F*&$ the SATs – “I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate” [A Public Service Announcement]

Creativity is the new literacy, and I’ve got an anthem brewing over here… But what fires me up is that I’m not alone. So many of us are feeling this anthem right now. Times are changing. The old methods of memorization and rigid exams for a diverse student body is not working for today’s world. Those times were for the factory. But what now? The average US college student graduates with about $27,000 in debt. For what? Students in the arts graduate with the highest level of debt. For what? Student debt now outpaces credit card debt. For what?

The good news is, for those of us who came up through the traditional education system and always felt there was something off with that path, we are rapidly approaching a new era of freedom (wisdom) to learn about what excites you first…not “later” after you’ve been chewed up and spit out by the system.

Our attitudes around education and learning need to shift. It won’t happen overnight, but I applaud this spoken word piece.

suli breaks education

35 Responses to F*&$ the SATs – “I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate” [A Public Service Announcement]

  1. runbei May 1, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    Among the countless horse’s asses in education can be counted school administrators, government officials, teachers, students, and the endless array of foolish rules and policies. I’ve been fortunate for 20 years to serve as webmaster for an amazing school in Palo Alto where creativity is Job #1 and test results are phenomenal. The unspoken motto at Living Wisdom School (www.livingwisdomschool.org) is: “Kids who learn to love, love to learn.”

    There have to be rules. There has to be structure. There has to be hard work. There has to be expertise. The enormous, decisive difference between soulless educational fact-cramming-factories and inspiring schools like LWS is that the administrators and teachers start by understanding human nature, and human aspirations. Understand what motivates the individual child – what excites him or her – and you have the key to providing an education that enriches the child intellectually, creatively, and spiritually.

    • Zoran May 7, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

      How has this kind of $$$ for K through 8th – nobody I know – especially in the arts.
      Living Wisdom School currently includes grades Pre-K to 8. The teacher-student ratio is 1 to 8. Tuition ranges from $12,510 to $18,050 (details).
      THIS has to change – class should not be a barrier to educate.

  2. Ben May 1, 2013 at 9:53 am #

    This is really interesting. As an “educator” (I teach) and an artist (when I’m not teaching, I’m a working photographer and video director) I love the simplicity of “Creativity Is The New Literacy”. I think this video, while well intentioned, glosses over a fair few points to make it’s own – would our author have known that Shakespeare was the innovator of slang without memorising it from a lesson? perhaps. Would he know how to efficiently google what interests him without good lessons? maybe.

    I’m an auto-didact, and I encourage all students to be also – because the school system is, and can only ever strive to be, a best fit. Best fits aren’t perfect, and can overlook, fail to stretch, or not support enough. Our educational model is definitely out-dated, and I’m part of a community that is very aware of how restrictive the teaching system is, and as the world continues to change in faster ways, how education refuses to change. Good educators will strive to ensure a child’s education reaches past the test they need to score in, and teach them the skills to educate, the attitude to try, and the coping skills to deal with failure.

    It’s a fascinating area to study, and , just a suggestion, might make a good Chase Jarvis: Live…

  3. Bradley May 1, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    I have been saying this for years. Well, at least since I was duped into college loans. Loans for a degree I have yet to use (almost 20 yrs now).

    Also, one of the main reasons my wife and I are considering private school for our kid once he is old enough for school. Hopefully we can cherry pick a school that will teach some basics and then let the parent and student decide the direction after that. Do they exist?

    • Shparish May 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

      Yeah…It’s called Home School.

  4. KL May 1, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    Strong message Chase!

  5. Alex May 1, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    Ha, I love how a man with a B.A. in Philosophy and had intended to study at med school until his grandfather’s death is preaching to us how we should F*** SAT’s and the school system! A man who’s already gone through the system and bought in is now turning back around and telling us to screw it!

    Rather hypocritical.

