How your school system destroys creative and norm-breaking students

Written by our son.

The title says it all, doesn’t it? To some people, this title probably does not make sense at all. Teachers, school directors, principals, perfect students and school counselors might disagree strongly, since most of the ones I have met always tried to ensure me and my classmates that creative, innovative, and different thinking is great for one’s education and future endeavors. That is the way to success, I have been told numerous times. And by success, they never meant my own, my kids’ or my family’s mental and physical wellbeing. They meant studies at Harvard, Oxford, driving a fast car, living in a luxurious villa somewhere and earning a certain amount of dollars a month. That is how they measure success in this modern world and as I got older, nobody at school ever wasted a minute asking how I actually felt, if I was okay. Or what you feel, or what you want to feel. I have been asked thousands of times by teachers how the latest exam felt, what the history assignments were like and so on, but not once did they ask me how I am doing. I am not saying that they never cared, that would be a lie and a false accusation, but my wellbeing (and other students’ wellbeing) was never made clear to be their first priority. Overwhelming homework handed in on time and not wearing a hat in class always seemed more important, which in my opinion is absolutely disgraceful. I will be getting back to this eventually.

The first time we started doing multiplication was in second grade. On a specific occasion I was put in a smaller group with some other students, and the reasons behind it are unknown even to this day. Either way, it only took this old teacher a few minutes to scar me for life in math class. All my life, when I had heard adults talk about multiplication, they always used the term times. Two times two equals four, and so on. Therefore, I went into class genuinely believing that was the way to express it. But, of course, according to this old lady, it was not. She forced me to use a completely different term that made no sense whatsoever and it made the whole multiplication thing appear way more difficult than it actually was. I replied that I prefer the term times, since it made it easier for me to understand what I was doing, but she absolutely hammered me for it. A sixty-something year old lady raised her voice at a seven-eight year old boy and made it very clear to him how wrong he was, that there was no way he could do things that way and expect to learn anything. Simply because I preferred a different term, I had never heard about her word in my life and it makes ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER if you say times or something else. She gave me a terrible start to my mathematical life by scaring the living shit out of me, for no good reason. That treatment stuck with me for years, until I realized as a fifteen year old that I was actually good at math. That old lady cursed me for so many years and she is not even aware of it. If I met her today I would have a ten minute monologue without letting her speak and then politely ask her to get out of my face.

When I was in fourth and fifth grade I had my first suicidal thoughts. I had been suffering from anxiety since kindergarten and it gradually got worse as I grew older, mainly because I struggled to fit in. I was not a “normal” kid, no way near it, and that eventually took a heavy toll on my mental health as a little boy. I was good at sports which obviously helped me survive recess time and PE, but apart from that, I was lost. The only thing I thoroughly enjoyed at school at the time, neglecting football during break time, was writing books. I wrote 80 handwritten small books and it turned into a series that started in first grade and ended when I was about to start my seventh year. My creativity was flowing like a cold river and words jumped from my brain, down through my arm and onto the paper. I created stories that nobody could even imagine at that age, and I took inspiration from many different comics I had read as a child. However, though, math education was not serious and definitely not good enough, which I ended up being severely punished for later on, mainly because we were 30 students in class and therefore, we were not able to get enough individual support. I always wore my red hat in class, a hat my grandma had knitted, and I loved it. Unfortunately, one of the teachers at the time (an old lady, on the verge of retirement) simply did not tolerate hats in class. If I had been wearing a hood covering my face, I would have been okay with it. But a red knitted hat, that did not even cover a third of my forehead, turned into a big deal. I protested silently by wearing it anyway, until they told me for the third time to remove it, day in day out. But they never gave up on it, me not wearing my red hat appeared to be way more important than my math skills for instance, because when I failed test after test, they did not react. But when I wore a red hat, things got heated. I wrote books because I had been born with an ability to do so, not because the teachers had taught me. The only thing they taught me was not to wear a hat which I did anyway. That is nothing but a joke and, looking back as a grown man, I am proud of my younger self for protesting silently. The fact that my hat was a bigger priority than my math skills is absolutely shocking and if I got the chance today, I would be happy to arrange a debate with these teachers regarding their priorities. That debate would probably be the easiest rhetorical win of my life so far.

