322 comments

The Self Educating Child

Little MM and me self-educating with some Orson Scott Card, way back in 2017. We’ve come so far together since then!

So it looks like my 15-year-old is officially a high-school dropout.

Halfway through ninth grade, emboldened perhaps by the taste of freedom that Covid-era remote learning had provided, he realized that the whole system was just too slow and inefficient for him, and was “Getting in the way of his work.” So as it looks now, he’ll probably never return to any sort of in-person schooling, and I will be surprised if he ever attends college.

Yes, he is technically “home schooling” and will still end up with a high school diploma of sorts, but in reality he is pretty much winging it. And needless to say, I have mixed feelings about this.

I’ll start with the worries and the negative stuff, because as a parent I of course want the best for my child. And when I look back on my own childhood, it feels like school was a fountain of formative experiences.

Sure, the education itself was slow and crappy – I was always craving more advanced material and more creative learning formats which just weren’t there in my small town high school. But isn’t enduring crappy and antiquated systems a critical part of getting ready to live in a modern society where things don’t always go your way? After all, the only way to renew a drivers license or a passport (or a medical license for that matter) is to dive head first into the ridiculousness and grin and bear it for the sake of the end goal.

And of course there were plenty of good parts: I had so many amazing experiences and friendships and adventures through high school and university. Beginner romances and heartbreaks, brushes with the law, late nights around the campfire, terrible minimum wage jobs at gas stations and convenience stores that I thought were amazing, all bathed in a swirling Marijuana-tinged soundtrack of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Soundgarten and Primus and Tool. Doing reverse snow donuts in my mom’s 1988 Dodge Caravan filled with eight friends and then getting out to dance crazily in the headlights to the Wayne’s World soundtrack blasting from the giant stereo system I had built into the minivan with my own 16-year-old hands.

How will my son grow up as a well-adjusted adult without the 2020s equivalent of such experiences?

But when I obsess over these thoughts, I know I am falling into the oldest of parenting traps: assuming I know what’s best for my child, and that his own desires and thoughts are not valid, even though he’s on the verge of adulthood himself. So I remind myself of the positive side of this situation:

The world of 2021 is a very different place from my equivalent perch in 1991. And my son happens to be sitting in an unusual but still promising (I hope) little corner of it.

Because of the Internet, and to be honest a damned large dose of privilege due to having two educated parents always available because we were retired before he was even born, he has been able to feed his thirst for knowledge with incredible efficiency. This is an advantage that is still not available to most people today, let alone to what people of my generation had to work with in 1989. So he has already gone beyond college level in the standard fields that they cover in school.

So of course he has noticed that the existing school system is not as efficient as his custom-crafted alternative. Like me, he feels frustration with many of our institutions. But it’s a frustration born of love and a desire to help out, rather than just a complainypants attitude and a desire to criticize. Public school for all is a great thing and a great idea.

But like everything in life, we can only improve by first acknowledging that we currently suck.

The first thing that little MM did upon retiring from formal schooling, is to create this entire 48 minute mini-documentary about the system he just left:

https://youtu.be/0Qi36WcylLs


(click that link to get to get the full experience on YouTube itself and see the description, show notes and comments. I’ll include an embedded version below for lazier people

also, a hint for any YouTube creator you want to reward: their algorithm heavily recommends and promotes videos which people watch for longer. So, let it roll and enjoy the epic soundtrack!)


Seeing him work so hard on this production definitely helped ease my fears about whether or not he will grow up to be a contributing member of society. He spent about three months researching the US school system, writing himself a script, composing a 16-track orchestral music score which is timed to the second to align with the appropriate parts of the film, creating 3-D models and animations in Blender to illustrate the main points, running multiple high-end computers overnight, night after night to render the complex scenes in 4K resolution, turning my house into a miniature version of a Pixar animation studio.

Then he practiced up his reading, set up a bright professional recording studio in my basement, recruited me to help build a teleprompter, and narrated his own script into the camera. And finally brought it all back to the editing software to cut it all together, with pretty stunning results from my admittedly biased perspective as his Dad.

But equally important, the danged kid has a point: schools really could be a lot better.

And it could happen very quickly with just one main change as he explains in the documentary: switching from bland and repetitive teacher-led instruction, to extremely high quality videos instead. This would accelerate learning because the video content could be much more compelling than watching a human stand at the front of a room. But it would also free up the teachers to help individual students rather than just using their valuable time to repeat the same material, year after year.

Even better: most of these videos already exist. Through some sort of miracle, my son has chosen to invest the past five years of his free time seeking out astoundingly good YouTube channels, watching most of their back catalogs, and absorbing the contents of almost every episode.

I’m often shocked at his level of knowledge in so many fields, so I sat him down and interviewed him on his top recommendations in some of the key ones.

The list below is what we came up with. I’ve seen a lot of these myself, and I can vouch for their quality. If you’re looking for places to send your own hungry-brained child, or for things to watch together, check out the following list.

Flipping the Classroom:

As a context for all of this, you absolutely must know about Khan Academy first. This is a free video education in all major subjects, that is higher quality than most in-school lessons. Many teachers are already using this system to “flip the classroom”, and my own boy and I used Khan Academy to help him cover second through eighth grade math in only a month. That’s how efficient video learning can be!

Note: because we were so impressed and thankful, I also donated $9000 to Khan academy in 2016. That’s a great cause if you are looking for more places for your own philanthropy dollars.

Watch Sal Khan’s Ted talk here – and notice the special guest who joins him on stage at the end of it.

General Science

  • Vsauce (which has grown to include Vsauce2 and Vsauce3)
  • Physics Girl (fun to watch explorations of a wide range of real-world physics and science things)
  • Thought Emporium (gene editing through both chemical methods and DNA 3-d printers! And art too)
  • Scott Manley (a charming Scottish Astrophysist / Apple engineer with hundreds of great videos on the Kerbal Space Program simulation game, plus now detailed coverage on space and astrophysics)
  • Anton Petrov – daily videos on new discoveries in science (and a fun look at current events from a science perspective too)
  • Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell Short but intelligent summaries of all sorts of neat things, featuring a dynamic British narrator and fun cartoony graphics.
  • Deep Dive – a relatively new but very promising channel with great big-issue science videos. We are hoping they put out more!
  • Stratzenblitz75 Kerbal Space program videos with nice lessons on the science behind them (like orbital mechanics)
  • Wendover Productions – neat explanations of wide-ranging things, (including transportation logistics!)

Inventions and Building Stuff

  • Colin Furze – crazy, energetic, brilliant videos about building things like a home-made hoverbike, two story bicycle, giant mech robot suit.
  • Simone Giertz – a super clever and witty engineer/builder, perhaps most famous for her DIY conversion of a Tesla model 3 into a badass mini pickup truck.
  • Wintergatan – a hauntingly genius, gentle dude in Sweden who works on a beautiful “marble machine” musical instrument and so many other things. Awesome musician too!
  • Mark Rober (a former Nasa engineer who now makes really fun videos about his complicated and whimsical inventions – best known for the “glitter bomb” anti-theft devices)
  • Styropyro (guy who makes crazy powerful lasers, etc.)

