My review of Seth Godin’s new book, Stop Stealing Dreams


My review of Seth Godin’s new book, Stop Stealing Dreams

Seth Godin just published an e-book about education called Stop Stealing Dreams. He talks about how schools stink, but that even though homeschooling appears to be a rational response to terrible schools, homeschooling is inefficient and unrealistic for most parents.

When I first saw this, I was stunned. Seth has built a career on telling people how to push past the status quo. In his book The Dip, which is my favorite, Seth taught us all how to do something really difficult.  In his book Linchpin, Seth asked us if we are doing something that really matters or just talking about it.

I can’t help thinking that Stop Stealing Dreams is his description of why homeschooling requires going through a dip, but he doesn’t want to do it. So instead of being a linchpin for homeschooing, Seth will be a naysayer. Seth is advocating the status quo: Lame-duck parent activists who delude themselves that their activism is meaningful. And people advocating for large-scale school reform without any blueprint whatsoever for how to educate such a wide range of students on such a large scale. This discussion is parental escapism. No parent, not even Seth, will solve the school problem before their kids are out of school. 

Seth has kids. This book is his justification for not homeschooling his own kids.

On the one hand, I like this because I know that if Seth feels like he has to justify it, then it’s true that homeschooling is going mainstream.

But I’m disturbed because I adore Seth, and his book, The Dip, really changed how I think about my life.

This moment in Seth’s career reminds me of when David Sedaris stopped being funny. Do you know who David Sedaris is? He’s an essay writer who is absolutely hilarious. His earlier writing, such as Naked, is about being an outsider: He was a not-famous writer, from a wacky family, and gay. It’s great material.

But then Sedaris got famous, his funny gay essays went mainstream, and he became one of the richest essayists in history, living in the South of France with his partner, and everything is great and there’s not a lot to write about.

Melissa sent me a link to this ad for Mercedes. The ad blows me away because it’s full of creativity. There is the amazing idea for a non-emission car. Then there’s the idea of how to convey that car visually, in an ad. And then there is the video editor who created a really fun story. Watching the ad is fun because you feel that you are part of a huge creative blast of energy.

That’s how I felt when I read Seth’s earlier books. That’s how I felt when I read Sedaris’s early writing.

It’s very hard to be creative when you don’t need to be. Creativity requires a different kind of drive.

It’s this drive: Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese artist who is in and out of mental institutions all the time, but she can’t stop creating art. Her art almost always has dots on it. She does the art because she can’t stop.

Seth has done one really big thing for the homeschooling movement: he has focused our attention on the real barrier, which is the ego.

So many parents say they’d homeschool if they had more resources. Seth shows us that resources are not the barrier. Seth’s book is the rationale that parents with unlimited income use for not homeschooling.

It’s clear to me that the real reason Seth is not homeschooling is because he thinks he’d be bored doing it. He has bigger fish to fry. He thinks it’s inefficient to spend his days educating his kids when he has such big ideas, and such a big audience waiting to hear them.

I get it. I have that problem, too. It’s just that I’m not willing to cave to it. I’m going the scary route: I’m taking the dip. I know that schools suck. I know that kids are best educated in a way that is customized to the student. And I know that my career is going to suffer because I’m giving my kids this education.

Do you know how David Sedaris started writing well again? He started writing about life as a rich person. Here’s a recent example in the New Yorker. It’s good writing. I felt good reading it. And I felt happy that Sedaris was able to shift himself to accommodate the issues he faced.

I am hoping Seth will be like David Sedaris and Seth will find something better to do than tell people why they should push for maintaining the status quo. I don’t know what Seth’s next dip is, but I think it’s time for him to take one. I think the book about homeschooling is Seth’s admitting that he’s scared to do something new. He has too much to lose.

But you don’t need to be as rich and successful as Seth to feel that way. Each of us feels that way when we are going to do something difficult.

And, in the meantime, Seth makes the best argument for homeschooling yet: Smart people only argue against an idea when it’s clear that idea’s time has come.

236 replies
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  1. Eric Wentworth
    Eric Wentworth says:

    We live in a country where in some states 1 in 4 adults believes President Obama is a Muslim, where fewer than 1 in 6 can’t find Iraq on a globe if the names of the countries are omitted, where most families have two working parents to survive, where 20% of the adults still smoke for crissakes. Do you really want to leave the education of our children up to these people?

    Your frame of reference in life is quite different than most families. Your opinions and attitudes may be workable for you…and that’s great. But for someone with a difference frame of reference, it may be disastrous.

    • Cathy
      Cathy says:

      Eric, you wrote that “1 in 4 adults believes President Obama is a Muslim, where fewer than 1 in 6 can’t find Iraq on a globe if the names of the countries are omitted, where most families have two working parents to survive, where 20% of the adults still smoke for crissakes. Do you really want to leave the education of our children up to these people?”

      My point is, these people you complain about have gone through the school system almost without exception! If public schools were a way of making sure these sorts of beliefs and behaviors didn’t exist, they ALREADY wouldn’t exist!

    • sk
      sk says:

      your post is misguided for many reasons, but I wanted to point one myth out (because it is so very common):

      “where most families have two working parents to survive, ”

      In fact, most families don’t have two working parents to survive. Most families don’t even have two parents at all. Today in America, 50% of children are born to one parent households. Of the remaining 50%, at least some of them have only one working parent. Thus, today most families do not have two working parents to survive: most families survive with one working parent.


      • sk
        sk says:

        Sef-correction: I had mixed up the statistics for unmarried mothers (just over 50%) with families of only one adult (substantially less than that). However, I happen to be correct anyway. Approximately 51% of married couples have both parents working at least part time (thus, 49% of married couples don’t-they are single income families). And all of single adult households (primarily single mothers) are single income families by definition.

        Thus, it remains that most families are not dual income families.


  2. Greg
    Greg says:

    If homeschooling becomes mainstream I’d expect the prices of Kusama’s works to skyrocket. Her stuff is great for kids and homeschoolers love showing how they can go to museums during school hours.

  3. Julie
    Julie says:

    Writing from France. Homeschooling here is heavily discouraged and private schools strictly controlled. The kinds of informal homeschooling clubs that seem to be par for the course in the US would be viewed as suspiciously as cults at a guess. The norm is EVERYONE follows the state education program. Homeschoolers, despite being discouraged have their own education department to oversee them and they follow the same program. Private (catholic) schools have teachers employed by the state working within a semi autonomous framework following an identical state education program. International schools are accepted on french soil, much the same as the French schools found around the world, following, you guessed it, exactly the same education program.