In seventh grade, my math difficulties developed into a serious issue. I lost concentration immediately, not because it was boring, but because I had anxiety attacks just by looking at the books, never mind doing any work in it. “Sometimes you will have to do things you do not like” was a phrase I grew up with, at home and at school, as if just not liking it was the problem. I could cope with not liking things all day, no problem. The thing was that it made me feel sick to my stomach, my heart pounded like a drum and I always had that feeling of despair deep inside when I realized that I am about to enter another math lesson. Our seventh grade math teacher was an old man, in his mid-sixties, and he reminded me of the old lady back in second grade who slaughtered me for using a different word than her. This man sat at his desk in front of everybody and we had to wait in line to get help. One day I stood there for fifteen minutes waiting for him to analyze my calculation, thinking that maybe I had gotten it right for once. But, as he eventually looked through my stuff, things took a turn for the worse. He looked at it for three seconds, grabbed his red pen and drew a big X allover my calculations, gave me my book back without saying a word and told me to redo it all. He did not tell me anything what could have been done better or how it should have been done, nothing. And since it all happened at his desk, I was not the only one who witnessed what he did. At least 20 others saw it too, which not only made me feel useless, it was also a complete personal humiliation. I went home and told my parents what the dumbass teacher had done, and they reacted instantly. The next day I was called into the director’s office where the teacher in question apologized, most likely because he was forced to, and after that I did not return to his class. I went to a different teacher’s class during math which worked better. If I met this old man today, I know exactly what I would tell him, but those words are not suitable in a text like this. Let us just say that he would have been made aware of what he did to me, my confidence, my mental health and how he poured salt into my already gaping wound of mathematics. I will leave it at that here.

Next up is a little description on how teachers earn and lose respect among the students. In all the Swedish schools I have attended, only one teacher ever managed to earn respect properly. He applied law and order, combined with a good sense of humor and an ability to understand different kinds of people. He appreciated my writing and gladly helped me when it came to spelling difficult words or long phrases. We all knew he had a temper, which we got to witness a few times, but in general he was mostly a nice guy. He was always friendly, he knew his subjects, he managed to control everyone, and he never left anyone behind. And what makes his achievement even greater is the fact that students are not raised to respect teachers in Sweden. We use nicknames, we do high fives, we joke and laugh at them and nobody has ever done anything to prevent the ongoing nonsense of teacher humiliation. For instance, if a teacher’s name is Robert, a Swedish student at any of my previous schools would possibly have said: “Heyyy Bobby, Bobbybro, Bob the Builder, Robbobobbo, we’re gonna watch a movie in class today riiiiiiight?!” I said it too during my younger years, most people did it at least once depending on how extrovert they were, and it only led to chaos. It turned into a friendship more than a professional teacher-student relationship, and that obviously does not help a student’s learning. It makes things unclear; you never know if the teacher actually likes this behavior since they never had the balls to protest. You do not know if this humbug will alter your grades in any way, and if so, how does it effect the grades for those students that are not a part of it since they are not heard as much as the talkers? And since most of the talkers were boys, did it potentially effect the girls in a negative way? Or vice versa? Questions everywhere but I cannot find any clear answers. The only answer I have is that this rubbish does not help anyone.