Video creation, 3D Animation and Youtubing Strategy

  • Lazy Tutorials (Ian Huber teaches you 3-D animation with Blender at the speed of thought). He also maintains the Default Cube channel.
  • Blender Guru – personable, easy to watch in-depth blender tutorials
  • CG Matter – fast, advanced Blender tutorials
  • CG Geek – longer, more detailed Blender tutorials
  • Captain Disillusion (video editing and special effects – this man puts a lot of work into each of his super-entertaining videos)
  • Daniel Krafft – useful blender tips and tutorials
  • Iridesium – tutorials on how to create movie-quality special effects in Blender

Coding and Artificial Intelligence

  • Two Minute Papers (AI) – super smart guy summarizes academic papers in the Artificial Intelligence field in a really interesting and easy to understand way, with visual examples.
  • Code Bullet (AI) – Software developer incorporates machine learning/AI into his own code and demonstrates the results in a wide variety of contexts.
  • Carykh – AI and building some interesting apps including the famous “size of the universe” interactive
  • Sebastian Lague – The Bob Ross of coding, this young gentleman walks us peacefully through a fun series of iterative improvements on a variety of advanced programming projects.
  • CodeParade – great bits of coding, math, and graphics combined

Math

  • Vi Hart – the original “Mathemusician”, Vi’s soulfully brilliant explanations of math concepts are great for small kids and adults alike.
  • Zach Star – math puzzles and other interesting stuff
  • Numberphile – another fun math channel – sometimes with fun visuals and special guest experts.

History, English, Etc.

  • Tom Scott – Linguistics and various travel and geography stories
  • History of the Earth – the History Brothers cover multimillion year periods of our planet’s history
  • Half as Interesting – light-hearted tidbids of English history and other things

Music

  • Andrew Huang – so clever, so energetic, so talented, and teaches you SO much about music! (his own songs are great too, as are his youtube buddies)
  • Roomie Official – fun to watch, educational, and a ridiculously good and versatile singer.
  • Davie504 – an amazing bass player, and fellow bass enthusiasts might learn a few things too.
  • Adam Neely – fantastic music theory and neat analysis of existing stuff.
  • AU5 – one of my favorite emerging electronic music artists, who also teaches you how to make the stuff in Ableton and related tools

So, What’s Next?

Like everything in life, I view this as an experiment. It might go well, but there will surely be some pitfalls and downsides as well. Neither of us is perfect and we make errors in judgement sometimes. But this feels right and promising right now, so we are running with it. We will learn from our mistakes and develop ourselves along the way, and make the most of it. Which is really a good plan for life itself.

Congratulations my not-so-little MM, I am proud of you and I wish you the best in this next crazy chapter!

  • Jordan April 18, 2021, 3:32 pm

    I agree that the school system is really outdated and lacking in innovation. Using more videos, or at least providing the option, could be much more engaging. Looking forward to seeing what else your son ends up doing as a high school ‘drop out’.

    Reply
    • Profit Greenly April 18, 2021, 5:47 pm

      This concept of “flipping the classroom” and having kids watch video lectures at home and then get help actually doing the work from teachers and classmates at school has been around for a while. Khan Academy (a great YouTube channel/website for learning that somehow didn’t make it into MMM’s links above) was really pushing it, even a decade ago.

      Reply
      • Profit Greenly April 18, 2021, 5:50 pm

        It’s sad that most schools in the US still haven’t adopted this method of teaching (though it is gaining traction in college courses). Maybe the MMM family can help push it to broader acceptance?

        https://youtu.be/HkMS6Glswig

        Reply
        • Kayote April 20, 2021, 4:37 pm

          I would argue that more screens is the exact opposite of what elementary school kids need. It’s not good for brain development and many of them it sends haywire. (I spent a lot of time researching around to confirm what I really didn’t want to admit). It’s important to differentiate on the age of the students involved. What is good for a college student is not necessarily good for a kindergartner.

          At the lower levels I’d rather see more things like Montessori, where the lessons are short and the kids mostly teach themselves in a curated area with items designed to help them learn. Similar result (teachers being able to work individually) without the screen.

          Not every solution has to involve a screen.

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          • Earl May 8, 2021, 12:38 am

            Agreed – I’m a teacher, and amazingly the world of education has already figured out about the availability of video resources. Kids get bored shitless watching them. It’s almost shorthand for ‘crappy teaching’ – stick a video on. let kids teach themselves. That might well be the future for the bulk of poorer kids; I suspect those who can afford to will still pay for actual human instruction.

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          • MelD May 16, 2021, 4:40 am

            Interesting that Montessori is so popular (and I agree there is a lot to be said for the methods, certainly for younger children) – at the same time remembering that Maria Montessori’s work is from well over 100 years ago, now, and that she died 70 yrs ago…
            Surprises me, that’s all, when everything else seems to need to be shiny and new.

            Reply
          • Derek May 18, 2021, 11:31 pm

            My kindergartener has extremely high energy and seemingly is bored instantly, or at least “was” and his high energy/behavior is much more manageable as a parent and we give all the credit to his Montessori school. I think being given the options to make choices in his education tasks really gives him confidence and a sense of purpose. I can’t recommend the method enough for younger children.

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      • Lisa April 20, 2021, 8:53 am

        His son actually mentioned Khan Academy a few times in his video.

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      • MagneticNorth April 22, 2021, 9:12 am

        Maybe he’s edited the blog since your comment, but the first sentence in the section of flipping the script is “As a context for all of this, you absolutely must know about Khan Academy first”. And then there’s a TED talk by Sal Khan.
        The links seem to be introduced as “other things in addition to Khan academy”

        Reply
  • Mark April 18, 2021, 3:50 pm

    A Civics resource would be nice. Don’t have one off the top of my head.

    Reply
    • kiwano April 19, 2021, 10:23 am

      I was thinking something similar, and had the additional though of assigning the 15-year-old the task of presenting his video to the local school board as a means to unearth some of those resources.

      Reply
      • Tim April 19, 2021, 12:13 pm

        This is the kind of real world assignment that I have seen, yup, in actual high school classrooms.

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      • Blue April 19, 2021, 4:06 pm

        The problem is not that the public schools don’t know that schools are bad or that there are resources out there to improve education. Teachers and administrators are experts at this stuff, with PhDs. The school systems have to function as the social safety net for kids without awesome parents like MMM. They have to feed everyone, try to get kids mental health services, provide sometimes their only medical/dental/vision care, social services, and so much more. Improving actual education is pretty far down the list of things they have to do. It isn’t right, it isn’t fair, but I really hope Lil MM uses his privilege and knowledge to make the world a better place. It sounds like he will and I’m so grateful for awesome kids like him.

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        • Adina April 20, 2021, 5:11 am

          I’m a nurse and this is exactly how I feel about the healthcare system whenever people have great, technology-based ideas on how to fix some of its problems. Both systems are trying to provide the bare minimum to as many people as possible and it ends up failing many people in the process.

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        • DeniseNJ April 20, 2021, 6:22 am

          Add in PT, OT, and speech, plus special education services and kids get more health care than education. There aren’t enough hours in the day for everything that needs doing.

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        • MelD May 16, 2021, 4:43 am

          Yeah, it’s shocking what teachers have to do in the US :O
          I have never understood why Americans think they are so progressive, they are so far behind many parts of the world in so many ways.

