What do we teach our kids?

I’ve heard that talking about parenting can fetch you a bunch of caustic feedback, but I’m going to do it anyway.

My son Austin is five. The kid is brilliant. I know that all parents think their kids are smart, but this is no joke.

Austin knows how to do the basics of multiplication and division. His vocabulary rivals mine (“celtic punk” and “pneumatic tube” were probably among the first 100 phrases he learned, no joke). And for some reason, out of the aether, he’s got this fantastic artistic ability. The other day he was copying a detailed illustration out of one of his Transformers books (it was a plane air-dropping Optimus Prime into battle) and was doing it freehand, without tracing, and did a better job than when Robin tries to draw stuff at his request.

This year he’ll go off to kindergarten, and he’s going to be bored as a motherfucker. He got bored with preschool over a year ago, and the fact that he’s the oldest kid in his class isn’t helping. They have to move at the speed of the slowest kids, so as not to leave anyone behind. You get a spectrum of kids with different abilities, but it’s one class with one teacher… and so one size must fit all.

I find myself wondering about this, and other things I’ve never thought about when it comes to school, and education, and development.

All the things I’ve always taken for granted as immutable truths — school starts at five and continues for thirteen years, college follows high school, job follows college — are suddenly coming into question.

All at once, I’m no longer sure that what I learned in school is what I’d most like for my kids to learn.

This is the fault of you online weirdoes.

I’ve met a lot of entrepreneurs in this last year. And entrepreneurs are wackos. They’re not normal; they break the rules; they’re shit out of their minds. You spend enough time around people like that and suddenly it becomes really obvious that:

1. They owe their success not to their knowledge of Greek history or geometry, but to something closer to wily “street smarts” — an understanding of human nature and human motivation.

2. They’ve been able to do what they’ve done not because of their ability to memorize facts and take tests, but because of their willingness to try things that most people won’t try.

3. They achieved not because of any ingrained sense of wanting to be secure and safe, but in spite of it.

I don’t think school is bad, but I don’t think it taught me the most important things that drive me today, either. I think I spent thirteen years learning what the state wanted me to learn, and then another five learning what the previous thirteen years had led me believe the world wanted me to learn.

And then I think I set that aside, recalled a lot of good times (and some bad) from those years, and then, bit by bit, re-learned what I needed to know in order to do what I do today.

I ask myself, what has been the most important stuff I’ve learned? Was it history, math, and science? Was it home ec, or literature, or business management 101?

Or did it come from experience at the School of Hard Knocks?

And so I wonder: What would be the curriculum at Johnny’s Entrepreneurship School?

So let’s think about that. I’d offer:

1. Independence and self-confidence.
A successful entrepreneur has to be able to be able to look at his situation and his surroundings and then do what he thinks he should do in spite of the opinions of others. Nobody around you will take you seriously when you say you want to create an internet shoe empire, so you have to have the nards to do it anyway.

2. Fierce (almost stupid) determination and a willingness to make big mistakes.
Nobody gets everything right the first time. An entrepreneur has to be willing to take a leap of faith with the full knowledge that his venture may fail. Successful people have to be willfully irrational about their ideas, and have to be able to learn the tough lessons that can only be taught through failure.

3. Faith.
In spite of failures, an entrepreneur has be willing to keep going on faith alone. And when faced with blood-chilling obstacles (like financial upsets), he needs the ability to determine if they’re actually worth detouring around, or if they’re what they are a lot of the time: phantom obstacles that don’t really exist.

4. Creativity.
Successful people need to be able to come up with a lot, lot, lot of ideas and possible courses of action. Many of these ideas will and should break existing molds.

5. Optimism.
Some of the successful folks I know have caustic exteriors, but all believe deep down that what they’re doing is right and will all work out in the end. By contrast, I’ve met people who don’t truly believe the glass is half full or that things will eventually turn around. Those people will never make it.

5. Flexibility.
A successful entrepreneur has to be able to be totally packed, dressed, and ready to move in one direction, encounter a new bit of information, and go in the opposite direction instead.

6. Problem-solving ability.
Problems are everywhere when you work on your own, and because you’re forging a new path, there’s usually nobody to ask how to solve them. Entrepreneurs need to be able to develop solutions to problems, no matter how varied and wacky those solutions may seem.

7. An enterprising and capitalistic spirit.
All of the successful people I know have something good to offer the world and have the balls to ask people to pay for it.

8. An ability to follow your instincts and live by your wits.
An entrepreneur has to learn to trust his gut, and then keep trusting it on the fly. Many of the things I’ve done — including some of the best things, yielding the best results — have been done on a whim. I do most things for no other reason than that they feel right to do.

I could go on and on. But succinctly, if someone is really good at the above skills, I’d wager that they’d do fairly well as an entrepreneur, or as a trailblazer in any field.

The problem I have is that I don’t know how well schools teach those things.

Enter the ridiculous concept of unschooling

Those wacky online weirdoes I mentioned? A lot of them do what’s called “unschooling.” I thought it was just a clever word and only recently learned from Lee Stranahan what it actually means.

Unschooling is not formally teaching your kids. It’s guiding and supporting them, but letting them find their own path, and largely letting them do what they want to do with their time each day.

I don’t know if I like this idea.

And I don’t know if I don’t like it, either.

It intrigues me, though, and I want to learn more.

It makes me wonder if a kid who had no interest in trigonometry or symbolism in literature could grow up without ever learning those things and be okay.

It makes me wonder if an artistic kid who found ways to get people to pay a pittance for his sketches at a very young age would eventually find a way to turn that ability into a thriving creative business.

And it makes me wonder if you took a kid with a desire to do something outside of the box and put him in school — where he was instructed to sit still, be quiet, and study the lesson of the day so that he could pass a test — if he’d lose that desire to do something outside of the box.

It makes me realize that a traditional education prepares you for a job, and that it seems like so many people want to get out of their jobs and do their own thing.

It makes me wonder if the most important things I ever learned in my life, for my life, were learned in a classroom or outside of one.

If my kids learned the entrepreneurial skill set I outlined above, and then only the book learning they chose to pursue, would that be enough?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, yet they just keep coming to me.

How much conformity is good? I think there’s value in learning how to sit still and be quiet, how to take direction, how to subordinate your id’s desires occasionally to the needs of others. I think there’s value in not always being the leader. But how much is enough? And more importantly, how much is too much?

What it really boils down to is, could I trust the base human instincts of my kids, with guidance from us as parents, to figure things out? Because that’s what it ultimately comes down to: deciding whether or not “what they are inclined to learn” will lead to a good place.

