If I Ran the School, Things Would be Different

MountainscallingAs a retiree, I have a special place in my heart for Monday mornings, because that’s when I would have had to go back to work if it weren’t for the joy of early retirement.  Despite the option of complete leisure, I woke up at 5:30 this morning because the sky was starting to brighten and I was too excited about the new day to let any of it go to waste.

I’m writing to you right now, but later on I’ll be building stuff, riding bikes, meeting with people and teaching kids. Later on as bedtime approaches I might fiddle around in the music room, read a book or listen to a podcast. It’s my idea of the perfect life: self-directed activities in pursuit of knowledge, self-improvement and even getting a chance to help others if you’re lucky.

This might not seem related to the subject of our school system, but at the core I think the idea is the same:

Humans are naturally curious and energetic creatures, and if you set us free in the right environment, we will get to work learning, producing, and having a great time at it.

This is especially true for kids, whose brain composition is set up for maximum-speed-learning-at-all-costs. And double especially true for my son, who has always loved the freedom to create and worked with every atom of his being to fight against any rules that might constrain it. This is a boy who, given an elaborate new high-tech Lego set, will immediately discard the instruction set, open the bags of parts, and dump them without hesitation into his main supply bins. “Great! we have way more parts now – let’s make some ships!”

This inspired (but very high maintenance) personality has been clashing with the public school system on a regular basis. Last year, he started to feel the crush of boredom and irrationality and Mrs. MM and I fought it for a long while.

“You have to stay in school”, we insisted, “that is what all responsible people do to ensure a bright future, learn to deal with diverse sets of people, and of course to socialize with other children. With you being an only child, this is especially important.”

But it started affecting his sleep, and his non-school hours started to become dominated by worrying about school, and then even his health started to follow down that road. Through research and a bit of professional counseling, we learned that he has an anxiety disorder. While this is fairly common in young kids of his type, the teachers he had to work with most often seemed unable to adapt. His third grade classroom had become a disciplinarian place with a constant shushing of kids, straight lines in the hallway, and stern words for anyone who didn’t follow assignment instructions without question. Explanations of his ideas to the teacher were shot down as “talking back” or “excuses”.

There are of course many schools of thought on how to raise a kid. In 19th century England, they used to whack them frequently with canes to keep them in line. In certain philosophies, cultures or religions it is still common to maintain an iron fist of discipline over kids until they move out of the house as young adults. The traditional Asian school system emphasized long hours, strict rules and rote memorization. The opinions of the parents and teachers are the only ones that count, and failing to perform well in school is considered a disgrace to your family.

While I’m happy to let those people do their own thing, my response to this style of education as a parent now is the same as it was when I was a kid: “Fuck That.”

The Pursuit of Soul Craft

good book right there

Good book

Around the time we were going through all of this, I was reading the book “Shop Class as Soulcraft” by the badass philosopher/mechanic Matthew B. Crawford. The author shares my own opinions on the bullshitty nature of most of our traditional rules and their influence on the modern office environment, and the value of thoughtful but difficult physical work. To quote the man on the clash of school with human nature:

 “It is a rare person who is naturally inclined to sit still for sixteen years at school, and then indefinitely at work”

Don’t get me wrong. The idea of a free public education for all is still a great one. In my school, a noticeable portion* of the kids come from families where the parents don’t seem to be putting much effort into their upbringing. Nobody is reading to them at home, or talking about science or teaching them a trade. There’s no Lego, not enough bikes and too much TV, drowning out the chance to actually learn by creating anything for themselves. For them, school is the only hand up they have in life so we’d better make the most of it.

But damn, we could do so much better.

If I ran the school, there would be none of those leaky-tire teachers that are permanently shushing kids in the classrooms and the hallways.

I remember one vivid experience while volunteering in the school, walking down the hallway with a group of my little advanced math students. The hall was empty and our journey back to the main classroom was going well. Without warning, an attack of shushes came at us from a sniper who had positioned herself inconspicuously at a desk off to the side. We escaped without losing the flow of our thoughts, but at the midway point, a second attack came from a guy standing at the far end. Arms down, straight line, no talking.