          Reply
          • adrienne May 23, 2021, 3:22 pm

            Are these Scandinavian Countries which have a smaller population, pay higher tax and have better social care and related safety nets (welfare), and a different political system?

            Reply
            • David July 23, 2021, 2:38 am

              Not just Scandinavia. Actually the US is an outlier if you look at public spending on things like education compared to other wealthy countries. It seems most places figured out that education is a good investment. If Little MM wants to get some real world experience, MMM should send him to study abroad for a year or so.

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              • Jory September 16, 2021, 12:02 am

                The US is actually an outlier in that it spends so much more on education than other developed countries. 37% more per student than the OECD average on K-12 education, and about 20% more than Sweden, Canada, or the UK.

                https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/cmd

                To the extent that money is the issue in the US education system, the problem is distribution–we’re one of the only countries in the OECD where children of high-income parents have more public money spent on their education on average than children of low-income parents. That in turn is a consequence of having a decentralized, local system for funding education, plus lots of segregation by income and race.

    • TM April 19, 2021, 6:00 pm

      Does CGPGrey count? Excellent educational videos.

      Reply
    • Dave April 26, 2021, 6:51 am

      Reply
  • Casey April 18, 2021, 3:54 pm

    Different times indeed & it seems like little MM is highly motivated on the learning side as there is endless citizen generated content being made on practically any topic. You mentioned the social side that you valued growing up. How does he scratch the real life people itch? How does he break loose of the parent gravitational field? Is moving out next;)? Best of luck. I remember meeting you briefly at an outside bar in East Austin two or three years ago.

    Reply
  • EthaninPA April 18, 2021, 3:55 pm

    That’s some serious hustle to create that sort of content. I’m not worried about him. Everything is an experiment and he’s young enough to change course over and over again. Seems like an entrepreneur in the making to me.

    Reply
  • Impersonal Finances April 18, 2021, 4:01 pm

    Pretty incredible you can get an entire education via YouTube on literally any topic of your choosing. There’s no question he can get a wider education on topics that actually interest him should he have the necessary discipline. Your point about learning to sift through the inefficiencies and minutia of every day life is a good way–though it’s troublesome to think that that in itself is the main benefit to a formal education. I can’t imagine having to go through this virtual learning period during my formative years and the impact that might have had on me.

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    • Changwei April 18, 2021, 4:13 pm

      You’d be amazed sometimes the YouTubers explain concepts better than the textbook/teachers. And of course those 5 minutes DIY videos are golden.

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      • DeniseNJ April 20, 2021, 6:29 am

        True that YouTube has wholly outdone the Encyclopedia Britannica–remember those? My only concern with even more screen time is the possible passivity of it. You don’t learn to play an instrument just by listening to music and watching a video on how to knit a sock, to me fascinating, is not a substitute for actually knitting a sock.

        Watching great video content is great and you can absorb a lot, but it isn’t really learning until you use it, discuss it, exchange ideas, go out and try it yourself. Watching great information then discussing it with friends and teachers and using what you learned is the best experience.

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  • Raisin Mountaineer April 18, 2021, 4:03 pm

    Thanks so much for this, especially the long and varied list of sites. Our fifteen-year-old is delighted to be back at school, mainly to play live in the band and to have lunch with friends— but he is also often bored by the lockstep approach. He would not want to quit— and we are lucky to be at a school which has a fair degree of flexibility for advanced or wider study— but he is also delighted by videos such as these.

    I’ll offer no opinion on the decision you all have made— little MMM was born within weeks of our guy (who was born to one retired parent and one part-timer who retired a couple years back), so I have followed your journey with interest.

    The only thing I would encourage is to continue to learn to work and play well with others— if he chooses to pursue any kind of traditional career, or one that requires presenting oneself to others in order to get their help, assistance, support or endorsement, it’s super helpful to comfortably “play that game.” Working with actual adults (as opposed to teens who are often not kind at this age) may prove to be an effective way to develop these skills.

    best wishes to you all in this new endeavor!

    Reply
  • Kyle Wieferich April 18, 2021, 4:05 pm

    MMM and MMM Jr., thanks for sharing this personal decision and the reasons behind it. I chose this route and it’s been a journey but has worked out well for me. Right now the world needs people who think, learn and can create. Best wishes for all the years ahead!!

    Reply
  • Stephen McAteer April 18, 2021, 4:08 pm

    If he decides he wants to go to college later on he can always do that.

    Reply
  • Adam April 18, 2021, 4:09 pm

    This is very exciting content. Along the same theme of many of these video links is a guy who summarizes the latest in nutrition research on YouTube, which I find fascinating. His channel is simply called Nutrition Facts.

    Reply
  • Changwei April 18, 2021, 4:11 pm

    When it comes to FIRE, having kids could be something different since you’re still responsible to guide to them and set them up for success.

    Reply
  • Gran April 18, 2021, 4:17 pm

    I watched your son’s video, and he makes a lot of valid points.
    There are “bully” teachers that love to belittle students to pump up their own egos. It’s abuse, in my eyes.
    I wish him well in his “homeschooling” and I bet he gets a better education, than at the local public school he was previously attending..

    Reply
  • Manu April 18, 2021, 4:20 pm

    He makes a good point, and thank you for taking the time to share the curated list of Youtube channels. There’s probably something to find for “grown ups” as well. I’m also looking forward to watching his video on the topic once I can make the time.
    I’m not leaving though without pointing out that the queen of shitty robots is actually called Simone Giertz, not Gertz. Just a small typo ;)
    Have a good one, cheers!

    Reply
  • Joseph April 18, 2021, 4:21 pm

    Your son is absolutely right. School is completely inefficient; kids (and adults) are better off learning using videos on YouTube. At best, pre college school is tax subsidized babysitting for dual working parents. I have 3 degrees and most of the classes I took didn’t teach me anything useful. However, a college degree opened many doors for me.

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  • Marcella April 18, 2021, 4:30 pm

    That must be hard as a parent. I think the difficulty is that going through school is about more than information. It’s also about having adult leaders and mentors who inspire you, learning to be an apprentice in learning, persisting despite bullshit, having to navigate peer relationships, and tolerating restrictions and demands as a part of success. People can never be replaced by videos. I understand your point that you don’t want to assume the rules of 21st century learning. But I would also be cautious about allowing kids too much freedom, as that can lead to uncertainty or overwhelm for them. They may not want guidance and limits, but that doesn’t mean they may not need it. As a parent myself, even though our public school kind of sucks, we chose it because we don’t want our kids to live in a bubble (which is what the charter schools are like) that gives false impressions of the world that most working people live in. The demands of other people and limits (at least in the formative years) give us the structure to endure and to grow. I hope your son gets that collective experience in other ways. Best wishes.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache April 18, 2021, 4:41 pm

      Thanks Marcella. I really agree with your thoughts on the value of the difficulty itself (and I tried to express this in the article as well).

      The only idea I’d disagree is with “People can’t be replaced with videos.”

      Of course, a human coach/tutor is usually better than a video for directly answering questions and holding a rich conversation around a subject. But a video can be far, far better at explaining concepts – because it can combine a human who a world-class explainer, with animations and sound and production value that are completely out of the capabilities of a school system. Movie-quality video learning allows you to concentrate the effort and budget of tens of millions of teachers, into a single, incredibly high quality resource.

