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:


(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


  • 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


  • 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!

  • Tom April 21, 2021, 10:06 am

    As the public/private school systems seem to be losing their way regarding teaching critical thinking, problem solving, effective written and oral communication, etc., I think the homeschooling option is going to explode over the next decade. It allows the child to move quickly through material that is easy for him/her to absorb, and to go more slowly and get help on other areas that are difficult for them. Plus, it gives them more time to do other valuable things, such as learn another language, learn an instrument, volunteer in the community, learn various trades.

    And as the college system becomes less relevant (most employers don’t feel that undergraduate students have any appreciable skills), I see that college system imploding. Would not be surprised to see employers instead looking for students based on having passed some certification exam rather than having any particular education pedigree.

  • Diandra April 21, 2021, 11:28 am

    Good luck to little MM on beginning his new experiment! I agree that the old style lecture should be a thing of the past, it took until the last year in my Bachelor’s degree before I had my first “think outside the box” class. Beyond that, even half of my graduate work has been rouge memorization that you forget quickly and never get a chance to use in the “real world” anyways.

    Maybe there is a Junior Mastermind group that he can join/start to practice problem solving in a group setting!

  • Andrew April 21, 2021, 11:56 am

    Maybe this is the grumpy old man in me (although I’m only 33), but it seems like it would be REALLY hard to replace the most valuable learning experiences from my high school with videos and self-learning unless you’re willing to go to a significant expense to assembly the required equipment. In biology we did multiple dissections of animal parts (eye, heart, etc.). In chemistry we did a ton of experiments using the lab’s full range of equipment (burners, beakers, titration, etc.). In art we were able to make some awesome ceramic creations using the pottery wheels, other clay shaping equipment, the kiln, and all sorts of paints and glazes. We had wood shop equipment when it was time to build CO2 powered racecars. In gym class we learned to ice skate on the hockey rink. The computers always had licenses for all the software needed to supplement the math and science topics we were learning. This “learn by doing” portion of the experience was critical for me and also seems like it would be the hardest to replicate in the home environment. Do you have plans to try and replicate some of this in the home environment?
    I’d worry about the social aspect as well. Playing on the high school football team gave me experience working and interacting with an extremely diverse group of kids whom I never would have met otherwise. It gave me invaluable perspective on the point of view and life experience of people who weren’t like me. Do have any thoughts on how to replicate these sorts of interactions outside of the public school environment? Everything I’ve done since then (socially, professionally, and for fun) has resulted in a much less diverse group of friends than my high school experiences.

  • Chris Wilson April 21, 2021, 12:00 pm

    You’re missing some amazing Channels.
    Practical Engineering
    Smarter Everyday
    The Slow Mo Guys
    and, uh, The Onion (oldie but goodie)

    These have all changed my life in one way or another, but all for the good.

  • Emily April 21, 2021, 2:30 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for years. Watching the video and seeing him question all the constraints of the system, well, it’s very obvious that he’s your son!! Having watched my own, younger kids struggle through school during COVID times this past year, I have to say that I can really see where he’s coming from, and I think we are going to see a lot more of this from smart kids. Where I live, middle and high schools were remote for a year, and some will stay remote until the fall. The message to the kids is that school is not really mandatory any more, so, of course teens are questioning whether it’s worth their time. Your son seems very bright and motivated. I hope this will work out well for him.

  • Kurt April 21, 2021, 2:32 pm

    I love the idea of “flipping the classroom” (I think I first heard it in Sal Khan’s TED talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/sal_khan_let_s_use_video_to_reinvent_education?language=en). I’ll admit that I was naive and thought that, due to the pandemic, schools would adopt this approach (since it’s hardly new) for the 2020-2021 school year. What a sap I was :P

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 21, 2021, 4:11 pm

      Fantastic link Kurt! I just updated the article to include your suggestion and also add my own raving about Khan Academy. Thanks so much for sharing it.

    • Pereg April 25, 2021, 9:10 am

      The flipped classroom concept is great in theory, but really only works with a privileged set. I’m speaking from experience as somebody who has worked in k-12 and now college environment. Yes, everybody has a cell phone, but the problem is getting the students to watch the lecture or do the home portion of the work. Most students are not motivated to do so on their own, and many parents are not motivated to set aside the time. If you go into a public school at any level, what you will find is a slow elimination of all homework and all textbooks. I’m not kidding! Most of the schools that I have worked in in the past 5 years have been phasing out homework and textbooks. There are many reasons for this– textbooks are expensive for both school systems and individual students at the college level, the computers have more information than a textbook anyway, and Chromebooks are cheap, the students don’t read the textbooks or lose them, and educators are starting to see that homework is more trouble than it is worth and possibly detrimental to students. In college I teach a course and we actually do the readings in class. My children who are in k-12 and in the k-12 systems I have worked in in the past 5 years, don’t really have homework and also do the readings in class during small group time. I think the flipped classroom thing is on its way out. It was something that I learned about when I was in school myself, but now seems to be phasing out for a total no homework approach. Personally as a teacher I prefer it, because I have total control over my students learning. I don’t have to give any leniency for undone homework if there’s no homework. I don’t have to worry about a kid’s home life if I’m not expecting them to do work at home.

  • Kelly Monaghan April 21, 2021, 3:03 pm

    Excellent video and VERY impressive soundtrack. I hope MMM Jr won’t take it amiss if I point out that the correct form is AFTERWORD and not AFTERWARD. That’s the sort of thing those gawdawful, boring English teachers in (yuk, feh) schools like to point out. In any event, it’s an easy edit.