    I love your work, Mr. Jarvis, but preaching to students such as myself to change the times, telling us that these scores are for nothing, please stop. Stick to what you know – soccer, philosophy, and photography. Yes, we all acknowledge the school system is messed up, but that just means people can’t just follow like sheep; they need to pick and choose classes and degrees that ARE useful. But saying SAT’s, ACT’s and the like are just leading to student debt, all “For what?”, is hogwash.

    Remember, in advocating “freedom/wisdom”, you don’t need to destroy the system to make it work. Just play the system the way it’s meant to be played and you’ll be fine. Read “Animal Farm” and you’ll see that destroying the current system won’t work; it’ll only make things worse.

    A Student and Photographer

    • JoshNYC May 1, 2013 at 10:17 am #

      This video is moronic. I see hundreds of people reposting it. And what does it espouse? Ignoring teachers, focusing on what interests you, rather than the curriculum. Which is great if you are a creative. But that’s not who he is talking to.
      Who is he speaking to? Kids in hoodies. Inner city. Blacks. (There I said it. We all noticed when we watched the video, but no one would say it out loud) Teenagers who are saying high school isn’t relevant to them, who don’t see the big picture. Who don’t want to do their homework. Who don’t want to learn the Pythagorean theorem, a simple piece of math that I use at most 5 times a year, but lets others know that I know how to figure things out on my own, that I AM independent. Who think they will do just fine without a High School degree. Future McDonalds workers.
      What is he telling them? Follow your own will. Don’t listen to your teachers. Don’t listen to guidance counselors. Don’t listen to job coaches. Which is followed by not listening to your boss. Not listening to your spouse. Not listening to society. Becoming a societal burden, or even a criminal.
      Contrary to what he posits, individual grades don’t affect your life, but the sum of all those grades and your academic level becomes your IQ, and if you don’t apply yourself and look dumb, that’s your own darn fault.
      I wish he was talking about college degrees in graphic design, or photography, or liberal arts. Or sociology or philosophy or minority studies or any other BS curriculum that colleges offer which you could do better yourself with a reading list and an internship. But he’s not. Which makes what he is saying not only wrong, but a damaging message for today’s youth.
      If you feel I am wrong please! Let me know why. I am sick and tired of this video.

      • Saki May 2, 2013 at 7:37 am #

        I think it’s more like, tied to the title, y’know? The fact that student futures are decided by numbers is what makes students not happy. We wish to be more than just a number. We are humans and we have feelings. We don’t want to be force fed things that we will not use in our future. People don’t listen because they don’t want that force-fed feeling. Sure, that means ingnoring your peers and elders, but then look at them, do they listen they listen to us? Maybe some of us aren’t capable of memorizing every equation given to us. Some of us aren’t amazing writers. So,e of us don’t have good hand-eye coordination. We aren’t all the best at everything, and so shouldn’t we focus on what we are best at? The classes we hate are usually the classes we are worst at. Maybe it’s the teacher, maybe it’s us. But think of it this way. There’s a quote that goes along the lines of, tell a fish to climb a tree, and they’ll spend a long time thinking they are supid because they can’t. So a student can’t do algebra, but maks amazing artwork. Does that make him stupid? A student can’t make a nice story, but loves creating new machines and robots. Does that make him stupid? So a girl wants to be a ballerina, but she isn’t the best in academics. Does that make her stupid? You have to take in to consideration that, just becuase they’re wearing hoodies, just because they are black, doesn’t mean they all want to be rebels. This vieo is really just trying to make a point, an I think he did.

        Sorry this message got long, but I would be annoyed too if I saw this video everywhere.

      • Justin May 2, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

        Your slippery slope arguments and false correlations aside, you are saying that he is not talking to kids who are creative because he is talking to Blacks? Furthermore, let’s assume he is speaking directly to the Black youth population. Is there any other group that has been rejected and let down by the system here in America more? I’m pretty sure your not so subtle racism and complete ignorance completely invalidates everything you said.

