Category Archives: Improving Public Education

School And Work Should Be Fun, And They Can Be.

"Why is it called 'Sunday fun day' when it's the day before Monday and we all have to go back to work; it should be called 'Sunday fuck day' cause we all realize it's Sunday and say to ourselves, 'fuck.'"


When I was in third grade almost all of the teachers at my school looked and acted like somber versions of The Golden Girls. Between classes, they would gossip in the halls, and sometimes I’d overhear them. One time I overheard my homeroom teacher telling the teacher next door that they heard someone on television say that learning should be fun. Those two old mother hens vehemently disagreed with that philosophy. They said, and I quote, “You don’t go to school to have fun; you go to school to learn.”

A little over twenty years later and schools are still run under the philosophy that classrooms shouldn’t be fun…. because fun is the opposite of disciplined. Granted, there have been advancements in academic culture since I was in third grade, but most of them have already been trampled under the foot of standardized testing. I don’t have to make a big list of ways school sucks to convince you that it does. You know that. If you liked everything about school then you were the 1% it was designed for. The rest of us were varying degrees of miserable. And to our credit, the fact that we graduated shows that we toughed it up and dealt with it… to varying degrees of success.

If you went to college then you know that the amount of fun you had partying was only matched by the misery of your classes and assignments. University courses are traumatically stressful. That’s why so many people fail out of college. Most of the people who fail out of college aren’t stupid or lazy. They just don’t have the stress tolerance to get hit in the head with a sledgehammer constantly for four years. A lot of the people who do pass the gauntlet manage to do so because they treat the stress with drugs and alcohol until they pass the finish line. A lot of them don’t let go of the bottle or the pills afterward, and then the solution becomes the problem. Those who do tough it without chemical assistance are still shattered and traumatized by it to varying degrees, and they all carry these problems with them to their jobs where they’re supposed to be the leaders. And since four years of basic training has conditioned them to take it for granted that traumatically stressful workloads are the norm… that’s the standard they hold everyone else to. In addition, they run their offices using the same rote, discipline-oriented (or nonsensical new age bullshit) approach their professors used to to make class miserable. Now, since the workforce reflects the education system, and the education system is based on archaic, degrading, inhumane, unproductive, unenjoyable standers, the end result is that everyone has to live in Stick-Up-Your-Butt Land.

This is ironic because America is famous for its nightlife… and to the extent that America is famous for how fun its nightlife is, it’s also famous for how dull and soul-crushing its working hours are… starting in first grade and ending at retirement or death. The American workplace is so soul-crushing that America’s youth are famous all over the world for being broken and giving up. The most absurd thing about that statement is that everybody knows it, but we’re still going to be doing the same thing this time next year…. and the year after that… and the year after that… until the nightly news won’t report on a shooting spree unless there are more than ten dead bodies.

We don’t have to do that, yet we keep doing it. We don’t have to drive ourselves insane and hate life. Classrooms and jobs could just as easily be places we enjoy and look forward to going to. The only reason life sucks is because the rules are written to butt hole standards. We just need to tear up the rule books and write new ones that aren’t built around the philosophy that life is supposed to be as anal retentive and exploiting as possible.

To this you might say, of course, we all wish life was more fun, but that’s easier said than done. To that I would reply, it’s easier than you think. You know how you change the whole world? You do one thing right and then ask yourself how to change the whole world again. Repeat those two steps ad infinitum, and you’ll change the world. So until you’ve done one thing differently, it’s illogical to sit there with your thumb up your ass wishing your butt didn’t hurt.

The only way the game was ever going to change was for each classroom and each office to change… one at a time. The education problem is the easiest to fix. All you have to do is donate to free online education and get other people to do the same. Brick and mortar schools with elderly teachers will likely always exist, but total free online education will change the nature of their jobs to full-time tutors instead of full-time drill instructors, and that’s vital for everybody. So if you’ve never donated to free online education or encouraged other people to do so, then don’t ask what you can do to change the world. That’s step number one.