    Oh, it is very, very far from perfect but it is the same state program that is followed by everyone, rich, poor black or white. (The program obviously has different specialities and options, but it is still the education department). All children deserve the right to access to an education worthy of that name. Whether the French system succeeds in this goal is highly debatable, but it is the goal and last time I checked any government anywhere was beholden to be concerned with the well being of all children.

    How long has education been free, universal and compulsory until the age of 16 or 18? It is normal that the elite battle against this. All parents are beholden to assure the well being of only their OWN children.

    Either we have to accept that authorities and parents have opposing aims or parents have to accept that education is free, compulsory and universal. Homeschooling is the epitomy of the individualised society. Good luck with that.

  4. Grace
    Grace says:

    I would never homeschool my child.

    So often when people discuss homeschooling, they focus on the wrong things. For example, children can certainly pursue their own interests more effectively at home; if their parents are intelligent, conscientious, and psychologically astute (and that is a big if), their academic/subject education will be probably be better also. But so what?

    The point of school is to 1. educate children to the minimum level of knowledge necessary to function in society; 2. socialize them into mainstream culture; and 3. provide them with constructive activities while their parents are busy working. Homeschooling fulfills none of these very important functions.

    It’s great to encourage children to follow their interests, but what about them learning things they are not interested in, but are necessary to function properly? You need a balanced foundation before you specialize: this is why college students can pick what they study, but all kindergartners must learn the same thing. Elementary schoolers do not have a solid enough foundation in basic knowledge to specialize successfully (except in a limited sense).

    I also feel that as citizens in an incredibly diverse society, it’s important for everyone to accept certain core values which are held in common. This helps with social cohesion and a sense of community, one of the main determinants in people’s satisfaction with their environment (and a great reducer of crime). These values should be taught to every child, but if homeschooling becomes common there is no way to make this happen. By “values” I do not mean religion, but more on the lines of the principles outlined in the Constitution/Bill of Rights.

    Most parents just do not have the luxury of being able to effectively supervise their children during working hours (and many of those who could, don’t want to). Anyone who seriously suggests this as a workable solution is both elitist and silly. Few parents can even manage to provide all care for their infant/toddlers, an age at which constant parental attention truly is crucial for life success.

    The real problem with schools in America is that children come to grade school already dysfunctional and psychologically unprepared to learn well. The very most crucial time in any person’s life is from birth to age 3 or so: if things go wrong then, the damage is permanent and severe. Anyone who’s truly concerned with the state of education and America’s youth should give up on the boondoggle of homeschooling and concentrate efforts where it really matters: on infants and toddlers.

    Remember that a child’s personality, general psychological makeup, and intelligence level has already been set by age 7. Whether you homeschool or not is not going to change that.

    • C G
      C G says:

      Grace, that kind of thinking of children and education is really very last century. The world is a much different place now and will be exponentially different in the coming years, never mind decades.

      You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how things have changed if you are willing to look up from old paradigms to see what’s new out there.

      • Grace
        Grace says:

        CG, how do you mean? I am genuinely curious.

        To me, it seems like the last century has seen a shift from a world in which physical strength was terribly important (since most people did manual labor) to one in which success in life is based on the brain. And not just any brain, but one that is highly trained and well-versed in squelching natural impulses (to nap, eat or even go to the bathroom).

        Our lives are now regulated by the clock and deadlines, even for people who don’t have traditional 9-5 jobs. I only see this tendency becoming still more pronounced (as now deadlines are even tighter; with email people expect a response within hours). But maybe I am wrong. What are you thinking of?

    • sk
      sk says:

      Are you aware that you contradicted your own argument? As you state: “The point of school is to 1. educate children to the minimum level of knowledge necessary to function in society; 2. socialize them into mainstream culture; and 3. provide them with constructive activities while their parents are busy working. ”

      You similarly state: “For example, children can certainly pursue their own interests more effectively at home; if their parents are intelligent, conscientious, and psychologically astute (and that is a big if), their academic/subject education will be probably be better also.”

      In other words, if parents are good, your purpose 1) is fulfilled. And if parents are homeschooling, your purpose 3) (‘provide children with constructive activities while their parents are working) is irrelevant-a parent is home providing those constructive activities-you don’t need school to do it!

      So, you are left with 2): socialize them into mainstream culture. I don’t think most homeschoolers see that as a beneficial or laudible goal-in fact, just the opposite. It seem s strange that the one viable goal of public schooling, by your own argument, is social and cultural conformity-and this leads you to defend public schools!

      In fact, I think we should view homeschoolers (note: I am not one, but am thinking about it) not as people from the suburban high schools ‘like us,’ but rather as a subpopulation analogous to the Amish or fundamentalist Jewish (or fundamentalist Christian). One never hears about criticsm of the Amish for not ‘conforming to mainstream culture’- the whole point of the Amish is to not conform to mainstream culture-its what makes the Amish Amish!

      So why would we criticize homeschoolers because they don’t conform to mainstream culture? Why wouldn’t America allow for a non-common subculture known as homeschoolers the way we allow for conservative, fundamentalist Jewish schools? Why wouldn’t we allow for homeschoolers in the way we allow for child entertainers and their alternate educational methods, or extremely rural populations and their alternate educational methods (I’m referring to relatively isolated folks in the northern Mountain states, Alaska and so on), or any other population outside the mainstream? To take your argument to its logical conclusion, you seem to be arguing that to appreciate the mainstream value of diversity, children all have to learn exactly the same thing in exactly the same way…



      • Grace
        Grace says:

        I don’t think there’s a contradiction. Most children (or adults) are not interested in all topics, and in fact find many important topics dull/unpleasant. I myself hate exercise of all kinds, even though it’s so important for one’s health, and only do it because I am a grown up and have self-discipline. Most children are still developing that important quality, which is why they have parents to make them do stuff.

        Having a set curriculum and going to school is the equivalent in the mental realm. Allowing children to skip important areas of knowledge because they aren’t interested (which is what “unschooling” is) is like letting them never bathe or eat vegetables, and seems terribly irresponsible. This is especially the case as most humans only enjoy doing things that they are good at, so a child with strong art skills and weak reading skills will naturally focus more and more on art, until he can barely write a coherent sentence (this was the case for one unschooled 16-year-old I knew). There’s nothing wrong with specialization at all, but the skills children learn in grade school are absolutely necessary, regardless of one’s later path in life. 5 (or even 10) is much too young to specialize, especially in a socially mobile, constantly-changing society like the US.

        And while academic subjects are very important, they are only part of what is taught in school. Art, music, physical education and technology are taught formally, and making friends, working in groups, dealing with unpleasant authorities, learning to take turns, learning how to cope with boredom, navigate the world independently, and developing a social identity less formally. Very few parents are going to be able to teach all of that (or arrange for it to be taught), though there may be a few.

        You are right that homeschooling parents may not need a babysitter; but how many people can afford a non-working parent? Not that many (especially since we don’t have national health insurance).