    • Frank King May 1, 2013 at 11:47 am #

      Alex, if your goal in life is to be just fine then keep playing the system the way it should be played. Chase is successful because he works damn hard and he broke out of the normal. He strived not to be just a little bit better than the next guy but to be bold and different. If you look art two of the greatest technological mind in history, the education system did not work for them. Neither Bill Gates nor Steve Jobbs graduated from college. Looking even farther back into history you will see the education system didn’t work for Albert Einstein either. He dropped out in 8th grade and is considered by many to be the greatest mind ever. With examples like Jobbs, Einstein, and Gates there is no doubt we should be questioning our education system. After high school we are trained to go get a degree in something that will pay or a 9-5 job and it took me a long time (nearly a degree in biology) to realize that I could chase my dream (being a photographer). Dreams should be encouraged from the very start. Not 9-5 jobs or steady income. Matter of fact we tell our youth to try to think about what they want to do for the rest of there lives, income should not be apart of the conversation. All in all, the goal is not to be fine, it is to be something better than that.

      I apologize for any spelling/grammar errors wrote from an iphone on a bus

      • JoshNYC May 1, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

        according to Wikipedia, Einstein was in various schools until he was 21. he ISnoted as having criticized the teaching style of one school, but dont think he dropped out in 8th grade and never went back to school.

        • tom May 1, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

          but Einstein was a self starter and highly intelligent. Also this was at a time when life a little bit simpler and a plan B job was always there. These days plan B jobs are more and more shifted to low income countries in Asia.

          I recently read a number of studies on child education one of them asked teenagers what they wanted to be when they entered the work force. Two of the top ten answers were “being rich” and “being a celebrity”. Say no more.

          • frank May 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

            We are made to think in high school that success mean money. I wonder why any of those kid want to be rich? change education to convince kids to find the dream there passions and not to worry about money.

      • Shparish May 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

        You are naming all the exceptions. If everyone was Steve jobs then no one would actually build the iphone. It would just be an idea.

    • Justin May 2, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

      I can’t think of any way that Chase could be more qualified to comment on the higher education system than as someone who has spent a good deal of time within it. Having a degree doesn’t automatically mean that one must think school is the best way to go. You should also consider reviewing the definition hypocrisy:

      Hypocrisy is the state of pretending to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that one does not actually have.

      I don’t really think we have any reason to say that Chase is pretending in his beliefs on this matter.

      Also, while you obviously believe very deeply that your structured college education is valuable and the degree you will no doubt receive will pave the road to future success beyond your wildest dreams, you must at the very least acknowledge that you could have very well learned EVERYTHING taught in college on your own with modern technology. The internet is a beautiful thing. There is zero NEED for college. All that this spoken word artist is trying to do is empower those who have been deemed “failures” by standardized testing and grading to realize that they are not bound to that stigma. I hope that somewhere in your studies you learn to think independently before venturing out into the world. Good day.

  6. Lex Peters May 1, 2013 at 10:35 am #

    This is good. It fails at building a connection that all topics are connected. At the point of entry into your mind they tend to have little relevance or are applicable to life. The effects are sometimes covert and so are the uses. The principal in this video demonstrate knowledge in social science, cultural anthropology and history to name a few. How, where and when he acquired this knowledge is irrelevant. The fact that it has happened and took a trans-formative effects upon him is far more important.

  7. Priti Shikotra May 1, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    It’s like your taught as a child to be creative and then all of a sudden your told it’s not ok to be creative and that it’s not the right thing to do or be cause it’s just a ‘kid with a dream’ if you want to carry down the creative route. Definately there needs to be a change to the system to accomodate for the kids who are struggling to learn cause their strengths lie elsewhere. I was one of them kids who use to have a short attention span and got in heaps of trouble, my best results were in Design Technology and Art. I still have a short attention span. I worked at Apple for 4 years… The longest period of time I’ve spent with a company, all other jobs I left after a year max. It was the one place I could really get creative and be around like minded people. I connected the dots a while ago. I’ve been pursuing photography for the past 12 months and hope to break into this area for the rest of my time as it’s the only thing for me. Creative souls are supressed in these environments – the system just does not address this. A good friend of mine works in a school where kids have ‘issues’. These kids are bright as anyone else when their being creative and when their doing physical activities / sports. Go figure. It’s just a mess of a system, everyone has to have a category, everyone needs to be labelled. People don’t like it when they can’t label you. Times are changing Chase your right!

