Do you need rules to tell you what's right?

One of the most misunderstood things in society is that you need rules and punishments for order to exist.

And if you don't follow the laws, you're somehow immoral. Is someone a "bad" person if they don't buckle their seatbelt once in a while, if they smoke a puff of marijuana, if they cheat on a test for a class they were forced to take, or if they want to braid hair for money without a license?

It's a mistake to believe that established rules are equal to morality. It's okay to break a rule if you don't believe it is just. I mean, just ask Rosa Parks.

Although I hated rules growing up, I'm not some rebel who was skipping school and smoking ciggies underneath the overpass. I went to school everyday and stayed out of trouble, and I found a way to make the most out of my situation.

I always felt restricted though.

Like one innocent mistake would be the end of me. If I ever failed a test because I was tired for one day out of the year, that would be the end of my GPA which would lead to the end of my moral standings with my teachers and then the end of my social circle.

It sounds silly but this is the reality traditional schooling has manipulated into the minds of young people. We're trained from an early age to assess our worth based on the approval of the teacher, our peers, and our GPA. The structure of many public schools reinforces the idea that people need to be shaped into upstanding citizens. That we're an improper product that needs to be molded. We are unconsciously told for 12 years to doubt our own judgment.

Ivan Illich, an Austrian philosopher said in his book, De-Schooling Society, that "the lines of morality, legality, and moral worth are blurred under the authoritative eye of the teacher."

I believe our teachers mean well, but our reality is distorted through the rules and order of schooling.

The mindset perpetuated by schooling is to always live in fear of the person "in charge" of you. It's to believe that some people are "ahead" of you or smarter than you. It's to defer responsibility of learning off of the individual and assume that all kids are dumb and don't want to learn.

For 12 years, I was made to believe that the people with higher grades were smarter than me. For 12 years, I was made to believe that any knowledge I learned outside of traditional academic subjects was not "real" knowledge. For 12 years, I spent the majority of my 8 hours per day learning things that had no effect on my life to this day. In fact, I forgot most of the curriculum I "learned" in middle school and high school.

We grow up never thinking about an alternative of life without mandatory school for 12 years. But you have to wonder, what would happen if 12 years of mandatory schooling didn't exist?

Would we raise a generation of idiots? Or would we raise a generation of naturally curious people?

Do people naturally want to learn new things? Do we all need to learn chemistry while we're 16? Is that the ripe age for learning chemistry? Is learning only able to be done in an institution and taught at you?

How would kids be spending their time without school? Would you think drugs, cartoons, and wastefulness? Or would you suggest apprenticeships, independent learning, and fun?

It's a scary prospect to think about.

Overall, this schooled mindset weakened me. That's why I had to de-school myself in order to grow as a man. This environment infantilized me, and it took a long time for me to trust my own moral compass. I had to relearn how to believe that my choices were the best ones I could make at any given time.

Mandatory schooling takes away all of the choice from the individual. It doesn't trust people like you with setting your own goals for learning. Right now, maybe you don't trust yourself to be able to take that initiative, but you've already been doing this. You k

Overcoming this schooled mindset requires recognizing these 6 things:

  1. You know more than you think.
  2. You're not stupid for not knowing something.
  3. You're not behind people in terms of where you "should be" in life.
  4. You're not lazy. You were told that all your life in order to make you believe the necessity of school and its positive effects on your behavior.
  5. You have the resources to learn for free, independent of a teacher.
  6. You can make friends that suit you perfectly, all around the world. You do not have to settle for those in your geographic zone thanks to the Internet and meetup groups.

Trust yourself to make your own rules. Don't defer that decision to someone else. No one knows how to run your life better than you.