    If I live long enough and this blog does too, I’ll be intrigued to see what he learns from his old man. Will he follow in dad’s footsteps or will he use his obvious intellect and talent to earn massive amounts of money and spend it all on fast cars and flashy women? (Or is that fast women and flashy cars?) :-)

  • Wade April 21, 2021, 3:39 pm

    Maybe $1,000 of Dog-e-coin, some 8,000% gains and a diploma are all one needs to succeed today. :-)

    High school, fine. No college or anything trade school? Hmmm. That might be a different journey.

  • Karl April 21, 2021, 7:59 pm

    Hey MMM, I started reading the blog a few years back. I’ve always been a frugal person, but too cautious for my own good so I was subpar at negotiating better salaries, taking advantage of opportunities, etc. Reading your blog really changed my perspective on things and has changed my life for the better, so thanks for that. Until recently I was saving 51% of my income while supporting my stay-at-home wife and kid in Manhattan, and I just moved to a way cheaper place and am expecting a raise so that number should go up to 74%-ish soon. Our path to FI is still going to take another 7 years or so but we’re looking forward to the results!

    On the subject of educational Youtube content, I’m also a big fan of 3Blue1Brown for math (which I’ve seen a few people recommend already), PBS eons for ancient history / biology, and Economics Explained (3 guesses for what that’s about). There’s a few others but they’re already on your list, I’ll have to check out the ones I haven’t seen yet when I’ve got time

  • Mark April 21, 2021, 10:32 pm


    Thanks for sharing this. I didn’t make it through all of MM Jr’s presentation, but I can tell you…..from what I did view, I was blown away by the content and creativity of your son’s video. He is an educated and informed young man that I am sure has made you a proud dad! Your son may have covered this, but their are two MAJOR problems with our public education system in the US.

    The 1st major problem is the unions that are behind our public school systems. If you are in the right zip codes (aka those with $$$), the union problem is less of a problem, but is still there under the surface. But in the majority of our public schools the unions protect inept teachers and fight to keep the status quo. What your son is proposing would impact teacher jobs and force change to a system that is not built to change. Unions are there to protect teachers, not to protect our children. Much more could be said about the role of unions in public education, but I will save that for another post.

    The 2nd major problem is what is happening in much of our inner cities. (DISCLAIMER: the following comments are not true of all inner cities, but I am afraid the exceptions will prove the rule). Inner city schools have become a place to send kids for daycare, not learning. Parents are not engaged in their children’s education and are expecting the schools/teachers to raise and feed their kids. Lack of discipline in the home has led to lack of learning in the classroom. Many teachers are just trying to keep “peace” in the classroom. If there is any teaching going on, that is a bonus. With the resurgence of young professionals with kids returning to inner cities, most of these families opt for private education vs. sending their kids to the public school in their zip code. Rather than work to influence and reform these schools, they opt for private education and our inner city schools continue to pump out youth with a subpar education. (DISCLAIMER: the above comments are not true of all inner cities, but I am afraid the exceptions will prove the rule).

    Just my 2 cents.


  • Maxime April 21, 2021, 11:27 pm

    A few more channels people might find interesting:
    – Applied Science: https://www.youtube.com/c/AppliedScience – Electrical engineering, chemistry, optics
    – Tech Ingredients: https://www.youtube.com/c/TechIngredient – Anything from custom speakers to distillation to home-made jet engines
    – Real Engineering: https://www.youtube.com/c/RealEngineering – Vulgarization of many interesting engineering topics
    – Stuff Made Here: https://www.youtube.com/c/StuffMadeHere – Custom hair cutting robot, automatic pool stick, …
    – Practical Engineering: https://www.youtube.com/c/PracticalEngineeringChannel/ – Civil engineering vulgarization

  • Erin April 22, 2021, 12:14 am

    It seems to me like little MM is following in his Dad’s footsteps. He is not satisfied with a flawed system, didn’t like to waste an important resource (time), decided to take an uncommon path, still works hard and found something he enjoys, and is now sharing with other people his own way. Whether it’s rejecting the education system or a consumer-driven lifestyle, it’s courage to follow your instincts to a more fulfilling life.

    Thank you for sharing this story. The video is wonderful. I found both very inspiring. Wish the best for your family!

  • Erik April 22, 2021, 8:46 am

    I agree that school can be, or frankly is slow for many kids. I’m not convinced it even teaches to the average kid anymore, which used to imply half thought it was hard and half thought it was easy.
    I also don’t doubt your kid is smart and capable.
    If he wants to strike out on his own for his whole life, his path can work.
    I would suggest coming back and asking “what is smart”? Is it those who can conjugate verbs, do calculus, and recite science? Or is it those who can navigate life well?
    I know many book smart people who don’t excel at life. The good part is that excelling at life is up to the individual to define, but there are broad goalposts – happiness, not hunting around for your rent or grocery bill money each month, etc.
    Through that lens, I’d still encourage him to get a diploma, as it opens up applying to universities (where, if one looks hard enough in the right corners, there are still smart people who are self motivated – don’t laugh, I know a lot are just stuffed to the gills with tenure milkers).
    It is smart to adhere to some of society’s hurdles (ie to accrue basic credentials), as they are simply symbols. We all agree they may be a bit fake or of dubious value, but enduring decades of not having the symbols in your pocket is… definitely harder at times. And purposefully choosing a course that is harder… well… is that smart?

  • totoro April 22, 2021, 1:43 pm

    I think homeschooling can be great for some kids. For others, it can be a disaster or, even worse, a situation in which dysfunctional and/or abusive parents or those with extreme views create an isolation chamber for their children. Lots of examples of this, and I know of one personally where the kid is now an adult and unable to function in the real world. Still lives at home with a dysfunctional mom and does pt work online. No real world friends at all.