When I started 8th grade in another country, the relationship between students and teachers was different. This was Pre-IB, which meant that the playground days were over for good. We were immediately told that at this school, we use the terms Mr. and Ms. when we are talking to an adult. Respect the more experienced individuals, they know more than you, they have been in the game for longer than you have lived, and so on. Personally, I really appreciated that, it made it crystal clear who is in charge. Raise your hand, no swearing, wait for your turn, listen up when the teacher is talking, and always be on time. When the bell rang, you were supposed to sit at your desk prepared. If not, things were not good. To me, all of this was common sense and I wondered straight away why this was not applied in Sweden. Maybe the classes are too big, maybe the teachers are too weak, maybe the leading politicians are not aware of the circus show they are responsible for, I do not know. But believe me, it does work. It does not mean that you are supposed to scream in students’ faces, force them physically to sit still, not have any sense of humor or just be a generally rude asshole. The teachers at this school proved that it is possible to gain and maintain respect just by being good teachers. Imagine if the Swedish politicians would be quiet and think about this thoroughly, instead of immediately blaming it on the lack of teachers, the previous governments’ lowered taxes or other worn out arguments? Your argumentation DOES NOT HELP students struggling to survive the day right now.

However, I soon came to realize that the discipline at this IB-school was just a curtain covering a dirty window. There was a big, major, language problem in my class. Three of the students did not speak English when they arrived, they only spoke their mother tongue. They were not the only ones struggling with English initially, my brother was very young and needed extra English classes together with a bunch of others to get over the barrier. After a few months, he was more or less fluent from speaking English all day and he eventually quit the extra English classes to join French instead. We never said a word in Swedish to each other at school, because if we did, a teacher would immediately interrupt and harshly force us to speak English. The problem I experienced with these newcomers was that a majority of the others in our class spoke their language too, except me and two friends of mine. Therefore, that language became the new English during class, day in day out. I heard my own name being talked about in a foreign language at least five-ten times a day, and no actions were taken to prevent it. The teachers would say “English please” occasionally but that had no effect whatsoever. During class, during recess, during lunch, in the library, this foreign language was heard everywhere and not only did it frustrate me, it also prevented the newcomers to learn the language they were supposed to study in. I had nothing against the newcomers personally, not at all, but I developed a strong frustration towards the school and the teachers, who did not seem to do anything about the issue. And even if they did, it never worked. I was in this class for two years and I guarantee you, if any actions were taken, they did not work. I was not allowed to ask my brother how his day was going in Swedish without being interrupted, but this language was spoken allover school and nothing happened. Were the school staff afraid of anything? Was there something behind the scenes I did not know about? Who knows? The only thing I am 100% sure of is that I found it incredibly insulting and degrading to hear my name in a language I could not understand every day for almost two years. And it got even worse when I was about to write my annual self-reflection in ninth grade. It was supposed to be a short text describing my studies, but I took the opportunity to complain about the foreign language and named the students who always spoke it. That they were talking about me and that it is rude and so on. The day after, a teacher called me to her office and told me that I had to rewrite it. “You’re not allowed to put any names on these, that’s against the principals.” It made me even more frustrated, why the fuck are you making me redo it instead of reading what I wrote and reflect on it? if I cannot be honest, then why am I writing it? Am I supposed to make something up just to make you feel good? Hell no, that is not who I am. I addressed a problem but the teachers, who must have noticed it too (since all of them said “English please” every day), did completely ignore it even though it was written on a piece of paper before their very eyes. Instead, they turned on me for being too honest. They protected the regime, if you want. That made me change opinion of the discipline they were trying to impose on the rest of us. “Be a new thinker, a creator, as long as it does not interfere with our principals.”