  8. tom May 1, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

    While I am the first to agree that school systems can be pretty soul crushing in their effort to try and conform people I do have a problem with fundamentally writing if off.

    While going through uni I had a few subjects I had zero interest in but they were required to pass. I talked to the respective professors about it and they pretty much said “no problem, just do x, y and z to pass my subject.”. They respected my honesty and in essence we came to an agreement.

    I now do a job that didn’t even exist when I went through uni and has very little to do with my actual studies. Yet, I did learn a number of important things at Uni. More than anything I learned that you need to know the right people and you need to be able to tell when they are trying to deliver you with mediocre results. Also, in order of 20% of knowledge to stick you need to be feed 100%.

    With my own kids I find the most important thing is to stay in touch with what their interests are and then guide them into a direction that let’s them turn their interests into opportunities to stand on their own two feet when their adults. This might not be uni.

    On a side note on a whole I also know that human beings are inherently lazy even more so teenagers. They will find any excuse to justify not having to do things they don’t like.

  9. Alan May 1, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    This my 2 cents which is all its worth. I said fuck the SAT and have not once ever regretted it or dropping out of college. I have never been held back from anything. I sold my photography business when I was 25 to travel the world. Later in Life I fell ass backwards in entertainment publicity and spent years jet setting all over the planet. When I got bored with hanging out with rock stars I went in a new direction and fell into finance with no experience. My friends were bent that I was debt free and making more in a moth than they did in a year. Now I need a new challenge, I have given away everything and am setting off top sail around the world with a life savings of exactly $3.50 I have zero debt and no credit cards. Whats my whole point? This is America, you can have and or do anything you choose. Choose your own path or be doomed to a life of mediocrity.

  10. Troy Krueger May 1, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

    Hey my friend, I like this video for the most part…except at 1:57 he makes a comment about the Mum never using Pythagoras’ Theorem. I myself being a dumb ass carpenter and never graduating a college use Pythagoras’ Theorem often enough to “memorize” it because it makes my job easier. In fact, I used it last week when I had to cut angle braces for a wall mounted shelf! Thank you high school geometry! I remember in high school making the same stupid comment as that kid in the video, “why do I have to study subjects that I will never ever use in my life?” If my teachers would have told me “because you are going to make your living as a carpenter and that requires knowledge of math, algebra and geometry, not to mention health and physical strength” then I would have listened up more.

    I think everyone agrees that getting educated is a good thing but doing it on Twitter or Google is risky at best.

  11. Dave May 1, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

    If you’re thinking about a severe education change, or any type of change for that matter (be it lifestyle / work / education / whatever), but you’re intimidated and you’re getting the fear, this is worth a watch too: The Scared is Scared of the Things You Like: http://vimeo.com/58659769

  12. Radu May 1, 2013 at 9:42 pm #

    Mr. Jarvis, creativity is not the new literacy. Literacy is the new literacy. This post offends me as a graduate of an engineering school, this post offends the doctors and engineers and physicists and all the people that want to study and get good grades and learn all there is to learn, because one day, the difference between life and death might just be that class that you’ve skipped that day because it was too difficult. Just think of it like this: All the tools you use, ALL of them, they were not built and designed by creatives. No. Engineers and physicists and chemists and other people like that, people who use every day stuff much more difficult than Pythagoras’s, those were the people who built the tools you use. And I promise you this, they can’t afford not studying their asses off.