      It’s just like any other efficiently manufactured product: if every local auto shop tried to make their own electric car using just the tools and parts in their garage, we’d have lots of custom golf carts that cost $100,000 each including labor. When we concentrate that effort into a centralized, efficient company, we get Teslas that are hundreds of times better at a fraction of the price.

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      • Stacy April 18, 2021, 10:38 pm

        I homeschooled my two sons some years ago for 3 years, and have reflected a lot on all these points. One points being that the way we originally learned as humans was by watching others. The modern industrial school system pushed us toward more literary modes of learning, which definitely does not serve all students equally. With YouTube, etc., we are shifting back into what is evolutionarily easiest — watching others. I’m an English major myself, but now see the snobbery of pushing written learning on everyone, as this method labels those who aren’t served by this learning style as somehow less than, when they are likely just differently brilliant.

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        • Lurker April 24, 2021, 6:07 am

          As an English major myself, I think you nailed it. Thanks

          Reply
      • chris April 19, 2021, 11:25 am

        I am certain there are many studies done by reputable organizations that have evaluated whether learning via video is better than through our current method. My guess is for some students sure, for most, probably not. Would love for it to have looked into the research on this.

        Second note, videos can only teach you so much. There is something to be said for actually doing things (homework problems) that for most people helps to build the connections in their brain.

        Reply
        • Robin April 20, 2021, 9:21 am

          You are correct that there are many studies on the efficacy of video learning. That general answer is that “it depends.” What does it depend on? The topic, the student, the quality of presentation, and whether the learners have the opportunity to apply what they learned in a meaningful way.

          No one is suggesting that learning via video is 100% effective in a vacuum. It is best when supported with other resources, including practice, applied activities, and conversation and engagement with both mentors and peers.

          Reply
      • Tim April 19, 2021, 11:30 am

        I am a teacher. What really ends up tricky is that the idea of “concentrating that effort into a centralized, efficient company,” in education has mostly ended up with deadly boring textbooks, highly sanitized videos, standardized tests, and the monetization of “rigorous’ courses such as AP Courses. The basics of this idea–a flipped classroom–are not new in education circles, they have been around for quite some time. Your average high school student does not yet know how to differentiate between sources though–they might find a high quality source. They could just as easily fall down a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories and racist propaganda–I’ve seen it happen enough times. A flipped classroom requires more than just access to YouTube, it also requires a committed teacher to currate the sources.

        Your son appears unique in that he is able to pursue his own academic interests independently and with attention to quality. As you note, this is, in part, a function of his and your priviledge. As far a priviledge goes, this seems like a decent and non-exploitive use of his/your priviledge. Keep on going with this–make sure he reads widely & from a variety of perspectives too.

        That said, many, many, many people are not actually able to pursue their own academic interests outside of a supportive social environment–basically, a classroom, digital or otherwise. Many people don’t really have much academic interests of their own. This is why teacher education is often focused as much on curriculum as it is on creating a positive classroom environment.

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        • Tim April 19, 2021, 11:34 am

          Also, if you REALLY want to dig in to the aspects wrong with our education system–teachers are the people to talk to.

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          • Retiro May 19, 2021, 9:49 am

            To really have a valid perspective on educational reform, I think Bill Gates, MMM, and others need to spend a half year or longer as a teacher in a public school (preferably inner city) to experience the reality of what is expected of public schools and the needs of all kids being served.

            Reply
            • Mr. Money Mustache May 21, 2021, 7:19 am

              You’re right that there is no substitute for first-hand experience. But my brother does have exactly this job, and I have learned a lot from his thoughts on teaching at many different schools over the last 15 years or so.

              I have done a couple years of very part-time volunteer teaching at different schools too, which I realize is nothing like the real thing but it still gave me quite a lesson in how hard it is – the vastly differing needs of the kids, and the good and bad parts of the system everyone works within.

              I still think that the “flipping the classroom” idea of offering high quality video learning that kids can watch anywhere, as a supplement to the existing system, would help a lot at a relatively low cost.

              Reply
              • UK teacher June 3, 2021, 3:07 pm

                Supplementary to current school offerings yes. I cannot say what US schools are like but as a UK teacher I would be interested in how we could improve school systems by supplementing what we already offer. Our current system, like your own, doesn’t match what every child needs but it matches the majority (hopefully). This is a really interesting read.

        • Kate May 5, 2021, 4:28 pm

          Echoing your point here:
          “Your average high school student does not yet know how to differentiate between sources though–they might find a high quality source. They could just as easily fall down a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories and racist propaganda–I’ve seen it happen enough times. ”

          I have a 16 year old, and one of my prime concerns for years is teaching him discernment. Several of his peers are easily duped by videos, or by posts with “100 citations!” and the like. Just this week one of his friends said he’s not getting the covid vaccine because it’s been proven that it’s being used to sterilize women in Nigeria, “look at all these links.”

          And trying to teach kids how data can be misinterpreted or deceptively presented (e.g. by altering the y-axis), it’s beyond the scope of the majority of unschoolers.

          I think unschooling is utterly fantastic for a small slice of kids who are taught how to evaluate source materials, data, locate responsible primary documents, etc. I’ve also seen other families fall into it with zero guardrails and it’s kids who watch you tube 17 hours a day.

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          • Kate May 5, 2021, 4:31 pm

            Your son might enjoy “Calling Bullshit” – it’s a great resource for helping people learn how to navigate deceptive data and arguments.

            https://www.callingbullshit.org/syllabus.html

            Reply
            • Kristel May 18, 2021, 9:22 pm

              Thank you Kate for the link, now THAT is a course that I’m very interested in right now!

              Reply
        • Kat July 22, 2021, 2:09 pm

          I’d be interested to hear how some teachers think starting the “self-educating child” idea earlier on would affect 1) their ability to discern sources’ credibility and 2) the fact that many people don’t have academic interests of their own. As some have noted above re: Montessori schools, giving kids a choice in what they learn, how fast they learn it, etc seems to lead to better discernment and more interests. There’s a great book called Totto-chan by Japan’s Oprah-esque TV persona about the tiny, experimental school she went to in WWII-era Japan. They had that kind of choice and nearly every one of the kids ended up doing something incredible/attributed that success to the school because they felt free and interested. One aspect of it that stuck out to me was that every kid had the same bank of material to learn from, but got to choose the order in which they tackled it every day. The teacher was around to help kids when they needed it. It seems to integrate some of the ideas here – a supportive social environment, but with a learner-lead curriculum and a mix of different learning modalities (could be video, literary, hands-on/activity-based).

          Reply
      • Katie April 20, 2021, 11:36 am

        Explaining and teaching aren’t the same thing.

        Reply
    • Zachary Jackson April 19, 2021, 7:59 pm

      Hi Marcella. I can understand those valid points. Being in a place where you can get the right support and guidance is invaluable and will serve you for life.