I also tried to be a “new thinker” in music class at this international school. Every year, we had an assignment called “music reflection” and it always gave me chills down my spine. We were supposed to attend a concert of some sort, live, and analyze the performance following certain criteria given by the teacher. My first and only music reflection was in ninth grade and I begged on my knees not to have to go watch something live. I had found not my style of music yet (black metal found me a few years later) and I knew that nothing I liked was coming up before the assignment was due. I asked kindly if I could possibly watch a live performance on YouTube instead, since that would have made me way more comfortable, because going to some concert hall I did not know to watch a concert I did not like gave me severe anxiety. But, of course, the teacher said no. She could not visualize a scenario where a student did something in a different way than it had always been done and kept insisting that there are “certain atmospheres and energies” in a concert hall that you can not get a hold of through a computer screen. I understand that and it is true, no doubt about it, but my opinion is crystal clear. Those “atmospheres and energies,” whatever they are, are not even half as important as a students’ mental health. It was not a case of me not wanting to go because it was boring, my lack of interest was only 1% of the entire problem. I knew before I went that this would scar me, I was fifteen years old and knew myself quite well, and it really did. Two songs into the piano concert I lost it stormed out in rage. I lost control completely and told my mother that I would never speak to this teacher ever again. I went home, wrote a quarter of a page full of nonsense and sent it to the teacher’s inbox. The reflection was supposed to be way longer than that, which I knew, it was simply to stand up for myself and to clearly show her that I did not appreciate this task at all. The day after I was called to her room, which I had expected, and she kindly asked me to redo my paper. She understood that this concert thing might not have been my cup of tea but still insisted that I had the ability to write something better. I went home, wrote a top mark reflection easily and handed it in, also according to plan. But again, I wasted an enormous amount of energy on this nonsense. Optimizing energy is a big thing in environmental science, but not at school, since the planet’s health (at least now, when you realized it is dying after decades of mistreatment) is considered more important.

Some teachers at this school did adapt their stuff for me occasionally. For example, in art class, we were to do an art reflection as well. I begged on my knees again, and this teacher was absolutely fine with me doing something different. He let me do my reflection on a piece of art I had done myself. It did not ruin my learning and it did not lower the quality of my reflection, but it did not ruin my mental wellbeing at all. My English teacher in ninth grade (the best teacher I ever had in all ways possible) let me read the autobiography of Gary Neville instead of the one of Anne Frank. I had ploughed through Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm, Red Scarf Girl and some other books like that and now I kindly asked for a break. He had nothing against that, he knew about my struggles (they all did) and cared about me. The principals probably would not allow me to read a different book since that specific story was part of the 9th Grade English course plan, but he let me do it anyways. The PE teacher let me skip the physical PE-classes during my last two months after I almost got into a fist fight with the regime during a game of basketball. She told me that I had already shown enough for a top mark and therefore did not have to be there anymore. With that being said, I am very thankful to these teachers for what they did. They helped me regain some energy that others had burned, and I will always remember their actions of goodness. However, my experience is that these kind adaptions were made possible simply because a few individuals were nice. I believe (from being at this school every day for two years, and at other schools for over a decade) that the music teacher was the only one who followed the system out of the examples I just mentioned. That was how it was supposed to be done, and she did it. She did her job, following orders strictly, and I can not blame her for that. The system was always against me, and I never stood a chance until these three teachers (there were a few similar situations with other people involved) went against it and let me do a thing or two my way. If they had followed the system too, just like the Swedish teachers had done with my red hat and my preference to use the term times in math, those adaptations would never had happened and I would have been more than likely to go insane. So, if you are going to be a real “new thinker,” not just one who studies more than expected or something of the sort, you must remember that you are dependent on the teacher’s willingness to break orders and walk against the huge system that pays their wages.