    As for the video, it was impressive that your son produced all this and put it together!

    I do feel like an involved parent with time can work within the system we have (in Canada) to do a combined homeschool/school approach tailored to their child’s interests and aptitudes. I also know that my kids were not as disciplined when I tutored them as when I hired someone else to come in and do it. Having the resources to hire outside tutors provided them with a better education that I would have done or they would have done on their own imo.

  • Kamran April 22, 2021, 2:42 pm

    Your son might be interested in alternative learning programs. Search for Problem-Based Learning (PBL). There was a program I was in Soph-Senior in high school that was amazing and made lifelong friends in it. It was more real world scenario based learning. We even did National History Day documentaries and that’s how I learned video editing, interviewing, audio recording, etc.

  • Stephen Paul Weber April 22, 2021, 4:57 pm

    The book Unschooled has a great overview and history of better models.

    For deep inspiration about edication also check the classics like Papert’s Mindstorms.

  • Brian Feroldi April 22, 2021, 5:50 pm

    Love the recommendations!

    I highly recommend adding:

    Crash Course
    The Engineering Guy
    Smarter Every Day
    Stuff Made Here

    (all on YouTube)

    to your learning pile as well!

  • Wes April 22, 2021, 7:09 pm

    I started watching this with my kids at dinner. We had some good discussion but about 20 minutes into it we all agreed that it was boring. He should probably use the advice he’s preaching and make an exciting and engaging video.

  • Hulu April 22, 2021, 7:39 pm

    Thank you both. As a parent and, like all of us, a former student it’s a helpful reminder to look around at what’s happening. And what’s available. My generation had a lot of independence. But that can also be neglect. This generation has a lot of data. But that can also be noise. I think the best way to educate this generation of students is to take advantage of all the data and balance it with any ability to focus. Maybe this generation will be better because they grow up used to being able to function with all the beeping and clicking.

    During the video I thought of the IRS, court system, healthcare system, government and DMV…there are some systems that cannot be easily altered or side-stepped. I guess you could move to a preferred country, tolerate things or change them.

    • Andreas April 26, 2021, 4:09 am

      “My generation had a lot of independence. But that can also be neglect. This generation has a lot of data. But that can also be noise. I think the best way to educate this generation of students is to take advantage of all the data and balance it with any ability to focus. ”

      This was really spot on! Something to think about. Learn how to focus and select correct/factual/proper data.
      We used to be data entry, now data entry us :)

  • Sushant Mondal April 22, 2021, 7:47 pm

    I do realize the value of the college degree, despite it not being very useful or practical, post graduate degrees (especially in business and STEM fields) are the gold standard in the eyes of many and can help build trust and credibility in the eyes of others – despite not knowing you or working with you, because of the reputation the colleges have built over decades. I would still encourage to get the degree for the degree’s sake. I realized that despite being a MBA and working in consulting, I still love science and actually religiously watch the science advancements and inventing channels you mentioned on youtube despite not being able to do many of these things. I want the best for you and your family. Stay safe!

  • Gaz April 22, 2021, 9:17 pm

    I encourage you to read “How Children Succeed”.

    School is not about gaining knowledge. Of course we can sit at home and use the internet to gain all the knowledge needed now.

    It is about learning the skills that we all must develop in order to be successful adults – grit, determination, perseverance, and the other soft skills so vital to our development. This is why those with a GED (tested on the same content as their HS graduate equivalents) do not have equally successful outcomes in life.

  • Brian April 22, 2021, 9:54 pm

    Started on my journey through this blog at this point. It did not disappoint. Brilliant In so many ways.

    I might add a couple suggestions. Cut your video into 2 or 3 sections and kick out a few highlights. You know this already for sure.

    But first. Gather up the best critiques, check them against your bias, and make this just a draft in your journey.

    You’re on to plenty and you know it. Your most valid concerns are all opportunities and challenges you’ll enjoy solving in your new curriculum.

    I can’t wait to see what you become along the way and I hope I get to be an early investor in whatever companies you build for this world.

    Good luck with everything.

  • Lina April 22, 2021, 10:23 pm

    Awesome video. Your kid is going places. I felt a bit guilty watching at 1.5x for the sake of efficiency, as I knew I was missing out on the soundtrack. I have a nearly 10 year old and while his personal experience is definitely nicer than that of your son, I think he too may benefit from homeschooling at some point in the future.

  • DontThinkAndDrive April 23, 2021, 2:53 am

    I wrote a comment intended for the youtube video, but at the end it became too long for youtube, so I’m posting it here:

    Nice video.
    tbh the intensity is a bit over the top, but I enjoyed the passion in it – It is what made me watch the video to the end and what made me compose this lengthy comment.

    I’m > twice your age now, but I still remember how as a child I cursed whoever invented compulsary schooling. If it had been an option, I would have switched to home-schooling without second thought. But, being illegal here, it wasn’t, so I plodded through it all while daydreaming of burning it all down to the ground.

    Others have commented that you seem surprisingly eloquent and precise for your age. I’m not surprised at all. Some months ago I opened some of my old school writings and read some diary writing from the same time. To my surprise, they were precise, to the point, and generally flawless. I doubt that today I would do better at the same tasks.
    After the surprise, my second reaction was probably some sort of pride.
    My third reaction was: Have I actually learned anything since that time?
    Or do I have basically the same intellect and capabilities as my 15-year old self, plus a few specialized useful things which I could just as well have learned back then?