    • frank May 2, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

      Radu, I too want to learn all I can, but learn how to take a standardize test does not help me in this regard. You are missing the point of the video. The Point is not to get rid of schools nor is it to make school easy. The point is to revamp education so it is not about the whole, so it is not about standardize test. Make education about the individual and you will see improvement in the whole system. Since you have gone to grad school you must know about honors college? what is the difference between honors college and normal college? The biggest difference is the class sizes. The education is more about the student not the class. Every person deserve that kind of education and that is simple what this video is stating.

  13. Paul Richardson May 2, 2013 at 3:27 am #

    If you want to work in mcdonalds, or some other ‘low skilled’ job, then yeah school isn’t important.

    But what about the kids who want to become doctors, engineers, astronauts? You’ll never achieve that without hard work ethic and the desire to learn (even if it’s not something that you are interested in).

    Going to university and racking up a huge debt might be stupid for most people. But, for many it is still worth doing. I studied engineering, and have no desire of ever becoming an engineer. But I learnt a lot of ‘soft skills’ which I am grateful for.

    If you decided that school wasn’t for you, you don’t need maths or english. Subsequently you never learn to read or write, and can’t even do basic maths. How far is this person going to get in life? Are they going to become the next richard branson?

  14. Bob May 2, 2013 at 8:50 am #

    A young person has no idea what they will do or need in their life. Education gives people a starting point to get them going. Skip the education and you start behind those who didn’t. Personally, I think the problem with education is the opposite of that expressed in this video. Lack of discipline on the behalf of the students and their parents. There should be no option to allow adults out into the world without being able to demonstrate a standard level of education. Unfortunately, people are lazy. Teachers are lazy, students are lazy, parents are lazy and government officials do not do what needs to be done but rather, what will keep them in office. Obviously, there are planty of hard workers out there as well; they are the ones who get to support all the uneducated burdens on society.

  15. missval May 2, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    I like the punk rock vibe of the video. While I don’t agree 100%, I think it is true that you have to constantly be learning and evolving. What worked for my parents’ generation, the ‘go to school and get good grades = good job you can retire from in 30 years’ is a myth. You have to think for yourself and engage in the process to find your best path is, it isn’t just laid out anymore.

    I went the traditional route for school, got a Fine Arts Degree in sculpture. My student loans bought me time, freedom and studio space to explore my creative ideas. They bought me focused critique and even more ideas. What I got from college was learning who I am, how to focus on process, proof that I can stick to something and finish it, and people. Good or bad, it helped shape me into who I am today. Not everyone has the balls or focus at 18 to decide what to be and go be it. I admire people who can and do make that leap. I am a bit more conservative in my risk taking. Though at that age, what do you have to lose, really?

  16. einar May 2, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    If you guys are offended by this video, you might not getting the point.
    There is no The Same route for everyone.
    It’s all Chase always says.
    Some need college and strict education, some will need to drop off school.
    That’s all those kids are saying.

    One path is not wide enough for all of us.

  17. KayJae May 2, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

    What he is saying is, one day money will not be important. There’s going to be a day that we are going to have to learn to survive off of things we have never learned before. Unlike me, I am a Native American Woman and our Native American Men were taught to hunt and provide for our nation. Us Native American Woman had our roles as well. We knew how to do all this before COLINIZATION and before the settlers came in. We were living perfectly fine and i am sure when money means nothing one day we will still know how to survive, its all written in the stars! So learn your survival skills now because the so called Dooms-day is real. We are running out of vital resources and the governments doing anything in their power to eliminate us. Quick thinking like a greedy human and start using you spiritual side, i promise you, it’ll all work out!

  18. Brad May 3, 2013 at 12:36 am #

    I’m a teacher. High school. I teach physics (we shoot a potato gun and learn formulas), math (we learn pythagorean), chemistry (we learn terms and mix math with complex concepts), and I teach photography (1/3, design principles, shutter speeds and f/stops). I’ve fought with school counsellors b/c they say I can’t mark homework b/c it is then marking behaviours. Then I say – what does a test measure? Study habits, did they come in for help, distractions/fighting at home, school drama, poor work habits, exam anxiety.

