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.
Ashley@ Stay-At-Home Daughter says
Wow. I have always felt this way about college education and have considered this mindset for high school education but have never found anyone to see my point of view. This is great!
I think it all boils down to what is God calling you to pursue, not what are our modern expectations for education.
I think back in history to so many of our nation’s leaders and influencers. Many were self taught, pursuing their dreams and callings outside of the government run education system.
Learning is great but we shouldn’t put everyone in the same learning style box.
Thank you for this post!
Ashley@ Stay-At-Home Daughter recently posted…Why New Zealand and Not Uganda?
I really related to this post…. I think back to my schooling (ten years ago) and honestly wish that I had of just stopped and got a job or pursued specific courses like I did after schooling anyway. I unfortunately fell in to the babysitting side of school (it does exist, there was a class made for about ten of us called ALT class, who didn’t fit in but needed supervision, we just sat there and socalized, waste of time and dreams) I asked lots of questions and sometimes confronted on things not arrogantly or know it all, just did not agree with somethings and some ways of doing things and that put me at odds with teachers so I faded away and became depressed. My life could have been more productive and less delayed had it been directed towards my dreams. I was very determined, dedicated and passionate, just not towards the things they wanted. I understand that my experience is not everyone’s some people fit that mold and that’s okay, but some of us don’t and that is okay too. I applaud you for going off autopilot and being honest with this boy, when he succeeds he will remember you not all of those people who didn’t believe in him before he even tried, it just takes one person to believe. My little brother also wants out of school, he is about ten years younger than me, same situation as me.. lifeless and trapped, he would thrive in a working situation or apprenticeship, he is good hard worker, just not towards what they want him to. I keep telling my dad, get him out of school, get him in to something productive, if he needs to he can get certificates to help him later, I did while working and then being a mum. Thank you for posting this, I honestly don’t think I could, backlash is not my strong suit and people get very defensive, I am not thick skinned enough yet he he he. Thank you for letting me share my _long_ he he he personal unique experience. Have a blessed day. Tara (The Proverbs 31 Sanctuary & One Faithful Arrow)
Tara recently posted…To Omit or Not To Omit & Link Up
True, college isn’t for everyone. True, we shouldn’t put kids in a box and not all kids are the same. BUT, typically, drop-outs in high school and people with GED’s tend to look lazy, un-disciplined, and just low-class.
Sorry if this sounds harsh. Just my opinion.
You are right. Most people who drop out of high school do so because they are giving up, not because they are following their dreams. And that makes all the difference!