When kids are talking to each other, that’s called a conversation, which is one of the most valuable things you can let kids have.

And nobody needs to line up in the hallways. I don’t do lineups myself, so why would I make kids endure this irrational suppression of natural body placement?

If I ran the place, there would be a red button on the wall, that would start Walking on Sunshine, pulsing LED rope lights and a disco ball. Anybody could run up and press it. The walls would be padded and there would be subwoofers. It would be an invigorating and ridiculous dance party going from one class to the next. Coincidentally, this is very similar to how I run my own house.

Some teachers are still taking away recess from kids as a form of punishment. The most valuable and educational part of the school day – experiencing nature and fresh air, refreshing the mind and training the body – gone because of an cruel desire to make a child regret not conforming to their irrational rules. I found this both enraging and ironic, because the school hallway proudly displays a large banner with the following quote:

“Leave all the afternoon for exercise and recreation, which are as necessary as reading; I will rather say more necessary, because health is worth more than learning.”
– Thomas Jefferson

In my school, recess would come first. There is more than enough time to learn the easy stuff like physics, chemistry and software design. Plenty of adults accomplish that. But how many of us spend enough time outside and maintain reasonable levels of strength and fitness into our old age? How many people over 50 even do barbell squats with any regularity any more?

In my school, play is not something to be suppressed – it is something you facilitate and hope for. There’s a reason that kids of all the most intelligent animals (whether kittens, dolphins or humans) are born with a desire to play. It is because playing is the most efficient way to learn. How could this blatantly obvious bit of evolution have been suppressed in the design of our school system? Thus, the ultimate achievement as a teacher is to trigger a marathon session of Automatic Learning Through Play, and sit back and watch the neurons connect.

 So We Decided It Was Time To Run The School

My rant above is overly idealistic, or course. Real school systems are faced with all sorts of constraints, just like any organization that involves a large number of humans. You have vastly diverse kids, some of them uncooperative or even violent. Meddling administrators, parents, and politicians. The flawed implementation of standardized testing which often displaces actual learning. Sure, it can be improved, but that’s a separate battle from the job of taking care of our own son because he needed a solution right now. 

Much like Mustachianism itself, we decided it was more efficient to try something new immediately and start learning from it, than to sit around complaining about the system we were stuck in. Since we’ve been experimenting with this for about a year now, I figured it would be worth sharing some of the surprising observations.

Is Homeschooling Only for Weirdos? Surely it Wouldn’t Work for Me?

This was my first assumption before learning about the option. I had never met anyone who didn’t go to school, so I thought it was necessary to grow up as an educated, well-adjusted adult. This turned out to be totally wrong and I have heard from (and read about) dozens of exceptionally happy, intelligent achievers who went this way. But it’s not for everyone – if you find yourself with a kid who already likes school, you might want to keep that good situation as it is.

How Can This Lead to a Good Education?

If you start with the natural hunger kids have towards learning, and subtract out some of the biggest obstacles (lineups, waiting for the slow trudge of big-class teaching, boring and repetitive activities), you find that you can exceed the actual academic learning contained in a typical school day with just an hour or two of concentrated effort. You can double the pace by throwing in a second hour or more. And this leaves the rest of the day to broaden the benefits – activities with other people, physical challenges, educational trips, etc. You can also let the kid run free with uninterrupted time when he does find a true interest – for example getting into a really good book, writing, music, programming, etc.

This fits well with the modern and future workforce, where employers are looking for people who can adapt, create, and produce, rather than simply follow rules. But even using the word “employers” is shortsighted in my book. I’m not teaching my kid to be an employee – I’m teaching him to be a creator, who will find it satisfying to start his own small companies. Employees will be the people he hires when the time comes.

Where do you Get your Curriculum?

Sal Khan is pretty much The Man when it comes to great do-it-yourself education. Thanks Sal!

Sal Khan is pretty much The Man when it comes to great do-it-yourself education. Thanks Sal!

Much of this becomes obvious if you ask yourself what really defines a good education. But for a shortcut, just look at Khan Academy. This brillant utopia of an organization has been creating well-organized, advanced, free learning for years now, and it just keeps getting better. Get your kid an account there, set him or her free and watch the sparks fly. Of course, you should also hover conveniently nearby to help expand the learning.