If there’s no hope of you changing the rules in your office then you should be burning the midnight oil figuring out how to start your own business so you can work for yourself and create a fun environment for yourself and for your future coworkers. That’s ambitious to the point of arrogance, but what’s the alternative? Spending the rest of your life in shit, soul-sucking offices and letting your children grow up in shit classrooms only to escape to shit offices after they graduate where they’ll drown in shit until the light in their eyes goes out.  The point is… it doesn’t take courage to run from a tiger.

On a side note, it’s worth noting (and lamenting) that we’ve all been so conditioned to accept shit as the norm that we consider it immature to seriously consider living any other way, and we rationalize all the reasons we need to justify why it’s a good idea to stay in our shit lives and throw shit at other people who seriously consider, let alone try, to learn or work differently.  The mature, rational solution to this problem is not to suck it up and deal with it. That’s confusing optimism with apathy.

If your environment is inhumane and you don’t have the power to change it then the mature, rational thing to do is to leave that environment and find or create a more ideal one. Unfortunately, since shit is the standard, running away will just take you from McDonald’s to Burger King.

The only option that leaves left is creating your own environment, and the road to Utopia is realistically short because you don’t have to change the whole world to get there. It should also take a little more weight off your shoulders to know that you shouldn’t change the whole world anyway, because your utopia is everyone else’s nightmare. Conformity is the problem. Freedom is the solution, and diversity is the product.

It’s not easy to start your own business, and it’s not without significant sacrifices, but it’s achievable, and the benefits outweigh the costs. Dumber, lazier people than you have succeeded. Having said that, if you’re the exception who is truly, hopelessly locked into too many contracts, debts and obligations that neither change or escape are possible…. there’s no risk in shaming the status quo on the internet and hoping you inspire some boss out there somewhere to pull the stick out of his ass, let down his hair and let go of his grip around his employees’ throats. If you can play any role whatsoever in changing any office anywhere in the world, then you’ll have brought the professional culture one step closer to the tipping point where fun catches on and becomes the norm. So if you do nothing else, don’t stop bitching about how much school and work suck. Every public bitch session is a butterfly, and the more butterflies that get released into the internet, the more likely it is the winds will change.


If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:


The Importance of Public Education
Flaws in the Public Education System
Improving Public Education


A Theory On Improving College Education


The value of a college education is undeniable. Unfortunately, that value is difficult to quantify.  Perhaps this is part of the reason why the higher education system is racked by some major problems. Costs are prohibitively high, drop out rates are unacceptably high and a college degree doesn’t open as many doors in the job market as it used to.

As a result of these problems, many young people can’t get into college much less finish. Most of those who do will be burdened with crippling debt for at least half their adult life. Business are having a difficult time finding skilled labor, and many graduates coming out of university have only mastered rote memorization and test-taking skills. These are dynamic problems that require dynamic solutions, but one thing is certain; we’re not going to get different results by doing the same thing. If we want a critical change in the results, we need to make critical changes to the fundamentals of the system. Here’s one fundamental change we could make the university system that will seriously improve the matriculation and retention rates of students, as well as improve the quantity and quality of graduates entering the workforce.

Eliminate the standard bachelor’s degree that requires students to major in one core subject, minor in a secondary subject and take a number of classes that don’t directly apply to their career path. Instead, only require students to take the core classes related to their career path. Once those classes are completed give them a mini degree. Then if they want to go on to study a more broad spectrum of useful subjects then let them pursue that path, and give them another mini degree for having completed those classes. Remove the requirement to minor in a second subject altogether but leave the option open.

Now let’s weigh the pros and cons of this kind of system and see how well it will fit the needs of the modern world. We’ll start with the pros. Each item on the cons list will be followed by an analysis of how insurmountable that problem is.



1: Students who can’t afford 4 years of school will be able to attain valuable job skills previously unavailable to them.

2: Students who can are willing to take on debt will have more options to choose how much debt they need to take on.

