6 Ways Schools Have Conditioned You to Fail

Motivation is difficult when its been sucked out of you over half your life.

Photo by Elisa Ventur on Unsplash

Do you “feel” held back? Is there something stopping you from being creative?

Crap. Time passes so quickly.

Its disappointing to see ourselves stuck while others seem to whiz by. People become millionaires seemingly overnight by selling NFTs, productizing themselves, and freeing themselves from the bondage of debt and paycheck to paycheck living.

A large part of your frustration has to do with the expectations you have of yourself, the world, and progression.

Schools have conditioned you to fail, by feeding you false expectations and outdated ideas that do not prepare us for modernity.

The internet has muddied the waters of what we can achieve by offering us too many ideas, too many directions.

Ha, who could have predicted too many options would be a problem?

This post is here to help provide you some direction, by first revealing what has held you back so long.

Here are 6 ways schools have conditioned you to fail:

Number 1: Progression as Predictable

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Schools condition us to believe that career progress is predictable.

First high school, then college, then $50k a year with benefits by the time you turn 25 years old. This is the lie that has been fed to us.

Predictability is absurdly false and I’ll use my own life as an example:

  • May 2020 → I graduate high school.
  • August 2020 → I join a college alternative program, Discover Praxis, and work at Chick-Fil-A part-time making $11.50 per/hour.
  • December 2020 → I get hired as an entry-level data worker at a billion dollar software company (PandaDoc) making $15 per/hour.
  • September 2021 → I get promoted to a salaried Inbound Sales position more than doubling the pay that I made at Chick-fil-A.

That brings us to now. A 20-year-old and having a lot of fun working and learning.

The months prior getting hired at PandaDoc, I had no idea what to expect.


Praxis and life taught me the reality, progress isn’t predictable, and the only thing that is predictable is your own actions.

”Impatience with actions, patience with results.”

— Naval

Number 2: Being Mediocre is “Okay”

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Schools condition us to believe being mediocre is okay.

Again, schools teach us to make predictable and “safe” progress that is “guaranteed to” hand you the ideal American lifestyle.

What schools forget to tell you is:

  • College debt holds you back more than not attending college.
  • Creativity is the new currency.
  • Most employers don’t hire based off degrees anymore.

Being creative makes you unique, and unique people get hired.
Most importantly, its freaking fun!

Why would you attend college like everyone else? Bored yet?

Being mediocre isn’t okay, its risky.

Number 3: Learning to Comply

Schools condition us to comply, not to learn.

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Schools ironically glorify great leaders like MLK JR, Abraham Lincoln, and Mahatma Gandhi, but don’t teach us how to be like them.

These people were misfits, they changed the course of history by NOT being mediocre, and by not listening to stupid rules put in place by irresponsible authority.

“If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, ‘brethren!’ Be careful, teachers!”

- Martin Luther King Jr.

Instead irresponsible schools teach us:

  • How to follow “THE RULES”
  • How to never question “THE RULES”
  • How to never question “AUTHORITY”

Have you have ever asked “why?” in school and been immediately shut down? Compliance is why. They don’t care about you actually learning, they care about you learning THEIR WAY.

Schools shouldn’t be obeyed simply by title or longevity alone.

An authority worth obeying is an authority worth questioning.

Number 4: The “I’ve Arrived” Mentality

Schools have conditioned us to believe that being educated is something you “arrive at”.

Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

High school is something you check off your life-time to-do list. Same with college. Now you’re done! Unless you’re ready to spend even more money for more “formal education”.

Learning isn’t a checklist. Its not a peak.

Learning is actually a dynamic process that changes focus as you grow older, but it never stops. There is no “arriving” at a point in which action stops. There’s always something new to do and learn.

There is a difference between “arriving” and being satisfied with the present. Its important to be satisfied with our daily progress.

Schools have taught us to not be satisfied with our own progress. Instead we look towards grades, a vague system of redemption, that in actuality measure how obedient we are.

”Grades don’t measure anything other than your relevant obedience to a manager.” — John Taylor Gatto

Number 5: Learning is Work

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Schools have conditioned us to believe learning is supposed to feel like work.

Learning is work when its framed as something you “have to do” vs. something you “get to do”.

Learning in schools is framed as things you “have to do” because its part of the curriculum and its “for your own good”. Being forced to do something is hard.

No wonder its hard to be motivated in school!

Learning should relate to what we’re interested in AND what’s actually happening in our lives. Relevant life = relevant motivation learning.

Learning is something we naturally do out of our own curiosity and necessity.

This is not to say we should mindlessly consume content because we are “interested”. We should chase after knowledge because we have a goal to achieve or a problem to solve. We should have a “why”.

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Ask yourself “why” you are curious about something. Learning why you do something should come first. Once you understand the why, things that seemed hard become easy because they are relevant to your goal.

Number 6: Learning is Perfection

Schools have conditioned us to believe that learning is about perfecting what we know.

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Learning isn’t about studying over and over until we have perfected our knowledge.

Learning is about trusting our tools and resources to keep track of those things for us so we can experiment and create new connections that actually matter.

Our “perfection” in knowledge naturally strengthens when we don’t force it (like schools do). Our understanding of “bits” of info, become stronger when we make relevant connections between them.

When doing is enjoyable, learning is enjoyable, and perfection becomes easy.

“Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.”

- Aristotle

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I skipped college, now I write for fun and not for grades.