      Yet unfortunately I am afraid many kids don’t get those opportunities either. I know I did not. My high school basically all of the teachers and such were “present”, but nothing akin to leadership. We literally just watched movies and played video games all the time. Kind of a “do what you want while I am on the computer” deal. There were many days I would play Minecraft for like 4 hours, eat lunch, watch a movie and go home. No chance for learning. Some socializing due to video games, but bulling comes in that territory too. Hope this is a good reflection to show another perspective . 🙂

      Reply
  • Linda April 18, 2021, 4:34 pm

    Wow. I admit I went in reading with a very biased perspective, but glad I read (and watched) the whole thing. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  • Mayo April 18, 2021, 4:40 pm

    Yawn, another dime a dozen ‘school is so oppressive’ fairy tales. Kids in most parts of the world would die for an education. And of course, you get the people chiming in who haven’t set foot in a classroom since 1985. Of course, some schools and teachers might be lacking but for the most part what I see across k-12 education is pretty incredible and pretty different than I when I grew up. It’s much more dynamic and student centered. MOST kids would play video games all day holed up in their rooms if they could; I’m glad your kid is not of those. And yes, I’m a math and science teacher.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache April 18, 2021, 4:46 pm

      Mayo, I agree that my own perspective is 30 years out of date (and from a different country as well). But you should watch the documentary – he addresses your points from today’s perspective, and it still sounds pretty bleak. And this is from a rather privileged school in a high-wealth area. My son and I are both painfully aware that our life is a VERY lucky one.. but that doesn’t mean we should shoot down critical feedback and opportunities for improvement.

      Reply
  • Stephanie Carty April 18, 2021, 4:46 pm

    I love that the “what about socialization” comments show up even in COVID. Home schooled kids can be social or antisocial just like any other kids. And homeschooling is not dropping out of school.

    Reply
  • eema April 18, 2021, 4:48 pm

    i dropped out, got my g.e.d.
    job payed for b.s. degree.
    did my paper on a subject i cared about(tai chi)
    you got an awesome kid!
    i cant wait to watch some of these videos.
    regards

    Reply
    • carla April 19, 2021, 3:00 pm

      AWESOME! Well done

      Reply
  • Hilary April 18, 2021, 4:59 pm

    More for math: 3Blue1Brown – these videos are beautiful and amazing!

    Reply
    • Leah Danielle Johnson April 19, 2021, 12:10 pm

      Came here looking for this. Truly an amazing math resource, especially for really complex topics!

      Reply
    • JeffD May 6, 2021, 10:49 pm

      I was going to recommend this, but you beat me to it. These videos are *really* good.

      Reply
  • Profit Greenly April 18, 2021, 5:09 pm

    Good luck on the experiment MMM. If I were you I’d focus on him learning important things that might skip through the cracks. Stuff like teamwork, how climate change really works, the real threat of facism, etc. Honestly this has me thinking of creating a sort of standards of learning test for my own kids about what really matters. That’d have more practical things like conservation of energy and how a heat pump that’s 400% efficient doesn’t violate it.

    Reply
  • Jeffrey April 18, 2021, 5:45 pm

    Congrats to your kid. I couldn’t agree more. 80% of school is BS where they don’t teach real world stuff. I am 3 years away from FIRE and can’t wait. Wish I found your blog sooner. I live in NYC so it’s a bit harder here. Too much family around to leave.

    Reply
  • Mandie April 18, 2021, 5:49 pm

    We ended up back at homeschool after a brief return to the public school system for 2019-20 school year. We got sent home in March 2020, and then tried enrolling in a fancy schmancy charter school for remote learning for 2020-21. We lasted about 6 months before dropping out back to homeschool due to hardcore Zoom fatigue. Honestly, my kids said the same thing as yours when presented with the option to homeschool. I work 100% at home, and use Slack, Discord, Zoom, and GSuite to collaborate. My COVID personal project is doing online retraining in IT, and it is all self-paced. I Zoom with a colleague a couple times a week to fill in the gaps. The kids wanted the same flexibility as me. Self-paced, online learning, and freedom to pursue their interests. School can get too quickly derailed by one kid causing problems. The kids can easily ask us questions, or just do additional research if their online lessons don’t fill in enough gaps. They are doing all kinds of interesting stuff, like learning chess online, cooking, and setting up elaborate social systems on Discord. They get a group of kids together and come up with all sorts of creative ways to socialize online. They make art for each other. They build elaborate Minecraft creations. They share their lives with each other via livestream. They do things I would never have thought of. We do have a ton of privilege, and this works great for us. For kids who don’t have the option to homeschool, we really could and should do better with our schools.

    Reply
  • Sherry April 18, 2021, 6:24 pm

    Good for him! For people who are looking for resources, just wanted to add that the Crash Course videos are good fun and cover some of the humanities topics well.

    Reply
  • Cheryl April 18, 2021, 6:50 pm

    I wondered if you guys would ever come back to your unschooling experiment. My son is a year younger than yours, and he’s been unschooling from the beginning, but may decide to go to school in a part time way next year in order to play sports. It’s disappointing that all the high school age sports seem to be tied to schools.

    Schools Could be more like community centers. Kids Could have more freedom like college students have, but that’s not going to happen until we reach the tipping point of people dropping out, fighting back, and demanding better options. I think the internet will push us over the edge, out of this archaic system that we currently have, but it will take a radical mindset shift in how we view children. As long as we still have people calling the police when they see kids playing outside without adult supervision, we aren’t going to make any changes that would give children more freedom.

    And to all those people saying that kids have to go through school to experience hardships, restrictions, rules, teamwork, friendships, etc.: those things are part of LIFE, not just school.

    It’s like saying you really need to do a stint in the armed forces in order to have a good life. Think of all the memories you make in boot camp! How could anyone pass that up?? You learn discipline, hard work, and life skills–make lifelong friends. It’s all true, but plenty of people still think the negatives of joining the army outweigh the positives.

    Reply
  • KS April 18, 2021, 6:59 pm

    We have been homeschooling since before the pandemic… it is awesome, fun, more efficient and flexible. I was surprised you didn’t mention Crash Course. We also enjoy Dreaming Spanish.

    Reply
  • Cathy April 18, 2021, 7:21 pm

    My kid dropped out of high school at the beginning of this year. They’ve been taking whatever community college classes that interest them, playing bass and doing art, and becoming a happier and more self-directed person. They made a good decision. And if they change their mind about going to college it’ll be there for them, and without having wasted money on degree just because that’s supposed to be the next step.

    Reply
  • Julia April 18, 2021, 7:32 pm

    This kid is too advanced for high school, maybe even college. He can GREP a lot of classes and get college credit for them, will probably still have to go to college for one or two years though. Then right on to a Masters and his Doctorate. He will find a career that interests him. Or go into business for himself. Fifteen going on twenty-five. Covid has isolated most teens; I hope, since he is continuing High School at home, there will be ample ways for him to socialize with his peers. Someone with his intellect is not offered advanced educational opportunities in our schools. A lot of schools will help those who are in need of special education but where is the special education for those with very high IQs? They just put these students in with others and they get bored.

