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I have known about School-Survival.net for a long time. Today I decided to make a special page about it. The final inspiration for doing so was reading the creator's personal profile. Suffice it to say that tears started to form in my eyes as I read it.

It is rare when I see someone with as much personal strength as SoulRiser. I read her interview with Doc Johnson and learned she was bullied at school. And that she has always been quiet. She sounds very much like the teens who find my website when they are in extreme emotional pain. But it seems she got more emotional support at home than the teens who write to us here at EQI. As far as I know she has never been self-harming or suicidal.

My partner, also a quiet person who was bullied at school, didn't get that kind of emotional support. When she was in high school she nearly hung herself with a rope in the school bathroom. School was one of the things which was literally killing her. She hadn't known about school-survival.net. Maybe it would have heleped her. In fact, I am sure it would have.

In her interview with Doc Johnson, SoulRiser said that people who come to her site feel less alone. It is the same with my site. Our sites offer emotional support, and maybe I can say intellectual support for people who don't conform, don't believe all the propoganda they are fed by schools and others.

Anyhow, I may put some links to particular articles from the SS site here. But I want to say that the school survival site is an important site. It is part of history. It is part of opening people's eyes. Of letting them see the problems in society and see some options for alternatives.

I admire what SoulRiser is doing. I support it 100 percent. And I feel inspired by what she is doing.


From SoulRiser's Profile


When people stand up for what they believe in.
When people are willing to forgive each other instead of holding grudges.
When people accept others the way they are without having pre-judged/biased ideas about them.
When someone goes out of their way to help out a complete stranger if they don't really have to.
When people act themselves and don't pretend to be someone they're not.
When people see both the good and bad in others, but focus more on the good.
When people risk their lives for someone else.
When people risk their lives for animals (hey, they're usually nicer than people anyway) :P
When people give material things like money, fashion, status, work etc a lower priority than friendship and spending time on things that inspire them.

Corruption (then again, who doesn't... except politicians, that is) :P
Any kind of discrimination.
When people try to force their customs, formalities or traditions down on others.
When people betray their principles to be able to "fit in" with someone else, or for any other reason.
When people pretend to listen to what you say, but don't really care.
When people are stingy and refuse to share, especially when they don't need it.
When people are so convinced they are right that they don't care what anyone else says.
When people only focus on other people's negative aspects and ignore the good in them.

Doc Johnson Interview

Here are excerpts. The whole interview is here.

Doc Johnson: When and why did you start School Survival? Give as much detail as possible about the process and your thinking at the time.


I started School Survival in 1999, when I was in Grade 11. At the time, the only reason I started it was because every day when I came home from school, I was angry and frustrated. I decided that I needed to write things down, to get it out of my system.

The more I added and the more I read about the people who visited, the more I realized that there are a lot of young people out there who feel the same way I did back in 1999, but they don't know that other people feel the same way. So they come to the conclusion (probably due to pressure from teachers and parents) that there is something wrong with them for thinking the way they do.

The mere realisation of finding out that you're not alone and not insane can do a world of good for a person. This has become one of the main goals of School Survival - mainly because it doesn't seem that anyone else is focusing on it.

Doc Johnson: What, specifically, did you *not* like about school.


I was bullied and picked on since grade one, because I was always a quiet person and didn't really talk to people. I never liked the work much either, most of it was boring and I only did it to "get it over with". The only subject I ever liked was Art.

Doc Johnson: What, in your fondest dreams, do you hope School Survival will accomplish?


There are a lot of things I hope for in my fondest dreams. In reality, one site can only do so much. All I can realistically hope to accomplish is that the site will be a place where you can go, and be accepted for who you are, you can get all your frustrations about school out of your system, without everyone telling you it's wrong, or that you'll amount to nothing in life because of it. In that sense, I could hope for School Survival to be a sort of stepping-stone towards making things better. If more people could realise just how many people there are in the world who don't like the way schools work, maybe they could work together and make it easier for everyone to get out and try alternatives, or come up with much better alternatives. It would of course help a lot if more parents would actually listen to their kids instead of judging everything they say - but old habits die hard.

Doc Johnson: 3. Explain why and how you learned to do web design, and so forth. I assume that you learned it outside of a school, so how did that work?


