My good friend and colleague is big on flags: he owns many of them, rotates them out, and even has his own flag pole in his front yard. He recently gave me one for my birthday*. It is a brilliantly black, dreadful, and individualism-inspiring pirate flag. It was the flag of legendary pirate Jack Rackham.

What did I do with this flag? I hung it in my classroom for all to see of course!

That is another brilliant Ayn Rand quote to pair with the brilliant flag.

This flag has a few powerful, symbolic meanings for me. Mainly, this flag stands for rebellion, refusal, and resistance to the status quo. Jack Rackham fought back against the English system in which he found little representation. Just as he fought back, I use his image to inspire me to fight back too. I fight back against “traditional” financial situations as well as “traditional” teaching methods. This flag grows evermore important as a symbol for resistance in this era of big spending and DeVos.

If you want to be successful within this economy of abundance, you must learn to resist the temptations and pulls from the multitude of ridiculous advertising, which may be as many as 10,000 ads per day! And you CAN do this! You just need inspiration. Find inspiration from my pirate flag. Throughout your day you will be bombarded by endless advertisements. You will be tempted, torn, and thrown to the spending wolves. You must resist and rebel. You must fight back and learn to live without spending so much. Live like a pirate! Fight back. Fight for yourself.

We live in a society that yells how great and almighty the individual is. We unknowingly worship the ideas of Ayn Rand (I’ve read Atlas Shrugged; have any of your conservative friends actually gotten through that thing?). And they can be good ideas: work for yourself; create something new for the world; word hard to succeed. But while we supposedly follow these ideals, we are secretly being manipulated into giving up our individualism for consumerist comfort and conformity. Why would you want to ever walk to school? Everyone else is in their new car. Why would you ever bring your own lunch? Everyone else is going out to the Starbucks next door. Why would you ever be fine with your two-year-old cell phone? Everyone else’s is brand spanking new and even shiny still.

With 10,000 ads screaming at us every day, it is supremely difficult to be anything but individual. How could we ever be expected to be ourselves or think our own thoughts when we see that many ads? The answer: strive towards individualism! Seek it out, question everything**, and find inspiration from rebellious individuals of the past. This is where you must find your own flag. Find a symbol of individuality and worship that symbol. Any Rand speaks in a way Jack Rackham would surely appreciate. She wrote, “The man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap.” You must live for yourself. Decide and spend for yourself. Choose your own course in your life, your finances, and for you teachers out there, in your classroom.

To strive for Financial Independence, you must find a course towards individualism. Similarly, to strive for quality teaching, you must find a course towards individualism.¬†There are no good prescriptive lessons. There is no pre-made system for education that maintains quality. These programs go against everything that is American. These programs, such as SpringBoard (which is huge in my district), promote worksheets, collective ¬†correct answers, and blandness overall. These programs promote the whitewashing of our students. We should be searching for creativity and uniqueness within our students. We should fight and rebel against everything that doesn’t value authenticity, individual thought, whole texts and the rights of the individual to think as they will.

A major problem with our collective failures in education (Nevada is LAST for the third year in a row) and our collective failure to save money (Americans have more debt now than during the 2008 crash) comes from our lack of individualism. We are herding! We are not striving to live uniquely. We are striving to live as everyone else: buying and spending, standardizing and testing. We must abandon this to save our financial and educational selves. To maintain our identity as a nation of individuals we must find symbolism in the individuals of the past and apply their resistance to our own systems of oppression.

This will not be easy. Any time you find yourself going against the grain others will question you, ridicule you, lower you in their esteem. But this lowering only lasts momentarily. Fight for yourself, your individual self and the individuality of your students and your lessons, and you’ll eventually find quality and appreciation. You will find financial independence. You will find authentic, quality teaching. But it will always be a struggle against those who prefer not to question their own behavior. If you find yourself questioning why you are doing something, or why society is doing something, then you are on the right path to individualism. If you find that others question your actions too, then you are especially moving towards that ideal individualism.

So, find a symbol. Fight to live individually. Resist all ads. Resist standardization and testing. Strive to live financially and educationally as the pirate Jack Rackham. Think for yourself!

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*Thanks again Mr. B. You are a teacher among teachers.
**Question Everything is the basic tenant of true, quality teaching. Question your students on the spot, not with pre-written questions. Questions must be dependent and relevant to the student, the situation, the lesson, everything. Don’t only question your students, but question your spending too. Question everything.

What do you think?