    Reply
  • CC April 18, 2021, 7:43 pm

    My son quit school after his 9th grade year. He gave many of the same reasons as your son. He actually was dealing with depression, anxiety, and panic disorder…so I’m not sure if this is what really caused him to form his opinions. I agree that school sucks in MANY ways, but I feel he missed out on so many life experiences that help to form a well functioning adult. I had hope that he would find his own way because he’s very smart. He is now going on his 22nd year of life and he has no direction, no job, and no plans. I hope your son does well….I know there are many self-directed learners out there that do. Good luck!

    Reply
  • Steveark April 18, 2021, 8:06 pm

    I was very comfortable watching my son become an engineer then an MD, one daughter earn two engineering degrees and the third get two degrees and now working for a free PhD at the university that employs her. We are still in the neverland between credentials and ability. I think it’s an overly risky venture to eschew formal credentials just yet. I am convinced formal ed is dying and headed toward irrelevance, and I’m the chair of a college board of trustees. I just think it’s five to ten years away But being your kid, he is probably twenty years ahead of the rest of us! Fascinating look at this rapidly changing world.

    Reply
  • lister April 18, 2021, 8:30 pm

    I would say one of the best parts of school for me was group projects: learning how to navigate collaboration with random people, not people I chose to be with. I learned a lot from the social structure, and having to deal with teachers that didn’t teach exactly to my style. I don’t think this is replicable in videos, and by definition it’s not really replicable in social situations that he CHOOSES to be in. I would definitely encourage him to figure out not just the socialization piece, bur the random socialization piece.

    Reply
    • Kim Heller June 10, 2021, 3:37 pm

      I really agree with you. I had real problems in school when asked to work as a group or even when the teacher would team you up with someone. I had straight As and did not want to risk getting less than that by having others responsible for my group grade. Did I have a bit of “I’m really smart and you probably aren’t attitude? yes!!). I quickly learned that others were just as smart if not smarter than me and guess what I could even learn from them- amazing concept to learn at 15 or 16 yrs old. I also realized everyone has different skills. I learned well from text books but hated speaking in public. There was always someone in the group that loved giving the verbal presentation. That also amazed me and made me realized it probably wasn’t as difficult as I had made it out to be and I learned to develop that skill myself. I don’t think I could have learned all these valuable lessons by sitting home watching a video.

      At the same time, I have enjoyed watching my 2nd grade grandson attend school on-line. He has far more time to do things he enjoys like painting pictures and learning about birds. He even combined those interests and painted a watercolor of a bird on a branch of a tree. However, he is an only child and does not play well with others- he tends to boss a lot and I think that would go away if he was in school everyday.

      Pros and cons to everything in life I guess.

      Reply
  • shmoelle April 18, 2021, 8:31 pm

    Thanks for the list of resources. You might also like Extra History – short, well-researched videos on an array of topics including the history of money.

    Reply
  • MarcusAurelius100 April 18, 2021, 8:37 pm

    Excellent article! I’ve often wondered how I should supplement my kids education while they are in primary school. Perhaps complete replacement with a home schooling curriculum will become more feasible with self-directed learning. Looking forward to watching your son’s video which sounds amazing. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  • Stewart April 18, 2021, 8:38 pm

    Awesome.

    Though, I do find the the term “self-educated” a little silly (but I think it’s used less nowadays). If you educate yourself reading books, then the authors are your “teachers”.

    Regardless, I don’t have a better term for someone that chooses his/her own subjects to learn about as opposed to learning the subjects that the system chooses to teach us.

    Reply
    • Joel April 19, 2021, 6:19 pm

      Self-directed education?

      Reply
    • Vulpine April 26, 2021, 9:51 am

      Autodidact. Autodidacticism is education without the guidance of masters.

      Reply
  • Ted Bendixson April 18, 2021, 8:53 pm

    Like you, your kid is exceptionally intelligent and creative. His presentation gets me wondering about the IQ distribution across our population and how the schooling system fails to do right by those who are at the higher end of the distribution.

    He makes a point that everyone is capable of learning complex topics, but the prevailing psychological research runs counter to that claim. People in the higher ranges of IQ scores (120+) are capable of the more intellectually demanding fields like engineering while those who have an IQ below 83 can’t even get accepted into the military.

    This poses a huge problem for our society because roughly 15% of the population is below that IQ threshold, and there literally aren’t any career options for them. It’s excruciatingly difficult to teach people below that IQ how to do the kinds of basic tasks that might be required of, say, a McDonalds cashier.

    And sadly, people like that end up staying at home and abusing drugs because they’re aren’t capable of much else. We’re failing them in every imaginable way, and it’s not clear what the solution is. Neither side of the political spectrum is willing to discuss it because both have incorrect conceptions of human nature, and it is an inflammatory topic. The left says everyone is equal. The right says work harder.

    Perhaps the problem with school isn’t that it fails to unlock the potential of millions of people who have it, but rather that it lumps all kinds of people together in the same room, many of which have vastly different intellectual capabilities.

    It’s no wonder the smarter ones will feel like they aren’t learning enough, even though it might be the right pace for people who have an average IQ.

    Also, if you look at the sorts of jobs that people with an IQ of 100 and below can do, you start to notice that as IQ goes down, the jobs tend to get more repetitive and rote. This may explain why so much of school is dedicated to repetitive boring tasks. There’s a large percentage of our population which is only capable of that, and it could be argued that school is preparing them for a life of the kind of work they can handle.

    There is some positive news that IQ has gone up all across the world thanks to better nutrition and other random things like the eradication of lead-based paints. However, it can only be improved by so much, and there is evidence that better education does little to increase it.

    Exceptionally intelligent and creative individuals will always run counter to the culture of our society (through education and in the work world) precisely because they are at the high end of a distribution that is mostly average. I’m not sure what the best way to prepare them for this unfortunate reality is.

    I’m also not even sure we want to prepare them for this reality. Should they be in boring repetitive jobs with people who aren’t capable of much more, or should they aspire to surround themselves with smarter people who can create the future?

    On some level, the FIRE movement is what smart people do when they find themselves in a dull job surrounded by people who they don’t consider their intellectual equals. It’s a strategy that applies to a career transition, wherein one prepares to gain leverage over one’s career situation so one can choose to do creative interesting work with other smart people.

    It’s the adult version of dropping out of school.

    Reply
    • April April 19, 2021, 9:49 am

      High intelligence can be a handicap. My three siblings and I were all National Merit Scholar semi-finalists, which places us all in the top 2% intelligence, at least. But at the same time, my older brother and sister were so bored in school that their grades were quite mediocre. Things like this would constantly happen: my sister’s physics teacher would call my parents to say, your daughter got As on every test, but I have to give her a C because she didn’t hand in any assignments. What saved me from that situation was that I knew exactly what I wanted out of life, where I wanted to attend college, and I knew that to get there I had to play the game. I was really good at playing the game. It took patience, an ability to put up with crap, and the perseverance to reliably hand in the boring assignments (that I nevertheless got done). There is a lot to be said for learning how to “play the game,” since society is filled to the brim with them. And it’s true, within the FIRE movement we’re incredibly privileged that at some point we can decide to be done with it – if that’s what we choose.

      Reply
      • Andrew April 19, 2021, 1:20 pm

        > were all National Merit Scholar semi-finalists, which places us all in the top 2% intelligence, at least

        Not in the top 2% of intelligence, but of knowledge needed to take that one particular test. The PSAT is not intelligence test by any stretch of the imagination but a high-stakes assessment of typically taught materials in high school.

