Fiat (n): “An arbitrary or authoritative command to do something; an effectual decree.”
“Fiat money is currency that a government has declared to be legal tender, but it is not backed by a physical commodity. The value of fiat money is derived from the relationship between supply and demand rather than the value of the material from which the money is made.” – Investopedia
Both high school diplomas and fiat currency are only valuable because a bunch of people in shared geographic areas say they’re valuable, but at least with fiat currency you can buy stuff and live your life. It still functions as currency and retains value because the government has a monopoly on currency. Most people can immediately list the ways they would use their local currency.
But if you ask someone why they care about the high school diploma? No reason. You could drop out ASAP, start working and get a 3 to 4 year headstart, discover your path much faster, and get your GED quick if you really care. You can even go to college with a GED if you seriously value college, and with 3-4 years of work history have a better work trajectory already. This means way more money saved and earned to support college. Meanwhile your peers are taking out loans with no work history, not having explored their communities and markets around them, and are totally disconnected.
For those of us who quickly exit that world and desire independent exploration, self-determination and therefore real competence, the high school diploma immediately becomes irrelevant. The sooner you drop out and get a job, the sooner you begin the path to an independent life. It’s about exploring and researching the actual market and subindustries. There are tons of entry level jobs in many major cities that will train you, or only require a quick and easy certification. Most jobs that list a high school diploma or GED as requirement combine the two together and don’t even check if you have it.
If you want to gain experience and build relationships that are meaningful, wasting an unpaid 40-60 hours a week in high school isn’t gonna do it. You think your teachers will give you a job? Or your peers? In most circumstances, these relationships are in a bubble- a school system bubble, and offer no relevant connections to the rest of the world, even the immediate economy these schools are submerged in.
Teachers want to maintain their jobs. You have to go to a lot of school to become a teacher. It’s a circle-jerk pyramid scheme, as there is no service or product of value being offered to people outside of the pyramid, or even the people in the pyramid.
Of course teachers will say you “have” to go to school, school is their entire life trajectory. A teacher advocating for schooling is like a cigarette company advocating for smoking. Imagine the dynamic between a teacher and a student who announced they got into their favorite college. Sounds meaningful and exciting? What’s the intrinsic purpose? They’re congratulating each other on doing well in school to get into more school. Where’s the end goal? Where’s the evidence of actual learning?
In the real world, you need to build the skill and strength to actually provide value for other people (competence). This is how jobs function. Even if you don’t want to work, (such as avoiding workplace toxicity) you need a way of gathering resources to live your life. And you need authentic, deeper relationships with other people so you have other people you can provide value to (interconnection). And you need full ownership of your life and choices so you can attain these things (autonomy).
This is self-determination: competence, autonomy, and interconnection. This theory was founded in 1985 and has international conferences every 3 years. It’s one of the most important and profound discoveries about human nature and human needs. This is the path to liberation. I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t learn that in school.
The real danger within the narrative of the “high school diploma”, is the important truth and wisdom that school prevents people from gaining. If you had learned about the deeper reality of human nature, you wouldn’t need school to pursue your life. If you’d discovered how your community and economy works around you on the individual level, how people get and maintain jobs and relationships and build things together,you wouldn’t pay any attention to school.
Unless you had real community with a sense of longterm purpose and growth in your school (doubtful), you’d walk away as soon as you get even a glimpse of the rest of the world.
Sadly, most kids and young adults are born into over-sheltered, abusive or dysfunctional families, and school is an escape where they get some minor sense of self-determination. School is an abused and neglected kids shelter, and for that purpose, it’s often way better than the alternatives.
But as soon as you discover the slightest possibility of opportunity in the world, and can leave your family behind, you’ll find that school doesn’t really help you escape dire childhood circumstances and empower you, it merely handicaps you by replacing your current prison with a nicer prison. And for people who grow up in even relatively tolerable or decent families, this point is null and void.
The truth is, if you have an understanding of self-determination, even if you’re currently isolated (not interconnected), deterministic (not autonomous), and ignorant (not competent), you now have gained a priceless glimpse into the path to real empowerment. Forget the propaganda about schooling, your path is up to you.