Unschool Yourself!

by James Altucher

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I want to put on Google Glasses, stare at the sun until I go blind, and have a Google Hangout with all my friends at the same time while the sun burns my vision away. Everyone will see what I will be seeing (or not seeing. Because of going blind) because of the Google Glasses.

I feel like that would make me a master of the universe.

A mega-champion of everything.

My teachers from grade school would be proud. They might rename the school after me.

I told my kids, “You’re always complaining about school. If you don’t like school just don’t go. I don’t care at all.”

And guess what? They practically spit in my face in rebellion. They didn’t shoot up crack heroin. Or get tattoos. They went to school. HOW DARE THEY! I wasn’t even trying to do any reverse psychology on them. Reverse psychology is for people afraid to say the truth. It was like reverse reverse psychology.

My kids can do what they want. What I give them is not freedom but choice. They choose to go to prison. That’s fine.

School was like a mental institution for me where I was force fed the following drugs:

1) Lots of facts. At talks I ask people, “When was Charlemagne born?” I have yet to get a response that is correct within 200 years. Research shows that 90% of what we learn in a class we forget after 45 minutes. The reason is: our brain likes to have 2 or more things going for it before it is convinced it has a worthy fact for memory. So, “passion + awe” are two things. But boring facts disappear quickly.

2) Perfectionism. Schools celebrate the A+ and punish the C-. Whenever my daughter tells me she got an A+ I ask her why she wants to take a class that is too easy for her. The C- shows you so much more: What you need to learn. What you might not be interested in. How to deal with imperfection. How to deal with the pride of others. How to deal with insecurity. As some woman tweeted on twitter the other day, @jaltucher is a C-. I have room to improve!

3) Cliques. My best friend Jimmy Biondo punched me in the back at my locker and I fell to the ground and started crying. I think I was 15. In school you have a small group of people to choose from for friendship. This makes for political, spiteful, gossip-filled, often Lord-of-the-Flies-style friendships. Yeah, I’m the ugly kid that got killed in the book. And no, I did not read the book in school. I read the Cliff’s Notes.

4) Science and Math. While these are beautiful subjects I often feel that my kids are encouraged to drop their creativity at the door if it involves art or storytelling. Everything is rote, then tested. Then rote again, then tested again. For twenty years. That’s only a tiny part of the brain. Humans are meant to use their entire brain. It’s our entire brain that let’s us DESTROY and RULE the animal kingdom.

5) Work. From 7am to often 10pm, my kids are “working”. They sit in classrooms all day, barely moving, and then they are often working on homework until they fall asleep. They learn to work hard. But…

But as an adult, if you want to succeed, be creative, learn to fail, learn to sell ideas, learn to build momentum around your life, you need to UNLEARN:


A) Play. Playing (however you want to define that word) reduces stress, encourages creativity, increases happiness, is FUN. Nothing wrong with that.

Maybe people think they HAVE to be working. Else they are unproductive. They get this reactive stress when they aren’t “at work”. Because we got addicted to working back in our school daze.

What should you play at? I don’t know! Do whatever you want. Go to a museum. Or a movie in the middle of the day. Or pee in public places, take pictures of the pee, and make a photo exhibit. Who cares?

Homework! – think of five things you can “play” at today.

B) Creativity. Sometimes I’m sick of writing this blog. So I do other stuff. I draw. Or I take photographs of my urine in public places. Or I plan my upcoming run for Congress! (Don’t tell Claudia. She is against it). This makes my brain feel good. I can literally feel the neurons light up. It makes my brain feel loved by me. Every day I try and exercise different parts of my brain.

Homework! – What are some ways you can be creative today outside your normal work schedule?

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