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Friday freedom question: Ways that school misled you

On a financial forum a while back I encountered a twentysomething who didn’t understand why his credit score sucked so badly.

Asked to lay out the details so others could analyze the problem, he boasted of his “90% on-time record” of paying his bills, which he thought should have given him a big boost.

He was flabbergasted to hear, “Well, there’s your problem. You have to pay your bills 100% on time to have good credit.” He thought that because 90% would get you an “A” on a test in school, it was also terrific in all other aspects of life.

He may have been a bit of a doofus. But that got me thinking about ways that school itself — or experiences in the social or extra-curricular sidelines of school — mislead us about life in the real world.

For instance, did you think that the tight little cliques and the “mean girls” were the way the real world worked? Did you think that the various ways of earning brownie points were going to carry over into adult life? Did you get the idea that kissing ass or following rules was more important than actual achievement? Or did you bust your buns to learn-learn-learn-learn some subject — only to discover that what you were taught had little or no real-world application?

Now, I don’t mean to blame school for all our social or intellectual ills (though, yeah, there’s a case to be made). I’m just talking about ways in which school or the school environment taught you something that you had to unlearn to survive in the real world.

So today’s freedom question: In what way(s) did your school years totally mislead you about adult life?

Comment away …


  1. GIJeff
    GIJeff May 11, 2018 9:27 am

    The main problem with school practices today is that they were developed around the civil war to produce factory workers. Producing free thinking individuals was not even on their radar. What SHOULD happen is that someone that understands brain development should decide when certain topics are delivered to children based on when they can optimally learn those topics. For instance, people learn languages at a very early age most easily, but in school we don’t introduce them to other languages than their native tongue until they are older and fairly developed and it’s harder for them to learn it. I am sure there are other types of subjects for which there is a window of opportunity in brain development that makes it most easy to absorb that topic at a certain age or development stage. Getting this changed would require people that have been doing education for a very long time incorrectly to admit that they aren’t doing it right. Good luck with that.

  2. brew
    brew May 11, 2018 10:20 am

    I’m not so sure I was misled, but I remember ‘guidance counselors’ trying to really push me and others to certain professions, supposedly based on our interests and aptitudes…

    Funny how no one was ever pointed to artist, writer, singer…. I played in the symphony and wonder what would have happened if I’d stuck with it…

    No it was always business, teaching, technology related…

  3. Ken Hagler
    Ken Hagler May 11, 2018 10:25 am

    The only thing school successfully misled me on was the notion that a college degree was vitally important, highly desirable thing to have. I think I was misled in part because absolutely _everyone_ was pushing that claim, but more importantly because you don’t find out you were misled until after it’s too late. Everything else that the schools tried to mislead me on, it was obvious immediately or after a short period of observation that they were lying.

  4. RW
    RW May 11, 2018 11:41 am

    Pretty much most of American history since WWII, currently reading Diana West’s American Betrayal which explains a lot of our “mainstream” culture. McCarthy was right, .gov was and is infested with commies. FDR sent Russia planes, trucks, jeeps, butter when rationing was in effect and in preference to our troops. Thoroughly researched and documented.

  5. ellendra
    ellendra May 11, 2018 11:44 am

    “Really understanding stuff isn’t important, all that matters is that you regurgitate on command.”

    “Writing something thoughtful is worthless, what matters is how many pages you take up.”

    “Girls aren’t supposed to like math and science.”

    “Plants aren’t a career”

    “Only dumb kids go to technical colleges. Even dumber kids go to trade school.”

    “Spending money on the latest “thing” is more important than saving for what you actually want.”

    “People who pack their own lunches instead of standing in line are freaks.”

    “Doing 5 and 1/2 hours of busy-work very night, on a subject that you understood the first time, is more important than using that time to do something useful.”

    “Nobody needs to know how to cook these days.” (My school got rid of all home-ec-style classes halfway through my sophomore year. This was the principal’s answer when I protested.)

    I’m sure I’ll think of more.

  6. Pat
    Pat May 11, 2018 1:01 pm

    I think every subject was mis-taught in some manner – i.e. the way it was taught and the emphasis on how we should respond.

    Believe what you’re told – said History & Sociology.

    Believe there’s only one right way to do something or find a solution – said Math & Science.

    Believe the Best Way has “always been done that way” (learning by rote) – said learning a Language, and almost every subject.

    And then, in general:
    Believe that adults are the only true source of facts. And by implication and insistance on collectivist thinking (Pledge of Allegiance and, in the lower grades, reciting a Bible verse):
    Believe in your country and your God – Honor them as we all must.