And having faith along the way, I suppose. Lee told me that his kids, who are unschooled, sometimes play video games all day. And that would be hard for me to sit quietly through.

But then he says that they’ll noodle with the Rock Band guitar and decide to pick up the real guitar. They’ll run across something here or there and start reading philosophy. They’ll see how Dad makes a living by working at home and doing what he loves, and become interested in (and inspired by) doing the same.

Ditto the experiences of Pace & Kyeli and their son.

And ditto the mindset of Naomi, who I know is all geeked up over this issue and wondering what to do with her own kid.

Ditto others. And others. And others. Rule-breakers all.

I don’t know where this will lead for our family.

But I do know that I’m not where I am because of what my schooling prepared me for. I’m here because in many ways, I did the opposite.

Your turn. Discuss.


My partner in crime Lee Stranahan and I will be launching our new course, Question the Rules: The nonconformist’s punk rock, DIY, nuts-and-bolts guide to creating the business and life you really want, starting with what you already have, on Wednesday, April 28.

It’s ridiculously jam-packed: 5 course modules on how to rock your business and life as an entrepreneur who colors outside the lines, and over a dozen interviews with successful rule-breakers whose names you’ll recognize.

If you’re a punk rock entrepreneur (and I know you are), you’ll want to check it out here because we’re offering an immediate free bonus prior to launch day.


  1. Jason Black says:

    I share so many of these sentiments. My son will start Kindergarten in the fall, and I too am worried that he’ll be bored. Much of what you say has a lot of sense to it.

    I wonder also if you’re undervaluing the benefits of the standard education.

    The goal of unschooling–being supportive and offering guidance in a child’s own chosen path–is very noble on the face of it. But how well can a child truly _see_ what paths may be chosen without a broad exposure to a wide range of ideas and skills? That is, without some general education like you get in school?

    Take art and trigonometry, two subjects you mention in your post. It’s great that your son is so artistic (and I’m jealous as hell of that, btw). That being the case, it would surprise no one if he chose an artistic path. If he aims for the intersection of art and the entreprenurial spirit you so value, then no one would be surprised to see him push art in new directions. To explore artistic uses of digital media and all that jazz.

    Which–ta da!–requires some math. You literally can’t even draw a circle on a computer screen without some trigonometry. If your son goes to school and gets a basic grounding algebra, if he is taught what math is for and how it works, then he’s good to go. He can figure out how to put two and two together, and let his artistic impulses run wild.

    But if his unschooling parents have nobly supported and nurtured him in whatever he chooses, he’s probably going to choose on the basis of what his child-centric world has shown him. Physical media. He’ll be a whiz with paint, pencils and crayons, and he may kick-ass at photoshop. If he starts to get notions about generative art, fractal systems, or goodness knows what else, he’s going to find out real fast that there’s this brick wall in his way with “you never learned basic math” painted on it.

    What a buzz-kill.

    The potential uses to which basic math, science, literature, history, etc., knowledge might be put to by an unencumbered and creative mind are not, I think, at all easy to predict. Yet we can surely predict that if this unencumbered and creative mind lacks that knowledge, it will not come up with anything new and revolutionary to do with it.

    Similarly, a good grounding in the basics is surely helpful in one’s later decision making and critical thinking skills. If you know about history, say, you’re more likely not to make the same categories of mistakes that historical figures have made. And conversely, you’re more likely to see how to emulate the successes of historical figures.

    For instance, if you’ve learned about the history of the civil rights movement, you may well get an inkling that society doesn’t give you power until you take it. It just doesn’t. You have to stand up and demand it. How is that not spot-on relevant to the fierce, independent, self-confident faith you hope your son develops?

    Formal schooling definitely doesn’t teach you everything you need to know to achieve wild success in the world. But that doesn’t mean that what it does teach you won’t contribute to that success, possibly in unforseeable ways. It’s never a waste of time to learn anything.

    • Chris says:

      If, he needs the math later in life, he can learn it then. He’ll be more motivated to do so and possibly have a better understanding of it for that reason.

  2. Andrea says:


    You are assuming that none of those topics can be learned without public school or even formal education. When unschooled kids come up against a “you never learned basic math” wall they just start learning math. And because they were never told how or what they need to learn, they will learn what they need to know in just the manner they need to learn it.

    I realized at 25 that I had never really learned World Geography, I thought New Zealand was in Europe and when a friend kept talking about how warm it was, I looked it up and discovered it was an island off the coast of Australia. Oops! I didn’t have any difficulty learning World Geography just because I had never been taught it in public school, I simply picked up World Geography for Dummies and now I know a ton about it. Kids are more than capable of doing the same.

    The waste of public school is not necessarily the knowledge they have to impart on you, but how much of your life they take in imparting it. Kids spend a conservative 14,400 hours of their little lives learning things that while they may be helpful, they’re not everything and there are so many better things they could do with their time.

    While it’s a tongue in cheek, I recommend reading this Onion article for some perspective.

  3. Brianna says:


    1. To assume that if you take a class on trigonometry in school, you’re going to learn it is simply untrue. Especially if since Kindergarten you’ve had math crammed down your throat in an incredibly boring way.

    2. Learning basic math is valuable because it is used in every day real life, including by unschooled children! Math isn’t something my unschooled son is passionate about. He doesn’t check library books out of the library or see math computer games. He doesn’t pursue it as an interest the way he does other things. He does however, LEARN math all. the. time. because it really does have a value in his world.
    How much allowance does he have? How much more does he need for the toy he wants? How tall is that building? How far away is the moon? How old will he be when his sister is 10? If four people give him $20 for his birthday, how much does he have?
    Unschooling doesn’t mean that you ONLY learn things you have a fiery passion for. You learn whatever is relevant to your life and math certainly is.

    All the ‘basics’ are basic for a reason- because they simply come up in life everyday. You’d have to live in a closet to not be exposed to them! And unschooled children are actually living out in the real world where all of that ACTUALLY exists, rather than living in a classroom that has to artificially recreate it.

    As an unschooled parent, you are a tour guide through life. You point things out. You discuss things. You don’t sit around twiddling your thumbs waiting for your child to ask to learn about geography and history. You provide enriching life experiences. You live. And the majority of unschooled children are interested in all of it because it’s just part of life and they’ve never learned that it’s boring or work or had a reason to avoid it!

  4. Jesse says:

    Serendipity strikes again. I found this on twitter and as I was reading I was badgering my 7 and 11 yr olds to finish their lame worksheets to ease mommy’s guilt over whether or not I’m providing them with the right materials in case we re-enter the craziness of public school in the Fall.

