Joe and Katya’s journey to Dev Mountain and Katya’s newfound success in programming is the quintessential story of a “Smart Parent” and a “GenDIY” student charting a course to a career.

We’re sharing this blog, that first appeared on joeeames.me, in celebration of the Smart Parents and GenDIY projects. Smart Parents, sponsored by Nellie Mae Education Foundation, is a series and culminating book, tentatively titled “Parenting for Powerful Learning,” that will act as a resource to guide parents in creating, choosing and advocating for powerful, student-centered learning experiences for their students. Powered by personalized learning, Generation Do-It-Yourself (GenDIY) is combatting unemployment and rising tuitions by paving unique pathways to find and create jobs. GenDIY is blog series all about young people taking control of their journey through K-12 and postsecondary to employment.

We would love to have your voice in the SmartParents and GenDIY conversations. To contribute a blog, ask a question, or for more information on Smart Parents please email Bonnie Lathram with the subject “SmartParents” and for GenDIY email Tyler Nakatsu with the subject “GenDIY.” Join the social discussion on Twitter with #SmartParents and #GenDIY.

 


 

Joe Eames

This is the first in what I intend to be a series of blogs about getting my daughter into the programming industry.

These last 12 months have been a strange adventure for myself, my wife, and our 16 year old daughter Katya.

Last year I kind of coerced my daughter into taking a Web Design class at her high school. That was her sophomore year. She was rather reluctant, but still agreed. I didn’t put too much pressure on her, but enough that she probably would have chosen a different elective without my influence. Shortly into that class, she used what she learned to customize her Tumbler page, and fell in love with programming. After a few months we found out about a program that our school district runs where she could spend half her day in a full on web development class. She decided to apply and was accepted for her Junior year (this year)

In this program, they bussed her from her school out to a district building for half the day, then bussed her back. I was extremely excited. I will say it’s a very progressive program. The classroom even looks pretty silicon valley-ish, with nice new monitors and as many couches as chairs. She loved the program, and was really excited to be part of it.

Then during the summer I went to That Conference where I was speaking on Angular, and I was mentioning to my daughter how people would love to hear her speak about coding. Being young and female she had a very unique perspective, and a great opportunity to influence others who would relate to her more than they would to an “old man” like myself. That Conference is a really great conference, and even runs a family track which has technology sessions for kids. While looking at the schedule, Katya suddenly asked me if she could give a presentation next year. I replied “I don’t know, let’s go ask”. So we tracked down Clark Sell, who is the head organizer for That Conference, and she asked if she could give a session in the family track on getting kids, especially girls, interested in coding. His reply was “You’re on. You have a year to prepare”.

That fall I started teaching 1 day a month at the local web development immersion bootcamp: Dev Mountain. I spoke briefly with my wife about a desire to put my daughter through one of these bootcamps. Maybe right after graduation, or even during the summer between her Junior and Senior year. Or even crazier, take her out of class for 3 months and do it.

Then two major events happened.

First, while choosing talks for ng-conf we were looking for some unique and diverse talks, and so I suggested to Katya that she submit a talk on teaching Angular to kids. I had been teaching her Angular over the last month or so and thought that some of the things we had been doing together were pretty interesting. The response was overwhelmingly positive and she was accepted to speak.

Second, Pluralsight needed someone to help them out with their hour of code initiative, and since they knew about my daughter’s experience with coding, they asked me and her to teach the hour of code at several events, one of which was at the Utah State Capital Building, with the Governor in attendance. Those events went well, and Katya was amazing. Here’s a picture of her teaching the Governor of Utah to code.

katya-code1

That experience radically changed my opinion about my daughter’s future. All of a sudden I was frustrated that she was stuck wasting her time in high school taking yet another history class, when she could be doing what she wanted to do with her life and spending all day learning skills that will help her in her chosen career. Don’t get me wrong, I love history and think it’s a great subject. But she already knows history better than I do because she actually likes it. In fact she’s already well rounded, is good socially, has a great command of the English language, writes well, etc. So is what she’s getting right now in high school worth keeping her from doing something she’s passionate about?