        I might have a different perspective on the value of conformity, because I live in Asia. Most Americans haven’t traveled much, and because the US is by and large extremely culturally homogeneous, they don’t realize the huge differences in values that exist across societies.

        There is no natural belief in things like 1. laws should be equally applied to all people, even if they are poor or ugly; 2. people should be allowed to do what they want, as long as it doesn’t hurt others; or 3. creativity is valuable. Actually right now I live in a society where none of these are accepted beliefs.

        If a society doesn’t hold core beliefs in common, then how can anything get done/be agreed upon? We all have to agree to play by the same rules, whatever they are, in order to have a game be possible. It’s true that you can just refuse to play (opt out of society altogether, as the Amish do), but I don’t think this is what most homeschoolers want (since most want their children to go to college, get jobs, etc.).

        • sk
          sk says:

          I’ll be more precise.
          Your own words:

          “For example, children can certainly pursue their own interests more effectively at home; if their parents are intelligent, conscientious, and psychologically astute (and that is a big if), their academic/subject education will be probably be better also…
          The point of school is to 1. educate children to the minimum level of knowledge necessary to function in society;…”

          In other words, you simultaneously state that with intelligent motivated parents, students will probably get a better academic/subject education. You also state that the purpose of school is to educate children to the minimum level of knowledge necessary to function in society.

          If parents will/can fulfill 1) better than public schools will (as you state), and 1) is one of the primary purposes of education (as you state) then you should be led to prefer homeschools. Instead, you are arguing against homeschooling.


          • Grace
            Grace says:

            Sorry my (too long) comment wasn’t clear.

            What I was trying to say was that while (excellent) parents could do a better job on teaching academic subjects, the knowledge you get in school is far more than just academic. I meant “knowledge” in the broad sense. I tried to give some examples of what this might entail (sports, learning how to wait in line, training in negotiation, etc.) above.

            Remembering my own school days, the vast majority of my emotional/mental energy was allocated to the complex social relations with my classmates, other schoolchildren, teachers and administrators. The actual subject part was by comparison a cakewalk and almost a sideline (and I went to excellent, rigorous schools). Isn’t this true for most kids, unless they have serious learning disabilities?

    • Cathy
      Cathy says:

      Grace, homeschooled and unschooled kids attain the knowledge needed to function in society at a greater rate than do public schooled kids–partly because they tend to go out into society from a fairly early age and function! Homeschooled and unschooled kids are as apt to be socially adept as schooled kids, too–for the same reason–they are out in society, socializing with other people of all ages. So your Points 1 and 2 are dealt with very well by most homeschooled/unschooled families.

      And so we are left with babysitting (your Point 3). I know a lot of homeschooled families who cut back on expenses so that they can cut back on work, choose jobs that can be done at home or with workplaces that welcome kids, or use family and friends to help supervise while children are young enough to need it. I understand that babysitting is one of the most important REAL functions of schools, but I don’t agree that it ought to be one of the most important functions of *education*!

      In a side note, I also agree with SK that your mention of “mainstream culture” in regards to the old canard about socialization is not necessarily a goal that many parents and educator do or should share with you. Perhaps what we need is more kids growing up out of the mainstream.

      • Grace
        Grace says:

        I don’t disagree that homeschooled/unschooled kids could very well develop excellent conversational skills, etc. at home. What would worry me more is their ability to put up with boredom and general unpleasantness: in other words, their self-discipline and ability to defer gratification.

        In fact, those qualities are the most directly related to future success and happiness in life. I can imagine a homeschooling environment in which children also gained practice at being disciplined (which means making yourself do something you need to do, but don’t want to) and future-time-oriented (which means doing things you don’t want to now, for the good of your future self). But so often homeschoolers (especially unschoolers!) seem to completely ignore this element, which does their children a terrible disservice.

        I replied to SK above about the conformity thing. I do think most Americans are terribly naive about what it would mean to live in a place with fewer “mainstream” people. When values are really different, it doesn’t mean you all eat different foods and pray in a different style, it means fundamental disagreements about everything, from who’s considered human to what a crime is. It is just not possible to have a functioning society in that condition.

    • Liz
      Liz says:

      I just want to chime in with something, PT once said that if anyone could come up with real information about negatives to homeschooling, she would revise her opinion. I heard a very interesting piece on NPR talking about a study that was done on two groups of people in Michigan, one of which had attended preschool and the other not. The group who had attended preschool were more successful, and this was attributed to the soft skills they learned there. I also think that school has certain pros that homeschool doesn’t. I like that PT always looks at the data and writes (and tries) unpopular things based on the data, but I think that in our own lives we have to sometimes skew away from the data. This is because we are not the mean or the median. We are ourselves. A lot of people I know made decisions to send their kids to private schools at some point because their kids were not thriving in public schools. If my kids weren’t doing well in public schools I would have to evaluate my options. I also do not wish to homeschool. I have been a stay at home mom for three years but now really wishe to be doing other things and have some help with the childcare portion. I think that will be better for me and for my marriage. I don’t know yet whether it woill be better or worse for my kids, but I have met many children of two working parents who seem really well adjusted. And I don’t think I am the perfect mother, or the perfect sahm.
      The other point I would make is that if homeschooling is better even for your kids or for my kids, we have to still do some kind of cost benefit, like with anything else. What will my child gain from the homeschooling experience? What will we lose from it? Even if it is a good experience, maybe the gain is one iq point–is that worth the sacrifice if you wouldn’t enjoy doing it and would lose your career? I also don’t like the fragmentation I see in our culture. Liberal parents eschew all commercial food products. Conservative parents eschew the public school system. I do think there needs to be a little more sense of the idea that we are all in this together, in imperfect schools, hospitals and cafeterias…

  5. Robert
    Robert says:

    penelope –




  6. Ty
    Ty says:

    Penelope, your assertion that homeschooling is primarily done by intelligent, creative parents seeking to push beyond school to amazing new educational frontiers absolutely does not jibe with reality in most of America.

    The crushing majority of homeschooling is still done by people who fear their children learning something they don’t approve of, namely devilish ideas about dinosaur bones and basic human rights for everyone.

    A good friend of mine homeschools her kids in your idealized manner, but also suffers from dyslexia and struggles to write clearly . . . I wonder how they will mutually overcome that.

    The other big issue is exhaustion. A parent cannot be caring, loving, supportive, encouraging, demanding, flexible and rigid enough to be their child’s only guidepost, 24x7x365. You can’t be a better teacher than professional teachers and a better parent than other parents all day, every day and not drive yourself absolutely batshit.

    That means you’re either driving yourself batshit, or you’re cutting corners.