    Mine aren’t as brilliant as some and aren’t struggling like others. We started at a Catholic school because it was the only option that wasn’t full day kindergarten. It was enjoyable until 2nd grade when 1st communion prep ramps up and I was hearing questions like, “Why does God care what I eat on Friday?”

    Do to divorce and discomfort with the religiosity, we switched to public school where we learned that we were a year behind in math. We got up to speed, but the oldest hated it, and kept pressuring me to homeschool. The youngest (girl) loved the social. Grades were excellent, staff was marvelous, but I hated feeling like my kinds were being indoctrinated. Plus, a lot of the day was devoted to teaching kids how to be nice, wash hands, keep hands to themselves and share. Shouldn’t they be learning that at home?

    This last yr (5th grade and 2nd) both of them would be clinging to my legs as we walked out the door every morning. I worked in the youngest’s class once a week. I could see the frustrations. My oldest (son) is an enthusiastic reader if you don’t make him read stuff he’s not interested in. The youngest felt like she was spinning her wheels, waiting for other kids to catch up. Upset stomachs, poor sleeping, crabbiness and bad moods were like a cloud over our house.

    The first week of Nov. 2009 I started working from home. By the first week of Dec., I couldn’t think of any good reasons not to homeschool, so I pulled them out. They are sleeping great, when I can get them to stop reading and turn out the light. They are eating well. They aren’t moody. Their love of learning and natural curiosity has returned.

    I always swore my kids would be public school kids. I had cousins who were homeschooled. If you judge them by society’s standards, they aren’t stellar examples of a success with homeschooling. (There are a lot of variables contributing to that, including parents and environment.)

    My kids do lots of fun math stuff on the computer. They’ve learned to be fantastic skiers. They have always been more comfortable with adults than kids. (That’s a function of having older parents.) I wish they knew how to better relate to kids. So they miss a prom? So they miss football games? I hated that stuff.

    In the meantime, they do not want to go back in the Fall – to a new and hopefully better school where I hope they fit in better. (Am I fooling myself?) In the meantime, I see my daughter create a doll and dress out of scraps of fabric, and read a whole Magic Tree House Book in one day, and tell me about ancient Greek mythology. My son can tell me the history of golf, and the details of the new technology involved in producing that next line of Rossignol skis.

    My aunt is a retired principal. My cousin is a principal’s asst. They think I’ve lost my mind. The thing is. I like my kids. I don’t want to farm them out for the day. I have this question in the back of my head, “Has public school outlived its usefulness?”

  5. I agree whole heartedly – the current school system prevents our children from ‘thinking’. We are all born creative, without fear and with a curiousity for our world and more importantly a compassion for each other. The current school system teaches children to believe what they are told and do as they are told. I’m amazed by how many adults still unquestioningly believe what they ‘learnt’ in school even though it is outdated – my stock answer is ‘if we all thought the same way, we’d all still believe the world was flat’

    You would be interested in Ken Robinson’s work, a former professor of education
    http://buzzup.com/qnd8 and his views on the current school system. He also has a Twitter account.

  6. Karri Flatla says:

    Take heart, Johnny. And keep doing whatever it is you’ve been doing as a father, insofar as encouraging, supporting and facilitating your son’s intellectual and creative exploration.

    THIS will be the greatest influence in his life, shaping him in far more powerful ways than a system much weaker than your love and respect for your child.

    I only wish more parents understood this.
    Cheers to you for being the parent your child needs,

  7. Michelle says:

    Well, if you want the opinion of someone fairly fresh out of the schooling system (I turn 22 in September)…

    I was probably a lot like Austin as a child, I learned to read very fast, was curious about everything, loved to draw. I HATED public school. To be fair/honest, I don’t know that my situation was 100% typical – I went to a pretty small school (graduating class of 65 people) in a conservative, very fundamentalist Christian town, and that might have affected things one way or the other. Nothing I’ve heard from public schools has made me particularly fond of the idea, though.

    Aside from issues with students (I was the definite weirdo there), the teachers were…woah. I remember being reprimanded for reading several times when I was younger (as in, pre-fifth grade). I remember being reprimanded for asking questions. As I got older, I got yelled at several times for trying to correct the teachers or the textbooks (which I, cough, might have written in a few times to do so). I won’t lie and say I didn’t have a chip on my shoulder, but I think most frustrated kids in that situation would have! I distinctly remember one teacher who was supposedly teaching us about myths around the world; I had to explain to her what Yggdrasil was (it’s the World Tree in Norse mythology – if the average person didn’t know that, that’s not a big deal, but a freaking teacher saying she’s knowledgeable about mythology?!).

    I was frustrated, angry at the system, and begged my mom to let me stay at home or graduate early every chance I got. She finally gave in and said I could graduate early – in my senior year of high school! What was the point then?

    All of the areas I pride myself in, I completely taught myself, buying books with my allowance money and reading them on the side. My knowledge of world religions? Self taught. Mythology? (hehe, if you want to separate that from religions 😉 ) Self taught. Most of my history? Self taught. You get the idea. My aunt was a science teacher and would give me old science textbooks, which I pretty much devoured. I bought art theory books (as a freaking third grader, I shit you not!) and read them on my own. I get frustrated sometimes because I’m picking drawing back up again, and I’m sure if it’d been encouraged at school I’d be MUCH better at it than I am.

    My husband had a similar experience – he was from a different town, but another small school. He had a speech impediment when he was younger and the school assumed that meant he was special needs (!!! don’t get me started on his parents not contesting this) and put him in the special ed class until he was in middle school, when they retested him and decided that he was gifted instead.

    So, the TL;DR version: I think public schooling sucks. I will never, EVER send my children to public school. I still have semi-regular nightmares about being forced to go back to school and wake up in a borderline panic attack. There are a few other issues at play than my terrible experience (societal issues, making sure my kids aren’t being indoctrinated with their teacher’s political or religious beliefs, etc.). I also seriously doubt its effectiveness as a learning tool anyways, since it seems the only reason I graduated high school with a large vocabulary and a basic grasp on grammar/spelling/logic/history/etc. is because of my voracious reading on the side.

    And ANYONE who thinks that public school gives an accurate portrayal of things that can be twisted subjectively at all needs a reality check. Maybe some of them do, but my school at least glossed over several large issues in history (suffrage, exactly how violent Christian conversion in Europe was, and Native American genocide are the two that come to mind first). Not to mention I really feel that a class on world religions should be mandatory since it’s becoming such an issue in our world today – but I’m sure it would probably be really hard for that to be done in an unbiased manner. I know it couldn’t have been done at my school AT ALL. I remember having to correct my history teacher when he talked about how Hindus worship cows.