This was December 11th. By December 22nd, we had finagled Dev Mountain to add one more student to their January class, pulled Katya out of school, had her quit her job, and jump started her on the path to becoming a programmer.

She will still have to finish high school, but we’ll do that using an online high school.

In the end, I felt like public high school just wasn’t serving her best interests anymore, and it was time to do something radical on her behalf, and at 16, she just didn’t belong there anymore.

Part 2

So I was utterly amazed by what happened when I published part 1 of this blog. Not only did tons of people read it, tweet it, and comment, but it actually hit the front page of Hacker News, which completely blew me away. What I had to say really caused quite a stir.

One of the things I was really surprised and overwhelmed by was the vast amounts of passion I saw about the subject of history, which I think is awesome. I love seeing how passionate people are about things they love, and hearing them talk about the value of such things.

First off I want to say that I myself am a huge believer in education. In fact, my job is education. I author training videos for Pluralsight.com.

As Katya began to show more and more interest in programming, I began to ponder more and more on the relative value of public high school vs. something less traditional, based on where Katya was at currently in her education.

Magic Numbers

One of the things that stuck out to me when considering what was best for her is that Katya is already a very well-rounded individual. She knows geography and history well. She loves writing, and has a good command of English. She loves to read both fiction and non-fiction, usually historical non-fiction. She adores theater, and she hates math and gym, but of course nobody loves all subjects. This really made me think that what public high school had to offer her over the next 18 months until graduation, really wasn’t as important as what she could gain elsewhere. Katya is a Junior. She’s currently halfway through her Junior year. She has taken 10.5 years of English, History, and Math. (ignoring kindergarten here)

Why is 12 years exactly the magic number? Why not 13 instead of 12? If she will be that much more “well rounded” by 12 years of school, why shouldn’t it be 13 or even 14? A degree gives you 16, but why then not 18 or 20?

And what about the thought that she’s too young to know what she wants to do, and she should be exposed to more things through the rest of high school before she decides? Well, why is 18 years old the magic age when someone can finally know what they want to do for the rest of their life? I know plenty of people in their mid 20’s who still don’t know what they want. I have friends in their mid 30’s who don’t like what they are doing, and have never known what they really want to do for a career. And I know people, like myself, who discovered something at 15 or 16 and knew it was what they wanted to do for their career and anything that held them back was only an obstacle, and not a blessing.

Her Decision

As Katya’s mother and I began to discuss the possibility of taking her out of public high school, we also talked at length with Katya about this, and the pros and cons of this decision. I emphasized that high school gives you a nice on-ramp into the intensity of college and later life. That skipping that can be detrimental to kids who are unprepared. Katya is NOT what you would call a good student. She struggles with completing homework, especially in classes she has little interest in.

I stressed to her that leaving high school had all kinds of costs associated with it. She would have lots more responsibility. The teachers would no longer be hounding her about homework and she wouldn’t have a report card to judge how she was doing in class. She would have to either sink or swim, and most of the responsibility would be on her shoulders. It was going to be much more difficult than any class she had taken previously. Being a programmer myself, I can help a lot, but I can’t make up for a lack of self-discipline.

I frequently told her that ultimately the decision had to be hers, and she needed to be sure that it was something she really wanted to do, and was the right thing for her. We also stressed that this was a decision she needed to pray about, and make sure that this was something that she felt that God wanted her to do.

After she decided that she wanted to leave high school and attend the bootcamp, she was given some pre-coursework. It represented about 40 hours of work. She was still working part time, and had 2 weeks until the class started. I told her that she needed to prove that she wanted to go to the class and that she would have to complete the pre-coursework before class started, all through her own self-discipline.

In the end, even though she didn’t scream through it in a couple days, she completed it with several days to spare.

Before making a final decision, I was really worried about what would be best for her. But after committing to action, I have felt a lot of peace in the decision.

Missed Opportunities

One of the primary drivers in our decision to put Katya in a bootcamp was all the opportunities that she was missing out on because she was in high school. Yes, high school can offer her prom and theater and book club. But it also offers her one-size-fits-all educational plans and cliques and cyber bullying and a fashion-obsessed culture.

