The Need for Structure

The most common argument for authoritarian schooling is the need for structure.  Structure is crucial to any kind of success and young people need to learn it.  I could not agree more.  Which is precisely why I find school so problematic.

If you cannot make and live by a schedule and learn to prioritize and execute on activities you will have a difficult time creating value and meaning.  If you want to learn how to create your own structure the sooner you exit environments where the structure is provided for you the better.

Schooling provides structure and the external stimulus to follow it.  The mental muscles and willpower to create one’s own structure atrophy.  I’ve seen young people enter amazing work experiences where they have tremendous amounts of autonomy with their hours, where they work, what kinds of work they want to do, and in what ways.  These are enviable jobs.  Yet these young people are stressed and unproductive.  They yearn for more externally imposed structure because they are incapable of creating their own.  They want to be told what to do because that is how they have always achieved; not by setting their own goals and exploring and testing their own means, but by jumping through hoops set up by self-proclaimed authorities.

Managing one’s own time, setting one’s own goals, and creating one’s own routines are so very important they cannot be left to schools.  They are impossible to learn by having someone else do it for you. F.A. Hayek said of the economy, “The more the state “plans”, the more difficult planning becomes for the individual.”  Schools make planning harder for the individual by doing it all for them.

The sooner you learn to create your own structure in environments where no one will provide it for you the better.  The sooner you learn how to operate where all that matters to others is the value of your outputs and no one cares how you produced it the better.  Get to know yourself.  Learn to be alone with yourself.  Learn to manage yourself.  If you don’t someone else will be happy to manage you.  Then you might find yourself wondering why your life doesn’t feel like your own and living feels only partly alive.