    I’d also suggest that kids who never escape from their parent’s sphere of influence are no more prepared to find their own way in the world than a K-12 public school graduate . . . maybe less.

    Children need time out of the home. They need authority figures who are not their parents. They need to learn to cope with the pressures of society. They need to learn to make friends with their peers–even as they compete with them socially, academically, and athletically.

    You can’t do that for them.

    Oh and “child-led” learning occurs all the time, whether you encourage it or not. They need to learn the things they don’t want to learn, too.

    • Cathy
      Cathy says:

      Ty, many parents of infants probably feel a bit exhausted, too. The answer for all parents, especially those with infants, who truly need even more loving care than, say, 5 or 10 or 15 year olds, is that there should be encouragement of networks of support for parents and a public safety net of support for those who just don’t have partners, family, or friends. This is not a school issue, its a parenting issue.

      As for kids needing to be out of the house and with other adults, I agree. Homeschooled and unschooled kids are generally out of their homes a LOT, and often with or around other adults a fair bit, too. Do you really think that homeschoolers don’t have their kids in Scouts or soccer or Sunday school or swim lessons or or or or? Homeschooled and unschooled kids are often out and about more than schooled kids, because they have the flexibility to be able to do so.

  7. Lisa Nielsen
    Lisa Nielsen says:

    Penelope, I couldn’t agree with you more. Seth does a good job of pointing out many of the flaws with institutionalized, compulsory schooling, but he does little to move the conversation toward a vision of what a school should or could look like today. It’s ironic, for example, that he picks Harlem Village Academies as a beacon of what a “good school” is. Despite Godin’s criticism of standardization rather than customization, and his disdain for testing, he highlights a school that has an “About me” page that celebrates students standardized test scores!

    Why isn’t Godin pointing to models that solve the issues he addresses but our government refuses to fund for those who choose public school? The answers already exists with places like Democratic Schools, North Star Teens, Nuestra Escuela, or models like Schoolwide Enrichment that are being pushed aside by our multi-billion dollar testing industry. The fact that he comes out against home education spewing mainstream myths and misconceptions was also disappointing. Particularly so because the unschooling end of the home ed spectrum beautifully addresses most of the problems Seth identifies with schools.

    Seth isn’t addressing the fact that the reality in the 21st century is that we no longer need traditional teachers to teach us or schools to certify or credential us. Applications like KnowIt! and organizations like Rad Matter are allowing students themselves, not school-issued report cards or transcripts, to demonstrate knowledge and ability.

    When we realize education is no longer tied to places, but rather to people, a completely new way to learn can emerge. Of course, the system is doing everything it can to keep itself alive. As a result, instead of empowering young people with the freedom to learn, our school system bans and blocks them from having access to the technology and sites they need to make this learning occur. But, we don’t have to wait. More and more parents of various income levels, race, and employment status are waking up and taking back their right to provide their children with the best learning experiences possible right now. They are home educators and they are committed to doing what is best for their children despite what outsiders perceive as challenges. I invite anyone interested in learning more to join the conversation with hundreds of parents from around the world finding success at

    • penelopetrunk
      penelopetrunk says:

      I just want to say that Lisa is a huge thought leader in the homeschooling movement. I don’t know if I would have been able to make the shift personally without her guidance.

      She has a really clear view of not only what is happening now, but where the homeschooling movement is going.

      And Lisa does all this from her perch in the New York City public schools, where she is a leader in school reform through the use of technology in the classroom. She has a great view of what’s going on inside the schools, what is possible in school and what is possible outside of school.

      Read her blog: The Innovative Educator


  8. JML
    JML says:

    This is so interesting to me. My husband left his job to stay home with our young children when we couldn’t bring ourselves to put them in daycare. This was decision was so obvious for us. Why put our children in a completely unnatural environment with a stranger? At the end of the day, you don’t know your kids and you don’t know who’s raising them.

    To me, that’s huge.

    And now that our kids are nearing school age, I’m having very similar thoughts about school. Very. And when I raise the question of Homeschooling to other parents, I am usually responded to with a raised eyebrow. But Penelope sums up my feelings with these three fundamental ideas:

    From the comments in this post:
    “School was set up to create factory workers. And now, when we have no factory workers, school is set up as a babysitting system.”

    “I don’t believe that you should put your kids in a system that doesn’t work. The time the kids spend there is too huge.”

    And from the Homeschooling blog:
    “The real issue is that you have to scale back your spending and your career goals and your idea of how exciting your adult life will be.”

    I cannot understand why it is so controversial to want to take responsibility for raising our kids. School teaches all the right subjects, sure. But who is helping them develop? We worry so much about it when they are infants and toddlers. It doesn’t stop once they go to school. That’s a long time to be leaving your kids with sitter.

  9. Alexia Parks
    Alexia Parks says:

    I love Seth Godin’s brain and everything that comes out of it. However, I bet that he hasn’t got an answer to the question of how a woman’s BRAIN is hardwired to lead. I do. It’s in my new book. Since Seth is a friend from way back, I guess I’ll send him a copy of this note too.

    • Mark W.
      Mark W. says:

      Thanks LinkLady. Very interesting.
      I liked the MIT professor-student exchange.
      Student – What will we cover this semester?
      Professor – It’s not what we cover, it’s what you discover that’s important.

  10. Meg
    Meg says:

    This won’t add anything substantive to the discussion, but I couldn’t resist, on the topic of homeschooling, being weird, being smart, being normal, and socialization in and out of schooling.

    I went to public school, and was about as “weird” as some have described smart homeschooled kids. I could try to blend in, but it never worked. The values I was raised with by my entirely secular mother, didn’t mesh will with mainstream school kids, either: I absorbed notions about fair play, nonmaterialism, and ethical honorable behavior, that I only met either in Gallant (of the old Highlights strip “Goofus and Gallant”) or in a few kids I befriended who happened not to be born in the USA.

    Through 12 years of public school, I rarely found anyone who seemed to share my worldview, or even to be compatible with it. Luckily I did meet my husband, also a product of public schools, who did, and he was as much a fish out of water, as I was.

    The point of all this? We are homeschooling parents, and we can reassure anyone afraid that homeschooling makes kids weird, that weird doesn’t discriminate. If you are destined to be smart/weird, schooling won’t spare you. You still won’t be One Of Them; you will just be punished for it daily, either by sticking to your sense of self, or else learn to lead a double life and betray your inner voice.

    Interestingly enough, I recently attended a social gathering of homeschoolers I had never met before, by invitation of an acquaintance, and was jarred to see that, aside from homeschooling, the attitudes and materialism, shallowness, etc. of these kids, was identical to that of their schoolyard age-cohort equivalents.