    I’m not a conspiracy theorist or anyone with a special agenda, I swear, but there are plenty of things that are not addressed adequately in public schools, even before you get to all of the other issues.

    SO. That’s my story/opinions, maybe it helps you, maybe I just took up a ridiculous amount of your comment space for no reason, who knows.

  8. Michelle says:

    Oh good gods that was ridiculously long! Sorry!

    • Shaw Mitchell says:

      @Michelle: No, that was excellent. I’m glad you are alive and awake. Keep learning.

  9. Rachael says:

    My ten-year-old daughter requested internet time to research Giant Clams today, on which she intends to write a Report. (No, I did not assign it to her.)

    My eight-year-old son has given me a list of airplane parts to buy him so that he can build a 747 in the back yard. (No, he is not joking.)

    Homeschooling IS AWESOME. I’m not very coherent right now because it’s almost 3am, but homeschooling = best thing ever for my kids. Ever.

  10. Anne Galivan says:

    Well hey there Johnny! I don’t have to introduce myself to you – seeing as you’re the dude who set up my website.

    But if you haven’t actually read the “About” page at that website you may not realize that I have been home-schooling for 20 years now. So here’s my take.

    First of all, “unschooling” is merely one of many forms of home-schooling. A subset if you will. I plan to address unschooling in a four-part series entitled “Getting Started in Home-Schooling” and a five-part series on “How to…” (which will cover several different types of home-schooling) when I launch my website (official date for that is May 3rd).

    So one thing you can think about is that you can home-school very effectively, and accomplish the goals you are trying to accomplish, without necessarily following the “unschooling” model.

    Personally, I use a very eclectic approach (as do most of the home-schoolers I know). I use textbooks sparingly. I use workbooks to target certain areas. I use computer games. I consider guitar lessons and dance lessons and sports all a part of my children’s “schooling” experience.

    To give you a little feel of how this works for me: I actually spend only a few minutes a day actually teaching my two children who are still home-schooled (I also have two grown children: one has a Master’s degree in Forensic Drug Chemistry and the other graduated college with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management at the age of 20 with a 4.0 GPA).

    My 16-year old works independently. I give him his lesson plans weeks in advance and he has a general idea when he needs to have things done but I don’t micro-manage. Next year his entire schooling will be at the community college, where he will be enrolled in their dual-enrollment program.

    My youngest just turned eight and is in second grade. He spends maximum 30-45 minutes a day on “schoolwork” – and part of that is at the computer learning Italian through Rosetta Stone (which he loves). What does he do with the rest of the day? He plays the Wii, he plays computer games, he makes Power Point presentations of whatever is going on in his head. He is constantly creating things with various objects that he tapes together (he goes through dozens of rolls of tape every few months). Essentially, he gets the chance to be a kid and be home and interact with his mom and his siblings.

    His sister takes him for “tennis lessons” (even though she has no experience!) My son, who is a golfer, is going to take him to the putting green tomorrow because he’s been asking to go. His dad is self-employed so occasionally he runs around with him meeting clients or just getting errands done.

    Many years ago when my oldest two were still very young, I used to go to the park meetings of the local home-school group. I was so excited with this fascinating (and at that time very new) concept of home-schooling. One of my home-schooling friends looked at me one day and said, “you are a marked woman” – meaning that it was evident that I was destined to be a home-schooler. From what I know of you Johnny I’d say you are a “marked man.” (Let me know when you make the official decision so I can welcome you to this crazy club 🙂

  11. Find a Waldorf Steiner school to send your son to…

    • Jennifer says:

      My children are both at a Steiner School and I have found it to be the best option for them within the school system–mulit-modal learning, treating children with great respect and attemtping to develop their unique potential in a supportive environment.

      That said, I am now considering removing my older child and unschooling or homeschooling. He’s Aspie, and is advanced in some ways and behind in others. Even in a Steiner school, there has to be the same curriculum for the whole group. The mutli-facted way of teaching helps with this but doesn’t completely remove the problem for some kids.

      The thing is, government regulations vary hugely from state to state and country to country. Where I am in Aus. it’s relatively easy to unschool in primary school (elementary school ?) but harder in high school.

      And, since I would need to quit my job to be home with him, I need to have an independent income established before we can make the leap.

  12. Dan Morelle says:

    Thanks for yor post Johnny and attracting a great bunch of comments. I have two kids, 8 and 4. They are currently both in full time state education here in the UK.

    The focus on mediocrity at state school is all too aparent. Make everyone just good at everything as opposed to focussing on excellence in a few or even one thing is the order of the system. And the training they are given seems to me to be preparation to become drones in an industrial society - sit at the desk, take orders from the leader, carry out instructions. The context to the education is just as conditioning as the content. My four year old even has to ‘clock-in’ with her classmates every morning (put their names in a tin). 9am start, an hour for lunch and book bags the shape of briefcases.

    School is also conveniently scheduled to coincide with working parents timetables, a state sponsored childcare operation to maintain an ever expanding economy and hunger for stuff.

    As parents we’ve realised it’s our responsibility to find inspiring teachers, allow our kids to explore and discover their tallents through extra curricular activities and expose them to technology and tools that schools are only just beginning to notice as being relevant to preparing our kids for the future. Their school has only in the last couple of months started to send newsletters to parents by email.

    Education by definition is for training for work. The system is antiquated, summer holidays scheduled to coincide with the historical need for child labour – extra hands to harvest the crops.

    The Curriculum is too prescriptive, the children must shape to the system rather than the system shaping to the children.

    We’ve grown jaded with all this and decided to do something about it - we’re selling our house and taking the kids travelling around the world. The idea of homeschooling is daunting for us and we don’t know if on-the-road schooling is the answer but it’s a path that is going to challenge us.

    Big dreams are the only ones worth chasing. Don’t let others convince you to be mediocre, it’s a terrible fate.

  13. Anne Galivan says:

    I just have to add another comment to those on here who say they would like to home-school but are “daunted” or don’t know if it will work for them (especially Dan).

    Keep in mind I am speaking as a home-school veteran of 20 years and listen carefully: there is only ONE thing you really need in order to home-school successfully. It is commitment. Plain and simple. If you commit to do it and you commit to find the tools that are out there to do it with, you will succeed. There really is no secret formula or special quality you need as a parent to be able to home-school successfully.

    Finally, if you have any specific questions or concerns send me an e-mail at anne@homeschooling911.com.

