A leaflet about schools by the Anarchist Youth Network in 2002. The authors no longer think the leaflet is great, but it is reproduced here for reference, and available in text and Word document formats.
Do Not Trust Your School!
School claims to teach us what we need by giving us the necessary skills to take care of ourselves. But the system is not interested in helping us, only in how we can help them. Fact is, the tasks of school go way beyond what we’re taught in the curriculum:
1. Teach us to “respect authority”
How many times has a teacher shouted “How dare you talk back to me!” at you? Now how many times have you heard that from a cop or boss? By placing a teacher in the role of our parent/guardian, respect for (or fear of) authority is taught by punishment for not doing what you’re told and rewards for conformity. You have to obey rules like taking your hat off in class no matter how stupid they are. This teaches us not to talk back whenever those in authority tell us what to do whether they’re our boss, cops, politicians or our teacher.
2. Rob us of our individuality
We are all taught the same curriculum no matter if you like Music better than English or Science better than RE. We all get taught the same regardless of interests or cultural background. Most schools even make its students dress the same! On top of all this, students who don’t ‘go with the flow’ are punished and labelled ‘trouble-makers’. This gets us used to not making trouble and just going along with whatever we’re told. It teaches us not to step out of line and to just follow orders.
Capitalism needs efficiency to survive. It can’t have people turning up to work late, taking long breaks or slacking. School teaches us to be on time. 9am – 1st lesson. 10am – 2nd lesson. 11am – Break. We’re taught not to be late or else be punished. We are taught to live by the clock. Many schools even have CCTV or electronic registers to stop us from bunking! This way, our future bosses get workers who are used to being punished for unreliability and slacking. This way, we get used to being spied on and punished for not being ‘good workers’.
We are graded on our ability to repeat ‘facts’ regardless of whether we understand or agree with them. We are not taught to be creative or think that the teacher may be wrong. There is only one right answer which the teacher knows. If we don’t come to the same conclusion as the teacher then we are wrong. This prepares us for a life where politicians, cops and bosses tell us everything we ‘need’ to know. We are taught not to challenge ‘the facts’ and not to rebel against what the authorities tell us is right. We are taught not to think for ourselves.
5. Persuade us to defend the system
Citizenship teaches us to be ‘good citizens’ and how to participate in ‘politics’. Something bad happens, write to your MP and they’ll sort it. Forget standing up for ourselves, we need politicians to save us! Police come in to tell us to respect their laws, convince us how nice they are and show us what toys they’ve got! We learn foreign languages of ex-imperialist, slave owning countries like Spain, France and Germany.
Our History lessons are the history of the different people who ruled this or other European countries. We’re taught a fake past where freedom fighters throughout history are misrepresented, lied about or sometimes completely left out! Our curriculum teaches us to love this ‘democracy’ and make us afraid of change. It manipulates us to support the way things are because it ‘works’. And it does ‘work’. But who does it ‘work’ for? It sure as fuck isn’t working for us!
So what would then? An education system and a society based on mutual aid and solidarity, not exploitation, domination and profit.
Anarchist Youth Network: Britain & Ireland
[The "get involved with AYN blurb" is lost, but it had our contact details and a list of
some local groups]