Jaden Smith Is Right, Kids Should Drop Out Of School

So Jaden Smith said in an all-caps Twitter message (essentially) that school is dumbing kids down, and everyone on Earth damn near lost their minds.

It’s not Jaden Smith’s first time around the “offending adults” rodeo, and isn’t like to be his last (“Parents Just Don’t Understand” is coded into his and Willow’s genes, after all) — but with school being such a sacred cow in our society, poor kid caught it.

I agree with Jaden Smith — in a twenty-odd years older way, and what he’s actually saying is a legitimate educational philosophy. Let me explain.

But first, the all-caps. To Jaden Smith haters saying that his words clearly evidence his need for more education… have you not caught on that a number of devices and phones auto-capitalize all first words? You never got a business email in all caps? Huh? Maybe you go back to school then, or at least learn some critical thinking skills.

Second, when Jaden Smith talks about school, he’s really talking about self-determination and personal responsibility. My own children had the priceless experience of spending time at a “free school” like Summerhill a few years back, until we moved, at Jaden Smith simply sounds similarly educated when he muses:

“”People Use To Ask Me What Do You Wanna Be When You Get Older And I Would Say What A Stupid Question The Real Question Is What Am I Right Now. All The Rules In This World Were Made By Someone No Smarter Than You. So Make Your Own.”

When reading the second bit of Jaden Smith’s rant, we couldn’t help but think of J.D. Salinger’s Teddy, the main character for which was the naming inspiration of my own children’s former school, the Teddy McArdle Free School. Smith said:

“School Is The Tool To Brainwash The Youth… Education Is Rebellion. If Newborn Babies Could Speak They Would Be The Most Intelligent Beings On Planet Earth.”

While people remarked Jaden Smith sounded like an ignoramus, and jumped to conclusions about his auto-capitalization, we bet the home, free, and unschoolers were clapping in their seats. Sounds like this Smith kid is not a project of the conventional schooling system, and has the ability to think critically.

In our own experiences, free and unschooling are far, far better at teaching children how to think instead of what to think, and they’re remarkably quick to catch on and take responsibility for their lives and schoolwork within weeks of being “freed.” Jaden just sounds like he’s been given that freedom, to think and to learn in a self-governed way.

While my kids aren’t Jaden, I have noticed since the switch back to conventional schooling, they’re far less engaged. They don’t wake up on their own to get to school, and often have little interest in curriculum. Their desire to learn has plummeted confined to core standards and Iowa tests. A friend joked about sending them on a little yellow bus to “the gulag,” but it feels that way.

What did you think of Jaden Smith’s school remarks?