        Kids of less intelligence can absolutely game that test and study for it, and super bright kids who have never been exposed to the concepts can do poorly.

        Reply
        • april April 19, 2021, 3:44 pm

          Actually, in the olden days, measuring intelligence (as well as anything can, which is never an exact science) was the specific purpose of the PSAT and the SAT. More recently, it was changed in an attempt to make it into more of an achievement/learning based test. In fact, in the olden days it was relied on in this way enough that Mensa took this older test result as a means to be accepted into Mensa – a purely intelligence based club (again, as far as anyone can do such a thing). But what you said about the PSAT/SAT reflects the difficulty of ANY test used to measure intelligence. I do know this test and what has happened to it over the years – particularly being a college professor, who’s constantly looking at scores like this. https://www.us.mensa.org/join/testscores/qualifying-test-scores/

          Reply
    • Carrie Willard April 20, 2021, 7:05 am

      You’re absolutely correct, but watch your back when the PC police come knocking. This is one reason why I’ve been homeschooling for 17 years.

      Reply
    • Concojones November 9, 2021, 1:11 pm

      Ted, your last paragraph is a gem!!!!

      Reply
  • Kiryn April 18, 2021, 9:30 pm

    Another channel to check out is Extra Credits: originally a site focusing on video game development lessons, it has a number of spinoff series teaching things like mythology and really obscure history topics in a cartoon way that makes them really fun to follow. I know a lot more about ancient Roman military tactics and feudal Japan than I ever did from school.

    Reply
  • Steve Anderson April 18, 2021, 10:34 pm

    Love this post! I haven’t finished watching your son’s video yet, but the 10 minutes I’ve seen are really well done. Kudos!

    I also really appreciate the list of favorite YouTube resources that your son compiled. We are homeschooling our kids, and there are so many awesome resources that make it easier today than it would have been even a decade ago. We put together our own curated list of good resources on a website that we share with people – https://flexiblehomeschooling.com. It’s a bit more elementary, as we put it together a couple years ago when our oldest was 8. We initially used affiliate links, but took those off because we’re more interested in getting good info out than making a few bucks from this.

    This has got me thinking though. What’s the best way to combine efforts and make the most awesome list of resources that teachers and students can use to design their own curriculum? There are benefits to crowd sourcing, but there are risks of putting too much control in the hands of the people, as special interests will find ways to cheat the system. Perhaps a non-profit organization could be created for the purpose of collating and evaluating resources and providing them to others. Has anyone heard of any organizations that do that without being overly swayed by special interests?

    Reply
    • Chris May 12, 2021, 6:50 pm

      Nice website Steve, thanks for posting. Digging my way through the resources now, looks like there’s some really good stuff here. Much appreciated!

      Reply
  • Olie April 18, 2021, 10:47 pm

    Your son sounds like a smart person. If I had children I would home school them.

    Reply
  • SachaFiscal April 18, 2021, 11:05 pm

    Well he wants to solve real world problems and he’s found a big one to solve. At first it was a little difficult for me to accept because my mind was stuck in the status quo. But I’m envisioning the school he is describing and it just may be the next leap in education. Education has changed so much in the past 30 years. I can totally see a school where the curriculum is just videos and teachers just help students guide their learning path and help with individual growth. But there are so many inequities in education that I’m not sure it will be feasible everyone. The pandemic really uncovered issues with access to good internet and online learning resources. Still it would be a great thing for someone to develop this learning platform/curriculum and see how it works in real life. I guess those Sudbury schools may have some data. Such a fascinating subject!

    I just watched a movie “Accepted” with Justin Long. Its a goofy comedy that is kind of related to this topic.

    Reply
  • Joseph Anderson April 19, 2021, 1:09 am

    It’s amazing what kids can do when the school system gets out of the way. I want to try the Robinson Curriculum for my future kids someday.

    Reply
  • Doug April 19, 2021, 2:28 am

    Great video! I have been sort of interested in this general topic for a number of years, ever since I read the books of John Taylor Gatto (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Taylor_Gatto) – I expected to see a reference to some of his work in the credits, or perhaps I missed something…. If your kid did not come across them, I’m sure he would find them useful.

    Reply
    • Viridine July 26, 2021, 9:00 am

      Doug!
      Thanks for bringing up John Taylor Gatto. I’m a homeschool graduate myself and I came across an advance copy of “The Underground History of American Education” at my local library years ago. Eye opening.

      Reply
  • Soltist April 19, 2021, 2:55 am

    Y’know, I just hit this post before starting my work. To me, this is a pretty heated topic, as it hits pretty close to home. I didn’t watch MMM jr’s video, but I felt like I need to drop the following off of my chest. I’m someone who also has been targeted and whatever in the education system. To keep the story short, I’ve been a nerd from an early age and reading/gaming were my favourite pasttimes. I live in the Netherlands, in an area where a lot of people do easy manual labour. I’ve had an early fascination with history and cultures, as my parents hail from Poland and fled the country before the fall of the wall. WW2 was my crack when I was in primary school, some kids thought it was pretty cool and others ostracized me for it. The latter ones wanting to take a piss on me, including some teachers. I didn’t have a lot of trouble socializing, I’ve had lots of friends but they weren’t that much on the same page. Guess I tried to conform, I was a pretty rebellious kid despite being a nerd. I was sent to child psychologists and I ended up with an autism diagnosis (PDD-NOS), as I developed slower on certain fields (socially and physically apparently). I got placed in the lower-middle bracket, when we’re talking about secondary education. I grew up without intellectual role models to look up to, I wasn’t very interested in my peers as well. The biggest reason being that I got bullied heavily in my first year, then they kinda left me alone. I remember those years leaving me pretty bitter, the people I could get along best with were my teachers. It was only when I went to the vocational school (I went from VMBO kader to MBO 4, for those interested in the Dutch system), I found some intellectual peers. The years at my vocational college were some of the best years of my life, it was challenging enough, I could finish all my homework during lesson time and relax with a book or a game afterwards. And then my current graduation track, a mixed bag to be honest. I’m doing a programme called Business Studies, in which I got classes in Finance/Accountancy, Logistics, HRM and Marketing. The first year was fun because it was challenging, in the second year we had to choose a track from one of the disciplines. The second year was damned boring, it was a complete slowdown from the previous year. Because the institution spent most of their budget on the first year, to get students ‘on level’ and shake off the terrible students. At that point I started questioning everything and depression sank in. The challenge was pretty much gone that year, and I didn’t have good peers to get along with. And I’m telling you, with the experience I’ve now, I can tell you that having peers on your level is REALLY IMPORTANT for your mental wellbeing. The thing I hated the most was having to work in groups with people who are just clinging on the performance of others. However, like all things in life, you can’t live purely on your own performance. These kinds of situations teach you how to deal with hardships. Right now I’m doing pretty well, I really like having my own thesis project. I only have to take care of the wishes of the management and the education institution, right now I really have lots of room to create my own thing without having others dragging me down. And also, the terrible side jobs, didn’t make use of any of my talents and they just saw me as cheap labour.