    Therefore, in the interest of fairness, I had to mention, that homeschooling won’t make a kid weird or special, any more than public schooling will make a special or “weird” kid fit in. I do think that homeschooling affords kids more of a chance to become themselves, under considerably less negative pressure against individualism.

    • Zellie
      Zellie says:

      “…homeschooling affords kids more of a chance to become themselves…”

      This is what people are really talking about when they speak of socialization. What they want is to suppress the true nature of the person and have him conform to the beliefs and trends of a culture dominated by peers. When our homeschooled kids don’t desire to follow fashion trends, value material things above people, wait to hear others’ opinions before making their own judgements, they will say they’re not properly socialized. I value people who are willing to think beyond generally held limitations.

  11. The other Grace
    The other Grace says:

    First, who says we have no factory workers?

    Second, I don’t believe homeschooling is for everybody. Period. Just as I believe parenting isn’t for everybody. And, I’m lucky – my children are thriving in the public school system.

    Third, as a person who used to work in a public school, I do believe that no matter how skilled or passionate one is, a teacher in a public school has unavoidable constraints and simply has to put the common good and organizational policies over the educational needs of any one child.

  12. Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot
    Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot says:

    I love many of Seth Godin’s books too but haven’t read this one.

    I’m surprised he hasn’t added to these comments yet as he even commented on my blog when I wrote about him and it would be great to read his thoughts.

    In the mean time I have to agree with you Penelope. You are doing what many of us (well me at least!) know is best for our kids but don’t want to do because parenting is already hard enough even if you send your kids to school for a few hours a day.

    My kids begged me to let them go to school after our forays into homeschooling. It seems that even a terrible school, like the one they went to in Costa Rica with no books or desks, is more fun than staying home with a mother who’s going nuts because she never has any time for herself.

    I take my hat off to you and all homeschoolers.

  13. Joe
    Joe says:

    The way the economy is structured today makes homeschooling completely impractical. A middle class, college educated parent does not have the luxury to forgo a >50k job as well as derail a career by homeschooling. The comparative advantage of public schools is to great. Parents need to get rid of the TV and spend more time with their children outside of work. It comes down to priorities. It’s foolish to forgo a career in order to exchange their human capital development and contribution for the potential contribution of their children. The parents who have the right circumstances can take advantage of homeschooling but that’s a small portion of parents. How can we put a priority on homeschooling when more parents than ever are in dire need of education or training today so that they can provide a healthy home for their kids. The education system is outdated and needs to change but like most things the changes will come from outside the system, not within it. But the realities of the economy will have to change along with everything else. That’s a discussion for another time.

  14. helen
    helen says:

    Doesn’t Seth live in Hastings? The Hastings schools are great. And by that I mean, they’re not THAT great. They teach, they motivate, they bore just enought that kids have to sit still, stare out a window, and dream. Not surprising that Mark Zuckerberg went to a Rivertown school.

    I live in BRooklyn now where a lot of my friends’ kids go to St Ann’s — one of the best progressive schools in the country. my problem is that school has so much personality that the kids adopt the school’s personality instead of developing their own. it’s an issue.

  15. Amy Parmenter
    Amy Parmenter says:

    I’ve posted this a few times so I’m not sure why it’s not publishing comment is…

    You are suggesting that all parents should homeschool and those who don’t are selfish cop outs….

    Given what I’ve read about your upbringing, would you have been better off if YOU had been home schooled??


    The ParmFarm

  16. Bruce
    Bruce says:

    I’m not convinced homeschooling is necessarily a better way to go, at least where I live (Ohio). Most of the homeschooling around here is done by sheltered stay-at-home moms. My kids’ elementary school is dominated by sheltered stay-at-home moms. Six of one, half dozen of another.

  17. Sam
    Sam says:

    “The SAT does not test what you’ve learned. Which means you don’t need to have curriculum based education to get into a good college.”

    That is not quite true. That is what the College Board says. It has been shown time and again you can study for the SAT.

    I think this Gladwell article about the SAT is quite informative.

  18. Alyosha
    Alyosha says:

    Why do people assume that teaching children is something that every parent can do competently, without education and without training? We hire professionals to remodel our kitchen and to fix our cars and computers. We even hire professionals to polish our resumes and help us find jobs and define our careers (something that, arguably, any motivated job applicant is much better qualified to do). But when it comes to our children, something infinitely more important, some of us are content with a DIY, amateur approach.

    There are many outstanding public schools in this country — schools that compare well with the finest schools in the world. My son’s high school in Newton, Massachusetts stages eight or ten full scale three act plays and musicals each year and routinely places the vast majority of its graduates in this country’s finest colleges and universities. And college level education in the U.S. in private colleges, and until the recent economic downturn — the results of which remain to be seen, public universities is the envy of the world.

    • Lisa Nielsen
      Lisa Nielsen says:

      Home education doesn’t mean the parent teaches the child everything. Children learn from a multitude of sources, many of which include trained experts who are not just teachers, but also practicing professionals. That aside, there is no correlation between teacher credentials and student achievement ( Additionally, many of the top colleges specifically seek out home educated young people to attend their institutions. Finally, home educated young people do better on measures of student achievement than do those who attend public school.

      The research and evidence do not support your reasoning.

  19. MissyMay
    MissyMay says:

    eek it seems like you have only given Seth’s new book a negative review because it goes against your own views, not because it is a bad book…….

  20. Sam
    Sam says:

    Hi Penelope
    Been reading your blog now since January & it’s been changing my life. This entry in particular just wanted me to share with you that you should perhaps get in touch with another homeschooler/blogger/entrepreneur named Kate Magic ( ). Hers is the first blog I ever really followed. The real connection that blew me away here is that in the last week she also posted about the Yayoi Kusama exhibition & made a very similar connection. She took her sons to see it & she has the most beautiful pictures of her sons in the room. It’s on the front page of her blog right this instant. She has a lot of really interesting stuff to say about homeschooling, & it’s one of the reasons among many I really admire her… Anyway, just wanted to mention it! Thanks for another great post.

  21. meistergedanken
    meistergedanken says:




    Oh God, a high school teacher who can’t work a caps lock properly! That’s an eloquent argument for homeschooling right there.

  22. Working
    Working says:

    The fervor of homeschoolers is identical to the (mainly) ladies from the Fat Acceptance movement.

  23. Alan
    Alan says:

    Kids, unless they’re fabulously gifted, have no idea what they want to know or want to be. And their parents know even less. So some school comprehensive core is necessary to present the kids with the options, most of which will be left behind. My parents and schools always left the choices up to me, with disastrous consequences.

  24. Erwin
    Erwin says:

    Our school system is moderately decent at fulfilling its original purpose – making sure kids from decent backgrounds can more or less read, run a cash register, and find the US on a map.

