Lifelong Learning
Deschooling Our Minds: The 3 Lessons To Expel
5 min read

Deschooling mainly refers to leaving the school system to start homeschooling. 

What I mean by deschooling our minds is to give them a second life outside the school system. 

For better or worse, schools affect our love for learning, help to shape our image and give us the mindset we navigate the world with. 

By pointing at the harmful effects of schools, we can neutralize them and limit the damages. 

Many voices have raised to condemn an education system that hasn’t changed since the industrial era. 

A one-size-fits-all approach, many left behind, inefficient learning measurement system…These are just a few criticisms the educational system is facing. 

But why waiting decades before schools get reformed? 

It is better to do a self-check and to act accordingly. 

The Disgust of Learning  

Deschooling our minds is learning what we love
Photo by Tony Tran on Unsplash

Imagine that you’re facing a buffet. There are aromatic and colorful meals. You start water-mouthing and fill your plate with whatever it’s appealing to your taste.

Then someone comes to you and says:

“You see this buffet. You have to eat everything. Don’t leave a crumb. You’ll have to finish it today. And tomorrow will do the same. And we’ll carry on this way for a couple of years.” 

How would you feel? All the pleasure you could have from the food is taken away. 

What if I tell you that places, where you are force-fed, exist all around the world? 

Yes. And it’s called schools. 

Why are we surprised that people stop learning right after school? 

Learning has been associated with pain. And naturally, humans tend to avoid pain and to seek pleasure. 

Intuitively, we understand that appetite is important when eating. But we easily deny the appetite of the brain when it comes to learning. 

Deschooling our minds means finding pleasure in learning. We become the chef and we make the menu. We learn what we want at our own pace. 

This way, we’ll have people who are not disgusted by knowledge but looking forward to absorbing more. 

A False Self-Image  

Schools help shaping a false self-image
Photo by Pang Yuhao on Unsplash

Whether we are terrible at school or among the firsts, we end up with a false self-image. 

It is mainly due to school learning measurements. 

A quote attributed to Einstein pictures well one end of the spectrum:

“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” 

This is what happens in most classrooms.  

Grades and ranks become the measure of stupidity. 

From there, a negative self-image is born.  

And what started as bad notes ends up impacting the personality and fate of many. 

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the elite that looks down at others.  

Their value comes from academic achievements. It gives them a false sense of self-worth. 

But tests measure the ability to take tests.  

Neither do they measure the inner value of a person, nor how much was actually learned. 

Also, the focus of schools on preparing for careers lead them to value certain things and to dismiss others. 

Analytical intelligence is highly ranked, while emotional and social intelligence worth nothing.  

While a verbatim recitation is easy to rank, creativity is not. So we applaud the first and ignore the second. 

Deschooling our minds means freeing our identity from the school labels; drawing our value, not from titles, but from our inclination towards the common good. 

The Mindset of a Hack  

School and the habit of looking for hacks
Photo by Fábio Lucas on Unsplash

Hacking means going from A to C without passing by B. 

For schools, being a hack is obtaining good grades without actually learning. 

In others words, studying to pass tests, not for the sake of learning.

We shorten our nights, drink coffee, study past exams, and analyze the teacher preferences.  

Once we understand what the tests will be about, it’s easy to hack the school system.

There’s a whole industry helping us to prepare for exams and be a great hacker. 

After the tests, we flush everything and repeat the process. 

Schools measure a specific chunk of information. Not our knowledge. 

It’s not the fault of the teachers. Their job is not to design unhackable tests.  

Neither it’s the fault of the students to prioritize tests over actual learning. This is what they are rewarded for. 

By the end of our time at school, we didn’t retain that much, wasted our time, and got the bad habit of looking for shortcuts.  

The search for hacks continues after school. 

Just go to platforms like Reddit or Medium and you’ll see how many questions and articles are just about hacks:

  • How to get rich by tomorrow? 
  • Working 4 hours a week and becoming a celebrity.
  • How to grow exponentially without having a great product? 

Deschooling our minds means unlearning a lesson — going through life with the hack mindset. 

Final Thoughts on Deschooling Our Minds  

Deschooling our minds is finding pleasure in learning
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

The purpose of schools is not to make minds, but careers. 

They prepare students for work.  

And even this, it doesn’t always do it the best way. 

The crucial learnings are made outside schools.  

These are the learnings that help us developing our unique potential, understanding the world, and making a masterpiece out of our chaotic lives. 

Some of the things you won’t learn at school include: 

  • Being an independent thinker
  • Asking the big questions 
  • Learning how to learn 
  • Working for the common good 
  • Introspection 
  • Getting in touch with your feelings. 

Muslims have the same school system as the rest of the world. 

And when we apply the same teaching logic to Islam, we can have some undesirable results. 

For example, some kids rebel because they were forced to learn about religion. Others memorize a lot and understand a little about Islam. 

But Muslim or not, Alvin Toffler tells us about a useful skill for the future: 

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

Article posted the 7 February 2021

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