I remember one of my public school teachers who had a poster on the wall with a picture of a giraffe in a crowd of zebras and a caption that read: "dare to be different." Even then, I realized how absurd it was that an institution that harshly enforced mindless conformity would encourage me to act contrary to their whims.
Then I realized that the giraffe didn't do anything, it just was different whether it liked it or not, and remembered our teacher telling us that everyone was different. Then I realized that the goal handed to me by that poster was completely arbitrary, since I already was different from other people. I concluded that this poster was merely mindless psycho-babble used to distract me from the soul-crushing conformity being inflicted on me by teachers.
Do you ever wonder what you would say to your teachers if you had to go back to school, but you knew what you know now as an adult? Sometimes I almost wish I could go back, just because I feel much more secure about who I am and what I believe, and it would be so much fun to watch the backlash I would inflict on my environment. I've recently come to the conclusion that if I were to take the personality and knowledge that I hold today and put it into my 9th grade self, it would result in overwhelming disciplinary action, detention (actually I did get detention a couple times), suspension, expulsion, and it would probably lead to many arguments in the classroom, I would probably end up skipping school a lot, I would be labelled as a troubled child who had a negative influence on his peers, and I would probably end up involved in several lawsuits, on several medications, and I would probably receive a lot of psychiatric evaluation. It makes me look at some of those kids I knew who were "bad apples" back then in a whole new light.
The most interesting insight I think I gained from this thought experiment was realizing that because my values are completely contrary to the values of most school teachers, it's ridiculous to hold myself up to their standards as closely as I did. Then I thought about some of the standards of my professors that I hold myself up to as a college student today (most of which are remarkably similar to my k-12 teachers!) and started thinking about how I would look back on this time later on down the road, as I look back on my k-12 education now.
If anyone was wondering why I'm not more upset with myself that I slept through two midterm exams this semester...........now you know.
In the big scheme of things, it's really not a big deal.