    I’m not sure. I thought there must be something, but I couldn’t quite pinpoint it. So after watching this video, I rode my bike through the forest for an hour and tried to gather some thoughts on this. And now I think it’s this:

    Aging and experience have given me increased appreciation of the fundamentals. There’s a certain elegance and maybe even beauty in really stripping away all the noise and looking at the basics in isolation. School/college/university, it seems, is supposed to be a safe space for grappling with the fundamentals. Why are the basics so important? Because, well, they’re… the basics y_y. They are usually simple, but not at all easy, nor obvious. Humanity needed centuries to get a grip on them. They enabled the modern civilization and pretty much all the things you take for granted now. They enabled space travel, Blender and stuff.

    And here the mysterious question seems to me to be really this:
    Why are the basics, if looked at in isolation, so surprisingly unattractive, boring and seemingly not-real-life-y?
    How is it possible that I did a complete computer science university education (i.e. basics, basics, basics, and no Blender anywhere), but only at the end of it I start to appreciate that those things were actually very carefully chosen fundamental things, which will never cease to be relevant in my field?
    How does CompSci university education manage to feel mostly pointless whereas in fact it’s the most highly concentrated collection of universally, ubiquitously relevant basics that I would ever encounter?

    In your criticism, you completely fail to address this, maybe it didn’t cross your mind yet, but I guess it probably did, but just seemed insignificant.

    I recall that I did in fact discuss the same thing with my CS teacher back in school.
    I argued that the things we are learning should have immediate application in my life, otherwise they are obviously worthless.
    He said no, actually one of the best teachers the school ever had was famous for making the students learn things which seemed entirely useless to them, and 15 years later they would come back and tell him that actually his tuition was really great and they learned so much from him, but totally failed to notice it while it was going on.
    I suspect that this recognition is one of the reasons why adults hesitate to burn down the system themselves – it seems like sometimes it’s possible to learn really important things while feeling that they’re a complete waste of time. Although 95% of it is probably Stockholm syndrome, it seems a bit risky to take away the remaining 5% because MAYBE they were actually sort of a big deal ?_?

    Here’s an example from my own life:
    At age 14 I learned coding on my own, and then learned to program simple 2D computer games. I managed to do this without really understanding most of the fundamentals and felt like I really learned something, which I did. Later, I wondered how this mysterious 3D graphics in games actually works. In 12th grade, we had to choose any topic and take a month to write 12 pages about it. I immediately chose 3D graphics, went off into the library, and then read the books about it. What I found was really surprising to me: although 3D graphics looked like it was complicated matrix multiplication voodoo, at its most basic essence, it was actually just an application of the intercept theorem.
    But wait, I had learned the intercept theorem 4 (!) years earlier in math lessons, and I never made the connection. In fact, the lessons on it were pretty good; back then we even constructed some paper telescopes to apply the intercept theorem on the schoolyard and measure some distances, so we could see that it wasn’t useless. Nevertheless, I had put the intercept theorem in a little bin inside my mind, closed the lid on it, and didn’t touch it for a long time, never even considering that it could be relevant for anything at all.
    In other words, school had given me the tools to solve this problem, which I was really interested in for years. And I failed to notice it.

    Here’s an example from your video:
    You mention the example of dropping a ball and then calculating how long it takes until the ball hits the ground. You criticize this exercise on the grounds that you would never want to calculate something like that in your actual life, because you don’t care about it.
    Then you go on to mention how you are really interested in space travel and astronomy and stuff.

    Can you see how school is in this very instance trying to teach you something which is HIGHLY TOTALLY relevant to what you’re interested in?
    Gravity is, like, a really big deal. (Also, quadratic equations and stuff.) And really fundamental. And it used to be not at all obvious to anyone only a few hundred years ago.
    And now you go to school and the thing is served to you on a silver platter, and to make you really grasp it, you get some exercises to apply it, like the one with dropping the ball.
    You claim to be both capable and creative (and the video leaves no doubt about this), so one could assume that your natural reaction to this task would be “okay, so the purpose of this exercise is to understand gravity better, let’s see if I can do this and find the limits of my current understanding, because it will bring me one step closer to actual space travel”?
    But it’s not. Instead, you arrive at “GNARGH WHY DO I HAVE TO SOLVE THIS STUPID TASK I’M NOT AT ALL INTERESTED IN THIS???” and when you voice this concern, a good teacher’s inward reaction is to tearfully bang her head against the next wall because you just reminded her that she spends her whole career offering pots of gold to kids for free and for some reason they don’t even notice.
    Why is that?

    As an aside, how did the exercise even get there? I would guess like this:
    You are not the first to complain about it, and in the first version it was even more abstract, without kids and balls and playgrounds.
    Then people complained about it, saying that it was too abstract and they can’t relate to it at all.
    Then the person who created the task said “No, you’re all stupid and don’t get it, this is about gravity, it’s really important and fundamental and was really carefully chosen and is absolutely pristine, pure and perfect, okay?” and then some other person said “But the parents are complaining and I get paid less if they continue complaining and if you don’t do something, I’ll have to fire you and hire another person who will fix this” and then the other person uttered a bunch of swear words, bangs his head on the table and reluctantly puts a ball and a kid and a playground into the task and hopes to not be bothered with this crap ever again. Now everyone is still not happy, too bad.

    But maybe all of this is Stockholm syndrome? Maybe we can just let everyone learn whatever they want, and they will then be skilled at it? Maybe we don’t need the focus on the basics and can just jump to the interesting stuff right away, and then everyone will pick up the basics along the way, as needed?

    No, It Just Doesn’t Work.