    Homeschooling is great if you have a motivated, reasonably well-rounded parent who can afford to not work full-time with enough social skills to make sure the kids end up socialized properly. By that, I mean that the primary teacher should not be mentally ill, or close to it.

    This isn’t everyone. It should be everyone with 2 parents. But, f’r instance, some children have mentally ill parents. Those children are better off at school.

    My homeschooling checklist:
    1. Are you crazy?
    1a. Do most people agree?
    2. Can you give the children at least 4 good hours a day?
    3. Are you smarter and better educated than the average high school teacher – in their specialization?

    If yes to 1 or no to 1a, don’t homeschool.
    Otherwise, if yes to 2 and 3, do homeschool.
    If not, don’t.

  25. chris
    chris says:

    Redrock writes: “so, you don’t think reading is an essential life skill nowadays which should be learned as early as possible? It does not get easier as the child gets older.”

    No, I, for one, do NOT think that reading should be learned as early as possible. Developmentally/physiologically, young children (before the age of 7 or 8) are not ready for reading. Their eyes do not focus on near-at-hand, small print easily. They are built far-sighted at their developmental stage, which prompts them to run towards the park, the pond, the field, etc.

    Though small children may learn reading, they are better served by doing reading readiness things. Example: When I worked with my kids and other kids, we started with “hidden pictures”.

    In the Waldorf schools, small children do NOT print or write–not even to sign their names on their art work. Because that is another near-sighted thing, which is developmentally inappropriate. The Waldorf educational principles suggest painting on large canvases with large, broad, sable brushes and large brush strokes. No small/fine line drawing. The children also mold modeling wax in their hands–more reading readiness. In my daughter’s school, kids even handled the modeling bees wax as they listened to stories by their teachers. Teachers did not READ the stories; they TOLD the stories, making eye contact with the kids. Animated, making engagement with the story and the teacher more do-able.

    Yes, kids are smart enough to learn the alphabet and read–but it is not developmentally appropriate for them to do so early on. The need large-muscle (as opposed to small-muscle) exercise–running and climbing, swimming and swinging. The large muscle development and exercise and practice lays the groundwork for later small muscle and close-focus work. See the work of Doman and Delacato (sp?). See also the observations of Jean Piaget, who was the epitome of being open to child-led learning.

    • redrock
      redrock says:

      I was more thinking about the difference between 5-8 and 12-15 to learn reading. Certainly 5-8 or so is very child dependent.

    • redrock
      redrock says:

      … and as a personal anecdote: I wanted desperately to learn how to read when I was four and tried to bribe other kids to teach me. My parents would not teach me because they adhered to some of the reasoning you cited above, which physiologically probably made sense, but did not work well with my personal development. But there is certainly a great variability from person to person.

  26. John Auston
    John Auston says:

    One thing that bugs me about Seth’s books, though, is his sometimes ridiculous and seemingly arbitrary P.C. use of the female personal pronoun – just to be fair, I presume.

    E,g, In “The Dip”, in a paragraph about football and karate, it is apparently time for “she” instead of “he”, so we get “When a kid drops out of football or karate, it’s not because she’s carefully considered the long term consequences of her action”.

    Oh come on. That’s so forced that it throws the reader right out of the point he was trying to make. Not a good technique for an author

        • Jane
          Jane says:

          If you can’t picture a girl playing football, that’s your problem, not the author’s. Also, I refer you to The Little Giants.

          • John Auston
            John Auston says:

            Did I say I couldn’t picture a girl playing football? No. So why did you say I did? Probably because you can’t make your point without misrepresenting mine.

            My point (and pay attention this time) is that the phrase “The football player, she” is SUCH a P.C. stretch that it takes the reasder right out of the main point the author was trying to make. I.E. – it’s bad writing.

          • Different
            Different says:

            @John Auston

            Why does “The football player, she” is a P.C. stretch?

            Does the phrase “the doctor, she” also confusing for you?

            Un-eff’ing believable.

  27. Lori Tellor
    Lori Tellor says:

    Penelope has chosen to live in an area where her “special needs” kids and the dip combine in a not so good way. Many of us are not in the same situation ( eg, we live in a great school district with lots of services for special needs , or one with tons of enrichment opportunities, etc…)

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I had to take it down. It was sponsored. And the sponsor didn’t like it. Believe me. I am not happy. But I am trying to be someone who plays by the rules and is accommodating.

      Also, I don’t want to have a shit storm on my blog about taking it down. Which is what happened last time I took down a post — which was like, I don’t know, five years ago.


  28. Another Andrea
    Another Andrea says:

    Completely agree with you about David Sedaris. His postmodern fables about animals are such a bore.

    You continually remind me why I’m pretty sure kids aren’t for me.

  29. Jeff Schmitz
    Jeff Schmitz says:

    Inefficiency cannot be a problem with homeschooling.

    It’s exactly THE GOAL of a homeschool to provide I efficient education.

    In an efficient model, steps are taken to minimize costs to the provider. Uniformity is the outcome of this model.

    In an inefficient model, steps are added to maximize the benefit to the receiver. Customization is the outcome of this model.

    It’s silly to say something’s strength is its weakness.

  30. Deborah
    Deborah says:

    Penelope – I totally agree with you, except htere is a school system that teaches children to be self learners: The Waldorf School System.

  31. Tzipporah
    Tzipporah says:

    What’s wrong with school as a babysitting system? If I were rich, my son could have a governess. Since I’m not, he has a teacher and 18 other students in his class. In the meantime, he’s safe, learning stuff, and I don’t have to deal with him for 6 hours a day so I have time to get adult stuff done.

    I can understand why you’d want to homeschool a teenager – they’re interesting and mature enough that it’s teaching, not babysitting. But under 10, kids are just too much work, unless you’re one of those people who really likes hanging around with kids all the time.

    • chris
      chris says:

      To me, kids ARE interesting:
      They have fresh perspectives. They are unselfconscious. They are guileless when they are young–innocent.
      When you are closely connected to them, you can revisit your own coming-of-age and see how (other) kids make discoveries, and remember how YOU made those connections, discoveries, applications.
      You have some poignant memories and some sad memories.
      Sometimes, especially when they are your own kids, you surprise yourself with a burst of wanting to urge them on, protect them, facilitate their thriving.
      You may want to pass on your own values because you believe you have some good ones. You may want the stamp of your own style upon your kids.

  32. Caleigh
    Caleigh says:

    I’m interested in the theory behind homeschooling, although I’ve never seriously thought about it. Penelope’s statement that parents are not teachers when you unschool kids is something I disagree with strongly. Young children are taught everything from day one. They learn from watching and they learn from doing.