We also worked with the school and borrowed some textbooks, looked at the US core standards that help define the teaching done in conventional school, and did plenty of online searching to see what other people use for their learning.

But the fun part comes when you leave the conventional lessons. For example, to illustrate math and trigonometry (as well as a tiny bit about astronomy), I taught my son how to calculate the height of our city’s water tower based on the length of its shadow at noon on March 21st. To learn about science and engineering, you talk about how things work and watch the amazing documentaries they have now that explain how fascinating these things are.

Technology and Computing: The video game called Kerbal Space Program tricks kids into learning rocket design and planetary physics at a deeply intuitive level. Another called Robocraft involves iterative design, construction and testing disguised as a first person shoot-em-up. We also build and program real robots using a VEX IQ set, but you can ease into kid-style programming with a language called Scratch.

In fact, any strategic and complicated video game contains a lot of disguised learning, because your kid has to learn the subtleties of using a computer in order to get it to work in the first place. How to use a mouse, keyboard, and menus. How to read, type, copy files, install updates, search for information, even connect to another IP address to host a multiplayer game. These end up being really useful skills throughout life, and this is why I would never buy an Xbox, Wii, PlayStation or other simplified video gaming system. Those things preserve the recreation, but strip out the important technology. If your kid is going to have “screen time”, it might as well be on a nice, complicated real computer, which is another reason we haven’t had TV service since well before he was born.

Music: At the most basic level, you learn a lot about music by simply listening to it. I always have something playing in the house and I let my son change the Pandora station and create his own. But we also jam with real instruments which are left strategically lying about the house and make songs with Ableton Live. Music lessons are valuable for those so inclined, but due to our resistance to rules and structure, my son and I are not so inclined at the moment even as people who are unusually interested in music.


Art Class tends to change along with the current topics of interest in real life. Currently space travel and colonization due to a binge of reading we did about SpaceX.


Reading and Writing: kids reading to themselves at any time, parents reading books to kids at bedtime, hitting the Library at least once a week, and leaving blank notebooks and great writing instruments and erasers around the house to facilitate creation of new literature and comics.

The Typical Day of Homeschooling

Typical day's schedule

Typical day’s schedule

It changes along with the season, but there is the whiteboard as it appears today. You got some writing, building/programming, lunch, outdoor activities, and math. We keep things in the 1-4 hour range to avoid homeschooling becoming a drag. After all, kids are always learning, whether you label it as school or not.

Surprising Advantages

  • You can live wherever you like without regard to “school district”. You can also travel and take vacations without regard to the school calendar.
For example, nice weather last week required that we spend Monday hiking in the mountains.

For example, nice weather last week required that we spend Monday hiking in the mountains.

  • You get the best private school, with a commute and tuition cost of roughly zero.
  • I find myself learning more, just so I’ll have more to share with him (similar to the effect that this blog has had on my life)
  • My son is at peace with the world, fired up, and learning quickly.

What about Testing and Standards?  Is anybody watching what I do?

This part is easy. Although it is unlikely any authorities will ever be involved with your schooling, in theory you are supposed to do at least 4 hours per day of classes, and keep a journal of what you do. You may also be able to drop in on your local school for special classes if you make arrangements with the principal there.

You can order practice tests, and the real end-of-year tests (called the Iowa Test of Basic Skills), which you can administer yourself or do at the school. Mrs. MM bought her copies from BJUpress.org**

Your kid does of course need to pass the test, but if you’re serious about learning you will be miles ahead of the requirements.

What about Socialization? 

As it turns out, the regular school day is mostly about discouraging socialization. Get the kids to sit still and be quiet so they can learn, except in widely spaced controlled group activities. Most of the fun happens in extracurricular activities, which you can still join, or in plain old free play, which you can do any time.

Little MM still has all of his earlier school friends, and he hangs out with them constantly outside of school hours and on the weekends. We also keep meeting more people, just by virtue of living in a neighborhood where people want to know each other.