  14. Angel Dey says:

    There are many more options to homeschooling; unschooling is only one. I didn’t like the idea of unschooling because I think my son needs some structure. He’s dyslexic and ADHD. I also believe that the basics of math, science, history, etc. are important. Especially since these things are necessary in functioning (cooking, designing, holding intelligent conversations, etc.). However, once you teach the basics, you can move on to discover what your child really loves and teach him that. My son really enjoys 3D animation, and he simply isn’t going to get that in school. So I teach him graphics and animation and let him explore his own path.

    The one thing that struck me about your post is that many children who show such a creativity and intelligence level as such a young age may also end up having learning disorders (like dyslexia). It’s just the way the creative mind works sometimes (look at Einstein and Thomas Edison). If you find your son having trouble reading despite such great intelligence, you will want to do something fast. I had school officials keep telling me “Oh that’s normal at his age”, year after year. But I should have trusted my instincts and had him tested earlier. It just made our public school troubles that much more troubling.

    Anyway, I would definitely suggest homeschooling but you don’t have to unschool. You don’t have to choose a curriculum but teaching the basics is important IMO.

  15. Vrinda says:

    There are many many wonderful comments and great links here, and I have nothing much to add, except to say that I was home-schooled simply because my dad worked with teachers, saw how unhappy they all were with the educational system and decided not to put his kids through it.

    I’ve always been grateful for this decision. I missed the stress of endless, pointless exams, got to travel and have wonderful experiences, and then when I was ready I went to college, and then to university. I now have a degree, having skipped everything that usually comes before that.

    One of the best things about it, for me, was being raised without restrictions. I chose what I was interested in learning, whether it was my graphology phase at age 10, psychology and NLP through from about 11 onwards, or writing, herbalism, photography (the passion that stuck)… basically I was encouraged to run with whatever I liked and see where it led.

    Also, the other restriction I didn’t have, was who my social group was. At school kids tend to socialise with others of a similar age group, and are less involved with people older or younger without special reason. When I was 16/17 my best friends were 16, 34, 10 and 4. I had very close relationships with all of them, and didn’t talk up or down to any of them, and wasn’t talked up or down to by them.

    Well, this quick comment has become a bit longer than planned. Just, consider what will provide the best personal growth for your son, now and for the long term. You’re already thinking outside the box. This bodes well for him!

  16. WilsWords says:

    There’s a lot wrong with the current systems in the US and UK. I think the biggest problems are with language learning. One of the advantages of being location independent with kids is the chance that they can actually learn to speak other languages rather than just learning the grammar and being to afraid to use them.

  17. Lori Bourne says:

    It’s great that you’ve realized the truth about traditional education while you still have a chance to explore alternatives for your son. I’m a Montessori teacher by profession and I homeschool our kids with Montessori. One of the main reasons I homeschool is so my kids aren’t bored and frustrated the way I was in school growing up.

    I third (or fourth) the recommendation to read anything by John Taylor Gatto (I heard him speak at a homeschooling conference recently and swooned as if he was a rock star). Look into homeschooling (it’s not all unschooling) and Montessori as well.

    There are plenty of ways to help children learn that encourage their creativity and problem solving ability rather than suffocating them under the burden of grades, rules, tests, stultifying textbooks, pointless homework, and the subjective whim of teachers who can’t break out of the system even if they wanted to.

  18. Angel Dey says:

    @Lori — My point exactly (it’s not all unschooling). Because my son is dyslexic I use videos (love BrainPOP), Legos, art, science experiments and other multi-sensory tools to teach him. We go to museums, go outside and do whatever we need so that he learns his way. He was only in public school for a short time before his teacher decided he frustrated her too much and refused to teach him at his level. She had a system or formula or whatever and just wasn’t going to stray from it. Homeschooling was the ONLY option for us if he was ever going to learn anything.

  19. Andrea says:

    @Angel Dey

    I hate to burst your bubble, but what you have described is unschooling. Engaging children in learning through a variety of media and tools is what unschooloing is al about. Kids will learn without any aid from us, as witnessed by the children who pick up Mom and Dad’s bad habits despite best efforts to stop them from doing so.

    One of the things that may make you a homeschooler is if your son shows an interest in learning more about say Pirates and you discourage him or only let him read one book. Also, if you’re reading about Benjamin Franklin and he decides he really wants to know more about electricity and you tell him, “We’ll learn that later, not now,” then you’re definitely NOT an unschooler.

    The key difference here is homeschoolers direct what their child learns and how and when, just like in public school. An unschooler follows their child’s interests, but is always available with new materials to present. I mean, how will they know to learn about it if they’ve never heard of it?

    • Shaw Mitchell says:

      @Andrea: Thank you for clarifying, as it seems some people are not aware of the very important distinction between homeschooling and unschooling.

      If I may reiterate and elaborate: Homeschooling is duplicating school in the home. Although some homeschooling styles are more lax (less authoritarian) and/or eclectic and can thankfully deviate from the traditional school model.

      But the goal of Unschooling is to get rid of all the insults to intelligence, obstacles to natural curiosity, and road-blocks to real deep learning that traditional school inflicts on kids, so that real education (understanding) can take place. It trusts that the child is a born learner, that she wants to express herself, wants to contribute her individual, unique, unadulterated gifts to the world and wants to get on in the world.

      Traditional schools seek (unwittingly or deliberately by design) to force all kids through the same funnel at the same speed. There are many “square” kids who will not fit, at all or without being misshapen, through the round hole at the end of the funnel. Homeschooling hopefully deviates from this Procrustean travesty. Unschooling seeks to tunnel under the funnel escaping to freedom.

      Traditional school and homeschool are teacher-directed. (But of course teachers, who were once truly in charge of their classrooms, are now more and more directed by higher “authorities.”) Teaching that seeks to mold, direct, and coerce actually robs the child and the world of her original, self-discovered, unhindered talents.

      Unschooling, on the other hand, is learner-directed. Deep understanding has to happen in the learner, by the learner. Teachers (parents or whoever) can facilitate by being a resource like a dictionary. Dictionaries don’t hinder and meddle, people do — unless they are unschoolers. Teachers should explain . . . when asked. My kids will say, “OK Dad, thanks, but I got this.” But of course people give better hugs than dictionaries or computers! Hugs are more important than instruction. As A.S. Neill wrote, “Hearts before heads.”