There are so many awesome things she can do by attending a bootcamp and then doing online high school which will take less time compared to public high school. She has already been asked to speak at two conferences. I know there are many more that would love to hear a 16 year old girl talk about tech and tech education. Her and I were able to go to 5 different elementary schools and give 4th through 8th graders their first exposure to coding. That’s not something you can do much of if you have to be in school every day. I also believe that online training sites like pluralsight.com could benefit from having courses directed at kids, that are actually authored by their peers, instead of old men.

She will also get the opportunity to face an academically challenging situation with this bootcamp, but it will be in a subject she loves and is passionate about. So she’ll have the opportunity to excel at something she truly cares about, and gain the self confidence to know that she can do amazing things with the right motivation and discipline.

She will also have the opportunity to work alongside her father. I think one of the sad byproducts of us becoming a non-agrarian society is that we no longer work alongside our parents and learn our trades. I am a firm believer that the influence of a loving father is not only far more positive on a young girl than the influence of her peers, but also critical in her development. If you have any doubts of this please read Strong Fathers Strong Daughters by Dr. Meg Meeker.

As I pondered this decision, in my mind I saw Katya authoring training courses for other teenage girls to learn web development, building the mobile apps she wants to build, speaking to audiences of hundreds and thousands on all kinds of technical and educational topics, and those visions made me so excited for her future.

But ultimately it’s the opportunities that I don’t know about and can’t predict. Once she has these valuable skills, and time to leverage them, what opportunities will the world hold for her? I don’t know, and that excites me more than anything else.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. Even though I am a public school administrator, I am proud of this father and his daughter for the choice they were able to make together. It was well thought out, planned, and has goals and objectives. I firmly believe that a solid high school education can lead to success in life – but I am not a believer in cookie-cutter education and in this article we have a family that has found a path for their daughter.
    The equivalent in other areas would be:
    -a plumber who has a 16 year old child and who wants him/her to take over the business someday and the child wants the same thing; rather than going to school half the day and to ‘tech school’ the other half, why not do online education for readin’ writin’ rithmatic, pass the state requirements, and at the same time work as a family unit together in their trade.
    -a store/shop owner who runs their own business and wants to hire their child who is in their late teens- again, the burdens of ‘regular school’, such as the long day, the homework, etc. might not be what that family wants to go through together. Why not do accounting/book-keeping at work, and scheduling, and stocking, and customer service, and ordering, etc. as a teen in the “real world” and do the online mandated work to get the state recognition of a HS diploma?
    Those are just two that pop into mind and that relate to the example in the article above. Is this the route for everyone? No. Not everyone has a parent who is able to give the time and effort it takes to help their teen move in this direction. But it is a viable alternative and is something that should be respected in our society.

  2. I’m a high school science teacher, and I know enough that education is vastly different across this country. That’s not a bad thing, per se. Maybe the schools in your area were bad, and maybe this style of learning fits in well for your daughter. If that is the case, I’ll be the last to judge. I will just say this.

    While some public schools are bad, there are plenty of great public schools. My school offers coding classes and web design classes. Schools tend to be as good as the local community wants them to be. If they aren’t good, it is generally because the community cares about other things relative to education, or has a warped sense of what good education is. If rules are emphasized over learning, then you likely have a bad school.

    I hope that your daughter will not make the mistake that people like Bill Gates made, conflating success in one particular field to mean “absolute problem solving intelligence over any and all problems”. Bill Gates has obviously grown a successful business, but he really doesn’t know a lot about things outside of his business. This is why he jumps into problems he knows little about, and in turn can only think in terms of a businessman/software developer. He almost ruined Microsoft early on because he ran off a lot of his top employees because he thought he knew how to best evaluate employees. His attempts to change public schools is equally destructive.

    A real well-rounded education is not a guarantee against this, but it is protection against making grandiose decisions that have so many unintended consequences. It is absolutely true that you don’t need to go to a school to get that good well-rounded education (and not every school or university actually offers one), but unless your daughter is willing to dedicate significant time away from her coding and computer studies to round out her education on her own, then she is going to be very one-dimensional as a human being. she may be successful … but success without dimension is not someone I would look up to.