    Some people are lazy. Some people make excuses. This video misses the mark on one fundamental, unbelievably important point.

    The joy to learn. The joy of learning. The joy of wonder. That there is no reward without effort.

    When I look at a flower I see the beauty. Beauty in it’s visible colour. That it also emits in the UV spectrum to further attract bees and honey birds to cross pollinate. I know that pollination allows for variation, so I pick up on the benefits of genetics. I understand the physics and math that surround it’s structure and the biochemistry and energy it needs to survive – grow to tall to be noticed, maybe puts too much energy into growing an will fall over to be lost. I see mothers enjoying the same scent that they use to attract, only to laugh, in a weird way, that we are sniffing the sex organs of plants. Economics, environmental foot prints, photographic opportunities… flowers are not just flowers.

    Math isn’t just formulas.

    My job isn’t to motivate students. I will never hold back, however, my enthusiasm for learning and for the beauty behind what is easily dismissed.

    The artist is absolutely right… I have forgotten more than what I want to admit. The system isn’t perfect by any means. But when I assign 15-20 questions of math, or physics, or chem, or assign a photo assignment… I am not asking them to cut off a finger. We need to quit making excuses. The sciences, mathematics, fine arts, athletics, whatever… demonstrates the beauty behind the curtain. I highly encourage people to follow the passions.

    The most important thing we have on this planet is time. Use it wisely. And if it means that you have to study something to get you where you want… find the beauty within the material and quit making excuses not to find a way to enjoy the ride, quit complaining, and put better funding in education. Whether it’s formal, or informal, education in any form is the reason why we are where we are.

    And as for letting grades define us? Almost every kid that fails my class is simply b/c they chose not to do the work. Lazy. Not doing homework, playing video games instead, not asking questions, would sooner try to pull out their cell phone in class, not come in for help, not stay engaged, make excuses to hate the material, not have proper modelling from parents. Smoking pot. Family issues. Mental issues. Crappy circle of friends. Immaturity. Learning disabilities.

    But there are always solutions to the problems. Yes there are shitty teachers, but there are far, far, far more of other good ones that super duper care and want to make a difference.

    As a general observation, any kid that puts in the minimum gets through. Don’t tell me math isn’t neat or that you won’t use it. It’s not about that. I’ll bend over backwards for any kid that wants to take the first step. I’ve never had to use so much of what I’ve learned it’s crazy. But it not only gives me more confidence in my abilities, the far greater value has been being given the deeper perspective I have of the world that surrounds me.

    Sorry for the blabbing here. Lets call it for what it is though. Just do it. Learning is neat. And it sure gives us a better perspective of the world. And I still smell the flower. And I giggle. And then try to photograph the little fucker in a weird way.

    Hope this makes sense. Now back to marking and quit procrastinating.

    Thanks for reading.

  19. faisal May 4, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    Not really a good attitude coz degrees are important in todays world.

  20. LL May 5, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    Thanks Chase, I really needed this. I’ve been on forced rest for the past week due to a panic attack and anxiety I’ve built up leading the last exam of my BAC (soon to be mechanical engineer when I eventually take that exam). It’s good to put things back into perspective.

    Screw the grades, screw the papers. Hard work, knowledge and mastery, that’s what matters.

    That being said, I do have to mitigate the **** everything attitude that song has in a few verses. a) Learning stuff is amazing. b) Stuff you don’t like won’t hurt you, and you might actually enjoy it/find use for it with an open mind. c) Pythagorus’ theorem is the bomb.

  21. Matt Brown April 7, 2014 at 9:33 pm #

    I’m impressed, I need to say. Actually not often do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me inform you, you could have hit the nail on the head. Your idea is excellent; the difficulty is something that not sufficient persons are talking intelligently about. I’m very happy that I stumbled across this in my seek for one thing relating to this.


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