      Also, there are hybrid styles of homeschooling, just as there are for parenting. Sort of like on a continuum from authoritarianism to liberalism: School and homeschool seek to mold and shape, distrusting the questioning of the status quo and authority figures who are the keepers of the one right answer. On the other end is unschooling which seeks to free the child to question everything and everyone. One end of the continuum smacks of totalitarianism and stagnation, at the other end is the tintinnabulation of democracy and progress. At bottom education is change. Forward not backward.

  20. Andrea says:

    Ooh, sorry for all of my typos! I responded from my iPhone which autocorrects and only lets me view one line at a time. I’ll be more careful in the future.

  21. Lori Bourne says:

    Hi, Angel! I have friends who unschool, and it works for them, but like you I find my kids do better with structure. We have a classroom in our basement and spend at least 3 hours working each day. There’s a lot of freedom during that time for them to study what they’re interested in, but there’s structure to it as well.

    Sounds like what you are doing is great! It’s too bad that public schools cannot always accommodate different learning styles, but those teachers are locked into curriculums and smothered in layers of bureaucracy – even if they wanted to help your son, it would be difficult. Their hands are tied as much as anyone else’s.

  22. Lori Bourne says:

    Andrea, I think it’s more complicated than that. For instance, in a Montessori classroom (which is definitely a school environment), if a child is interested in a certain subject they are encouraged to pursue it as far as they want to. But that doesn’t make it unschooling.

    To me, the difference between unschooling and homeschooling is that homeschoolers generally use a curriculum of some kind and unschoolers don’t. In both cases, though, children will probably be encouraged to work at their own pace and follow many of their own interests in a flexible timeline.

    At our house, the curriculum is Montessori, which means lots of hands-on materials but no textbooks. But it’s still a curriculum.

    Unschooling doesn’t mean not doing anything academic with your children, which I think people have misconceptions about.

    I’m not quite sure where Angel would fall on that spectrum, but she may have additional information.

  23. Angel Dey says:

    @Andrea — No bubbles burst here 😉

    What I meant was that I use the multi-sensory methods to teach my curriculum. Yes, I allow him to learn the things he’s interested in but I also want to teach him reading, math, basic US and world history, science and things he would learn in public school. I stick to a curriculum and mix unschooling in as well. I do let him go off on tangents on occasion but I need to reel him in sometimes when I am trying to teach a certain topic and make sure he gets it.

    @Lori — I know plenty of teachers and understand that they have their hands tied. Some of them homeschool because they know the system all too well (like you). I don’t blame his teacher because I understand her frustrations. I was just frustrated with the situation and decided to take it into my own hands.

  24. Anne says:

    Note to Andrea:

    When you say, “The key difference here is homeschoolers direct what their child learns and how and when, just like in public school.” – you are not only incorrect but you are being insulting. I have been home-schooling for 20 years (as I noted in comments above) and I guarantee you my home education program is NOTHING like what goes on in the public school.

    It may be a matter of semantics, but the fact is that “unschooling” has its own very particular characteristics just like other types of home-schooling. Unschooling is simply one type of home-schooling. Most home-schoolers (such as myself) use very eclectic means i.e. they may exhibit some of the traits of unschoolers but also will use curriculum, clubs and various other activities, videos, computers…in essence a whole gamut of tools.

  25. Andrea says:


    I’m sorry you were insulted by my statement. I did not have intent to imply that homeschooling is like public school, but that public school directs what a child learns and when and unschooling does not. I openly acknowledge the many nuances of both homeschooling and unschooling and at the end of the day, it truly does come down to semantics. Most unschoolers at least will agree that the key difference between what they do and what a homeschooler does involves who is directing the child’s learning.

    You did not imply in your 20 years of homeschooling that you have ever not directed your child’s learning. This is the point and the similarity between what you do with your child(ren) and public school. I did at one point in time direct my children’s learning until I realized how unworkable it was to continue. I have not directed their learning in years. The fact that they ALL know Algebra has nothing to do with me, save for the fact that I bought tons of materials when my second to youngest asked me to. I was barely even asked any questions during the learning process. I was perfectly content to have my children grow to adulthood without knowing Algebra–I think that may be the difference?

  26. Megan says:

    Hey Johnny,

    I totally understand where you are! I was a very young mother and put my son in school (in the beginning) because I thought that was what you did – part way through kindergarten I started to doubt it, and half way through grade 1 I started thinking about homeschooling. By Grade 2 that’s what we are doing – my son is currently half way through gr. 11 and he’s only been back to real school for “one” of those years. I’m SO glad we did this and I would NEVER subject another child (if I were to have one) to school… My husband and I are currently advising our son not to go to University or College right away, to work in his chosen field for a few years to decide if a) it’s what he wants and b) if he even needs a degree to do the job he’s looking for

    Enough about me… There are more kinds of homeschooling than just pure “unschooling” (although, I am NOT a proponent of “school at home” systems). We have chosen to use a combination of unschooling (child directed learning) and literature based learning. My son studied and read 19 Shakespeare plays when he was 12 (well, he read the Charles Lamb book and listened to the audio plays themselves) because he LOVES Shakespeare… seemed worthwhile. He actively studies poetry, mythology, and writing far beyond mos kids his age (his gr. 11 mythology is an entire course in and of itself) because he loves these things. he’s always had far more biology and animal focused learning and has volunteered once a week (during school hours) in a reptile store for 3 years now because he wants to work in that field. These are all aspects of unschooling. But, I do make him do a math class, and he does have scheduled curriculum too. (He has a LOT more choice over how an when things get done though – he’s self-sufficient at this point)

    Maybe you want to unschool with the clear directive that the TV is left off from 9-3 – that’s always been a family rule at our house. Maybe you want to plan out half his school work and let him plan out the rest? I’m a firm believer that what school looks like for your family should be what best suits YOU (the parents) and THEM (the child) – not what someone says should happen, no matter how worthwhile the system they advocate.

    Of course, your kid is awfully young, I think pure unschooling is more than enough for the next few years anyway. And then you’ll figure out whether he’d benefit from a bit more structure. The really important thing with homeschooling (and unschooling specifically) is that you have limitless opportunities for learning. They can’t start fiddling with a guitar if there isn’t one in your house. They’ll never read Shakespeare if you have none available. You need to be able to both offer them opportunities in the things they know they love and keep your eyes open for new experiences they might just learn to love if they tried them.

    And the way to avoid Justin’s apathy warning is to talk to your kids. Explore with them and then talk to them about their thoughts and experiences…

    And, I think I’ll stop blabbing and taking up your space now. Hope I said something of use to you.


  27. Evelyn Saenz says:

    Hi Johnny.