There are also organized homeschooling groups where you gather for group activities or even classes at a dedicated location. While we haven’t had time to join any groups yet, I plan to start running some classes of my own out of the parkside studio building I’ll be building in my back yard once the main house is done.

In Conclusion

Homeschooling has turned out to be a highly Mustachian activity: packed with Freedom, requiring high effort in exchange for high reward, and a way of improving upon the system of our society while working peacefully with its boundaries. It is not for everyone and it will consume much of your mental and physical power, but in exchange you will deliver a truly excellent education.

Further Reading: Mrs. Money Mustache shares more about her homeschooling journey in this March 2014 post on her own site.

 * By “noticeable portion” I’m not talking about kids with a different race or language of origin. This parenting divide is caused some other way – perhaps even by stress. If your own life as an adult is pushing your boundaries, you might have less energy left over to help your kids. Now that I’m a parent myself, I feel less judgmental about how things work out for other parents, because this stuff is pretty damned hard even from my very privileged position of having only one kid, two parents, and more free time and money than most. So instead of bashing parents of disadvantaged kids, I’d rather just help them by trying to inspire their kids.

**BJU happens to be a religious group, but the tests themselves are just the standard national tests. In fact, you’ll find a high correlation between homeschooling and religion, but that doesn’t make the idea any less valid for completely non-religious people (such as the MMM family) as well. For me, it’s all about better learning and a better life, which are almost the same thing.

  • E. July 31, 2015, 1:52 pm

    I’m super, super glad to see this update. I saw a post a while back (I’ve been reading every post on this blog; I started last Friday) where you mentioned shunting Junior off to school to learn to deal with diverse personalities and winced so hard. Like you’ve come around to talking about, public school systems are generally set up for the exact opposite reason — to discourage independence, socialization, healthy self-esteem or friendship patterns, or even a love of learning. Yikes.

    I’m another example of a successful, happy, healthy homeschooled adult. There aren’t a huge number of us simply because I’m twenty-three and it was so Gosh Darn Weird when my parents started to homeschool my older sibling (25) and myself in about ’95-’96. Friends and family threatened to cut off contact and report them to the authorities, implored them to stop ruining their children, and officials were aghast. Throughout my homeschooling “career”, things definitely grew easier — I started to meet more fellow homeschooled kids and even parents would start saying “oh, [X] is homeschooling their kid now”. School districts were still very hit-and-miss. Newfoundland in particular was godawful.

    Now, things are a heck of a lot better, and I see a lot more support out there. Thank goodness!

    My sibling passed the bar exam while too young for some people’s comfort. ;) And I’m an author living abroad after graduating magna cum laude from my top choice (affordable Canadian) uni, hons English. We’ve gone down vastly different life paths from the same starting education, but we both have very Mustachian principles already.

    In case anyone is curious, we followed Calvert School’s curriculum and absolutely loved it — they condense the twelve “normal” grades into eight grades so you have a grade 12.9 (or higher — we were off the charts, according to standardized tests) average by the time you finish grade 8. Problem is, what do you do then?

    I wound up taking American School of Correspondence courses to get an American high school diploma (bah, humbug) and high school course equivalents, which got me the top grade-based scholarship at my university, while working full-time to save up for the degree.

    I’m thrilled with the way homeschooling worked out for my family. If I ever planned to have kids, I’d only homeschool them. I’m not going to, but I preach the virtues of homeschooling to everyone who *does* want or have them instead!

    • Jinro October 20, 2015, 6:46 pm

      Often times, former students of a home school experience speak about traditional school experiences in a negative way. Recently, I had an opportunity to speak with a young adult about his home school experience; a topic that constantly fascinated me. He maintained that home schooling was a better alternative due to less distractions, a quicker pace of learning, and freedom to explore deeper into interesting content. He felt his local schools were terrible and lacked such opportunities. Whoa! He had such strong convictions. When I asked about his experiences in a local school I soon discovered that he actually had not attended a local school; he had never even set foot inside a building. Huh? How could he make such an informed choice without at least experiencing an alternative?