    At least that’s what my experience has shown me in in the last few years.
    I work as a programmer now, so I can see the difference when I look at the people I work with, because software development is full of career changers.
    They can be bright, motivated people, and they are autodidacts. It’s fun to work with them, and they provide real value.
    And still, they tend to make tons of mistakes, the sort which you would do only if you never took the time to really understand the basics.
    If they are asked to analyze a more complicated problem themselves, they tend to miss the forest for the trees because they aren’t really aware that there is such a thing as a forest.
    If you point out to them that they missed something crucial, they marvel on how you always manage to notice things which seem completely absurd to them.
    In contrast, people with formal CS education tend to not have those problems at all.
    Sometimes the career changers ask what sort of knowledge they should acquire such that it doesn’t go out of date too soon. Well…
    If you learn formal CS education, you never need to worry about this happening EVER.
    If you learn Blender and then stop, I’m not so sure.

    I could probably go on about other proposals in your video which I doubt would work out in practice, but I feel this post is long enough already and I have described what I currently feel is the most important problem.

    Producing interesting high-value videos and making school less of a prison sounds really good to me and I’m still sad that I had to endure the prison myself.
    Can we do all of this without sacrificing the basics?

    Also, here is another nice rant on formal education you may like, if you didn’t know it already:

    All the best for your experiment.

    • Dugan May 5, 2021, 8:55 am

      Excellent point– it’s human nature to avoid things that make us feel dumb or present us with problems that we’re not interested in. Part of the value of school is that it forces you to learn about thing X, even if you have no interest in thing X or beleive that you’d never need to know how to do thing X in real life. The main risk that I see with doing self-directed learning is that people don’t develop the skill to lean into things that they don’t understand or find hard and confusing or uninteresting and power through to succeed. A lot of learning takes place right at the edge of where you’re facing what feels like an intractable problem and you power through and overcome it. You have to be a bit of a shaolin monk where you keep on punching the wall everyday until you can punch through it. Is punching the wall fun or interesting? No, but if you want to punch through a wall someday you have to do it.

      To use an example that will be familiar to many readers of this blog. The financial advisory industry is –to put it politely– a despicable cesspool of conmen. “Advisors” make a relatively easy to understand system overly complex. They have a vested interest in making you feel like it is super complicated and difficult to understand and that you will only be able to navigate it safely with their knowledge and expertise. Many people shy away from learning about their finances as a result and end up paying ridiculous management expense ratios and losing years of their life to working longer and harder than they need to.

      If you only ever focus on what is easy or interesting to you you will miss out on a lot of opportunities. Try to spend at least part of your day of self-directed learning leaning in to something that’s not interesting to you. If nothing else it will develop your skill at knuckling down and punching through walls when things seem impossible.

  • eddielehwald April 23, 2021, 6:22 am

    Overall I completely agree with the thrust of this article, and my own public school experience was one of deep conflict and frustration which I’m guessing mirrors mmm’s experience in a lot of ways (I haven’t watched his doc yet but I’m planning to this weekend). Speaking as a professional musician and music educator, however, I think learning ABOUT music from watching videos is a world away from learning how to play music with other people.

    Music is first and foremost a social activity and I would hate to see young mmm (or anyone, for that matter) miss out on the rich wealth of life experiences that come from being in a band, be it a school band or a bunch of friends getting together to jam out. In my own life music has taken me literally all over the world and has given me several lifetime’s worth of stories and laughs (not to mention a robust social web with a thread count as high as the finest egyptian cotton), none of which I would have gotten from staying in my room toiling away at a synthesizer.

    I don’t want to take away from mmm’s compositional achievements (I was absolutely NOT writing the score to my own films at age 15 and that is impressive as shit) but composing can be a lonely road and my personal and professional opinion is that if you’re playing/learning/writing only by yourself then you’re only getting a sliver of the benefits that music can give. Besides, if you don’t spend some time playing gigs with people then you’ll never meet the musicians who will play on your compositions later in life, or offer valuable feedback on the same, or-most importantly-keep you humble because they knew you when you sucked.

    Re: learning by videos I think that youtube is a great resource, but with music specifically I think its value is limited ESPECIALLY for beginners. I can’t tell you how many students I’ve had who have “learned” to play from watching videos who literally can’t tell me what notes they’re playing, or how to keep time, or really any of the most basic elements of playing an instrument. The fact is it takes time and good instruction to get your body and your mind in sync to play music, but that effort gives you a foundation on which to add new knowledge and have a lifetime of musical adventures so it’s worth every second. If you want to make an investing comparison then I’d compare the “get rich quick with crypto” of learn-to-play youtube tutorials with the “get rich reliably with index funds” of getting actual musical instruction from a kind and patient teacher.

    mmm seems like he’s gonna be fine, but just remember that all the Adam Neely gig vlogs in the world pale in comparison to the experience of actually getting out and and playing a few gigs yourself.

    • eddielehwald April 23, 2021, 10:15 am

      *Looks like the rest of my comment got cut off for some reason, it is:*

      Besides, if you don’t spend some time playing gigs with people then you’ll never meet the musicians who will play on your compositions later in life, or offer valuable feedback on the same, or-most importantly-keep you humble because they knew you when you sucked.

      Re: learning by videos I think that youtube is a great resource, but with music specifically I think its value is limited ESPECIALLY for beginners. I can’t tell you how many students I’ve had who have “learned” to play from watching videos who literally can’t tell me what notes they’re playing, or how to keep time, or really any of the most basic elements of playing an instrument. The fact is it takes time and good instruction to get your body and your mind in sync to play music, but that effort gives you a foundation on which to add new knowledge and have a lifetime of musical adventures so it’s worth every second. If you want to make an investing comparison then I’d compare the “get rich quick with crypto” of learn-to-play youtube tutorials with the “get rich reliably with index funds” of getting actual musical instruction from a kind and patient teacher.

      mmm seems like he’s gonna be fine, but just remember that all the Adam Neely gig vlogs in the world pale in comparison to the experience of actually getting out and playing a few gigs yourself.