    When I went for a hearing check up (I’m severely hard of hearing) I was sitting in the doctor’s office chair and a deaf boy walked by. He was babbling and wailing and his poor mother was trying to keep him in line. I was only 10 but all of the sudden it clicked to me that we are all products of learning. How we learn is not as important as long as we learn it in a positive way.

    This homeschooling movement is clashing with the previous cultural idea that schools teach kids ‘intellectual’ or ‘job’ skills and parents teach their kids life skills. The problem with this is the idea that some parents expect schoolteachers to teach their children life skills as well.And when they obviously can’t since that’s not what they’re paid to do, parents figure they can do both. Teach the intellectual skills along with the practical life skills. I see no problem with that. It’s a big responsibility and it requires an extreme shift in cultural expectations, but it is possible and can be done well if done properly.

    The problem with this is that there cannot be an expectation of a type of utopia if all kids are homeschooled. That just simply won’t happen. There too many different ‘schools’ of thought, too many different opinions about the way things should be done, there really is no ‘right’ way to do things. All we can do is the best we think we can and move forward with that. If homeschooling is your answer, then that’s great. If keeping them in a school with a nurturing and welcoming environment is your answer then that’s ok as well.

  33. Bob Collier
    Bob Collier says:

    Homeschooling is “inefficient and unrealistic”? Compared to what?

    My now grown up daughter was in school for 13 years and, as the at-home parent during most of that time, I remember only too well the huge demands her going to school made on my time, attention and energy.

    On the other hand, my now 16 year old son was at home with me for nine years engaged in free-form 24/7 learning at the speed of thought through ubiquitous electronic media and that was a piece of cake.

    They’re both well educated. And I know which of the two experiences I would consider “inefficient and unrealistic”.

    • CJ
      CJ says:

      I love this comment. It stresses me out that public school forces stressful scheduling, time lines, requests, requirements of the kids and the parents. There is a reason we feel like taxi driving errand runners. When I home school sipping coffee in my Jammie’s and the kids (daughter in a princess costume and son in star wars swim trunks, LOL) and we are talking about art or math or spelling- it is wonderful. Very happy to hear another example of a parent that did it both ways and sees the results.

  34. RK
    RK says:

    To some homeschooling parents, knowing what country America seceded from is irrelevant. It’s a meaningless fact that can easily be looked up in Wikipedia if the kid is curious. The homeschooling mentality is about freeing the child from the structure of rote learning so that his or her inner creativity is released. And if that creativity is expressed by spending six hours every day playing video games, so be it.

    Homeschooling also provides a plausibly worthwhile way for a city mom to handle her crushing boredom of life on a farm.

    • Another Lisa
      Another Lisa says:

      I also read in some homeschooling blogs, how unrelevant was for children to learn the value of Pi…

  35. Marita
    Marita says:

    I think every parent needs to figure out for their kids what’s best for them and then you have to make sure that you as a parent can deliver.

    For some kids regular school is like dying a slow death. The environment just isn’t conducive to how they learn the best and feel good about themselves. One of my friend’s kids falls into this category. (Her other kids do well in public school.)

    And for some kids being home schooled would be like dying a slow death. My daughter can’t wait to get out of the house in the morning. She’s excited about all the kids, the semi controlled chaos, the possibilities of having 2000 kids at her fingertips.

    Every person is different and to put down home schooling is a big mistake. It’s not for everyone and not every parent can offer it to their kids, even if they know their kids would benefit from it.

    The whole idea about changing education is that there are more choices now than ever.

    Online learning will become a more important part of learning. We go on Kahn’s Academy
    all the time to figure out math problems.

    That’s the future of education: lots of choices and the possibility to pick and choose what’s right for you.

    I agree, Seth is loosing his magic. He needs to travel to some far away country or the moon in order to come back to earth! :)

  36. ictus75
    ictus75 says:

    There is no ‘one size fits all’ schooling solution. For anyone to condemn all public schooling as ‘bad,’ is as irresponsible as someone condemning all home schooling as ‘bad.’ There is good home schooling, just as there is bad homeschooling, and the same can be said for any public or private schooling.

    It’s ridiculous to pit one against the other, or to condemn Seth Godin for his opinion. It’s just his opinion. I love Seth’s blog, but don’t agree with everything he says. Does anyone ever agree 100% with someone else? Just because Seth wrote something you disagree with, I think you are all too willing to ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ just to be right. Sorry, but you seem to be wearing your Aspie blinders again…

  37. Les @ LPN Salary
    Les @ LPN Salary says:

    We are all entitled to our own opinions. On the topic of schooling, I’d just have to agree on the latest comment. It’s all a matter of what works for you and what doesn’t. Constructive discussion, if there is such a term, should always be in everyone’s mind. We all share our inputs (hopefully in a nice manner) with the intention of adding to what’s already on the plate. It’s up to everyone else how they would use that info.

    Homeschooling is perfect for families who can afford to have one “full-time parent.” When you set your mind to it, everything’s possible. Every parent knows what’s best for his child.

    First time I’ve heard of Seth Godin. :s

  38. K
    K says:

    I’m a 33 year old engineer.

    I was homeschooled before it was cool, when it was ridiculed and doubted far more than it is today.

    I did it because the public school social environment was toxic and horrible, and I was failing at math.

    Once I was in control of my own schooling, I taught myself algebra without my mother’s help. I’m now a mechanical engineer and I have great social skills. (My company hired me because I can do BOTH the technical hands-on stuff *and* I can talk to the customers.)

    I’m planning to homeschool my own children if I can find a way to work part time.

    Working on it….

  39. Matthew J. Goudge
    Matthew J. Goudge says:

    I don’t agree with you Yadgyu…I’m an Australian and I have relatives in America, everybody needs education rich or poor, Americans or non-Americans. Nobody wants to be left illiterate. Huh!

  40. Catherine
    Catherine says:

    For many years I wrote about the frustrations I had with the grade school teachers when trying to get them to work with me on my son’s auditory processing disability on my A Week In The Life of a Redhead blog.

    But I did not pull him out of school, instead my mother, my ex-husband and I worked and worked and worked with my son. Hours of work after school and a plan to build his self-esteem.

    I am not against home-schooling and can understand why some parents choose this route, but since my son is almost 17 and a success in school and life I might offer what I have found.

    As kids grow they need more and more social interaction, especially if they are deficit in certain areas because eventually they are going to need to be out in the world with the public and parents will not be there to oversee every part of their life. Public school teaches a TON about survival and social skills.

    When my son went to middle school he excelled because he was able to change teachers and change subjects every 45 minutes. Even though he struggled with co-ordination, school sports helped him learn to be in his body and gain confidence, but it was a tough road getting there.

    We discovered from middle school that my son needed to get up every 45 minutes, he had a math and science brain above his piers and if he had higher math and science in grade school (along with more male teachers) he might have done better back then.