    What one of the commenters before me have said, when you’re different, whether it is in intelligence or whatever, you will fall outside society’s bounds. I’m lucky to live in a country with a good social net, but others aren’t even a quarter as lucky as you or I. I’m also a bass player, I’m pretty lucky my teacher is an intellectual peer. Back when I tried to keyboard at age 8 or so, I was stuck with a teacher that did everything by the book. I was into synthesizers, but I didn’t even get the chance to fiddle with sounds in those days. My bass teacher is liberal in that sense, if I want Hysteria from Muse, he gave me it after my technique was good enough (in 10 months or so after starting?). And slapping and whatever, ah the bliss. Time for some Pastorius, Motörhead and Primus soon I guess. Y’know, it can suck when you don’t have someone to discuss Kurt Cobain’s life or lyrics with someone. Or why Poland was invaded in the first place (spoiler, the big wig from Austria didn’t want to invade them first, he wanted them Poland on their side. But Poland being Poland held stiff, and he really started to hate them when the Allies were brought into the conflict because of it – source is I. Kershaw’s biography).

    I have some criticisms on a video-only schooling system, but that’s for another time. I’ve some work to do. Good luck to you.

    Reply
  • Runoahma April 19, 2021, 2:59 am

    YouTube channel recommendations for Little MM:

    Kraut. Ever wanted to watch a multi-hour documentary series on the history of Turkey illustrated with country balls? I thought not, but I dare you to watch the first episode and not be interested. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgjiJHV8P0w Or maybe the current series on why there is such a stark contrast on the living standards on the American/Mexican border. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPs6tjXsf7M

    TimeGhost, history documentaries. Their main project is World War II, which follows the second world war week-by-week 79 years after it happened (i.e. last week’s episode was about the events of the week ending April 18th, 1942). Playlist here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLsIk0qF0R1j4Y2QxGw33vYu3t70CAPV7X The series should do a fine job on filling out the non-American parts of the conflict, especially the sheer scale of the Eastern Front. The main TimeGhost channel has other smaller documentary series, e.g. Between Two Wars on the years 1919–1939, or a series on the Suez crisis. (Also a shoutout to The Great War channel for doing the week-by-week format for World War I.)

    Reply
  • John April 19, 2021, 5:06 am

    Hi MM, I’m a longtime reader and fellow FI software engineer with a PhD.

    My concern with this story is that you’ve got a bright kid who is clearly interested in STEM, and he’s making a decision that will lock him out of most STEM careers. Almost all interesting jobs in STEM require some kind of college degree and lots of formal education.

    You need a realistic plan to get him college ready, that can be homeschooling following some kind of curriculum.

    Reply
    • Suzanna April 19, 2021, 5:44 am

      Maybe he will skip the STEM job (being hired by someone) and just go right to being the owner of a STEM company. You might think that is unreasonable but the next generation has more flexible ideas that you might not even be able to imagine.

      Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache April 19, 2021, 2:00 pm

      I think that the stuff he is interested in (digital creation of all sorts, including software development) comes with no need for a university degree at all.

      I’ll be happy and proud of him if he does choose to attend such a school (and I’m impressed by the initiative of all the young people who do it). But at the same time I think his own unique situation does not require it at all.

      Reply
      • lurker April 23, 2021, 3:51 pm

        I really like your son’s idea of schools as research institutes working on real world problems….I suggest the climate crisis as the first one….how many and what kind of trees need to be planted where and how can rewilding and reforestation be sped up (drone tree planting???)…anyway I would sleep better knowing he was on this problem….best,
        Ned

        Reply
    • Kaylee April 19, 2021, 5:09 pm

      Even if you don’t need/want the piece of paper, STEM degrees are extremely valuable just for the resources and exposure they provide. I was homeschooled myself, so I’m very much in favor of self educating, but I’m working on a PhD in civil engineering now. The value of the mentors, funding, software licenses, peer groups, collaborative projects, and other resources I have access to through the university can’t be overstated. I hated school as a kid (for the same reasons discussed in this post) and never got a high school diploma, but I’m very glad my parents kept the option of college open to me, because I’ve been able to do some incredible things in college that never would have happened if I’d tried to stay out of the education system completely.

      Reply
    • Andrew April 20, 2021, 12:45 pm

      Based on watching the video I think little MM would love college. I felt the same as him about school until the first day of college. It was like a switch flipped. He is an an even better situation than I was because he already has highly developed skills that would be needed in a media / STEM field, and likely a decent investment portfolio. In 2021, with all the opportunities ahead I would say go to a state school or local community college for a year and see if you like it. If you still find it mind numbing than you can at least work as a software engineer with no college (although starting salaries go up with education, but those college years also eat into your net worth by deferring labor and (likely) paying tuition).

      Wouldn’t it be cool if people could decide on whether or not to go to college based on their interests and not how many years it adds/removes from their inevitable career-sentence?

      Reply
  • Wageslave April 19, 2021, 5:24 am

    Watching his video confirms that he’s doing the right thing. It’s amazing quality and made me, a middle-aged professional, intrigued and think. Teaching people to just put their head down and grin and bear it is the most dehumanizing and irresponsible thing that traditional education does to young people. It’s the biggest obstacle they have to overcome in order to break free and become truly great at something. I’m 36 and by the time I overcame the brainwashing I realized the easiest way out was to continue being a cog in the machine for a few more years. But little MM is unplugging from the Matrix before he gets trapped at all :). I’m happy for him, even more so than people who are able to retire early!

    Reply
  • Velopop April 19, 2021, 5:45 am

    Greetings- There’s a movie that somewhat addresses this situation, currently streaming on Netflix. Captain Fantastic. Of course, there is a Hollywood happy ending, but the take-away is simply this: The kids are alright.

    Reply
  • Justin April 19, 2021, 6:22 am

    I’m going to be honest. When I read the title I was expecting a braggy “look how awesome and smart my kid is” blog post. As is usually the case, I was completely wrong. You should be incredibly proud that you’ve modeled a life of constant self-improvement that your son is emulating. He’s right. The time has come for a mainstream teacher/technology hybrid schooling system.

    Reply
  • Laura A Gardner April 19, 2021, 6:48 am

    What an impressive job your son did on that video! Being a parent is tough, but it sounds like you are doing a great job! I have 4 kids, ages 14-21. After home schooling for 5 years, they willingly chose to go back into the public school system for several reasons with varying challenges and results, both positive and negative. I’ve definitely learned a few things myself from all this. Thanks for the great list of videos! My own 15-year-old son watches many of the youtuber’s on that list just for fun. You’ve got a smart kid there!

    Reply
  • Carrie April 19, 2021, 7:32 am

    Good job dad for seeing your son with open eyes and trusting him to know himself.

    Good luck Little MM on your learning adventures!

    Also, MMM you may want to add little MM’s youtube channel name and tag to this article. I was looking to send it to someone and luckily knew it from previous articles/videos but would be helpful for new readers.

    Reply
  • LB April 19, 2021, 7:46 am

    This is super-helpful, both as putting across the concept, and for the specific links. Thanks, MM!

    Reply
  • Emily April 19, 2021, 8:10 am

    Another vote for 3Blue1Brown! I have an extremely self-motivated kid who is also really into coding, math, and blender. We homeschool and it feels like the only reasonable option.

    Reply

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