Rebel Without a Clue: Autonomy and Authority in the American Public School

The American high school dropout is an unconscious revolutionary. Instead of casting aspersions upon the dropout, we should attempt to decode this behavior that is condemned by parents, school authorities, educational experts, religious leaders, politicians, and peers. To understand the distress of the American high school student requires us to examine the politics of quitting school. Leaving school is a political act. Its political causes cannot be investigated in a context of isolating and blaming the individual.

The high school dropout is a revolutionary without having recovered the sense of dignity of failure, in a system of authoritarian control. Blaming the dropout is to blame the victim of institutional abuse of power exercised within youth indoctrination centers carrying the misnomer, school. Is it possible that the problem is mainly systemic and not due to the personal faults of the dropout? Is it possible that the education system itself contributes to young people dropping out of high school? Is it possible that capitalism is the root cause?

Everything in childhood is preparation for and achievement of mental enclosure, everything being not only the systems by which capitalism operates but also the cultural indoctrination, the countless messages conveyed to us through all forms of media and social interaction. Education in capitalist society is the closing down of the beautiful human experience characterized by the internally-shameless joy of being….

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