      I am glad that he found an educational choice that worked for him; he tested very well and went on to college. However, I wish more people would understand that while home schooling is a great option for students, others might struggle. We all learn in different ways and it would be hard to argue that anyone one option is “best.” Some students lack the maturity and independence to be self-motivated. I have seen many students fail while attempting to try an alternative to traditional schools, online studies for example. I have also met successful students that rolled through 4 years of high school in 2 1/2 years when taking said online studies.

      Finally, please allow me to leave you with a parting thought. I worry about your plan to home school your own kids. While I would certainly NOT speak into such a personal and private choices that a parent would make for a family, I will comment since you did post on a public forum. Please consider allowing your children to have a choice at some point in their school careers. And if they want to try traditional school, please do not send them to school for one day to “try it out”; perhaps make a longer term commitment. If you worry about them falling behind, consider the virtues you have preached about home schooling and know that they can make up any deficiencies in no time at all. :) Home schooling worked for you, you have personally experienced success with such a system. I applaud you! Please be open-minded enough to recognize that your own child may thrive in a different environment.

  • Olga August 14, 2015, 11:22 am

    This is pure awesomeness! I’m reading this blog, starting with the archives and classics, so as I was reading the posts circa 2012-2013 I was wondering whether you’ll start homeschooling at some point.

  • Jules October 16, 2015, 3:06 pm

    My daughter has gone to school all of 3 months and already I feel everything that you say. I am so close to just yanking her out. She is so smart and knows so much but I guess it’s hard to run a class of 22 kids if they are constantly interrupting. It still bothers me that the teacher doesn’t listen to my daughter. She hears her, just not listen. I teach my daughter to speak for herself. She is coached to talk to adults and deal with problems. It was her homework sheet which got destroyed in the rain. It’s been 3 days and nothing. I ask every day. First day, she needed to raise hand before she speaks, 2nd day, teacher doesn’t have any extra ones, 3rd day my daughter gave up.

    • meredith October 21, 2015, 10:19 am

      The best thing to do is go volunteer in the classroom. If the teacher doesn’t have time to print off another copy of homework, she is drowning in admin work and needs help.

      My sons average class size in elementary was 32 kids. His teachers were amazing – but the only way it worked were the dozen parent volunteers that came in regularly.

      Besides helping and getting a better understanding of what school is like for your daughter, you will also get to know her friends and other kids really well.

  • Elaine December 5, 2015, 12:56 pm

    It’s fun to see some of you mention the Kerbal Space Program. My 80-year-old husband recently got into it and is having a great time. He really wishes that he was better at math and science, but the folks on the forum are very helpful. On one request for help he mentioned his age, and several commented that they thought that it was awesome that someone his age was playing it, and one even said that he wished that his grandpa played it!!

  • Emily M February 22, 2016, 3:34 pm

    Really enjoyed this article. Recently discovered MMM, so I’m digging into the archives. I’ve been contemplating homeschooling for my son, who will be in kindergarten next year. Would love to hear an update on how it is going!

  • Luke March 28, 2016, 2:50 am

    I’m super excited you guys started homeschooling, and frankly surprised that it took this long for you to stumble on it! I was homeschooled all the way to college (except for some community college my senior year) and think it’s such a logical option for *some* parents who deeply care for their kids. As many other posts have mentioned, it’s all about the level of involvement the parent has no matter the education system. Homeschooling let us take epic road trips growing up and allowed me to only do 4 school days per week all through high school, working construction on Fridays. It has worked out phenomenally in almost every family I know, which is a lot more than can be said for the public school system (as someone who has volunteered for years at various urban public schools). Congrats on the switch!

  • Jay June 21, 2016, 10:45 am

    There is more to just having fun with friends and “fitting in” in terms of socialization. How do kids learn to be persistent, resilient, competitive, empathetic, reasonably cooperative, working with the system constraints (or better, helping to improve the system) but not cowardly avoiding it when they hang out at home with parents all the time? Kids need to be challenged, not only intellectually, but also emotionally. Kids need to learn to give their best when occasionally they have to work on things they are not most interested in and they need to learn to cope and approach with tactics/strategies developed by themselves when they have to work with people they are not the best friend with. This is life, all about balance.