It was shortly after I had acquired internet access in 1998, and I got curious as to how websites were made, so I basically just started messing around ...

...I started School Survival in 1999. It wasn't until 2000 that I started learning about server-side programming, by installing a few Perl scripts to handle the comments on School Survival....

In college (2002) I actually took a web design course. It was quite amusing how the things they taught us were mostly things I had taught myself in 1998, and most of their techniques were considered old-fashioned by other webdesigners I had spoken with. The other students in my class actually asked ME how to do things rather than ask the teacher. In retrospect, I probably should have studied something else. The course did more to put me off web design than make me look forward to making sites for other people.

Doc Johnson: What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of learning in an out-of-school context?


The most major advantage I think is that you can do it your own way. You don't have to conform to other people's standards which may not work well for you. You can do it at your own pace, as quickly or as slowly as you want to or need to. If you're particularly interested in something, you can spend as much time on it as you want, without being forced to "move on" to the next chapter.

The main disadvantage I think is that if you're stuck and don't understand something, you have to figure it out yourself, even if you don't want to. Granted, there are always ways to find things out, but if you want someone to guide you through something, then teaching yourself might not be the best option.

Doc Johnson: How might you overcome the disadvantages?


If you know of someone who may be able to help, you can ask them. If not, you can find almost any information on the internet - quite possibly even a step-by-step guide. There are many online forums that have a section where you can ask about schoolwork - which would probably still be relevant even if it's not technically "schoolwork". If you don't have internet, your options are more limited, but there's still always the library.

Doc Johnson: Do you think high school could be done differently in order to exploit the advantages (above) that come from learning outside of school?


It probably could. It would involve a mindset change on the behalf of almost everyone involved in running schools, as well as many teachers. If schools could be considered more as places one can go and do research and receive guidance as needed or requested, instead of places you go and receive rigid instruction, then I think they would cater both for people who want to do things their own way, and people who want to be guided a lot more.

Excerpts from Email between teacher and SouRiser

Teacher - I did not become an educator to be liked by the students. I am in the classroom to help the students reach their greatest potential possible. This means pushing them beyond their "comfort zone" which is very small. This is why teachers are perceived as "mean" or "rude." Based on the conversation, I make the assumption that you are a student. If you are having a problem with a particular teacher, talk to that teacher. Be nice, courteous and respectful and 99.99% of all teachers will return the attitudes.

SR- Well a lot of students don't go to school to reach the potential that other people set for them. Pushing them beyond their "comfort zone" is like pushing them to be something they're not. Most people tend not to take that kindly. As for talking to a particular teacher: the main problem I have with most teachers is the way they don't respect me and my decisions, so being courteous and respectful isn't going to get the same back from them since it never was there anyway. Teachers can yell at us and tell us to respect them, but imagine us even asking nicely for some respect - personal experience shows that it does not work.  And if you don't want to be liked by the students, they aren't going to like you.  Which is a good reason why teachers are perceived as "mean" or "rude". I can't understand how anyone can't be bothered by a reputation like that...

Teacher - If you are worried about the attitude of your teachers, I would suggest that you start with your own attitude. If you are truly interested (or at least engaged) in the conversations and lessons of a class, the teacher's attitude will shift to a more pleasant nature. Teachers can tell who wants to be in their classes and who doesn't.

SR - My attitude? I didn't choose to go to school, I didn't willingly choose all my subjects, I'm hardly interested in most of them, so how can I possibly be expected to be engaged in class? Yes, teachers can tell who wants to be in their class and who not, but why should those who don't want to be in class have to be forced to be engaged in lessons, and get in trouble if they're not?

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Selected Articles

Cameras on school lunches

Teen Girl's Bullicide in Massachusettes

John Taylor Gatto Article - The Public School Nightmare: Why fix a system designed to destroy individual thought?

Education System Designed to keep us docile

Excerpts: In his 1905 dissertation for Columbia Teachers College, Elwood Cubberly—the future Dean of Education at Stanford—wrote that schools should be factories "in which raw products, children, are to be shaped and formed into finished products...manufactured like nails, and the specifications for manufacturing will come from government and industry."

William Torrey Harris, US Commissioner of Education from 1889 to 1906, wrote: The great purpose of school can be realized better in dark, airless, ugly places.... It is to master the physical self, to transcend the beauty of nature. School should develop the power to withdraw from the external world.

