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March 2018



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Why our schools are actually prisons.

Whoa! this is so true!
Why Nerds are Unpopular by Paul Graham
February 2003

If life seems awful to kids, it's neither because hormones are turning you all into monsters (as your parents believe), nor because life actually is awful (as you believe). It's because the adults, who no longer have any economic use for you, have abandoned you to spend years cooped up together with nothing real to do. Any society of that type is awful to live in. Occam's razor says you don't have to look any further to explain why teenage kids are unhappy."

I've had simialr thoughts as well but never put them together as well as Paul Graham has. Teenagers lives would not be such living hells if they were somehow included in the work of the world.



I can definitely see why schools can seem so futile, if there isn't an immediate application of what they are learning. It's hard to get across that 8 or 9 years later you'll need this info now to get along...that's why I believe an apprenticeship program of sorts would be a wonderful addition to the school system. When I lived in Yellow Springs, OH (near Antioch College), there was a program like that where they were teamed with someone in their skill field their senior year for a co-op program, much like student teachers...it might make lessons feel more worthwhile, as well as raise the student's self-confidence levels, as well as reduce the feelings of aimlessness...

I have lots of quibbles with this article. But then, I wrote a whole essay because of those quibbles about a year ago. *shrug*
If you are refering to your essay "Being the Other" I don't think it is quite the same thing. Although I can see why you would think it is. Both are ostensibly about nerds being unpopular in high school.

I like your essay "Being the Other" and I like his essay "Why Nerds are Unpopular" I think both essays say something true and their truths do not contridict. (Sorry, I'm thinking while I type here. So I'm just saying what I feel to be true and following my thoughts to find out why I feel that way.)

I think I got it. Your essay was about how everyone is basically the same but thinks everyone else is different. The nerds were more popular than they thought they were and the popular people were less aware of their popularity than others thought they were.

Paul Graham's essay claims to be about "Why Nerds are Unpopular" (which does fly in the face of your hypothosis) but the truth I got out of it is that the hell of high school is caused by the way adults exclude children from real life. Something I have long believed. (your essay didn't really address why people felt the way they did in high school)

You said "The real situation is that each group is a small minority which is disliked or feared by all of the other disliked and feared groups. This isn't to say that the fear and loathing and rejection any of us felt wasn't real. Nor that everyone was exactly the same, just looking at it from different perspectives. But there were similarities; we all wanted to belong and to be accepted. What we wanted to belong to and who we wanted acceptance from varied wildly, and some of us were more likely to direct our destructive impluses inward, while others directed them outward."

And I can see that that is true but I think the quote I pulled from Paul Graham's essay explains why. He didn't have the same insight you had, he had a different insight.
Well, part of what I was saying was, I read Graham's article, and disagreed with it, and then I wrote my essay to explain part of what I disagreed with about Graham's article.

Graham does attempt to explain why… and he got part of it right. You found the one tiny diamond chip in his very large pile…