Now, I will aim my gun at this phenomenon that you call homework. I have been studying for many years, just like many of you, and I never really understood the point of it. And when you think about it, it makes even less sense. I like to compare it with sports, strength training or whatever physical activity you may like. As a young sportsman/woman you are always told that your body must rest, it needs to recover after hard work, you have got to give it time to rebuild its’ muscle fibers, and so on. To most people, especially to parents whose kids are young and not fully grown physically, that is common sense. You simply cannot be training eight hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, that will not do any good. Not only will your body eventually be broken down and exhausted from the lack of recovery, you might also grow tired of it mentally. Perhaps it might not be fun anymore, if you have been doing too much of it at a young age. It is also a well-known fact that all bodies and minds are different. We all have different abilities to recover quickly, both when it comes to physical exercise or if it is a tough week at school. I spent way too much time studying or worrying about studying for my own good back in the day. On weekends, when you are supposed to “relax and recharge,” I was not able to do any of it properly. There was always an essay that had to be finished for Monday, there was always a math quiz on Tuesday and on Monday there was also a vocabulary quiz in English. With that knowledge in mind, please tell me how the fuck I am supposed to “recharge?” When I studied abroad, I was completely overwhelmed with homework, assignments, lab reports and essays. Way over the top every week. I was battling against a regime at school too, simply because I was not going to accept hearing my own name in a foreign language every ten minutes, a battle in which I was alone, and then I had these overwhelming assignments on top of it. My mind did not switch off or relax for almost two years. And since the teachers in middle school preferred to focus on my red hat instead of my math skills, I sucked ass in math class. Therefore, I had to spend a major part of my summer vacation doing math, when I was supposed to be recharging for real. And for every minute that went by without me doing math, I felt guilty and lazy. Is that what you call recovery? Is that what you call a vacation? Is that what you call “two months off?” If so, let me tell you something. It is not. IT IS NOTHING BUT FUCKING TORTURE. And I still had not turned 15. I was a little boy, bearing responsibilities of a grown adult.

So, my question on the subject is the following:

Why are kids not taught at a young age the importance of mental recovery? Depression in teenagers is a pandemic (but since it is not visible and considered as a weakness in the environment you created, nobody gives a damn) and, mark my words, it WILL NOT IMPROVE as long as you all judge students simply by their grades. When I lived abroad, school was more than a full-time job to me. I hated every subject, I did not get along with 94% of the entire school for different reasons, I fought the regime on my own, and the assignments were overwhelming. I was not able to relax properly, not even an hour, for almost two years. That is not healthy, it does not build a foundation for longevity and it certainly does not improve a kids’ learning. It caused my school life to have the complete opposite impact on my being than what was advertised when I arrived. Since I never got to relax, just like an overtrained sportsman, I was never able to fulfill my full potential, a potential that once was sky high (a President’s Award for Academic Achievement diploma speaks for itself). But due to the constant strain for many years, even before I moved, overwhelming studies and some nonsense bullshit such as a regime that the teachers did not interfere with, I most likely will never even reach half of what once was my maximized ability. During the summer of 2012, I went to the emergency unit at the local hospital for chronical chest pains. I was terrified that I might die from some cardiovascular failure, but that was never the case. It was stress, my heart was pounding like a fucking black metal bass drum and it even skipped beats occasionally, and I was told by the doctors that it was stress related. Not even then did anyone tell me to relax and change my lifestyle. But I know for a fact that, even if my parents had told me to slow down, I would not have done it, since it could potentially make my grades look a bit worse. As if my grades back then actually mattered for the future. They do not matter at all after you have burned out, I later realized. So much energy wasted for nothing at an early age, as well as physical symptoms from long term stress at fourteen. Thanks, you really created a healthy environment to learn and grow!

When I was in my later teens, I started realizing how horrible my time at school had been from the start. I never felt safe at kindergarten, I cried my eyes out in preschool when nobody saw, I was an outsider for many years, I destroyed my own brain in Pre-IB for two years, and my final three years before graduation were flat and full of nothing but struggles. I knew that my brain had taken damage in Pre-IB, and that I was not going to be able to perform at that level ever again. That thought depressed me even more, and school did not make it any better, to say the least. I had been studying French in Pre-IB, because Spanish was not available, but Spanish was always my preferred language to learn out of the two. But of course, I was not allowed to join the more advanced Spanish classes when I returned to Sweden. I was forced to complete the two previous courses before I was welcome to the third one, where the majority of my classmates were, even though I knew that I would pass that third course easily. The school did not care about the fact that I, just a year before, went from not knowing a word in French to dominating the advanced group where the others had been studying the language for years, in a year. That was not relevant according to them, so I wasted five months learning how to say “hello” in Spanish. By Christmas I grew tired of it and took the final tests in both Spanish courses, finishing with top marks, just like I had said. Then, I joined the more advanced group and proved the teachers wrong once again. I completed two other courses after that too, which meant that by the time I graduated, I had finished five Spanish courses in three years. But of course, since you are not allowed to do things differently, I just had to waste half a year not learning a thing before I was able to take the tests. The system’s main goal is to form even the most innovative people into the same shape as anyone else, to make them fit into a certain norm. That makes it easier because you are then able to treat everybody the same way, which means less struggles for you and your poor teachers. Their job is impossible as it is, they do not need any more difficult people to deal with, right? Therefore, it is better to flatten out the students that are different, no matter how great their abilities are, to make the teachers’ work a bit less unbearable. Right?

