When they ask, "Why do we have to learn this?"
I reply, “What do you want to do with your life?”
1. “[Any job that requires university]”
“Okay, so you have to go to university for that, and in order to get into a university you want to be at, you need good grades in high school. If you want good grades in high school, then you need to learn all this stuff about math and science and history to pass the exams, to get the marks you need. So the earlier you start learning, the better you’ll do.
“And once you get to university, you need to continue doing exceptionally well on your exams, so you need to keep learning more and more and more. Again, it’s easier if you have a strong foundation of knowledge, and old, ingrained study skills.”
2. “[A non-university job]”
“If you don’t want to go to university, but you still want a ‘normal’ job, you need self control. You need to work when you feel like sleeping, deal with people you dislike, and do things you might not agree with all the time, or you’ll get fired. So school is a really good way to build and practice self control. Also, a high school diploma is likely a job requirement.”
3. “[Something artistic, entrepreneurial, or original]”
“If you don’t want a normal job at all, then no, learning this is not for you, and you should be working constantly on your art. If this ‘passion’ is going to be your singular path to success, no backup, no safety net, then you better be working hard, day and night.
“Keep in mind, though, that every new skill you learn increases your odds of success. So while you’re stuck here in school, you may as well pick up some skills that will help you.”
If that’s not good enough…
“If you don’t want to follow any of this, and you just want to keep saying, ‘School sucks,’ then that’s fine. But you better be ready to disagree with everything, and push through every barrier to get yourself out there, to get your art out there, and to get your ‘message’ to the world.
“You better be clear on what your message is. What are you trying to prove, exactly? If not school, then what?
“Putting yourself out there is the right path, but it’s a path you have to forge yourself. It’s going to be difficult, and you need to understand what you’re up against. If you can’t handle school, are you sure you’re ready to take on the world?”