  • Jazzdelaney April 24, 2021, 1:15 pm

    I love the kiddo’s method and I can’t wait for him to become one of my favorite content creators.

    Can I add a few of my faves?
    Rick Beato – Music producer and awesome analyst
    Paul Davids – beautiful guitarist & teacher
    Veritasium – wonderful and accessible explanations of real world science
    Tech Ingredients – college-level tuition on technology and science experiments
    Drachnifel – deep dive Naval historian

    Hope he likes some of my top channels!

  • Matias April 25, 2021, 11:38 am

    Hey guys! Do you have a good youtube channel that teaches statistics for my 14 years old?

  • Billybob April 25, 2021, 9:21 pm

    As an adult learning the same skills as your son I’m impressed. The video production quality is solid. I think there is an opportunity to create a mmm YouTube voting poll to see top creators. You left out two of the best channels like practical engineering and crash courses! And my channel which addresses some of the topics in your sons video.

  • JAR April 26, 2021, 7:46 pm

    For whatever it’s worth (not much, I realize!). I also dropped out of school after 9th grade having been kinda shuffled along the previous few years (and never being one for school to begin with).

    I worked full-time in random jobs until I was old enough to enlist, learned a trade (and some measure of discipline), and eventually got into software development at just about the perfect time.

    We’re all on our own path and it seems like your son is just doing his thing. I can say I have no regrets. Sure some things were complicated by my having dropped out, but I feel like it was the best thing for me at the time and I’m quite happy with how my life has turned out. Best of luck to you both!

  • Jedi April 27, 2021, 6:35 am

    Add Adam Savage to the list. He has awesome youtube content, good for learning on tools, repairs, and outside the box thinking.

  • Kellie April 27, 2021, 9:23 am

    Thanks to your son for that great list of educational videos!

    Curious: was it yr suggestion that he do a project on why he left school (maybe part of a deal) or did it come from him on his own?

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 27, 2021, 7:51 pm

      It was entirely his own (he rarely listens to me!) .. and he is already deep into production of the NEXT documentary. Lots of ideas and dreams swimming around in that little head.

      • Kellie May 7, 2021, 11:49 am

        Good for him! It will be exciting to see what he comes up with.
        Love to see the kids happy and thriving.

  • Mark April 27, 2021, 4:55 pm

    I’d be interested to hear what you think would be the future of professional work and credentialling in a society where our educational system provides a pathway that’s overly drawn out and expensive.

    Agree the education and training process is far too long and expensive for many fields – but – I would think that an accelerated pathway to a narrow “technical” type job that was once part of a professional’s skill set seems like a pathway towards rote, low-paid, McJobs for everyone but a very small, fortunate few.

    • Chris B April 29, 2021, 10:27 am

      I wasn’t asked, but my concern would be you’d have a whole society of people who are ignorant about any other field not within their narrow career path.

      Software developers would know nothing about physics. Doctors would know nothing about psychology. Engineers would know nothing about history. Social workers would know nothing about business. Etc. Taken to the extreme, even teachers could be limited to regurgitating knowledge about their tiny slivers of expertise. Nobody would have a sense of how various domains cohere, interact, and influence the others. A whole population would think in their own isolated bubbles, and they would be useful for solving only the simplest of problems. Worst of all, they would consider themselves to be experts without knowing what they don’t know.

      In such a world, people would exit specialized school as a teen and dive right into their chosen careers without the need for colleges, work experience, or accreditations. This would solve for the waste of time and money that plague our current education system, but it might create new problems due to the sheer number of experts in their fields who are otherwise uneducated. Inter-disciplinary collaborative projects would be difficult because no one would know each other’s lingo, understand the larger context, know why they need to communicate with people in different fields, understand what those fields are, or even understand why they need an interdisciplinary team to solve complex problems. Those “Intro” college classes might have taught them why.

      It’s impressive when a young person can get farther ahead in a narrow field of expertise than most people in that field achieve in a lifetime, but OTOH this is kind of like becoming a bodybuilder by only exercising one’s right bicep. Despite the impressive bicep, such a person would be outworked by almost anybody in a real-life work activity like pushing a car, digging a ditch, or carrying cement sacks. What if knowledge work is the same way?

  • MMMfanfrom2014 April 27, 2021, 7:15 pm

    Congrats MMM! This is what we want for our children – for them to be creative and empowered enough to feed their own knowledge and make their own ways through life. You have given your son the tools he needs to seek information, process it, learn skills, and use them. That’s all a formal education accomplishes, anyway. And the world of the future will be full of careers we can’t even imagine now, so he’ll be more prepared than kids memorizing lessons from the past. If he has good access to other kids to hang out with through sports or activities, he’s on his way! Thanks also for sharing all the great links, I’ll use them with my own two boys. They did the Mark Rober course recently and loved it. Final note – I found this site in 2014, applied the lessons, and have seen my stash quintuple, my stress levels drop (during some very stressful years) and my confidence and peace of mind soar. Thank you.

  • Strummin April 28, 2021, 8:00 am

    What an awsome post. Thank you for sharing it wit us. Little MMM is an original, why is that not surprising!