    Thank you for writing: What do we teach our kids? and love the voice you have put to the thought process involved in coming to the decision to unschool your child. Having unschooled one child until 7th grade and now unschooling my youngest starting in 7th grade, I feel you put to words that which I was unable to express.

    For those of you who worry about socialization, I can only say that I have found homeschoolers and especially unschoolers to be the most well-adjusted, polite and confident people around. They know how to talk with others of any age, how to join a conversation and how to listen and add to that conversation.

    For those who worry that their child will not learn and be prepared in the event that circumstances change and you must send you child to school, I can tell you that when my oldest decided that she wanted to go to school for the first time in 7th grade, she scored off the charts. Her reading level and vocabulary were at a college level and she was reviewing math up through her first year in college. She is now majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Theatrical Costume Design and aced her first year.

    Unschooling opens the door of learning to your child.


  28. Anne says:


    I appreciate the clarification.

    Yes, I do “direct” my children’s education. But as someone else pointed out, I absolutely reject the “school at home” approach…way too much work for one thing. (I talk more about this in my first blog post “Getting Started in Home-Schooling” which will come out on May 3rd.)

    One thing that I would like to mention here, as it hasn’t seemed to come up yet, is the concept of the “relaxed home-schooler.” Yes, I direct my children’s education, but I do not micro-manage. By the time my children reach about 5th or 6th grade they are expected to work on their own. I only check in with my 16-year old once every few weeks! And he certainly has plenty of time to explore his own interests, such as his interest in music (he has played the saxophone in the home-school band for 5 years and recently taught himself to play guitar.)

    My 8-year old, who is the only other child I am still home-schooling (I have two grown children, college grads) spends not more than 30 minutes to an hour a day on “school.” The rest of the day he spends on his own pursuits…you should see the things he can create with just about anything…and some tape!

  29. Paul Huynh says:


    Wow, so much reaction to your great article. I found you through Chris Guillebeau, and I’m so glad I did. Though I’m not admitting that I know all the answers to your questions, my perspective as an 18-year-old drop-out with a high GPA might be interesting for you and some readers. Some of my story is on my new blog that I have started, and the information you’ve shared resonates deeply with what I have found true for myself.

    I was a stellar student before high school, always getting top marks on grades. Even throughout high school, I generally set the curves for my exams and was the most unconventional and successful presenter. But in the end, with just months before my graduation, I had an epiphany that I could be doing so much more than constrain myself with the system. I abhorred how restricted my thinking was, and though I excelled at learning, it simply wasn’t enough and often times not practical to learn.

    I ended up dropping out, spent $400 dollars in gear for traveling, and another $150+ investment in materials that would help me start my new online business (mostly information). Right now I’m traveling cross country then going out of the states, documenting what it’s like to travel without a car, money, and alone. I’m doing this while learning as I go, and finding an audience to hear my story.

    Going back to your questions, I am very against the conforming nature of the system. But even though I went through the system and fell through the cracks all my life (I’ve gone to 3 different high schools in 3 different states) it has never dampened my unconventional spirit. Sometimes I wish I could have just skipped over middle and high school and just been put into a college setting, because I’ve sat in for lectures and classes, and I loved it. I intend to go to college, but if I didn’t, I know for sure in my mind and heart that I can be successful in this world, no matter what obstacles are in my way.


  30. Johnny says:

    Thanks for that, Paul. I’m now pretty sure we’ll do some form of unschooling… it’s just a matter of working out the logistics and getting our heads around it. It’d be a hell of a lot more compelling and easier if we were somewhere with a better community for that sort of thing, but we’re planning to move soon anyway… so that may get easier.

  31. Andrea says:


    Congratulations and welcome to the club! I’m curious about where you are that there is not at least some community for unschooling. I’ve seen some extremely conservative areas that have mostly homeschoolers, but even those have at least one other unschooling family that participates in park days and outings.

    I don’t know how long it will be before you move, so it may or may not be helpful, but have you tried searching yahoo groups for local unschoolers? This is something you may do in your new location as well. I’ve found that you’ll find the largest clusters of unschoolers in “liberal-minded” cities, whereas you’re more likely to find the homeschoolers who do “school-at-home” in the conservative cities or areas.

    There are a few places you can move and be assured of a large unschooling community. The ones that I’m aware of include Austin, Texas; Portland, Oregon; and the seacoast of New Hampshire leading into Maine. I’m also aware of a community in Las Vegas, Nevada, though I haven’t personally visited it.

    Good luck and know you can successfully ask for advice here on your blog and receive plenty of it!


  32. Mary E. Ulrich says:

    Okay Johnny. Let’s make a deal–I don’t know squat about creating a blog that will generate income. We’ll barter expertise.

    I’ve spent a lifetime making the public schools work in Ohio. Let me know where you are and do my best to help you find a good place where your son will have what he needs and blossom. Hey, I made it work for a kid with autism, even if it meant changing state law.


  33. Spruch says:

    Hello from Germany! May i quote a post a translated part of your blog with a link to you? I’ve tried to contact you for the topic What do we teach our kids? | Johnny B. Truant, but i got no answer, please reply when you have a moment, thanks, Spruch

  34. Johnny says:

    Absolutely! That’d be fantastic, thanks.

  35. Katharina says:

    Hey Johnny, if you’re not 100% up to unschool your son you might also want to check out Sudbury Schools. The students there also decide when, what and how they want to learn, but have a supportive and democratic school environment. I think it’s a great concept.
    In my case neither homeschooling, unschooling nor visiting a Sudbury School is an option cause thei are all illegal in Germany. I can’t tell you how much that bothers me! I’d be unschooling my three kids on a sec if I wasn’t living in this country.

    • Johnny says:

      That’s pretty cool, but unfortunately there don’t seem to be any anywhere even remotely near me…

      Honestly, the one thing giving us pause is the social elements of all of this:

      1. How can we ensure that they spend enough time with other kids, instead of only their parents? I don’t know that there’s a big, active homeschool community around here.

      2. How can they play sports? I know there are ways to technically get homeschool kids onto school sports teams, but then they’re the weird kids nobody knows playing with a bunch of kids who already know each other.

      3. How could they ever attend prom and all that stuff? I know it’s not essential to attend prom, for God’s sake, but you get the idea. I’m concerned about the relatively socially isolated environment of a home-based school.

      If I could solve that stuff, we’d be on it in a second, I think.

      • Andrea says:


        My 3 unschooled teens just went to prom last week, right around the same time all the public schooled kids went to prom. They also have graduation, walk the stage, etc. Whatever the parents want to create for their kids, the kids have. I live in Austin, TX, which I see someone else has mentioned to you as an excellent city to unschool/homeschool in.

