Problem of Schooling

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All my life I have worshiped self-directed learning. I love learning with SuperMemo. I have long forgotten my 22 long years of schooling. In the past, each time someone asked me about my formula for the perfect modern education system, I would say I have no idea. I like self-learning. However, by 2016, I have reached a breaking point. I know dozens of kids and teens. Some of them are users of SuperMemo, some are kids of my friends or family, others I know from a football field. They almost universally hate school. The older they are, the more intense the feeling. To me, learning is one of the most enjoyable things in the world. Why would school be such a torture. In late August 2016, the heat of the summer was unbearable. I love the optimism that comes with the sun. It stood in stark contrast with those long faces of kids who knew that in a few days, they would have to go to school again.

Then I vowed "I would never send my kids to school". I see that we fail our kids dismally.

Education is based on wrong principles and a wrong design (Piotr Wozniak, 2017)

This free book tries to explain the problem, and suggest some solutions.

Printable version

"I would never send my kids to school" (2017)


Chapters that are missing in the printable version are marked with '*' below.

Brain science


The system



Information science







Color codes

Important notes: the most important ideas are marked in yellow. Those are snippets I want you to remember most from my texts. If you do not have time for reading, reviewing those notes will tell you roughly what I want to say. If you disagree, you can dig deeper in the text to figure out my reasoning

Excerpts: mark the most remarkable or influential words taken from other authors. At times, putting things in my own words would not do justice to the original

Personal anecdote. Why use anecdotes?
Personal anecdotes: if you have an impression that my opinions about education are distorted by my own experience, you are right. I have spent all my professional life on self-directed learning, while my 22 years of formal schooling remained a distant memory. With each improvement to my own learning, I recall those early years with less and less respect to the old ways of learning. My personal notes are marked with this colored template. You can skip them without losing on the message, or dig into my own recall to see how my opinions have been shaped or biased
Anecdotes: some stories from lives of great and/or ordinary people

Motto: some witty idea or quote from a wise man, usually from ages ago. A quote that sets the theme for a chapter. Those witticisms often help us realize that we are re-learning history over and over again. The ancients knew things many people fail to see today

Metaphors: some ideas are best presented in a metaphoric pop-science fashion. If you fully understand the text, skip metaphors. If you don't or if you are skeptical, see if metaphoric approach is more convincing. Metaphors help you build models that facilitate reasoning

SuperMemo insert. What is SuperMemo?
SuperMemo notes: are relevant only to those who care about SuperMemo. You can skip those inserts without missing main points
FAQ question. What are FAQs?
Frequently asked questions (FAQs): Interesting questions you might have about memory, learning, creativity, sleep, etc.

Your Help

If you see errors, distortions, inaccuracies or would like to contribute to this article, write to me