Autistic Survival Guide/Schooling

The Compulsory School System edit

  • This section is a brief summary of the information JTG talks about, since the following sections build upon them.
  • The first known public schools were created by the pre-Sumerian peoples to create more time & general efficiency for adults so that they could partake in a larger society without overworking or becoming worn out. This extra time & new interconnected social system allowed for more successful engineering, weapon construction & war waging.
  • The compulsory school system has largely evolved from ideas to build a society that were first articulated 2400 years ago in "Plato's Republic".
  • Plato's Republic reasons that to make a society work best, peoples family and community links need to be broken so that society becomes their family and their community.
  • Furthermore, it reasons that people need to specialise even in certain undesirable professions that are necessary for a society to work.
  • These basic concepts were finally implemented in such a way that they actually worked by the Prussian monarchy, and adopted in the US in the 1850's.
  • The way that the concepts are currently implemented are as follows:
    • Make school compulsory. This has the effect of demonstrating to the child and the parents that the state is a more powerful influence in the child's life than the parent.
    • Divide children by age and ability so that no lasting friendships form.
    • Occupy the child's time with boring things with little meaning for the first few years so that the child doesn't develop an interest in learning, or loses whatever interest they have. Above all, make the easy look hard.
    • Make it difficult for children to question authority. Make them raise hands to ask a question. All decisions are final.
    • Make children compete amongst themselves for marks and for the teachers favour.
    • Since the children with the highest marks have a demonstrated ability to do as they are told, they are permitted to advance into higher learning.
    • The people that higher learning churns out are indoctrinated into professions that have their own checks and balances to make sure that practitioners don't stray too far out of government control.
  • The desired and produced effect of this is that the school system churns out children who are workforce, citizenship and consumer ready, not because they know how to work, but because they are predictable, willing to obey orders, loathe to question and don't have the life skills to escape the situation.
    • While this may perhaps be the experience of the author in a US-based school system, this neglects to mention the high importance placed on critical thinking in higher forms of education experienced elsewhere in the world, such as Europe. It is frequently the smartest people of society who question dogma in a constructive way, and such nihilistic views of education as mentioned above are not conducive to a healthy and productive worldview later in life. Realizing faults and discerning intentional harms from simple incompetence is a valuable skill best learned early on. Dissecting matters one comes across into valuable lessons to be learned from, and information best discarded due to its irrelevance, malintent, or otherwise should be the pillar of any intelligent, functional adult who strives to be the best version of themselves. In other words: try to learn as much as you can from a system, even if you perceive it to be broken.

The Implications for Autistic People edit

Most countries contain schools which follow the Taylor-model of education originally created for factory floors- regularized recesses, lunches, bathroom breaks, periods with bells herding students from one room to the next, and etc. This makes the autist's ability to survive in heavily regimented environments crucial for survival. Additionally, as stated above, these schools do not run with the optimization of quantity/quality learned as paramount but instead prioritize a mix of learning and the implementation of that society's unwritten rules. Hence, much work in school is designed to be more a test of the students' capacity for completing mandatory tasks in a timely manner than to actually contribute to the student's intellectual development. Therefore, one must avoid being discouraged at the increasing amounts of seemingly inane work, acknowledging that the school system's twin missions of imparting knowledge and norms can sometimes contradict in absurd ways.

Social interactions at school also promote norms. The age, and increasingly, ability of a student are used to segregate the student into groups within which the student is given large amounts of time explicitly (recess breaks) and implicitly (in class or in group discussions) to form social bonds.