...the captains of industry and government explicitly wanted an educational system that would maintain social order by teaching us just enough to get by but not enough so that we could think for ourselves, question the sociopolitical order, or communicate articulately. We were to become good worker-drones...

"There is nothing on earth intended for innocent people so horrible as a school" - George Bernard Shaw (Nobel Prize winner)

"The classroom's the last room to get the truth" - Rage Against The Machine

"I hated school so intensely. It interfered with my freedom" - Sigrid Undset (Nobel Prize winner)

"I think we've tied acquiring knowledge too much to school" - Arno Penzias (Nobel Prize winner)

"All people found guilty of being born are sentenced to 12 years of hard labour without bail" - SoulRiser

Quotes are from here

If you are interested in the issue of suicide you can try this site search from Google. There are a lot of interesting articles, forum posts etc. about it on the School Survival site.

This is the actual search expression:

site:school-survival.net suicide

Teen Rebellion is not just a phase

from http://www.school-survival.net/articles/school/Teen_rebellion_is_not_just_a_phase.php

Teen Rebellion is not just a phase

Teens rebel because society is messed up, not because of their hormones
by Home School Legal Defense Association

We all have heard the term “teenage rebellion.” It’s conventional wisdom that teens go through a period of turbulent adolescence before—it is hoped—they settle down and become mature, productive adults.

Recently, the media and sections of the scientific community have concluded that because brain scans show the teen brain operates differently than the average adult brain this explains the behavior. It’s all in your head, therefore, the acting out and rebellion are just a normal part of growing up.

At the Home School Legal Defense Association, we have been skeptical of the idea that there’s an inevitable teenage rebellion. Through anecdotal evidence, we knew many parents with homeschooled teens were not experiencing the traditional teen rebellion.

Furthermore, the 2004 study “Homeschooling Grows Up” shows that homeschooled teens are successfully integrating into society. There was little evidence of teenage rebellion and significant numbers of students demonstrated their maturity by being involved in community activities. They also reported generally good relationships with their parents.

Teens are much more intelligent and capable than we realize. We need to have greater expectations for teens by giving them greater responsibilities.

Most homeschoolers have consistently maintained that the institutional school, with its necessary one-size-fits-all approach to education, constrains the teenager’s natural ability to learn and advance rapidly and, at the same time, exposes them to negative peer influences. The environment of the institutional school might be the place to start looking if we are trying to uncover some of the causes of teenage rebellion.

Homeschoolers are not alone in their skepticism of the current explanation for antisocial teen behavior. A challenge to the conventional wisdom also has been offered by psychologist Robert Epstein, whose work was published in the April-May 2007 issue of Scientific American Mind.

His main point is the way teens are treated in society, by parents, institutional schools, the entertainment media and other government agencies is more likely the cause of the observable differences in the way the teen brain operates. He asks the question—“Did the brains cause the turmoil, or did the turmoil shape the brains?”

He points out that if teen rebellion was simply a function of the brain we should see the phenomenon across all cultures and all time. This isn’t the case. The majority of pre-industrial cultures, where teens spent most of their time with adults, didn’t develop a word for adolescent and most of the young males in these cultures didn’t display antisocial behavior. Also, a series of long-term studies began in the 1980s show that delinquency increased when Western-style schooling, television and movies were introduced to non-Western countries.

He also suggests that if the “answer” to behavioral problems is to restore “normal” brain chemistry, the pharmaceutical industry would actively support this position due to the increasing use of drugs to address behavioral problems. If society is the main culprit driving teen behavior, however, then the solutions are very different from administering more drugs.

It is our view that teens have been shortchanged. So much more can be accomplished by teens if they are allowed to flourish in a home-based environment. They have so much potential, but unfortunately have been constrained by a system that doesn’t serve them well.

Homeschooling has begun to give the wider society a glimpse of what can be achieved by simply returning to an individualistic home-based model where teens spend most of their time with adults learning how to become mature citizens.

We encourage parents of teens to carefully consider homeschooling because history shows teens are very capable and that we are at risk if we don’t prepare the next generation adequately for the challenges we all face every day.

Michael Smith is the president of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He may be contacted at (540)338-5600; or send email to media@hslda.org.

Original article at: http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/washingtontimes/200705070.asp