This Is What Happens When A Kid Leaves Traditional Education

Logan Laplante is a 13 year-old boy who was taken out of the education system to be home schooled instead. Not only was he home schooled, but Logan had the ability to tailor his education to his interests and also his style of learning, something traditional education does not offer. As Logan has mentioned, when he grows up he wants to be happy and healthy. At a TEDx talk in 2013, he discussed how hacking his education is helping him achieve that goal.

Logan’s story can be seen in a similar light as Jacob Barnett‘s story who was first put in Special Ed by his school until he was pulled out of standard education and is now seen as an incredibly intelligent young person who is on track to winning a Nobel Prize one day.

More on Education & Homeschooling

Education is often considered the foundation for creating a well rounded and productive society, but this belief usually stems from being sure that those coming out of the education system are able to keep the cogs of society turning in order to maintain profit margins of large companies in a system that requires constant growth. Instead of having creative and out-of-the-box-thinking people, the current style of education creates more submissive, obedient and trained graduates so the current system is always maintained.

What this means is that standard education is focused less on each individual and their growth and more on creating a supply of worker bees that can go out into the world and follow within the confines the system sets out. Sir Ken Robinson gave a famous TED talk in 2007 where he discussed his beliefs about how education kills creativity. This TED talk is one of the most viewed TED talks of all time and  has inspired many to re-think the way we are educating our children. Since traditional education is still taking its time with adjusting, many are turning to homeschooling as a solution as it allows children to explore education much like Logan did.

Currently about 3.8% of children ages 5 – 17 are home schooled in the US. In Canada, that number drops to about 1%. This is a number that is expected to continue growing in both countries as more see the limitations of our current education system. Also, studies done in the US and Canada show that home schooled children out perform their peers from both private and public schools.

In my view, home schooling is much more likely to create a creative, adaptive, and forward thinking person who is less conditioned to think only within the small confines of a crumbling system. Does this mean it is for everyone and that one can’t turn out that way through standard education? No, I simply feel the chances are far greater with homeschooling.

My decision to leave school behind when I was in college came from the same beliefs I hold today about education. I felt confined within the system and I felt it wasn’t going to lead me somewhere I wanted to be. It didn’t matter whether I was studying business, engineering, marketing or music, I did not enjoy the methods and couldn’t see a way to change things except by leaving. Aside from what society would make us think, leaving education and a diploma behind was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made as I was then able to explore and learn anything I wanted without having to worry about a rigid structure which promotes memorization and useless testing. I believe we will be OK if we leave the current education system behind and choose other methods. This isn’t to say homeschool is for everyone, but I truly believe that a drastic, and I mean drastic, change in the way our education system functions needs to happen, and soon.

Does Education Kill Creativity?

Sources:

http://a2zhomeschooling.com/thoughts_opinions_home_school/numbers_homeschooled_students/

http://www.fraserinstitute.org/publicationdisplay.aspx?id=12420&terms=Home+schooling+is+an+effective+alternative+to+the+public+school+system

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1,168 comments on “This Is What Happens When A Kid Leaves Traditional Education

  1. This is really touching to someone like me. I was a high school drop out, not because I was a terrible student, but because I was too involved with “PC games” and wasn’t fond of the system. I hate to sound generic, but I was one of those kids who would ace tests and never do homework. My parents hated the fact that I loved being on the computer all the time. Little did they know (or listen when I told them) that I was writing programs (C++) to hack my online game (Starcraft). which in turn bled into web design (html/php) so I could share the applications with my fellow game hackers.. At 16 my parents finally pulled me.. I was rushed into a new “cyber school” which I quickly abandoned and got my GED, went to college, and now, at 25, I’m a lead web developer for a multi-million dollar medical company. In a way, I created my own education system just as this kid. I may not have finished chem or physics, but had enough to know that it wasn’t for me. The thing is, I knew what was for me the whole entire time. It took many years and many arguments to get my way, but if someone would have just catered to what I was saying even in the slightest, my education system might not have failed me in my younger years. I’m not saying this is for everyone, but some people need the attention. There is nobody as successful that has come out of that high school in it’s history, and sadly, I didn’t even graduate. Just some food for thought.

