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A Rant on School and Books

April 30, 2005

The last years of high-school aren’t just a waste of time, but actually have a negative influence on the person going.  Don’t believe me?

Books are interesting. It’s extremely rare to find an author who actually think like the ‘What is / Why’ system breaking things down. They use these words and never define what they mean. You’ll see some word come out of nowhere and they don’t ever properly define it. You’ll find examples, such as science books where they say “Energy is the ability to do work” — Then never tell what ‘work’ is. They simply shift the burden of defintion onto some other word and don’t define it. Then they use that word everywhere. The sun emits energy. Here’s the energy spectrum. Blah blah.

I had the hardest time in science class and I’m not surprised. Once I started thinking for myself, I noticed these things got complex. I never knew what these spectrums and grids and things were. Memorizing some periodic table. I never understood why it was organized the way it was. They gave some vague groupings but overall it was memorizing. It was all memorizing. Completely impractical mindless memorizing.

I remember Chemistry we’d do these “algorithms” on chemical equations to do various “calculations”. Things would cancel, you’d move stuff around. I don’t remember. I just remember it never made sense, and one day I just stopped caring. I knew that a few months after I got out of there I’d never remember that crap again. I definetely knew I couldn’t use it for anything. Then I was branded as an outsider and didn’t do well in there. I barely held onto a C in that class — and now I’m proud. I’m glad I didn’t waste my time.

I remember history class. It was always just a bunch of memorizing scattered events. Oh, we’d study the Great Depression and learn about laws Congress enacted. That stuff is details. The purpose of history is to learn from your mistakes, but did you ever learn what caused the Great Depression? “The Businesses Failed” — That’s not an answer. That’s not going to stop another depression from coming or help you identify one that is coming. That’s an economics question, so that’s what I studied and it’s not such a mystery anymore. The actions Congress took were recommendations from that of economists. If you learn economics, all the details become details. Never memorize details. Learn the system that drives the details. It’s fine to know the details, but the system is so much more important.

In history, about once a year, we’d have a few week “coverage” of the U.S. government. We’d vaguely talk about the House and the Senate and Seperation of Church and State. Really I didn’t get it. What I wanted to learn was the root of the matter. How could government work differently and WHY is this the best way? Can government work effectively in different manners? We practically worshipped ‘democracy’ as the only way. We never even touched oligarchy or aristocracy. We surely didn’t cover other governments in history that had enacted them. We never talked about Justice, or Punishment, or Liberty, or Morals. Never anything real. Just memorized how we do it here, but never understood the root of the matter. We’d read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence but never studied the root philosophy behind it. Isn’t that what really matters? This memorizing stuff simply makes people think they know about stuff that they don’t.

Do you remember anything in History other than England? What about Japan and China’s history or any of the Orient? Ever hear about the samurais or the emperors? Ninjas? What about Persia or Babylon? What about Rome? What about all that history that took place in Bible times? What about Egypt? What about Israel? I never heard about this. I went to UMR bookstore and they literally don’t even carry anything about any of that stuff. Not a single thing. China, Japan, etc — they’re just a complete mystery to us in the U.S. They don’t even cover that in their History program. I think they’re pretty important too — don’t you think?

Should I go on? Should I talk about math class memorizing equation after equation? How about Spanish that I didn’t want to learn and can’t remember a thing today? I took two years of the class — what a waste. How about English class reading and treating these fictional works like they’re the Bible. That stuff never changed my life. Eventually, I’ve come to realize that a lot of what I read, such as Thoreau’s Walden is some of the best works out there. Problem is, I hadn’t read the philosophy he’d read and had no idea what he was even saying. I remember thinking, “Why should I care what this stupid guy who lived out in some shed by a lake has to say.” I think that question is reasonable, but once I knew the answer I loved Walden.

That being said, school was actually BAD for me, not good. I was turned off from Henry David Thoreau, thinking this guy is just some crazo, when really I love his work. It’s great stuff. Thing is, everything was presented so poorly that I was completely turned off. The last years of high-school hindered me, not helped.

Today I don’t tolerate crap. I normally have to buy a ton of books on any subject I plan to study then I systematically start going. One book is vague here and another book covers where this guy was vague. It’s the only way I’ve found that works. That’s why my room looks like a library 🙂 I spent $1500 on books last year (2004). That’s quite a bit of books considering most really good books on Amazon are around max $25. I don’t buy those rip-off college text-books. College text-books almost always suck. Always. I own at least two college text books on “Business”, Accounting, Calculus, Psychology, Economics, History, Physics, and Chemistry. I also own textbooks on Anatomy, Sociology, “Marketing”, and Astronomy.

Just about the only textbook that’s any good is the Managerial Accounting textbook I own. Now that’s a good book. But, if you notice, Accounting is VERY objective and very exact. They did a good job on that one. Most of the rest I’ve determined are worthless. I only own them to quote how bad they are on various things. I haven’t went through the Anatomy textbook yet. It seems better.

I always love to go the the university bookstores and buy the textbooks that are one year old. You see the “updated” version that basically changes a few grunt-work problems and it’s selling for $150. Buy the “old” previous release textbook for $5 or sometimes even lower. I don’t think Physics and Calculus or Sociology has changed THAT much in one year. If it has, the book authors aren’t going to be that fast to keep up. It’ll take them time to rewrite the new chapters anyways. Poor college students. They have no money and get ripped off.

Also I’ve found I own all the original books that most of the textbooks quote and “recap” from. I saw a “Management Theory” book at a University Bookstore. He mainly quoted from Peter Drucker and some others. Well, I think Peter Drucker, who restructured GM, and several other huge corporations and has literally spent his entire life in the field would know more than anybody else. Drucker wrote a book about the size of that textbook called “Management: Tasks, Responsibilties, Practices”. Drucker’s book costs $20 new, whereas “Management Theory” costs $150 at UMR bookstore. Huh. So for that $150 I can buy every book that you’re recapping, and they know the stuff better.

So people who learn on their own save money and read better material. I’m glad I dropped out of college. I’ve learned more than I ever would have in school learning on my own. I’ve also been studying the things that are most important and haven’t been memorizing anything. It’s been great.

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