3: Students who could excel in a career field but can’t excel at the extra classes required by the current system will be able to get a useful certification.

4: The drop out rate will shrink drastically.

5: The equivalent of a full bachelor’s degree will be more valuable when competing against the mini degrees.

6: Workers will be able to enter the career field quicker.

7: It will be quicker, cheaper and easier to earn a second degree if you want to change career fields later in life

8: A more focused path of education will allow less free time for partying, which will force students to focus on their studies.

9: A more focused path of education will force faculty to better streamline their courses to follow a more logical, goal-oriented curriculum.



1: Students won’t get as broad of an education.

2: It would be more accurate to say that every student won’t get as broad of an education. Those who want to take more general classes will still be able to. Students who don’t want to, don’t need to, can’t afford to or aren’t academically inclined enough to won’t have to. And not every student needs as broad of an education, nor does every business want/need to employ/pay renaissance men/women.

3: A degree won’t mean as much.

4: A mini degree won’t mean as much. A full degree will mean more.

5: Harder for students to switch majors.

6: This will only be as difficult as colleges make it.

7: Students who want to change majors will have wasted their time and credits.

8: This is true to an extent, but this is also often true in the current system. Plus, if students are forced to focus on their career path they might actually discover that their current path isn’t for them quicker than if they piecemealed it over 4 years.

9: Harder for schools to start new courses.

10: While this is true it would be more accurate to say that it will be more difficult for schools to start new classes that don’t fit a career path. In that case, this would mean it’s harder for schools to start new classes that serve no purpose.

11: Less flexibility for universities will drive up costs.

12: Yes. There are instances where this will be true. However, if students don’t have to pay for 4 years of school it will be easier for them to pay higher costs if they have to pay for fewer classes.


If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:


The Importance of Public Education
Flaws in the Public Education System
Improving Public Education


My Entry In the Google 10×100 Contest

Google's Project 10x100 logo


In 2008, Google launched a contest called “Project 10×100″ asking for ideas on how to improve the world. They received over 150,000 suggestions and then condensed those ideas down into 16. Then they donated $10 million to finance them. Below is the entry I submitted. The Google 10×100 contest awarded $3 million to the Khan Academy after multiple people submitted similar ideas to mine.


Khan Academy logo


Ignorance is the root of all that kills, and true knowledge is the root of all virtue. The Internet has done an amazing job of educating the masses in ways that were never before possible, and we can already see real-world improvements as a result. So let’s take the Internet to its obvious conclusion and streamline that power by giving everyone access to free education.

Make a website where anyone can upload education material. In addition, have public schools record their classes and/or produce Internet-ready educational videos and give them to the world. This site would be like a hybrid between YouTube, Wikipedia, any free E-book site and Itunes University. It will be open source, and anyone can add to its content.

The content would be arranged like a college course listing, except it will include every subject from every grade level. The structure would be further subdivided into sections/chapters like in a school textbook. This way people will be able to find the content they want to study.

The site would include videos and downloadable course material for every single class you could ever take in school, from kindergarten to a doctoral degree. I’m talking about unlimited, free education for everyone, 24 hours a day, anywhere in the world where there is Internet access. Children in inner-city school who don’t have good teachers or can’t concentrate in class because of all the chaos going on around them can watch classes online at night and pick up what they missed or didn’t understand. People who can’t afford to go to college can watch videos of upper-level sociology and anthropology classes. People with depression can watch psychology classes and come to understand themselves on their own. People in third world countries can watch videos on farming at their local Internet cafe. Young professionals could watch law school or philosophy classes on their lunch break. Poor kids won’t ever need to pay for another tutor again.

It won’t lead to a degree (at least, not at first).  The site is based on the philosophy that education is more important than degrees because degrees don’t make people better: education does, and only when our entire society is fully educated will we ever hope to live in an ideal society.


If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:


The Importance of Public Education
Flaws in the Public Education System
Improving Public Education



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