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  4. It’s a bit sad that the unremarkable TED talk of this cute and charismatic but annoying little kid in his silly pink hat has been treated as if it contains some sort of profound truth that we’ve all been missing when his big punchline is that he just wants to be happy, with all sorts of trite “insights” along the way about how he learned to have a spiritual connection to nature, etc. His notion of “hackschooling” is entirely apt, because learning things the way he’s learning them — unsystematically and haphazardly, without a curriculum or the sense that one is building in a consilience-of-knowledge-type way — is best calculated to produce hacks, kids who’ve done little more than delved into the interests they’re already “stoked on,” to use his phrase, without having gained a broader sense of context and base of necessary common knowledge that only a real, i.e., more conventional, curriculum-based education can provide. Curricula are designed by teams of experienced educators who’ve spent many years thinking long and hard about education and its goals, and though such curricula will always be contentious and never ideal, do we really have any reason to believe a kid can orchestrate his own “remix and mashup of learning,” to use his words again, and do better than such educators? The idea, when you think about it, is laughable. We need to think of creative ways to get kids who don’t do well with structure and the traditional education system back into the fold (or change their diets so they’re not jumping off the walls), and instead, we’re being way too quick to give up on the system and championing this absurd idea that a kid at 9 or 11 years old is mature enough to take charge of his own education — and, what is more, to impart “life lessons” to the rest of us after just two years of such “schooling.” Real problems are hard … and so are real solutions, but that doesn’t give us an excuse to take an easy way out.

    • Yes, and until the Traditional Education System can become creative and not oppressive with it’s ability to squelch creativity with Core Programming and other forms of management of the local teaching abilities that are geared toward actual teaching and the joy of learning…this young person and his parents have the right to find their own solution. If, you seriously think that young person runs his own show with his education then you are missing the whole idea of Home Education. So, he uses his generations terminology or slang to express what his idea of education means to him. I do not believe he is saying that Home Education is for everyone. Just as Traditional is not for everyone. Instead of bashing a young person for speaking from his heart and where he is at development wise and the education he is receiving, maybe you you could try an open minded look at both sides rather than feeling defensive. Just as all religions are not for everyone or religion in general…why should a persons and/or their families choice be any different? When a home educated person speaks out on why they like or the benefits of that form of education..why does it seem traditional minded people get so offended and feel they MUST defend their system?? If, traditional is so wonderful…then go for it…let your children muddle through a system that is still trying to get it right. This young person was asked to speak at TED for several reasons and I’m sure the main one was NOT how Home Education is superior over Traditional. I’m a little befuddled that you would assume an adult would automatically fall precariously for every word the young man shared as if, we aren’t intuitive or educated enough to listen, process and come to our own conclusion, while all at the same time, respecting his input. Just take some time to learn both sides…not to judge, but to learn. It’s all about learning…right?

      • This “young person,” as you call him — how about we abandon the portentous euphemism and just use the word “kid,” unless “kid” is some sort of offensive term or protected category? — has made a video that, as of right now, has 4,790,642 views on youtube, with 35,819 likes and only 843 dislikes, so it’s pretty clear a LOT of people are watching this kid and loving what he has to say. I am not “bashing him,” as you say. I am bashing what he has to say. And now let’s think carefully about what he has to say — his actual WORDS — instead of being conned by his hipper-than-thou tone and appearance (that pink hat, matching the rouge on his cheeks). Here are some of his quotes and ideas:

        “When I grow up, I want to be happy.”

        “Shane McConkey [i.e., a skier] was my hero.” “He hacked skiing.”

        “I don’t use any one curriculum. I hack my education.” “I’m not afraid of using shortcuts or hacks to get a better, faster result.” “It’s like a remix or a mashup of learning.”

        [He didn’t like writing in school because he “wanted to write about skiing” instead of the boring things they made him write about.

        “I’ve gained a spiritual connection to nature that I never knew existed.”

        “Hanging out at the Moment Factory where they handmake skis and design clothes has really inspired me to one day have my own business …. So I got an internship at Big Truck Brand, to get better at design and sewing. Between fetching lunch, scrubbing toilets, and breaking their vacuum cleaner, I’m getting to contribute to clothing design, customizing hats and selling them. The people who work there are happy, healthy, creative and stoked to be doing what they’re doing. This is by far my favorite class.”

        “Skiing to me is freedom, and so is my education. It’s about being creative, doing things differently. It’s about community and helping each other. It’s about being happy and healthy among my very best friends.” “So I’m starting to think I know what I might want to do when I grow up, but if you ask me what I want to be when I grow up, I’ll always know that I want to be happy.”

        When you think about these things he says carefully, you realize this: his non-traditional education is all about indulging the things he’s already “stoked on,” rather than expanding his mind and learning things he might initially find boring or, at least, uninspiring. He’s a kid, and like many kids, he’s excited about “kid” things like skiing. Okay, great. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing stopping him from indulging that hobby and passion and learning more about it in his spare time, and in the course of his traditional education — if he (or his mom) had managed to hang on past the age of 9 — there probably would’ve been many opportunities to integrate his interests with the curriculum and write about skiing, just like he wanted to, but there also would’ve been all sorts of opportunities to acquire NEW, deeper, more mature interests that he might never acquire if he’s simply allowed to hack his own education and pursue the things he’s already passionate about.

