A few weeks a ago, a sixteen year old was soliciting advice from several adults at the gym. He was courting the idea of dropping out of high school to chase his wild dream of becoming a UFC fighter and was asking us, ” Is school that important?”
Everyone he asked had the same sensible answer, “School is important! You can’t drop out. You have to finish high school so you have something to fall back on in case your don’t make it.”
Knowing that my wife and I had designed a homeschool curriculum and are big on education, everyone expected me to reaffirm their wise words. What I said shocked them, shocked the sixteen-year old and will likely shock you!
“Is school so important that it trumps all other callings, dreams, duties, and interests? No, school is not that important. You should drop out. If I could go back to high school again, I would drop out. I would get a part-time job and begin pursuing my dreams. And saying a high school diploma is something to fall back on, is like recommending a skydiver carry an umbrella in case his main chute fails!”
The young man approached me at the gym the other day and told me he dropped out. He said he is still getting his diploma, but through an online school. I realize that most people would condemn my advice, but let me try to justify it.
Education Should Not Hinder Our Dreams
First, this man’s dream is to become a professional athlete. That is a job based solely on performance In other words, his diploma will have zero effect on his whether he gets the job or not. But, many will argue, “the odds are not in his favor.”
Well, that maybe true, but then I have to ask, “How will his odds be increased by finishing his last two years of high school?” Of course, we all know that they won’t increase. In fact, I would say that an athlete who can devote his full-time, energy and attention to mastering his skill, is far more likely to succeed. Just eliminating school and homework will free up eight to ten hours a day that this young man could devote to training. Where as, if he stayed in school his training time might be cut to just a few hours. In those few hours, he will have less energy because the bulk of it was put into school. Finally, lets say he does fail to become a professional athlete. I still say he lost nothing by not finishing school. For one, he can easily go back to school or get a GED. While the dream of becoming professional athlete fades with age, GED’s and diplomas do not.
So, all those who advised him to stay in school did so because they prematurely assumed he will fail. My advice was based on the assumption that failure will depend on the time and energy put into the endeavor and therefore, I gave him the honest advice that if he really wants his dream, he must go after it with everything he’s got. He can’t just do it on the side, or on weekends. In order to maximize his odds for success, freeing up the time devoted to school is logical. And if he does that, I think he really is likely to succeed. While on the other hand, taking the bad advice to finish school based on the pessimistic view that his failure is a forgone conclusion, is self-fulling!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a huge advocate of education, but education should help us pursue our dreams. When it gets in the way, it is time to move on. Education is more than the cookie cutter model that public schools offer. The young man at my gym, is simply shifting the direction of his education to subjects that are relevant to his dream. He is now getting an education in wrestling, boxing, jiu-jitsu, weight-lifting, nutrition, physical conditioning and independence. And this education, unlike his high school, will aid him as he works to realize his dream.
I’m sure that many won’t agree, but we want to hear from you all anyway. Thanks so much for reading.