  • steve poling July 12, 2016, 2:59 pm

    I have mixed feelings about home schooling. I found public school a terrible bore and the social scene had a certain Lord-of-the-Flies unpleasantness. Nevertheless, when I went to visit my Aunt & Uncle who were homeschooling my cousins I found the kiddos hopelessly innumerate. (This is odd, since I trace my aptitude for math to that side of the family.) Thus I concluded that home schooling is not for parents who aren’t Renaissance (wo)men. However, there are now resources for the home schooling parent unavailable then. (e.g. Khan Academy). In West Michigan there are so many home schoolers that they’ve banded together to have sports teams that outclassed my kids’ parochial school. And my friend (the best programmer I know) takes every Friday afternoons to teach Physics to a bunch of home school kids. Without these resources I cannot recommend home schooling, but WITH them it seems viable.

  • Kay Barnes July 15, 2016, 10:33 am

    Love your blog. Am learning so much. And totally agree with you that homeschooling is incredible for the rhythm of learning, exploration and discovery. But damn, shoot, my heart breaks that the public school system lost you and your voice for all the kids out there. I am a big proponent of public education. I honestly believe it is the most important battle out there to create a cohesive, educated community that embraces diversity as well as shared experiences. I am not part of the public school system but do work with an arts organization to bring the arts (in my case, dance) to inner city schools. I am also a parent with three kids who are going through the public education. We have been lucky, although I have gone through the same angst and struggle and did take our kids out for a year to homeschool. We are lucky in that the schools our children attended have a lot of parental involvement and the teachers are mostly creative engaging professionals. But every year, the government and the school board put more restrictions on what education should be and strip more resources from the schools so teachers are more limited and stressed in how they can engage and teach the students. It is only with the voices of the involved parents that change is possible. I totally understand why you took your child out for a home school education. And I know the cost of leaving your child in a broken system is not okay. But it is also worth considering the cost and loss to a whole community when a parent takes a child out of the public education to either homeschool or to a private school. It often leaves the most vulnerable in a system that needs advocates and supports and the whole community is poorer and weaker because of that. Perhaps there is a way to do both? Take a hold of your own child’s education as well as be the voice in the community that fights for the arts and holistic education in the public realm?

  • Lady Locust August 16, 2016, 2:36 pm

    Have to say, while reading from “the beginning of time” I was surprised that you sent your son to public school. I worked in the school system for about 12 years and am glad to be out of it for a variety of reasons. I absolutely love teaching – really teaching. When lessons are scripted (as in “health”, teacher says ABC, children respond XYZ – for real) there is no room for learning. Also, the restrictions placed on teachers is insane. Try teaching a middle-schooler that Pres. Wilson reintroduced & promoted segregation or that C Columbus was a monster along the lines of Desoto and watch how knives start flying at the teacher. Heavens forbid tell them the truth. Did you know that now a teacher cannot fail a student? (might vary by state) School ≠ education.
    Your son will learn far more both on a moral level as well as on an intellectual level from real life experience. If you look into the rules of schools as they align with rules of military, you might be surprised. (shut up and follow orders)
    Also interesting, might look at what was happening in schools in Germany as Hitler came into power.
    On a more positive note take a look at the ‘Reggio Emilia’ approach to learning.
    Already a hot topic judging by the number of comments – just adding my 2 cents.
    “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Sam Clemens aka Mark Twain.

  • Alain September 15, 2016, 4:52 am

    I’ll only say “WOW”! My kid is 8 months old and I’m already getting anxious about having to throw him in the stupid school system we have here in Quebec. I don’t want this school system to teach him how to be a slave… plus they are making kids pop pills everyday (ritalin) nowadays because they want to play and jump and throw stuff and explore… while teachers are forcing them to stay put 8 hours per day.

    I’m fighting to reach early retirement at 45 (I’m 35 now) but this thought is forcing me to think of a way to speed up the process. I’ll need to save more and I’ll need to do that quick.

    I just got back to work from an 8 months break at home with him and it’s tough man. I now see him half an hour a day to spend most of my day with people I don’t care about. Life shouldn’t be lived that way. And I don’t want any stranger (kindergarden) to raise my kid because I’ve been too stupid to find a way to not have to work for money earlier in life.