        This idea that traditional education kills creativity is silly. There’s not just one monolithic TRADITIONAL EDUCATION. There are many schools, many teachers, many programs and many assignments, some great, some awful, most in between. Some assignments/classes allow for great creativity (I went to an ordinary public school in a suburban N.J. town and found many, many opportunities to be creative, and my efforts at creativity were almost invariably welcomed, lauded and reinforced by teachers, which was similar to the experience of most of my peers), and some assignments/classes are more structured and restrictive, But the point is that it’s very important for EVERYONE to get a core base of similar knowledge so that we can have an informed citizenry rather than one where 25% of the country doesn’t know the earth revolves around the sun (a shocking but true statistic). In a democracy where people elect their leaders and need to be informed about a wide array of issues, it’s very important for people to have core skills and competencies that traditional education aims to instill. Furthermore, while there are some kids who don’t do well with sitting still and learning and working systematically, the reality is that many aspects of life require you to sit still and learn or work systematically, and it’s better to cultivate that ability early in life. Kids will always have opportunities in recess, in gym or outside of school to “be kids” and do what they want to do, but sometimes, we, as adults, must rein them in and teach them the value of discipline and focusing on something that they don’t necessarily want to focus on at the moment, because such skills are EXTREMELY valuable later in life. (Recall the famous marshmallow experiment that demonstrates the all-important value of self-control.) Moreover, research shows that the single biggest cause of success and upward mobility in life — and the best way to combat income inequality — is the richness of one’s vocabulary, which is cultivated by traditional education and neglected by progressive education and many home-spun approaches: http://www.city-journal.org/2013/23_1_vocabulary.html.

        So, instead of psychoanalyzing me and suggesting that I’m “feeling defensive” (huh?) and that I’m not approaching this question with an open mind, perhaps the better approach would be to present actual arguments. This kid didn’t present any. He just said things that sounded cool. He spoke his heart, just as you say, but speaking one’s heart isn’t the same thing as saying something intelligent and worthy of deference or attention, especially where, as here, most of his actual points were either empty cliches or wrong-headed ideas that education should be “hacked” by us by taking shortcuts, indulging our youthful predilections instead of pursuing a unified curriculum and otherwise ignoring the best that has been thought and said in favor of just following one’s heart. This is how we get a country where people think they know better than professional educators, scientists and scholars and dismiss global warming, evolution and the Big Bang. We don’t need more home schooling. We don’t need more people thinking they know better than “those darned eggheads in their left-wing universities.” What we need are rigorous academic standards and schools that aren’t scared to enforce them, even as they continually strive to get better.

        When we “hack” our education, what we get, as I argued above, are “hacks.” This kid’s hero, Shane McConkey, “hacked skiing,” as the kid said. You know what happened to Shane McConkey? He died skiing in the course of performing a dangerous maneuver. That’s a good metaphor for what happens when we let go the reins and let people take charge of their own educations. There’ll be time for that in college and in the course of the lifelong learning we all ought to do for the rest of our lives. A kid isn’t mature enough to educate himself, and his parents are a crapshoot (some good, some bad, some smart, some dumb, some knowledgeable, some ignorant, some militant atheists, some secular humanists, some religious fanatics, some Marxists, some Fascists and everything in between, with most, by definition, being pretty average in their intelligence and education), so we can’t take the chance that all these Average Joes and nut-jobs with crazy ideas are going to educate the next generation. It’s simply too dangerous for our collective welfare.

        • Pashta

          That would be all well and good… IF the public schools actually TAUGHT anything. They DON’T. I bet you haven’t even been in a public school recently, let alone know how they are doing things…

        • K

          Well, you did say he was an annoying little kid in a silly pink hat. That was bashing him and not his words…

          • I was speaking loosely, but “annoying” was actually meant to be a description of his presentation. The silly pink hat`was … well … the silly pink hat.

      • This “young person,” as you call him — how about we abandon the portentous euphemism and just use the word “kid,” unless “kid” is some sort of offensive term or protected category? — has made a video that, as of right now, has 4,790,642 views on youtube, with 35,819 likes and only 843 dislikes, so it’s pretty clear a LOT of people are watching this kid and loving what he has to say. I am not “bashing him,” as you say. I am bashing what he has to say. And now let’s think carefully about what he has to say — his actual WORDS — instead of being conned by his hipper-than-thou tone and appearance (that pink hat, matching the rouge on his cheeks). Here are some of his quotes and ideas:

        “When I grow up, I want to be happy.”

