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To everyone who joined these forums at some point, and got discouraged by the negativity and left after a while (or even got literally scared off): I'm sorry.

I wasn't good enough at encouraging people to be kinder, and removing people who refuse to be kind. Encouraging people is hard, and removing people creates conflict, and I hate conflict... so that's why I wasn't better at it.

I was a very, very sensitive teen. The atmosphere of this forum as it is now, if it had existed in 1996, would probably have upset me far more than it would have helped.

I can handle quite a lot of negativity and even abuse now, but that isn't the point. I want to help people. I want to help the people who need it the most, and I want to help people like the 1996 version of me.

I'm still figuring out the best way to do that, but as it is now, these forums are doing more harm than good, and I can't keep running them.

Thank you to the few people who have tried to understand my point of view so far. I really, really appreciate you guys. You are beautiful people.

Everyone else: If after everything I've said so far, you still don't understand my motivations, I think it's unlikely that you will. We're just too different. Maybe someday in the future it might make sense, but until then, there's no point in arguing about it. I don't have the time or the energy for arguing anymore. I will focus my time and energy on people who support me, and those who need help.

-SoulRiser

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My Father's Challenge
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Aureate Offline
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Post: #1
My Father's Challenge

1 year ago, my father would drive me to school daily. My school was conveniently positioned en route to his place of employment, and if we timed it effectively, he could both drop me off before first period and arrive at work in a timely fashion. I had settled into the habit of trying to convince him each morning as we drove to bypass the school without dropping me off, or, failing that, to inch him towards acknowledging unschooling as a viable alternative to formal education. It helped that I was faced with the immediate threat of a day of extremes of stress and boredom, bestowing upon me every reason to present a genuinely impassioned case. He would either make light of the complaints with a sardonic reference to teenage rebellion--what is called in political circles "marginalizing the opposition"--or offer reasoned retorts. A coin flip might have been indicative of his daily choice. One day, having chosen the latter, his standard of conduct devolved to the issuing of a loud challenge. It was medieval in delivery, and awkward to receive owing to its declaratory tone. I half-expected a band of mounted squires to make pace beside the car and hail me with an accompanying fanfare. His challenge not only met my ears in an unexpected century, but at an unexpected moment in the car ride, for it immediately followed my submission of a rhetorical statement which relied primarily on the strand of argument known as "logos". He chose neither logos, pathos, nor ethos in response, but instead the fourth tool that every speaker ought to employ at least on occasion: what we shall call "chalos", a bold, sudden, and passionate impugning of his opponent's personal character.

"You know the only reason you argue so much about school? Because you have to go through it! I guarantee you that when you leave, you won't care about it anymore."

I started to interject, but was cut off.

"When you're done, you won't even think about it! I'll talk to you when you're in the real world and we'll see what you have to say."

I was slow to respond, so he capitalized on the silence with a "You're selfish!"

I stumbled through a response, but the challenge, for all its immaturity and untoward timing--to say nothing of its impertinence to the correctness or incorrectness of my logic--caught me off guard. I began to wonder whether I would think back on school after I graduated. I realized that humans have an extraordinary capacity to live solely in the present, which seems the preachment of a bearded, Buddhist guru, but which is actually commonplace and can act to the detriment of the resistance to compulsory education. In joining too fully with the present, we may be in danger of forgetting the past.

Is it not the case that most every teenager speaks of present disagreement with their parents over school and human dignity, but most every adult speaks of resolved conflicts of old, after which they realized the accuracy of their parents' pragmatic judgments and revoked their unrealistic ideals? Even more worrisome are the adults who become parents, place their kids in the same crushing situations, receive the same complaints, and then exchange knowing smiles with their own parents, in apparent realization of the endless cycle of ignorant youth and their poor, beleaguered guardians.

My father's inane digging for ad hominem attacks amid philosophical manure seemed to have procured him a rare nugget of gold.

After lengthy consideration, I devised an experiment which I would love to see conducted. Take two groups of people, and offer each money to complete tedious jobs. Each group's members are busied with different work, but the tasks are designed to evoke real stress by lasting significant intervals of time and by threat of loss of a portion of the pay if the work is poor. Require Group 1 to perform their job for the first 10 days, and group 2 to perform theirs for the same duration. After the days are completed, each person should have become greatly tired of their work, hopefully even angered with the experiment. Instruct the groups to switch jobs, performing for the next 10 days the work previously assigned to the other group. When the time expires, ask each person from each group which job was worse. I predict that an inordinate amount of people from both groups would say the job they most recently performed was more stressful and tiring.

If this were the case, it would explain why adults in the "real world" look back on adolescents and preteens from the perspective that you "have it easy", or that youth is "the best time of your life". Perhaps we all pick out the good parts from the past and the bad parts from the present.

Let us not neglect, either, that the worst part of school is its boredom, an affliction which by definition is not conducive to storage in memory. Days of staring at the clock blend together, and the lack of distinguishing interaction turns retrospection into an uncertain affair. From the distance of 30 years, can we not reasonably assume that an individual will have forgotten all but the interesting moments, and are the interesting moments not such positively shaping events as to stand the test of time? We look back on school as a total of maybe five hours of running memory, including first kisses, prom, friends, and sports. When did the literal thousands of hours of busywork depart?

