but that we aim too low and achieve our mark.”

200208649-001When I looked at the way my parents’ lives turned out, I decided I wasn’t going to be like them. I was going to follow my dreams. If I failed, at least I would know that I tried. Michelangelo said, “The danger for many of us is not that we aim too high and fail, but that we aim too low and achieve our mark.” Since deciding to follow this path, I’ve produced a feature-length movie sold on Amazon and Wal-Mart, I’ve hosted not one but two nationally syndicated radio shows, and I’ve gone to jail fighting for my freedoms. All before reaching the quarter-century mark. I have amassed a bigger bank account than both my doctor sister and scientist brother, who are 8 and 10 years my elder, respectively. They both hold multiple degrees. I don’t hold one.

Derrick J in tie

I’m now embarking on a new business venture, CopBlock Protection, which will one day serve millions of happy customers by providing a peaceful remedy for the problem of rampant police abuse.

None of this would be possible if I had fallen in line and followed the course laid out for me: Stay in school, work like a dog, obey authority, and die without impacting the world in any significant way.

My little sisters deserve to hear my honest advice: Drop out and follow your passions. Life, especially youth, is too short to waste following the dreams of others. The sooner you start to listen to the tiny voice inside you, the sooner you’ll start living. Don’t wait until you’re old and retired to start. Start now.

quote-the-only-tyrant-i-accept-in-this-world-is-the-still-small-voice-within-me-and-even-though-i-have-mahatma-gandhi-231125

Here’s what I wrote them:

Subject: Don’t Stay in School

That is my sincere recommendation to you.

We live in a pivotal time. You have access to the entire world’s knowledge and can carry it with you in your pocket. You really don’t need school. I hope you will consider testing out early and moving on to follow your passions. You are both very intelligent. School can only get in your way. Take it from someone who did very well in school: it’s a complete waste of time. Worse, school teaches you the wrong things: how to conform to your peers and how to obey authority without question.

Here’s a song that came out just yesterday. Listening to it made me cry because it reminded me what I already knew: my childhood and youth were completely wasted by school. I spent my best years filling my brain with useless knowledge and stressing out. It doesn’t have to be that way for you if you learn from my mistakes and heed my warning.

If you love school, great! Stay in school. If you don’t love it, please don’t go. You don’t need it, and it is my opinion that it is actually doing you harm. Well-intentioned people will tell you that your success in school is very important, but listen to me: Your success in school means almost nothing. Don’t wait until it’s over to find that out, like I did. There are ways to completely skip high school after 8th grade. If you want more information on how to do that, I’ll be happy to help you.

Here’s the song:

Love,

Derrick

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