        Here in Austin, we have homeschool soccer and there are community resources for all other sports (not school based) plus drama, music, and all that good stuff. Also, Austin is so progressive that most homeschool kids know plenty of public school kids and vice-versa.

        You can e-mail me privately for more questions, resources, etc.

        • Andrea says:

          Ha, in re-reading the comments, I realized it was *me* who suggested Austin, TX as one good city for unschooling.

        • Johnny says:

          I have friends in Austin, and I do hear it’s great. However, I’m not there… I’m in Ohio. And while I hear that Ohio is (legally) homeschool/unschool friendly, I don’t see it as having the community that you do. Which is unfortunate.

          Time for more research.

          • Andrea says:

            I wonder where you are in Ohio. I have an unschooling friend who lives “in the sticks” in Ohio. I don’t think there is much community there, though.

          • Johnny says:

            South of Cleveland. You perchance know a suburb called Medina? Pretty near there.

          • Andrea says:

            I’ve found the easiest way to hook up with others is to Google it. A Google search of unschool cleveland, oh led me to a page with links for lots of groups. You could probably find at least one other unschooling family in the area. My friend is in SW Ohio, if I recall correctly.

          • Word of warning: There are a shit-ton of “discussion groups” for homeschoolers that are nothing but spam sources. I signed up for about six of them; five were nothing but spam and the sixth had no activity.

  36. Lori says:

    It does take extra effort to create social opportunities for homeschooled kids, but it certainly can be done. Neighbors, family, other homeschooled kids, etc. Remember the socializing doesn’t have to be with just kids their own age – it can be with anyone.

    For sports, park districts offer sports teams for anyone, regardless of school. Many homeschool groups offer proms, etc. Your son is pretty young, and at the rate homeschooling is growing, there will only continue to be more and more homeschoolers.

    • Johnny says:

      I haven’t done much research about it yet, so the opportunities may be plentiful for all I know. We’re kind of in a social dead area as far as it seems to me… one reason it’d be nice to move somewhere more progressive. But I don’t know how long that will take, so… research it is.

  37. Dan says:

    Just take it 6 months at a time. All those concerns figure themselves out. When you move providence moves too. Take one step at a time.

    • Jesse says:

      Dan is right. We started in November of 2009. Just finished our first full year.

      I thought of going back to public several times, mostly because of middle-of-the-night doubts about whether I was short-changing my two.

      We finally hit a groove well into this year. We have a rhythm, a system, flexibility, less stress, and most importantly, their innate curiosity and passion for learning has returned.

      I don’t see us ever going back to public.

      • Johnny says:

        What do you two (Dan and Jesse) do re: socializing/friends/etc. for your kids? Really that’s all that concerns me right now.

        • Jesse says:

          My two have maintained friendships made in public school. I do go out of my way to make sure they have these friends over – a lot.

          We also have lots of cousins nearby.

          The social is the part that keeps me awake at night.

          So far, it hasn’t been an issue.

          • Johnny says:

            It’s what’s going to be on my mind this summer, but I’m pretty sure we’ll at least give it a go… and, as you say, see what happens.

            Honestly, this isn’t about me NOT wanting my kids in normal school as much as it IS about me wanting to do it myself.

    • We’re going back to “regular” school next fall. Did the spring semester at home and the girls loved it, but started getting tired of seeing each other so much toward the end. Plus we’ve got a new baby coming in October, so my wife will be a bit preoccupied.

      Here’s the thing, though. We treated that semester as an experiment. Try it out for half a year and see what we think. Now the girls want to spend more time with more people and less time with just each other. But we’re treating it as an experiment again. We might home school in the spring again.

      In fact, I’m liking the idea of regular school in the fall, when you’re going to be stuck inside anyway because of the weather, and home school in the spring when it’s nice to finish up the book stuff early then go outside.

  38. testking says:

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  39. Linda says:

    You’re on the right track; research everything you can, including what types of support are available to you both in-person and online.
    PLEASE read *The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child.* I believe it will answer your questions and help get you over the jitters to not only succeed w/ homeschooling, but enjoying the entire journey as a family!
    Thank you for not just sending your child to school “because everyone does it.” That’s not true anymore at all!!

  40. J.Hitzig says:

    If you do not intentionally isolate your kids, socialization will not be an issue!
    (pet peeve alert!)
    As a homeschooler, I took classes in dance, theatre, french language, martial arts, and soccer, and attended girl scouts. My brothers and I spent time at friends’ houses, and friends came and stayed at our house. My mother took us with her to do things like shopping, paying property taxes at the courthouse, having the car inspected, picking up co-op orders, and visiting her friends, many of whom had kids. My father sometimes took us to work, where we saw how he interacted with coworkers and utilized his office. All these things exposed us to social situations widely different from our home.
    Additionally, because no one ever told me adults and teachers were a different class of people from myself, to this day, my parents are my friends, and I’ve never had a boss or a teacher that I felt I couldn’t communicate with.
    So, my two cents are, Socialization is only an issue for homeschoolers if you also belong to a cult/religion that requires you to segregate your homeschooled children from society.

    • Johnny says:

      I totally hear you. This post was written a year ago, but now today, I see what a joke “the socialization question” is. Our calendar has never been so full, what with the museum programs, the metroparks programs, the co-op we joined, scouts, soccer practice, and so on and so on. I wonder why it’s such a pervasive “almost problem”? Because it’s now obvious that it’s not even close to a problem.

  41. Johnny says:


    I’ve posted my update on this, after making the decision to go ahead with homeschooling/unschooling: http://johnnybtruant.com/disobey/

  42. Lori says:

    It’s only a “problem” for non-homeschoolers, and that’s only because they can’t attack homeschooling on an academic basis, given the declining state of public schools. So they go after the one thing they think homeschooling fails at – socialization. Which of course reveals a complete misunderstanding of what it means to be socialized.

    • Johnny says:

      Yeah, what I like most about it is that we can go at whatever pace and pursue whatever interests. Good luck!

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  1. […] What do we teach our kids? […]

  2. […] So ask yourself: are you making it easy and attractive for other disruptors to join you in the cause of innovation, and maybe even the creation of a new internet shoe empire? […]

  3. […] decided that Austin won’t go to first grade. Instead, we’re going to do some form of unschooling at home. I want him to learn from experience instead of textbooks. I want him to learn to solve […]

  4. Disobey says:

    […] the people who did what they were told today, and about how every day from here on out, thanks to a defiant little decision we’ve made, we’re going to have a hell of a lot more fun doing our own […]