  • Peter B April 28, 2021, 1:45 pm

    MMM, yet another great article! I was quite moved by your son’s documentary and quickly shared it with my 17 year-old son, who has the same view on education (as do his 13 year-old twin siblings). We (I) live in Collingwood ON, and decided to send my kids to Westport, Connecticut to finish their education where I was educated. The Ontario system is more than broken and only getting worse due to the pandemic and our education minister S. Lecce.

    My kids have learned more through Khan Academy and other YouTube subscriptions’ then opening text books in their 20th edition from the 1970s. I firmly believe in real life experiences versus a rote learning style, where we memorize information for the exam and quickly forget 70 percent.

    Homeschooling is not an option at the moment, as I am not FI nor am I retired…getting there. So kind of dependent on the school system. That said, the individual support my kids are getting in Westport is mind blowing. However, there are hints of how the system is broken, even there. In the end, they are being taught how to be free thinkers because of the individual support they are receiving, which wouldn’t happen at a mass level. Though if what Khan and Little MM were to come to fruition, the teachers/professors would be able to focus on the students that actually needed a more hands on approach.

    Anyway, well done Little MM!! Looking forward to more documentaries and articles.

  • Anandh April 28, 2021, 9:49 pm

    Great post as usual MMM,

    And what a creation by a high schooler !!

    Having high quality videos to teach subjects – can’t agree more. It striked the most. Have watched some youtube videos and always wondered why my teachers never taught us that way. Back in india, you can bribe the system to get employed as a teacher, think about the quality of instructions.

    Agree with almost everything, except social connections and friendships.

    I have worked across the globe, multiple companies, cultures, countries and people. Till date what remains a close circle is my school,undergrad and post graduate gang. We are still connected through whatsapp groups, zoom calls etc – you name a place, we likely have someone from the school / college around there. hard to get so many contacts other ways. Not everyone can be MMM running a crazy successful blog.

  • DR April 29, 2021, 12:44 am

    This is absolutely FANTASTIC! And the fact that a 15 year old gets it to this degree is proof that kids are a lot more capable than current education systems make them out to be. After all, the current model of mass education was born deep in the bowels of colonialism and oppression – for the sake of conformity. I completely agree with him – and we cannot change things unless we are willing to admit that things such first. My own son is nearly 9 now and we’ve unschooled off and on, also found fantastic non-curriculum based schools along the way. I applaud you as a brave parent too – it takes SO much to allow our kids to be themselves and self-direct their life-learning process.

  • James April 29, 2021, 5:57 pm

    YouTube videos are great at engaging students, and can contribute to an education, but their primary purpose is entertainment, so I think there would need to be actual hands-on coursework and some measure of accountability and structure to ensure a minimum standard of education is achieved. To that end, there at least needs to be somebody supervising the education to provide that structure, otherwise I don’t think you can have a completely self-driven education and expect it to have any credibility or consistency relative to what everyone else is learning in traditional schools.

  • Linda Practical Parsimony April 29, 2021, 7:12 pm

    I taught GED and understand the problems and students who drop out. Of course, I learn more about the problems every day. I recommend any bright student get the GED and go on to take advantage of the completion. GED is a key that can be used to get other advantages. Right or wrong, people judge us. He may never need the GED, but he can pass it with flying colors right now.

  • Rachel April 29, 2021, 11:02 pm

    Hey MMM, I don’t know if you read this far down in the comments, but I wanted to share a story you will hopefully find encouraging (it’s the least I can do after you encouraged me to take up weightlifting and bike commuting).

    I left school at age 13 for much the same reasons as your son. Being in charge of my own learning led to a ton of very valuable experiences for me – teaching myself from textbooks/library books/life/the internet, volunteering and hobbies I couldn’t have done otherwise, traveling on my own. I made new friends and kept my best friend from school, with whom I’m still very close. I personally was very motivated to go to college and ended up getting into my first choice school. Now in my 30s, I have a great career and I’m very happy with my life. All this to say, there are many, many self-schooling success stories! I hope that helps ease any worries you have as a parent.

    It’s not for every child/teen or family (you are absolutely right to acknowledge that the amount of privilege your son is a huge factor in his ability to do this effectively), but for some it can work very well.

  • HighPlainsDrifter May 1, 2021, 2:57 pm

    I’ve spent many years in school during my life. In March 21′, I completed a graduate degree at a public state school. Looking back at my higher education experience, I wouldn’t recommend others to complete higher education. The opportunity cost of spending time in college classes simply isn’t worth it considering the opportunities available online. The information available online trumps the outdated information found in college classrooms. I would’ve rather spent my time building a business.
    I’m on board with mini MMMs message.

  • Ms Blaise May 3, 2021, 4:31 am

    This post has certainly generated a lot of comments! Great responses here both for/against and ambivalent. MMM seems to have tapped a vein.

  • Jen May 4, 2021, 1:49 pm

    Good for him, and good for you for being supportive. We opted out of the system when my son was in second grade. We were too broke for private school and the public school was a joke. Not the fault of the educators, but of being hogtied by school boards and bureaucrats. Our homeschooling also didn’t fit any norms, because beyond insisting on basic math, science, and research skills, we let him do his own explorations and come up with his own projects. My son is 21 now. He decided he was ready for college at 16, graduated 4 years later with honors, and he has just embarked on his own teaching career.

  • R. Haldane Russ May 5, 2021, 3:05 am

    Josh Kaufman has a great article where he talks about getting a college degree via the degree-by-examination approach. With degree-by-examination you can get a legitimate college degree in about a year while only paying approximately $4,000.
    Here’s the article: https://joshkaufman.net/hacking-higher-education-clep/

    If your son wants to get a college degree but doesn’t want to wait 4 years and spend tens of thousands of dollars, I strongly recommend this approach.