    One last little bit: you said:

    “high school can offer her prom and theater and book club. But it also offers her one-size-fits-all educational plans and cliques and cyber bullying and a fashion-obsessed culture.’

    That is all 100% true … unfortunately you seem to imply that cliques and cyber-bullying and fashion-obsessed culture are some hallmark of public schools. They are not. these are hallmarks of our society. The only way you escape these things is to escape our society. You could do that … there are other countries that have less of this (and likely more of other bad things), or you can wall yourself off from our society (some people do that literally, but more often it is figurative. I would argue that the better approach is not walling yourself off, but learning to manage this. You, your daughter, and I can’t escape those things … we can build small barriers by choosing who we befriend an who and where we work, but in the end, those things are as much a part of our society as anywhere.

    I wish your family and your daughter the very best.

  3. I agree that kids should not be forced into the one size fits all mold. I retired after 45 years in Operating Systems programming and application programming and the one thing that I have seen in new people coming into the field is their lack of understanding about how businesses work. You can code games and web pages but the bulk of the work is the application code behind the web page, data bases, transaction processing and batch updates to customer master files.
    I had degreed young people working for me who did not know double entry book keeping, did not understand how to balance a check book. They did not understand how people interface with computers and could not figure out how to create an application that was usable.
    They could code in 5 languages but could not understand business speak, they were unable to understand what the customer wanted and more important what the business needed. Ask these coders what FIFO/LIFO inventory is and you get a blank stare.
    I once had a boss back in the days of batch COBOL programs on mainframes who said that he could teach an MBA or CPA how to write code in 6 weeks, but it took a coder 6 years to learn how to write a General Ledger program.
    The other issue is that when these coders are asked to write user manuals, documentation or teach a bank teller how to use their programs they are unable to communicate. They just do not know the language and do not seem to be able to learn it.

  4. Very interesting article. You bring up some valid points not all of which I agree with, but at least the issues are raised, not avoided.

    One thing that is of some concern (there must be a better word, but I am blanking on it right now) has to do with your own evaluation of her current general educational achievements based on your own writing. This may sound snarky and judgemental, but as a former college instructor myself, I do question somewhat the accuracy of your evaluation of her English skills. This is based on your own use of the word “her” as opposed to “she” in the nominative phrase “Her and I” when you wrote “Her and I were able to go to 5 different elementary schools”. Sorry, but I learned that “her” is never used as a subject in a sentence, only as an object. Minor error and perhaps quite picky on my part AND she didn’t say that, you wrote it.

    My point is that you obviously realize the risks of encouraging your daughter to pursue a “directed”/highly specialized/non-standard formal education with no specific plan to continue it at a later date. Heck, Mozart succeeded in music that way. Why not your daughter?

    My suggestion would be to have her concentrate 1-3 hours a day on completing the requirements for a GED/inline HS diploma simultaneously with her coding education. I realize that I may have overlooked a decision to do this in reading your article. But it is a concern.

    Other than that, please pass along my best wishes to her and tell her that I wish my own father had been as progressive raising me.

    Best of luck to you all.

  5. Joe, So my knee-jerk reaction is “Ewwe-Yech-Arghhh”. And then,..”Done often enough, this approach can totally destroy high school”.

    Let me introduce myself: For the past three years, I have worked to give ALL students the options your daughter has. Not just the students who can afford (both monetarily and academically) to attend Dev Bootcamp and online high school. All students.

    What I believe is that changing options should not be a binary decision. Not ‘in HS or out’. It should be class by class. And most students should remain in or near the succor of their local school.

    Because,…I believe that by taking your daughter out of school completely, you are not only depriving her of benefits of high school, but you are depriving the other students of the benefits of having her there. As their comrade, sometimes model, sometimes tutor, sometimes confident, sometimes co-sufferer.

    More and more experts are trying to remove students from High School. Increasingly students are encouraged to go to college half the day. Or, as you suggest, leave school entirely.

    Instead, we should be changing the very nature of a high school.

