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Sunday, August 20, 2017

School Is Not “the Real World”

Shutting yourself off from the real world is not the best way to learn about the real world.

It’s the depressing time of year again in which young people are ported off to school again. This brings to mind some of the conversations I’ve had with students and teachers on summertime, the “real world” and school.

School Is Not “the Real World”

First, if you are one of those school-goers who believes that returning to a world of desks and periods and busywork paperwork and bell-regulated life is a “return to the real world,” I don’t know what to say to you. I can only say that summer – especially if you spent it exploring, playing, learning, and building – is a far better reflection of a real world (and one worth having).

The real world does not reward regimentations, and it does not reward good grades. Only if you choose to remain in academia forever can a break from school be anything but an improvement on your relationship to a “real world” where you can grow into your own person. Allow yourself that break from artificiality. Don’t shame it as some “guilty pleasure” or indulgence granted by school admins.

The Real World Won’t Wait

Secondly, if you’re one of the more self-aware schoolgoers, I congratulate you. You understand that your schooled environment is not the real world. You may see it as a training ground. Fine. Yet you continue to prioritize your time here. You’re outside of the real world of value creation, unstructured time, and free people. Why not prioritize your learning in that real world?

Why assume that shutting yourself off from the real world is the best way to learn about the real world? Every skill you’ve ever learned has taken practice. If you want to thrive in a world outside the artificial habitat of school, you should spend more time in it. Summertime is not nearly enough time away from school, and the world won’t wait on you to finally gain the courage to leave your comfort zone.

Reprinted from James Walpole.

  • James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, intellectual explorer, and perpetual apprentice. He is an alumnus of Praxis and a FEE Eugene S. Thorpe Fellow. He writes regularly at