        “Shane McConkey [i.e., a skier] was my hero.” “He hacked skiing.”

        “I don’t use any one curriculum. I hack my education.” “I’m not afraid of using shortcuts or hacks to get a better, faster result.” “It’s like a remix or a mashup of learning.”

        [He didn’t like writing in school because he “wanted to write about skiing” instead of the boring things they made him write about.

        “I’ve gained a spiritual connection to nature that I never knew existed.”

        “Hanging out at the Moment Factory where they handmake skis and design clothes has really inspired me to one day have my own business …. So I got an internship at Big Truck Brand, to get better at design and sewing. Between fetching lunch, scrubbing toilets, and breaking their vacuum cleaner, I’m getting to contribute to clothing design, customizing hats and selling them. The people who work there are happy, healthy, creative and stoked to be doing what they’re doing. This is by far my favorite class.”

        “Skiing to me is freedom, and so is my education. It’s about being creative, doing things differently. It’s about community and helping each other. It’s about being happy and healthy among my very best friends.” “So I’m starting to think I know what I might want to do when I grow up, but if you ask me what I want to be when I grow up, I’ll always know that I want to be happy.”

        When you think about these things he says carefully, you realize this: his non-traditional education is all about indulging the things he’s already “stoked on,” rather than expanding his mind and learning things he might initially find boring or, at least, uninspiring. He’s a kid, and like many kids, he’s excited about “kid” things like skiing. Okay, great. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing stopping him from indulging that hobby and passion and learning more about it in his spare time, and in the course of his traditional education — if he (or his mom) had managed to hang on past the age of 9 — there probably would’ve been many opportunities to integrate his interests with the curriculum and write about skiing, just like he wanted to, but there also would’ve been all sorts of opportunities to acquire NEW, deeper, more mature interests that he might never acquire if he’s simply allowed to hack his own education and pursue the things he’s already passionate about.

        This idea that traditional education kills creativity is silly. There’s not just one monolithic TRADITIONAL EDUCATION. There are many schools, many teachers, many programs and many assignments, some great, some awful, most in between. Some assignments/classes allow for great creativity (I went to an ordinary public school in a suburban N.J. town and found many, many opportunities to be creative, and my efforts at creativity were almost invariably welcomed, lauded and reinforced by teachers, which was similar to the experience of most of my peers), and some assignments/classes are more structured and restrictive, But the point is that it’s very important for EVERYONE to get a core base of similar knowledge so that we can have an informed citizenry rather than one where 25% of the country doesn’t know the earth revolves around the sun (a shocking but true statistic). In a democracy where people elect their leaders and need to be informed about a wide array of issues, it’s very important for people to have core skills and competencies that traditional education aims to instill. Furthermore, while there are some kids who don’t do well with sitting still and learning and working systematically, the reality is that many aspects of life require you to sit still and learn or work systematically, and it’s better to cultivate that ability early in life. Kids will always have opportunities in recess, in gym or outside of school to “be kids” and do what they want to do, but sometimes, we, as adults, must rein them in and teach them the value of discipline and focusing on something that they don’t necessarily want to focus on at the moment, because such skills are EXTREMELY valuable later in life. (Recall the famous marshmallow experiment that demonstrates the all-important value of self-control.) Moreover, research shows that the single biggest cause of success and upward mobility in life — and the best way to combat income inequality — is the richness of one’s vocabulary, which is cultivated by traditional education and neglected by progressive education and many home-spun approaches: http://www.city-journal.org/2013/23_1_vocabulary.html.

        So, instead of psychoanalyzing me and suggesting that I’m “feeling defensive” (huh?) and that I’m not approaching this question with an open mind, perhaps the better approach would be to present actual arguments. This kid didn’t present any. He just said things that sounded cool. He spoke his heart, just as you say, but speaking one’s heart isn’t the same thing as saying something intelligent and worthy of deference or attention, especially where, as here, most of his actual points were either empty cliches or wrong-headed ideas that education should be “hacked” by us by taking shortcuts, indulging our youthful predilections instead of pursuing a unified curriculum and otherwise ignoring the best that has been thought and said in favor of just following one’s heart. This is how we get a country where people think they know better than professional educators, scientists and scholars and dismiss global warming, evolution and the Big Bang. We don’t need more home schooling. We don’t need more people thinking they know better than “those darned eggheads in their left-wing universities.” What we need are rigorous academic standards and schools that aren’t scared to enforce them, even as they continually strive to get better.

