Ishmael didn’t counsel either Alan or Julie to “be Leavers,” but rather to change the minds of the people around them. As I’ve said many times, I myself do not qualify as a Leaver; my living, like that of most others in our culture, is largely dependent on the economic system we live within.
For more on this, check out my speech “The New Renaissance” on this website. In Beyond Civilization I outlined an alternative to “falling into the job market flow,” and you should have a look at that. Although I tried (in My Ishmael) to bring into the open the underlying economic purpose of schooling (to provide a constant supply of worker/consumers), I never called it a “pointless waste of time.”
If I hadn’t gone through our educational system, I would never have reached a position in which it would have been possible for me to write any of my books. I could name countless others who could not be doing the important work they’re now doing to save the world if they hadn’t gone through the same process.
Despite the evident defects of schooling, those who go through it unquestionably have a greater range of opportunities than those who don’t. Since you can’t know what your ambitions are going to be in five or ten years, I have to think it would be very unwise for you to drop out of school at this point. (You should take note of the fact that Ishmael never advised Julie to quit school.)
I feel it’s safe to say that, tedious as schooling is, you’ll never regret finishing it—but you may very well regret NOT finishing it at some later stage in your life.
updated: 06 Feb 2004