    Your daughter, for example, should of course be allowed to explore programming in depth. But not to excess. She should have the opportunity to explore other subjects in breadth or depth as she might choose. Yet iin a more appropriate manor than might now be available.

    This brief tells of a possible school day: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B09HxOmWlIRGTnp4WFZ0RUxUdVk&authuser=0

    This from KnowledgeWorks describes the generic elements of a school that would keep students like your daughter: http://www.knowledgeworks.org/sites/default/files/innovation-pathways-transforming-learning.pdf

    Its convenient that you address coding, because our best example of going forward also comes via coding. Remember, however, that only 1/3 of our youth live in cities. Most who want to code will not only not have a parent who codes, but will have no one nearby. So we need to develop a system that gives them access to mentors.

    A great HS “class” of the future will involve 3 phases:
    – Direct instruction of world class quality. We shouldn’t have half our students being lectured by a middling lecturer. If there’s material to be heard and seen, why not have it done by trained actors, musicians, directors, and production crew?
    – Hands on acquisition of the tools of the trade. Whether it’s programming tools, or authoring tools, or robot repair tools, spending time acquainting oneself with the tools is a great part of learning.
    – Open Intellectual Exploration. This is the part where you write a full web application that does something you want it to do. Or produce a video script that digs into freedom as it evolved through the 11th-14th centuries. Or build something with your hands.

    All young people should have the option to do this in a number of complementary subject areas.

    The sad thing is that the option you propose–leaving school to focus on a career–is least available to the students who might need it most, those trapped in poverty, perhaps without a father in the loop, without the personal resources to enjoy a liberal education that every young person could benefit from.

    Let’s change HS for all students.

  6. I praise your decision. I am a parent also, I have been looking into the “hacking” of our school. My son has such a desire to code and create, I feel this is his calling. To let him move faster than the regular school system would be a benefit to him in the long run. I feel that he is getting lost in the system, and it doesn’t challenge him. This is the awesomeness of our world today! We can change the way a ‘one size fits all’ education for those who desire such. My son may be the minority of children who know what they want, but if I don’t help him, I think he will get bored stiff of ‘regular’ school.

    Good for you and your family! It’s great to see people telling their kids to go for it! Teaching them to Challenge themselves!

  7. I am also a teacher, but I’m at the elementary level and have been for 20+ years. Basically, he and his family have decided to homeschool and let his daughter choose her curriculum. I think it’s a great idea and I hope she does well. I don’t believe traditional school, whether it’s public, private, or charter, is for everyone. She’s getting real life and work experience as she goes along. She’s verly lucky to have this option.

  8. This is a perfect example of why we cannot expect all children to be learning the same topics at the same pace (read: why Common Core is not a good plan for teaching kids).

  9. The online school is still high school; it’s been allowing creative use of time while still educating all along. Brick and mortar schools limit choices and only honor certain life paths, especially after the elementary level. Our kids’ online school is public, some are private. Love ours; great teaching and nice to be free to live life well on our own terms.

  10. Just read Richard’s post, so will add a bit. First, thanks for being a teacher, it’s a wonderful service to our kids!
    “Our society” is not so narrow and rigid as you state it is; thank goodness! I hope you come to find that there are people, like many of us, who live quite well without giving in to bullying, fashion paralysis, or limited choices. We do so while participating meaningfully in our society, which is that of the entire world of people.
    Our online students love science, and yes participate in science fairs, also proms, writing clubs, skating parties, visits to representatives at the capital, community volunteering, robotics competitions, you name it. They also eat well and have work environments that fit productive learning. Thoughts and ideas can be followed to their completion rather than interrupted by the bell. Lessons don’t get cut when there’s an assembly or an illness, it’s all there to pick up where they left off. Online schooling may not be for everyone, but for some it’s a miracle. It’s not easy, but we love it.

  11. The #1 job parents have is teaching their kids to be happy, healthy, and ready for adult life. Your story shows you are doing that effectively.

