See that picture of my son? I tell him all the time he is not being nice. “Be nice.” I tell him. “If you are not nice then people won’t like you.” So he surprised me by writing it on his hand.
An example of him not being nice is that he doesn’t see that when people play a game together, they care if the other person has fun even though both people try to win. My son does not understand this nuance. So he seems mean. But mean is actually a really complicated intention that people with Aspergers Syndrome don’t have. I have Aspergers as well, so I understand that to my son it looks like a time waste to be intentionally mean. Being direct is so much easier.
This is true for me, as well. For instance, as I have become completely obsessed with my research about homeschooling, I have discovered that the top-tier universities are set up to favor homeschoolers over everyone else. And the most expensive private schools are aware of this and they are switching over to a homeschool model.
So I am trying to tell everyone: “Your kid’s school sucks and your own education sucks and you are going to get trounced in the workplace if you don’t start thinking about learning differently before generation Z makes you unemployable.”
I am trying to say this nicely so that you listen because I know that normal people listen when someone is nice. But no one will listen to me, because no one wants to hear that they are being delusional about what they are choosing for their kids. I get it.
For me, the real challenge with being nice comes from how someone with Aspergers cares so much more about being right than being nice. I told my son that he is really truly nice and I understand how hard it is to follow the conventions of sort of lying to be nice. I mean, is it lying that you want to win or is it lying that you want the other person to have a good time playing? How can you have both?
It’s driving me nuts that everyone is not listening to me and taking their kid out of school. I have written about how the costs of homeschooling are almost nothing. You don’t have to be a teacher. Kids don’t need a school teacher. They don’t need to learn math. (Really. Just read the link, okay?) They don’t need to be well-rounded. They just need to be left alone so they can do self-directed learning.
And do you know what the most non-controversial thing in all of education reform is? That customized, self-directed learning is by far the most effective for developing children into effective, happy, self-reliant adults. And public school is in no position to promote self-directed learning because it’s too demanding of adult supervision to be possible in a classroom of even 20 kids and one teacher.
My editor tells me my posts where I scream at you about homeschooling have no charm and I can’t run them. Melissa tells me that I’m obsessed with homeschooling and people are sick of hearing me talk about it.
But I’m right. I can’t stand that I’m right and everyone is not admitting that I’m right.
Well, almost everyone isn’t. The New York Times wrote about how my blog is showing that I’m right about homeschooling, and that it works. And already the first company has hired me to tell them how corporate life will be different because the next generation will be educated so differently than generations before them.
But I don’t care. I want all of you think that I’m right. I want the comments section to be filled with comments like, you’re right. I’m taking my kid out of school tomorrow and I’m going to homeschool and everything you say makes perfect sense.
Have I ever told you about the research about what really motivates entrepreneurs? It’s not money. It’s the need to be right about what they see. So you can see here why I keep starting companies. I should do that. Because even if I got 1000 comments, I don’t think I’d feel like I’m right in a big enough way unless I had a company. For me, a company is about being right. Do you know why I love my companies? Because I was right all three times. God I love being right.
The first two attempts I made at writing blog posts ranting about homeschooling, my editor told me to just throw them out. It’s not fun to read stuff like that, he said. Which is particularly bad coming from him because his wife homeschools their kids. So if anyone could relish a rant about being right about homeschooling, you’d think it would be him.
Hold on. Don’t leave. I have something interesting to say. Finally. I think I had to just get the homeschool stuff off my chest. I just needed to give you the links. You know. Take a horse to water. So what if you don’t want to drink? Now I can move on.
Here is a Ted Talk from Michael Shermer about dopamine. People with more dopamine see more patterns, and creativity comes from patterns. If you have elevated dopamine you see more patterns than everyone else, and you look gifted. If you have really elevated dopamine you are obsessed with patterns to the exclusion of everything else and you look crazy. Autistic people have very very high dopamine. People with Aspergers have elevated dopamine. The perfect amount to be a genius about patterns is what I like to think, since I am a person with Aspergers.
Also, I see trends because I see patterns. And I look like I read way more than I do because I’m able to use so much of what I read because I can see patterns in information. At first I thought everyone saw the patterns, but every so often I get paid to train someone to write like I do, and I am stunned that they don’t see patterns. I need to remember to be nice to them, which I am not. But it is nice of me to tell them they can’t write like this. Try the personal essay I tell them. Most people will suck at the personal essay. But I know people love it when you tell them to write about themselves. See? I have learned one way to be nice like a normal person is nice.
I learned that because I, like most people with Aspergers, want to be liked so much. So so so so much. It’s just that all the things normal people do in order to be liked are inaccessible to someone with Aspergers. Like showing interest in other people. It’s very difficult to figure out why people are so interested in other people. I don’t know. I mean, I am interested if will help me write posts where I see patterns. And I’m interested if the person will be able, somehow to like me. But I don’t think this is how neurotypical people are interested in other people.
I want you to like me. It’s very important. So I am not writing a post about homeschooling. I’m writing a post about you.
Another thing I have to teach my son is to shut up. People don’t want to hear everything you know. They want to hear a little about your feelings and then you ask about theirs. I tell that to my son: Stop talking. No one cares.
And then my editor tells me that. He says, “There is nothing here about you, personally.” Which is his way of saying to stop talking because no one cares.
This post has a lot of links. They are my gifts to you, even if you don’t click. I want you to like me. I can’t offer up the stuff I am supposed to offer up to be nice. But I can try to stop screaming at you about homeschooling, and I can tell you I am so so happy that you got to the end of this post. Thank you.