I received my autistic diagnose at the age of 17. I was in my final years at school, just waiting for that day when I would finally be able to get the hell out of there and never return. The school principal and all the teachers were made well aware of it immediately, to give them the best possible conditions to support me. The principal was a nice guy, he tried his best, even though he was incredibly busy. The teachers did not appear to have a clue about autism whatsoever, nobody still asked me how I was doing, and I struggled to get any support at all. Not even the psychology teacher seemed to care, which in itself is quite ironic. And again, I am not blaming these individual teachers, I am trying to communicate with people above them here. Why are the teachers left without any knowledge? Why are there no opportunities to custom make your studies, apart from adding a fourth year and graduate a year later than your friends? I was offered to do that multiple times, but the humiliation of having another year to look forward to when your friends are done made that idea go out the window. That was just not an option, even though I probably would have needed it. I was offered the chance to join a different school, where they specialized on young people with different diagnoses and disabilities. Nice thought, even though that bothered me quite a bit for a few reasons. I am NOT SOCIALLY DISABLED at all, not even an inch. I interacted perfectly with my teachers, I was always the group leader when we did projects in groups, I am a good speaker, I can sense atmospheres in a room better than most people and I have no issues at all when it comes to arguments or discussions, in words or in text. I have autism, yes, but that does not automatically make me socially disabled. I HATE POINTLESS SMALLTALK AT SCHOOL, because I never really wanted to be there, it was never a safe environment, I mostly felt that the adults were against me and therefore I had to waste my energy on surviving each day. Disliking small talk that does not provide a source of positive energy is a natural consequence of that. If I meet someone I know at a football game, I can small talk forever and nobody will ever believe that I am autistic. That is a completely different scenario than in a school hallway where I am forced to spend my days against my will. And I am definitely not disabled when it comes to reading, studying, learning, writing and listening, no way near it. Yes, I want clear instructions and I prefer to know what tomorrow’s class will look like, but apart from that, I am (was) a brilliant student and a great learner. I am conservative by nature, I am the first to admit that, but I am also one of the most innovative and definitely the most productive person I know. If I ever start doubting my own ability, or if someone else does it, I will just look back at my marks from ninth grade, the year when I totally slaughtered myself and every class I went into. Was it worth it? Hell no, not even a bit, but it is a proof of my ability.

When you start studying at a Swedish gymnasium, similar to grade 10 or whatever you want to call it, there is something I want to talk about. During the first week they have this thing called “nollning,” an introduction to the new surroundings if you want, where the older students get to humiliate and embarrass the younger ones with stupid games and dress codes. All the extroverts have the time of their lives, and even the half-introverts let loose as well. I found out about this stuff a week after we had moved back to Sweden and I felt straight away that I DO NOT WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN ANY OF THAT NONSENSE since I am not into volunteered embarrassment. I did not even want to go there at all for studying and certainly not for rotting away during long hours of recess time, nor did I want to dress up like an idiot for the amusement of people I do not know. They stormed our classroom on the first day, dancing like it was Saturday night, and forced us to do the same. Our tutors joined in and applauded the event, taking it for granted that everyone enjoyed it. I had already swallowed a few panic attacks the day before and I felt that my heart will not be able to keep up if it gets any worse. It got a lot worse. They forced us to go into town, still dressed up like idiots, dancing to some crappy music I hated, singing some dumb stuff that I did not agree with and doing whatever the older ones told us to do. My experience was that I was the only one who did not like this treatment, the others seemed to enjoy it. I had destroyed my brain just a few months before in another country, and now I had to waste even more energy on this stupid shit that does not even have anything to do with school. It is just an excuse to drink alcohol and stay out late, and during school time, it was mandatory.