    As a teacher, online education is the #1 threat to my job, I believe. The K12 program here in California is an awesome, robust, and rigorous program that has so much more content than any educational organization that has to pay for a brick-and-mortar schoolhouse. My 19-year old daughter used K12 during 8th grade, and it was amazing. If I had any problem with the assigned school for my kids, or if my kids weren’t able to be successful in regular school for whatever reason, or if my kids had already found what they wanted to spend the next stage of their life doing, as your daughter has, I’d leap on it in a heartbeat.

    And yet, there is something in me that feels really relieved that my Junior and Sophomore daughters love the high school they attend, and have found extra-curricular programs like drama and robotics (of all things) that they also love.

  12. The proper legal vehicle for doing this can be found in Ohio. It’s called Credit Flexibility, and under that law, any student can (in theory) pick any combination of in-house, on-line, blended, MOOC, apprenticeship, community-based organization, service-learning, project-based learning, or independent study.

    Of course the infrastructure to make this real for more than a few kids is not yet built. It can and should be.

  13. Missed opportunities? A lucrative and stimulating career with future versus… the Prom. No brainer. (That’s why there’s a GED and going to college on-line and/or when it’s convenient and affordable without crushing debt.)

  14. I also have a daughter who started to learn computer programming at the age of 11. She also has a father who is supporting her (her father had a master degree in computer science), and we decided to put her in a private catholic school even though our public school is v. good. She was not a normal kid to begin with and she did suffer in the public middle school. In HS, she even managed to self study AP computer and got a 5. She is a senior now and so far, 2 top tier colleges accepted her (one in computer science and the other for Applied Math).
    What I want to say, although she can work on many programming/ computer related matter, education is still v. important. (I forget to say, I am a college professor) and I believe your daughter is an amazing talented kid and she will do good in college too. My daughter self learnt many things through the web education on the top of her HS classes. If one needs challenge, I believe nowadays there are many ways to do it. Good Luck!1

  15. Thank you for this. Is your daughter teaching at a summer camp? My daughter is 10 and loves scratch. I had words last year with the elementary school computer teacher to allow her to program her games. The school wanted her to play math games, she wanted to design and program them. She’s in the 99th percentile at math. I think it’s OK for her to skip playing addition and subtraction games. We won.
    Let us know.
    Thanks.
    Monica

  16. I’m definitely not anti brick & mortar. But I’m glad my son learned at home for the time he did. My son attended charter schools through 4th grade. He asked repeatedly to homeschool. We did all the way through middle school. I’m glad he did it during that time. Puberty is one reason. He went to public school for the first time starting with 9th grade. He chose to go back out of curiosity. Even the freshmen told him the worst things happened during middle schools (sex, pregnancies, and violence). And this was in a supposedly nice suburban area.

    It’s nice you were able to help your daughter with her choices. I think educators and parents often have this knee-jerk reaction to any criticism of public schools. They seem to think socialization won’t happen unless it’s at a school. Unless you raised yourself in a cave, you are socialized. You socialize through family, church (for those into it), clubs, sports, hobbies, etc. Some people still think homeschooling is some weird religious thing. They think you’re locked in a house with only your mom and some books. There’s always the weird case on the news that helps people affirm their bias. Some will use your grammatical errors in your article/posts as some type of evidence that you aren’t qualified to teach your own child. OMG, how did the ‘settlers’ of the USA ever survive before school?! Right.

    Using charter schools, online schools, unschooling, and public schools, I noticed some things. It seems like kids are raising each other. We see kids before school and after, then they soon go to bed. They spend more of their awake time with other kids. With 1500 students way outnumbering the teachers, it seems like many kids listen to each other (not a lecturing adult). Before preschool, my son had his own unique way of expressing himself verbally. As soon as he entered school, I noticed that assimilation effect. His speech became… it’s hard to describe. Maybe bland is the word. Children copying behavior and becoming very similar isn’t unusual, but it felt unpleasant. It felt like he was losing some of his individuality. It wasn’t all bad. He was still headstrong about what he liked and didn’t like. By fourth grade, he was miserable and begging for homeschool. Him not believing in any gods became the focus of some kids (and even some teachers and parents – they seemed so shocked and disturbed at the idea of someone not sharing their beliefs). Some kids said they wouldn’t play with him. He was small and sensitive. But after a break from that type of schooling, he was more confident and stopped caring what others thought. At home, he became himself again. He became curious again. He stopped hating school and learning (that took about 1.5 years…we had to ditch K12 for that to happen – they gave more ‘busy’ work than b&m schools). Field trips were fun and stimulating, giving him ideas about his future. He began doing a bit of scripting around age 8 (starting with sandbox games like Garry’s Mod and Roblox). He did that for quite a few years before going back to school.