        When we “hack” our education, what we get, as I argued above, are “hacks.” This kid’s hero, Shane McConkey, “hacked skiing,” as the kid said. You know what happened to Shane McConkey? He died skiing in the course of performing a dangerous maneuver. That’s a good metaphor for what happens when we let go the reins and let people take charge of their own educations. There’ll be time for that in college and in the course of the lifelong learning we all ought to do for the rest of our lives. A kid isn’t mature enough to educate himself, and his parents are a crapshoot (some good, some bad, some smart, some dumb, some knowledgeable, some ignorant, some militant atheists, some secular humanists, some religious fanatics, some Marxists, some Fascists and everything in between, with most, by definition, being pretty average in their intelligence and education), so we can’t take the chance that all these Average Joes and nut-jobs with crazy ideas are going to educate the next generation. It’s simply too dangerous for our collective welfare.

    • This is really touching to someone like me. I was a high school drop out, not because I was a terrible student, but because I was too involved with “PC games” and wasn’t fond of the system. I hate to sound generic, but I was one of those kids who would ace tests and never do homework. My parents hated the fact that I loved being on the computer all the time. Little did they know (or listen when I told them) that I was writing programs (C++) to hack my online game (Starcraft). which in turn bled into web design (html/php) so I could share the applications with my fellow game hackers.. At 16 my parents finally pulled me.. I was rushed into a new “cyber school” which I quickly abandoned and got my GED, went to college, and now, at 25, I’m a lead web developer for a multi-million dollar medical company. In a way, I created my own education system just as this kid. I may not have finished chem or physics, but had enough to know that it wasn’t for me. The thing is, I knew what was for me the whole entire time. It took many years and many arguments to get my way, but if someone would have just catered to what I was saying even in the slightest, my education system might not have failed me in my younger years. I’m not saying this is for everyone, but some people need the attention. There is nobody as successful that has come out of that high school in it’s history, and sadly, I didn’t even graduate. Just some food for thought.

      • Thank you for the share. I think that is what I wanted to convey to the first poster who was hung up on calling out this young persons silly hat and that he isn’t old enough to know what is best for his own education, etc…I don’t believe in cookie cutter anything, especially when it comes to education. Yes, it would be wonderful if everyone would go through their school years and come out on top with a diploma and go on to higher learning and earn a degree, but it is not for everyone..at least not traditionally. I do not see why some are so adamant about do it this way, my way, rather than there is more than one way to skin a cat so to speak. Many young people go on to do great things with or without that degree. Many get lost in the system and just drop out or just barely make it and say “no more”. I do not feel there is any easy answer to fix a system that is set to pop out what seems to be well educated young people. If, a traditional school system works for you and/or your family then..great…but, don’t knock an alternative way of learning because it goes against the flow of tradition.

        Another point, before you go and feel you are an authority on home education and bash it, you might learn some positives going that route. Many home educated families have so many choices to either enroll via their local school system, doing the same subjects by either attending one or two classes on campus or through online learning, just like they do sitting in the classrooms in a H.S., but the family also has the choice to tailor make the curriculum to suit a learning style to that particular child. Many good teachers would love to do that for their students, but a system does not encourage or allow them to do so.

        Just like with a school or teacher, home education doesn’t mean better or that they should be teaching either. Look at the individual. Are they prospering, mentally, emotionally and intellectually? Then let them continue. Once again, thank you for sharing your story. I’m sure it was extremely difficult for you trying to make it happen during your school years, but the adversity did allow you to grow on your own it seems, and you have done well in the end. :)

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  6. Allan Hodges

    I can see both sides but with the overwhelming majority of us that attended public schools, what exactly is wrong them? Yes…there are the cliques and bullies and bad teachers, etc, etc. But that is everyday life everywhere.
    Most people can’t afford to stay home and school their kids. Also, MOST parents don’t have the qualifications or patience or ability to be a good teacher. You WILL be socially awkward and a bit overwhelmed when the kids go to college. I’m not so sure a sheltered life is good for you.
    Protected?…absolutely. Better education?…depends on the educator. But with a home “classroom” being 2 or 3 kids at the most, they should get a more detailed education. Better suited for society?….I’m not sure.
    If you have a talented athlete or budding musician that is school age, its a different story. Home schooling is about the only option if they are traveling all the time and/or training.
    Over protecting kids by pulling them out of school isn’t the answer. There is nothing wrong with home schooling if you know what you are doing. I don’t. I’m not teacher material. But at the same time, don’t bash the public schools which are vital to our children’s and grandchildren’s success.
    And… Don’t tell me you don’t want to pay taxes for teacher’s pay and then expect subsidies and grants to yourselves and private schools.

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