    Also, here’s another article discussing degree-by-examination: https://www.millionaireeducator.com/2016/03/a-7500-college-degree-in-12-months.html

  • Dugan May 5, 2021, 8:22 am

    People are throwing some excellent suggestions out there of additional resources so I’ll add my 2-cents.

    Duolingo is a great app for learning a second (or third or fourth) language, and I would say it easily beats a university level course. I also like the fact that it has bite-sized lessons that can be done in a few minutes since some studies show that flipping between topics helps with knowledge retention.

    Anki or Tidycards allow you to make custom flashcards and they present them to you at spaced intervals to help embed them in your long-term memory based on how well you remember them. You can also access databases of cards that other people have made. I find these are the best way to learn something when you really have to knuckle down and commit a bunch of stuff to memory. Personally, I made a set of flash cards that let me learn all of the bird songs in Canada, but I’ve also seen people use them to improve their vocab for the MCATs/GREs and practice second languages.

    The other thing that I’ll add is that one of the best ways to learn something new is to teach it to others. If you can distill the key components of something complex down so that others can understand it that really shows mastery. Your son obviously has a passion for self-direct learning and videography– maybe he should start a channel teaching other people what he’s learning.

  • Christiana May 7, 2021, 6:01 am

    I’d love to see your son add daily reading of a newspaper or even two to his self-education. Education is not simply about vocational training or self-improvement, but also a moral journey of learning where one fits in this big, broad world, and to do that it is helpful to learn about the cultures, on-going challenges, and achievements of others in one’s local, national, and international communities. There are things that we’d like to know more about, but there are also things that we *should* know more about so that we can tend to imbalances, injustices, and inequities. Americans’ ignorance about the rest of the world is stupefying, and often they do not know much about regional differences in the US, either. If he won’t read a newspaper because it is MSM, he might consider taking some online sociology courses to prepare him to responsibly use his citizenship.

  • Damodhar Mata May 7, 2021, 8:18 am

    Kudos to Junior MM for the meticulous work he has put into this video. It shows the level of commitment he has in this project. His idea of using the teaching content for teaching and while teachers can customize the content and learning for each student is outstanding. My 17 year old son also has similar theory, he would love to read this post and watch this video.

  • Anna May 8, 2021, 10:28 am

    This resonates with me deeply as I am the proud parent of a now 18-year-old homeschooler who left public high school at at 15 for self-directed learning. What she has learned is impressive; and because of the flexible schedule she has been able to work part time (first at self-employment and later at employee jobs in retail, grocery and food service. She is now graduating an on track to earn over 4K per month. She has also contributed to her personal expenses and learned valuable money management skills and saved over 30k for her future. There are many other benefits other than financial. Yes she has not had traditional high school experiences but has had other formative experiences that the flexibility allows, including 5 weeks in Hawaii. Also, I run an IT recruiting business and this week we placed a self-educated software programmer (high school drop out and homeshooler) who did not go to college and is now earning close to
    200k. He is 28 years old.

  • Lutorm May 11, 2021, 3:41 pm

    I’m not convinced. Yes — videos can be a great tool for getting an overview of a subject, but to actually learn it deeply, you need dedicated practice. You can’t learn to play the violin from youtube, no matter how many videos you watch. The same goes for science, math, writing, and any number of subjects. To make progress there, you must practice and you need your results graded so you can learn from your mistakes.

    If you just listen to someone explain something to you, it’s far too easy to think that you understand it, but you’ll be unable to actually make use of that knowledge in a real context.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 16, 2021, 3:33 pm

      The thing I think people are missing in this “you need a Human teacher” perspective is this:

      – the way we really learn, is by DOING. Having teachers which force students to do assignments and grade them is one way to approximate the act of “doing”. But for people like my son (and me, and many self-driven individuals), it is a poor approximation. It’s boring, and slow, and feels pointless.

      – people who choose their OWN path, start doing something and learning quickly. Then, they seek out online help – whether it be YouTube videos or online maker communities or even local experts. Because they are super motivated and seeking the knowledge specifically to continue progress on a project, the knowledge flows into the brain quickly and it sticks there.

      And yes, you can absolutely learn the violin, or math, or any language, by watching videos and then choosing to put the lessons into practice. Since I’m from a family of mostly musicians, I can speak from first-hand experience in this area. For us, we learn best by grabbing a new instrument and just playing with it, along with other members of the band. It often feels like the instrument creates its own songs, because you try everything and gradually hone it to the melody structures that sound good. THEN, once we are motivated and ready to advance, we’ll seek some lessons. In the olden days, we would hire real-life teachers and these are still great if you have access to them. But youtube teachers are also fantastic – and some of them even offer direct instruction for a price, over high-quality video calls.

      In summary: classrooms are great for some, but not optimal for others. We should open our minds and think bigger.

  • Anthony Ramkulov May 18, 2021, 11:24 pm

    First of all education system in your country is extremely easy.
    Kids form Immigrants families, on arrival get HD marks while back in their home countries they were getting P max.
    In USSR in grade 10 we were studding math that in your country is available only at Uni.

    Second, watching video of someone playing piano is not the same as being able to play piano.
    Watching every Veritasium video doesn’t make me nearly as smart as the reactor. All I, or anyone else, is getting from it, is a general understanding and nothing more.

    • Married to a Swabian May 23, 2021, 11:34 am

      Agreed, Video home education is not going to be an easy road and not the same as in person and hands on.

      No HS diploma leads to a very limited set of options in the world of work.

      For someone with an Einstein, Mozart or Jimi Hendrix level of talent, it doesn’t matter … the rest of us need a better educational foundation.


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