    Believe… Believe… Believe. You have no knowledge of your own, it comes through the authority of others – learn to rely on them and do not question.

    It wasn’t just schools, of course, but every Authority in the community put their stamp on kids.

    But that didn’t work with me.

  7. Comrade X
    Comrade X May 11, 2018 1:17 pm

    The only place you get graded on the curve out of school is under socialism.

  8. rochester_veteran
    rochester_veteran May 11, 2018 1:22 pm

    My high school guidance counselor, my uncles and even my Greek born boss who owned the restaurant I washed dishes in all advised/warned me to not join the USAF. Of course, it was 1974 and anti-military sentiments were at a high level as a result of the Vietnam War, so enlisting in the service wasn’t seen as a desirable thing to do. The naysayers were all wrong though and joining the USAF was probably the best thing I could have done! It got me out of Rochester, 4 days after I graduated. Basic Training was tough at times, but having had strict parents, gone to Catholic Schools K-12 (nuns could be just as hard-assed as TIs! 🙂 ) and played football, I got through it just fine. I learned a great and interesting job in Tech School, that of being a Weather Observer and in another class following, that of being a Rawinsonde Operator (launching and recording weather balloon runs). I had great duty stations at Vandenberg AFB on the Central Coast of California, then three years in Germany and got to travel all over Europe! I was fortunate to have served when Vietnam was winding down and service members were being shipped out of there and no longer deployed there. Being in Air Weather Service was the least military of the military and was much like working a civilian job except we wore uniforms and had to keep our hair short. My commanders and senior NCOs were all pretty cool and most of the guys and gals I was stationed with were also cool and especially in Germany, we were more like a family than a military unit. I did extend my enlistment for a year and almost reenlisted, but thought it best to get out and reenter the civilian world. I had a great experience with no regrets!

  9. Jim Brook
    Jim Brook May 11, 2018 1:26 pm

    90% of my patients last week lived. I am doing great.

  10. kentmcmanigal
    kentmcmanigal May 11, 2018 1:27 pm

    I can’t think of a way school misled me. Maybe that’s a sign I didn’t let it get to me too much and I didn’t really take it too seriously. I daydreamed constantly in lower grades and skipped class in high school to read in the library (the librarians were willing co-conspirators) or to wander the woods. I also moved around a lot, so I never got too much identity from the particular school I was attending at the time, like I saw in other people.

    I learned very little in class, but almost everything I learned that still makes a difference to me I learned by reading things on my own.

    I learned quickly that teachers were frequently wrong, and were teaching falsehoods to the students. I got in trouble for calling one out on something once- he even admitted I was right, but said for our purposes, we would pretend it was as he insisted. I wouldn’t go along and accepted the bad grade rather than give an answer I knew was wrong. Some teachers were less bland than others, but they didn’t really teach much of importance.

    There was one teacher in high school who was the exception. He wanted to teach us how to think and reason, but never what to think. He emphasized critical thinking and analyzing what people were saying (and why they were saying it). He was quite the rebel, but somehow managed to hide it from the administration. He probably wouldn’t be able to keep a job in a public school in today’s world.

    My years in school gave me a deep hatred of schooling, but I really don’t feel I was misled in any way. It was what it was.

  11. larryarnold
    larryarnold May 11, 2018 5:54 pm

    There was a schedule problem when I was in the eighth grade (1960) and I had to take a semester of typing. The counselor apologized profusely, since I was a college-bound boy, would always have a secretary, and therefore would never need to type.

    I spent sixth and seventh grades in California, and the schools were so far behind I lost two years. It turned into a blessing, since after we moved to Texas I had to scramble to catch up. I was much better prepared to take college classes seriously. Guys who were smart enough to skate through high school weren’t nearly as prepared.

    When I went back to college for my masters, after four years in the Army, I went from being an infantry captain to freshman sociology classes, but that was just amusing.

    The real problem I hit, though, was when my daughters were in high school. The education folks all know The One True And Correct Way To Teach Any Subject. My oldest daughter thrived in it. My youngest daughter, being polar opposite, got hammered.

    Somehow public schools haven’t stumbled on to what every community education instructor in the world knows. Students learn in different ways.

