From the Cutting Room Floor: The Case Against Education
By Bryan Caplan
When my books are nearly done, I strive to cut 10% of the remaining words. Sometimes I end up cutting beloved passages that distract from the flow. Here’s one of my favorites from The Case Against Education, building on my earliest K-12 memory.
I still remember my first day of kindergarten like it was yesterday. Mrs. Sandefur opened the classroom door, and stopped me when I tried to take a seat: “Oh, we don’t sit in the chairs. We sit Indian-style by the blackboard.” Amidst the micro-management, no one explained the big picture: like Odysseus, I was starting on a twenty-year journey, facing one obstacle after another. Some proved useful: reading, writing, and math have served me well. Most did not: P.E., art, music, poetry, Spanish, and general equilibrium theory were a waste of time. But useful or not, I had to pass everything to pursue my career. If I’d tempered my ambitions, I could have left school at 18 or 22 instead of 26. But unless I wanted to wash dishes or clean toilets, over a decade of school was fated on my first day of kindergarten.