This is why adults can say with a sickening note of sincerity, "School is better than work, so kids should quit complaining." Does not the absence of monetary compensation and the existence of mandatory attendance demonstrate a less tolerable situation that work regardless of the career path? The inability to quit would lend a sinister edge to even the most benign institutions (Think Chuck E. Cheese's, a movie theater, a baseball practice, the YMCA...).

I'm not saying that adults don't have unique worries, only that youth have unique worries as well. Here is another example: where adults have the pressure of paying bills, children come face-to-face with authorities who, for all intents and purposes, cannot be challenged within the constraints of the rules, welcoming hierarchical abuse of the most reprehensible sort.

So to my father's challenge I say, "I hope that I still care about kids when I'm gone. I hope that I don't look back on my own suffering with indifference. I hope that I don't cynically muse to a child that "life gets worse, so enjoy it while you can", then point them back to their middle school where they belong. I cannot offer that answer with certainty, but I implore my future self to exercise compassion and reason as a finally respected member of society so that time may prove your challenge misguided.

Thank you for reading this. I should add that after living this segment, I discovered a horribly underrated video by Jeffrey Nadel, the former (and standing?) president of NYRA. It has only 324 views at the time of my writing this, and has been on YouTube since 2009. He encompassed my concerns concisely and completely, with signature articulacy.

Please, for the sake of our young people, watch his video:


Watch on YouTube
(This post was last modified: 01-22-2015 07:09 PM by Aureate.)
01-22-2015 05:55 PM
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xcriteria Offline
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Post: #2
My Father's Challenge

Thanks for sharing that -- and the video, as well. I hadn't seen it before, and I imagine many others here haven't.

(To everyone else, I encourage you all to share some of your interactions with parents, teachers, and anyone else, along these lines. What happens, and where are the blocking factors? By looking at the patterns in these interactions, we can learn from them.)

The concept of chalos is an interesting one, and a useful step in looking at the patterns in these interactions. Out of curiousity, how did you come up with the term chalos?

You (and others interested in these interactions-about-school), may find this thread from Unknown-Creation relevant, as an example of the uphill battles these can often be: So I tried to change my situation at school...

One pattern you mentioned above amounts to looking at the past through rose-colored glasses, or Rosy Retrospection. Another is, whatever you'd call it, simply disregarding the past, and basically saying "it's not forever, and your current suffering is irrelevant to the future."

However, just as often, if not more often, parents will say, all that suffering, boredom, and wasted time isn't just irrelevant, but actually for your own good. There's the idea that, in the dark world of adult life, things suck, so you had batter get used to it.

(Related thread: "School is like work")

And yet, life doesn't have to be wonderful or horrible -- it depends on so many factors. And, actually being prepared for it in various ways, and just figuring it out as you go along, are so much more relevant approaches than "learning to suffer."

But so many of these ideas are partly motivated by, "this is what I know, this is how I think things work, and I don't want to the discomfort of confronting the possibility that life actually doesn't have to be so full of meaningless, horrible things."

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(This post was last modified: 01-22-2015 09:38 PM by xcriteria.)
01-22-2015 09:35 PM
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eerie138 Offline
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Post: #3
RE: My Father's Challenge

(01-22-2015 05:55 PM)Aureate Wrote:  So to my father's challenge I say, "I hope that I still care about kids when I'm gone. I hope that I don't look back on my own suffering with indifference. I hope that I don't cynically muse to a child that "life gets worse, so enjoy it while you can", then point them back to their middle school where they belong. I cannot offer that answer with certainty, but I implore my future self to exercise compassion and reason as a finally respected member of society so that time may prove your challenge misguided.

Thank you for reading this. I should add that after living this segment, I discovered a horribly underrated video by Jeffrey Nadel, the former (and standing?) president of NYRA. It has only 324 views at the time of my writing this, and has been on YouTube since 2009. He encompassed my concerns concisely and completely, with signature articulacy.

Please, for the sake of our young people, watch his video:


Watch on YouTube

And that's the crux of it: even those adults who felt exactly as you, and so many other youth, feel now completely forget what it was like for them as kids. These are the same people who now spew forth the words that your father does verbatim and the scary thing is THEY BELIEVE IT!

I thank you for sharing this video and reminding everyone that what Jeffrey Nadal says is tantamount to a war cry that all adults who care about kids should adopt. Abolishing the educational system as it stands today is really the best option for the future generations. Because if changes aren't made, these kids will leave school and carry on with their lives just as miserable as those who went before them. They were never given the opportunity to explore who they really are and that's the saddest thing of all.
01-22-2015 09:53 PM
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SoulRiser Offline
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Post: #4
My Father's Challenge

I'm 32... I haven't forgotten. I think it's safe to say that (as long as I don't get amnesia or some weird brain malfunction)... I won't forget. I will always care.

Life also doesn't necessarily get worse... mine got way better. Even just the simple fact of having more control over your own life makes a huge difference... if it sucks, it's up to you to fix it (not so easy to do when you need permission to get out of school, or even do simple things like go to the bathroom).

Quote:I was slow to respond, so he capitalized on the silence with a "You're selfish!"
Noo Oh wow.

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01-23-2015 11:17 AM
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