    We already made the decision to cut my wife hours at her job to 1 day per week so that she can raise our kid and we’re paying down our mortgage at the speed of light (180,000 in 7 years – we have 4 years left) while I’m also stacking at least 16k-20k per year in savings/investment.

    I guess homeschooling sounds like a good plan and the logical pursuit of my plan. But to be able to do that, one should already be free. It seems to be quite time consuming. So I guess I’m gonna need to find a way to be free at 41 at the most! Fortunately I just managed to get a promotion and get another 30k of salary per year so I think I should be able to stack even more cash into my freedom plan!

    Thanks for inspiring us

  • Claudette November 26, 2016, 9:12 pm

    MMM, if I may be so bold, I’d like to recommend a book to you: “Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students.” I may be reading my situation into yours, but I think it might be relevant to you. What this book goes into is the connection between extreme smarts ands emotions–what physcholigists (sp?) are calling “giftedness” these days. I think of it as “sensors on high”–people like your son (I think) just take in more information, more emotion, more ideas, more LIFE, than most people. (My daughter is the same.) It’s great–I think gifted is a nice word for it because it is a gift–but it’s a major challenge too. And it’s a lot for the average school teacher to handle on top of his or her standard workload. But in the right environment–a good school (private, public, or home)–it’s just awesome to see kids like this thriving.

  • Kerrie McLoughlin November 28, 2016, 9:20 am

    You know what? I’ve been paying $60 a month for Time4Learning this year for 4/5 of my kids and it’s so glitchy and doesn’t mark off the crap they do, which frustrates the hell out of them. Khan is great, and there are so many ways to do school at home for free that I am getting off this expensive homeschooling train. Thanks for being an inspiration. And, yeah, we try to be done by noon so we can mess around all afternoon, my teen son can work at his lawn care job and we can just BE.

  • Jon June 24, 2017, 10:29 am

    Glad you came around to homeschooling your son! Since you are so creative and such a hard worker it seems like it would be a shame to have your kid sitting in a boring school! Individualized education is just a amazing. If I could have you tutor our children I’m sure they would learn so much more! I guess I’ll just need to step up myself and do better :-)

    One comment I would like to make is that you equate government schooling with free public schooling. I would highly doubt if we got rid of government schooling if organizations wouldn’t step up and take over and offer free schooling or at least inexpensive schooling. Since government schooling is pretty much a defacto monopoly it doesn’t have the capacity to learn like private organizations. Also, the customer of government schooling becomes bureaucrats and partly the parents. Kind of a weird mix. With 100% private schooling without any regulations the parents and children would become in charge and be the true customers.

    Anyways glad you are able to give the best to your son!

  • The Blue Dove December 2, 2017, 9:03 am

    A great book on this topic is The Day I Became an Autodidact and the Advice, Adventures, and Acrimonies That Befell Me Thereafter by Kendall Hailey. It’s written by someone of our generation (I count you as GenX, MMM, am I wrong?) in 1989. She didn’t go to college and did self-directed learning for, I believe year. Interesting how now this is a “thing” – “gap year.”


  • Steve P. May 28, 2018, 11:01 pm

    Dear family MM,
    Way to go encouraging learning by your example! Here in WA state there are homeschool partnerships that are supported by local school districts which were able to help our family as our youngest son was going through middle and high school. Because of his hunger to learn (encouraged by family and the partnering school) he went from Ds and Fs in 8th grade to being in the top area of his class when he graduated.

    Keeping learning exciting seems to make a huge difference.


Leave a Reply

To keep things non-promotional, please use a real name or nickname
(not Blogger @ My Blog Name)

The most useful comments are those written with the goal of learning from or helping out other readers – after reading the whole article and all the earlier comments. Complaints and insults generally won’t make the cut here, but by all means write them on your own blog!


welcome new readers

Take a look around. If you think you are hardcore enough to handle Maximum Mustache, feel free to start at the first article and read your way up to the present using the links at the bottom of each article.

For more casual sampling, have a look at this complete list of all posts since the beginning of time or download the mobile app. Go ahead and click on any titles that intrigue you, and I hope to see you around here more often.

Love, Mr. Money Mustache

latest tweets