Obviously, nobody forced me physically to be there, I could have gone home whenever I wanted, but that would have destroyed my reputation among the students I did not already know. “Oh, that boring outsider who left alone and did not take part in any of it. What is wrong with him?” My solution to this problem is that nobody should be forced to participate in this like I was. In my opinion, all ninth graders should reply to a survey before the year ends, whether they want to participate in these degrading activities or not. That has never been done as far as I know, since that would be against the old norm saying that everyone enjoys a party, but I am convinced that it would be a good thing to do. If the majority says no, the whole thing should not only be cancelled during school time at all public schools in the country, it will have to be strongly prohibited too. If some people still want to party and drink beer in the evenings, please be my guest, at least that is voluntary. And if the majority of the ninth graders say yes, go ahead, but please proceed with caution. Keep an eye on what is actually going on, make sure that nobody does anything against their will like I did and make sure that no laws are broken. I am sure that this will sound boring to a lot of people, but I am sorry, I could not care less. The partying kids will always find a way to drink alcohol anyway, but the non-partyers do not have an easy way out of this nollning introduction. And do not tell me that you do not have to be there. Yes you do, because if you are not, you will be looked at as a weirdo. Trust me. Not doing things against your will is often lifted as an important thing in an individual’s wellbeing, at least in certain aspects. But since a lot of people who helped creating this modern and stressful world are hypocrites, just like my example with physical and mental recovery or “be a creator as long as it does not interfere with our principals,” doing degrading things (not talking about schoolwork here) against your will is okay sometimes. And sometimes not. Hypocrisy at its’ finest!

I only have one ambition with this long letter. It is not to criticize anybody personally, it is not to point out specific people (hence no names for people, schools, cities, countries) and I am not looking to complain for the sake of it. I do mention examples where certain teachers are more present than others, simply to plant a seed in people’s heads about the systematic degradation some students go through. And as far I know, it goes across borders as well, it is not unique for Sweden. I do feel that teachers, school nurses, politicians and other folks with power get away with things too easily. If a student says something inappropriate (as long as they do not belong to the regime I fought) things get heated immediately and the child’s parents are notified straight away. But when a teacher covers a long calculation with a big red X in a thirteen-year old’s book without explaining why, nobody gives a damn. I want teachers to have authority, I am for law and order as long as it goes both ways, but that is just dumb. If that happened to my kid, I would have done everything in my power to get a teacher who does that fired, and I would never have given up on it. No student deserves that kind of treatment, especially not someone who had been struggling for years, mark my words. That is what this letter is about, to raise awareness of the fact that some students, who have unique abilities, are choked to death psychologically on a daily basis. And that it is not only at school, it is everywhere. On social media, on the internet, everywhere. Even the young people who do not necessarily have a different way of thinking will be struggling with the tempo, the pressure, the demands and the complete lack of psychological recovery. Call me a conservative pessimist, fine, I have heard it all my life and it does not mean a thing to me. I will just respond by calling you a lazy-minded hypocrite who follows the stream. Or, we could take a different route together and actually think about how our inventions today might possibly effect the people who will have to deal with it tomorrow and for years ahead. And the most important thing to take from this, as well as the easiest thing, is this: “How are you doing?”

It’s the forests where silence has lease

It’s the beauty that fills me with wonder

It’s the stillness that fills me with peace