  12. Art Eatman
    Art Eatman May 11, 2018 9:35 pm

    I began elementary school in 1940, graduating from high school in 1951. It was a whole different world, back then. We had far fewer of today’s problems. I hardly recognize today’s world. I certainly have no respect for it. 😀

  13. Ron Johnson
    Ron Johnson May 12, 2018 4:42 am

    I don’t think I was misled about the realities of adult life. In fact, I don’t recall much that the school taught that was even relevant to adult life except how to read, write, and cypher. I was actually itching to be on my own when I reached my late teens. I was sick of school by my sophomore year in college and decided to quit (gave up a full-ride scholarship) so I could experience real life…job, rent, car payment, cooking, paying utilities….I know it sounds a little nuts, but that was what I considered to be the real test of my independence.

    The assumption that formal education was all about getting a good job afterward never really made sense to me. When I went back to college years later I read Newman’s “Idea of the University”, I knew I had been right: education was about making yourself a better person, and you will make yourself into whatever you want (doctor, lawyer, businessman). My Shakespeare professor, a bit of a classroom tyrant, was fond of telling his students “If you think I’m tough, wait until you get your first job…it will be the longest freshman year of your life.” I thought the line was curious because I had already done 5 years in the ‘real’ world and enjoyed it. I know some of my classmates experienced reality shock when they had to deal with real life.

    So, no, I don’t feel I was misled. I can’t say the same for my classmates.

  14. s
    s May 12, 2018 7:01 am

    I was lucky in that my schools were actually pretty good. Far from perfect but they did teach critical thinking.

    But Claire’s question was “In what way(s) did your school YEARS totally mislead you about adult life? Not the school so much as that time of life.

    I was misled in two fundamental ways:

    Taxes. While civics classes and such mentioned taxes, nothing prepared me for the huge bite, the multiple bites from the same pitiful paycheck, the punishment that comes with increasing your earnings, or the savagery employed to collect the loot.

    The rule of law. School, newscasts, TV shows about cops and lawyers, all taught that the US is a nation of laws, applied equally to all. That’s a fantastically large lie. The political, enforcer, and warrior classes are not subject to the same laws as the serfs, and it is often difficult to see that they are subject to any laws at all.

    Written laws are essentially meaningless. When the small town I used to live in couldn’t pass a zoning law change through the town meeting process, they just “re-interpreted” the law. That stuff goes on every day, all day, all over the country, via regulatory agencies and petty bureaucrats.

    The laws are also meaningless because there are so many of them, so intrusive into every aspect of daily life, that it is literally impossible to know them, much less obey them. Harvey Silverglate argues that we all commit three felonies a day. Phhht. I usually accomplish that before breakfast.

    The truth is that laws are used retroactively and selectively to justify whatever DAs, bureacrats, cops, and other thugs have already done or decided to do. First comes the beatdown, then the arrest, then they figure out which laws to invoke.

    Learning that the rule of law was a fantasy taught to gullible children, no different than Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, was a huge shock. Understanding that at any moment, for any reason or no reason at all, I could be robbed, beaten, killed, or left to rot in a hole took a lot of getting used to. My school years never prepared me for the fact that my very life was subject to the whims of millions of others, and that a stroke of bad fortune could end it all. I was completely mislead about that key fact of adult life.

  15. fred
    fred May 12, 2018 12:20 pm

    I remember being debriefed daily about what I was being fed in school.My parents were conservatives but definitely not sheep.When I was fed BS,dad would point it out,tell me what was up.Then just let the indoctrination go in one ear and out the other(though try as I might sometimes I couldnt let it go.When that happened dad was glad to step up and carry the mantle for me.Good dad.) My dad,he would be the guy nowadays getting arrested for calling out School Boards,no doubt it.Right before I became home-schooled from that point ever after.

    I was raised to be gray man in that respect.I knew damn well I had some real idiots or sheep as teachers.Yes,and bosses now,and learned to call a spade a spade though utilizing proper discretion.

    I was taught that country is good,being cannon fodder is not.I was taught real skills,like auto mechanics being a boy.My sisters were taught more sewing and arts,Mom skills….but I was also taught knitting basics and crafts to us all.And yes,we all understood how to make a meal and it isnt gender specific to cook.

    We were encouraged to pursue subjects WE liked,whatever it was,and to only expend time as required on things we werent interested in.

    Point being,schools totally failed on practical life subjects,so my folks took it as THEIR responsibility to make sure we got that education.

    They would have,Im sure in todays world,have home schooled us.IF I had kids nowadays I would ‘sacrifice’ all the adult toys and McMansion for a ‘poorer’ possibly lifestyle to make sure my kids had an education that fit them,and made them individuals doing what they LIKED in life,and not a programmed puppet of the elites corporate slavery ideal.

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