    He became an honor student and ultimately ended up in a baccalaureate school with honors classes. He’s a starter on his football team, plays rugby, has a girlfriend (BIG MOM GULP) and loves high school.

    This is a kid who really struggled with fitting in with school. If I had pulled him out and home schooled him I believe that he would not be the amazing, multifaceted teen he is today.

    He went from being shy, withdrawn and feeling stupid to being outgoing, funny and feeling like he can do anything.

    Most importantly, high school keeps him super busy with the honors classes and the sports practices and the school clubs — much more than I would ever be able to provide for him. He is never bored, as compared to the teenagers we know who are home schooled and are bored teenagers.

    It was touch as he!! getting him to this point with lots of special attention and work and we still check in with him on his work, but he has become this amazing social boy who has learned how to adapt his weaknesses and play to his strengths.

    I could not have done it without public school and some truly remarkable middle school and high school teachers.

  41. CJ
    CJ says:

    Part of the trouble with many of the responses, whether in support of homeschooling or not, is that it seems everyone forgets a school day (public/private) is really just about 6 hours of a child’s day give or take an hour including lunch and recess usually, maybe add in travel time. But, this is only five days of the week and generally only 9-10 months of the years and much of that time really only equates to about 7 ish months when you subtract out the three major break weeks off, the many three day weekends and may districts across the US have half days,say off by noon at the rate of several per month. All this I say to illuminate the fact: regardless of if you are for or against homeschooling- if you are any kind of parent (single, stay home, dual income, whatever) you are absolutely responsible for home schooling your child. We are our children’s first and primary teachers as parents/guardians. If they go to public school, there is still much to be done by the parent, social studies, world studies, language arts, the arts….exposure exposure exposure. This is not for the sake of raising little competitive geniuses, it is because it is our role. My children have been “homeschooling” since the day they were born. Last year my kids were homeschooled for the year, this year they are in public school- and what I see is that they think of school as fun time with friends and “other grown ups” I have changed nothing about our activities in our home, but for a little schedule tweaking. As with many homeschool parents, I find fault in the school’s teaching to the test and the standardized testing faults, but my son is in the first year where he is exposed and because of our regular homeschooling- these tests are simple games to him. He has no idea that there is “pressure” to perform. I tell him to look at them as he would the puzzles he enjoys. As a result he got the highest score for his entire grade level in the entire district…and do you know, he has no idea that’s valued by other people. To him he is just doing what he loves: reading, story telling, imagining and playing a game. This school looked at my son as quirky and us as loopy having been prior full time home schoolers when we started and now his name is up on the walls. There will definitely be more full time homeschool years for our family and when needed we will utilize other avenues as we had to this year. Also, with things like the Khan academy, education is going global in so many ways. It is up to us as parents to educate our children- mentors, other teachers, social involvement, that’s all great and complementary, but it starts with us in our homes no matter where you send your kids sometimes.

  42. Scott
    Scott says:

    If all the downtrodden and disadvantaged in those inner city schools were to embrace the ideas espoused in Stop Stealing Dreams, the author’s current political favorites would be voted out of office. Does Seth really advocate for a better informed, more critical thinking citizenry who can see through the hype and illusions? Doubtful!

  43. B
    B says:

    Charter schools are the new status quo, and Seth wrote the book in order to advocate for them. Charter schools as a “revolution” is a myth.

    The Charter movement is a top-down movement with billions of dollars behind it, and it is designed to take down the current public school system and replace it with a new system in which everything is decided by test scores, teachers and administrators get paid almost nothing, and the “CEOs” of the schools make millions.

  44. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    Loved this post, Penelope! I hope Seth read it. Nice job calling him out. I have this same conversation with parents I know. They will find any way to justify not trying it, but talk about how crappy school is.

  45. Mary
    Mary says:

    I’d like to see the actual data on SAT scores of “schooled” vs “homeschooled.” It’s easy to throw out unsubstantiated comments.

  46. David LaPlante
    David LaPlante says:

    Great thread! Not too much to add here that can be expanded on or significantly reshape the conversation, but I can’t resist throwing in my two cents.

    We practice “hackschooling”. It’s our way of avoiding certain baggage when we say that we homeschool. One, our kids are not home very much so it’s misleading term. Second is that homeschooling has unfortunately developed a brand of having a root motivation in trying to avoid exposing and/or socializing the kids with worldviews and value systems that are out of sync with that of their parents.

    (I know that’s not always the case but that’s the more common reaction we get. I did my best at trying to word that as to not to offend anyone who homeschools.)

    Our approach has been to hack (remix, mash-up, co-op, and create) a learning and achievement environment for our family and stakeholder social network. The kids included are included in that. And that network includes kids who attend all flavors of schools and systems. Ours just happen to not be currently attending a public/private/charter school.

    Three difficult paradigm shifts for us to make in this approach were:

    1. It’s not JUST about the kids. Its the family, extended family, and a circle of relevant people in our social network. The kids are growing up in an environment where they see everyone around them challenging themselves with some form of developmental growth. Often on the same subject and/or activity they are. They are immersed in an environment where everyone in their immediate social network is striving to learn and change.

    2. It’s not school, it’s life. Life is 24×7, 365. It’s most certainly not 9-3p, M-F, 9 months of the year. It’s persistent and holistic.

    3. Optimize for efficiency, experience, and outcome. This means putting a lot more faith in qualitative results. Quantifying everything is too much of a drag coefficient. This was a huge cognitive dissonance for us as we were bred on measuring education comparatively.

    Is this the solution for everyone? Absolutely not, however, gone (err…going) are the days of mass homogenized approaches inside nations that have enjoyed modernity and a comfortable GDP for a few decades.

    The best education “strategy” for a child is dependent upon so many factors, not the least of which is the socio-economic level and developmental altitude of the parents. Unfortunately in the US our melting pot of conflicting value systems, worldviews, collective bargaining units, efficient lobbyists, and a predisposition to litigate has hamstrung our public education system from being able to “reform” at a pace that gives many hope.

    Anyways, I’m ff to go download and read Seth’s new book and see what the hubub is all about.

    Penelope – you do a remarkable job of “stirring things up” and getting the perspectives to run out of the shadows. Props.

  47. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    Seth’s book was a major disappointment for me. He goes on and on about why schools suck, offers no solutions or path forward to reform them, and tosses homeschooling aside as a possible solution. It seemed like he did not do any due diligence on homeschooling, did not research it, did not think thoughtfully about it.

    Totally unsatisfying book. Seth, you tell us how you think schools can be reformed. We want to hear it. We think it is not possible for children to gain a meaningful education in an institutional environment. Do tell us how you think it is possible, before tossing aside the one, the most obvious solution of homeschooling.

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