The Free Dictionary defines "product" as "something produced by human or mechanical effort or by a natural process," or "A direct result; a consequence." To state that one is a product of the public school system is to negate all that makes one something other than a factory-formed product. Although I spent about nine of my formative years in public school, I do not consider myself a "product" of the system or of school in general. In my mind, it is largely the time and learning I spent out of school, and even in resistance to school, that made me who I am. Were I to be only what the school produced, I would be a sorry specimen, indeed.
During the last two years of my public education, I often stated--in a joking tone, although I meant it sincerely--that "school interferes with my life." I was able to make this declaration only because I had experienced two years of life without school.
Observing the system, I learned how to work around it. My most effective response was to not show up. In my last two years of high school, I skipped nearly as often as I went to class. I showed up for first period, to be accounted for on the master roll call that went to the main office, then chose which classes I would attend that day, based on factors such as my interest in the subject, what was happening in class, and whether it was a day too beautiful to neglect taking a boat out on the river. I asked classmates for the homework assignments, completed those and turned them in on time, crammed for- and aced the tests, and kept a B average without totally ruining my young life. Amazingly, nobody in the system noticed. The only time I encountered any trouble was when a girl named Sharon finked on me for skipping, apparently because she was jealous that she did not have the guts to come along. I caught a lot of flak from my dad that night, but it was worth it; my afternoon on the river had given me much pleasure.