    He’s once again losing some of his independent thinking, but he’s been out long enough to remain headstrong. It was stressful at first because charter schools didn’t have 1500 students! Most of the time, he enjoys it. He observes teen behavior. As a biracial kid, he is noticing alot of other things too. The kids get lots of laughs because he tends to like things from the 80s and 90s and doesn’t know every detail about pop culture and brand names. He says kids are brainwashed (even though he’s taking a liking to brand names himself). Though they tease him, they also embraced him for being so different and weird. I’m very relieved for him. He thinks I chose the best school for him. Not all kids want tons of friends. He just wants a few he can share interests with. He doesn’t really want kids in his space (partly due to his brother’s disabilities). He doesn’t want to hang out at the mall. He prefers the gamer friends he has online, all over the world. Having a friend in Lithuania made him want to learn about that country. A few students from school found him online for gaming and that seems to be enough. He still seems to learn more at home with so many sources at their fingertips. He trades alot and made his own money for building his first high-end pc (he did much of the buying and I did most of the building). I did notice the online socialization as a strong influence as well. Good and bad.

    I don’t like the assimilation effects. But I do like that it’s his choice. He’s more committed to his own choices. I don’t think he’d be as committed by force. It never worked on me. Being forced only caused me pain and problems. I also like that he has access to males, teens and adults. Our family seems to birth a lot of gals, and his brother is too disabled to play or learn with him. That makes me sad alot since I don’t have anymore kids (and no first cousins and other young cousins).

    I’m not rich. Quite the opposite. No spouse for 2nd income (that’s how many get the chance to homeschool). But my other son’s health keeps me home. It’s something I’m glad he chose. It will be interesting to see what he does with public school. He seems to be there to have fun and observe. He likes his history teacher (Game of Thrones stirred his interest in medieval times, along with Renfaire). Teachers seemed shocked that he already plans for a career as a real estate ‘mogul’, 🙂 He’s a teen, so I’m now the clueless mom (ahhh puberty). Though he sounds great in this post, he’s actually quite difficult at times. We could all be on the spectrum, Aspergers, but that’s a whole different topic!

    Some people learn differently, and one issue is how noise, light, and people can be very distracting. While a neuro-typical person can ‘push through it’ and filter it out, we often can’t. I honestly believe (and I won’t list all my experiences as evidence…I’ve typed enough) that a lot of inner city kids become wired differently. Some have to avoid certain streets to get to and from school..out of fear of getting jumped in by a gang. Prolonged fear and stress changes your attention span and ability to process info. Add to that the lack of actual grocery stores. Some kids eat pop, chips and cereal every day with one decent meal if they’re lucky. That doesn’t help the brain or body. I think rewired brains can learn, just differently. I wish schools were able to address these differences with different offerings. I think auditory processing is an issue with many kids. I couldn’t process info as quickly as the teachers spoke. And it was harder to focus on a teacher talking. I often taught myself at home with text (and these days, video). Lecture situations felt impossible. I think many kids would feel engaged and see the connection between their present actions and future results with hands on activities. School teaches you to sit still and listen for hours on end. It felt terrible to me. In fact, I still feel that any situation where I can’t leave a building, let alone a classroom, is like imprisonment. Sure I could leave, but a truant officer comes next. That doesn’t equal freedom to my brain. So confinement to a room, a building, and a chair never felt right. Didn’t seem much different than Native American ‘boarding schools’. Or obedience training school. Being allowed to move around and manipulate objects to learn can be very stimulating (as opposed to sitting motionless, class after class).

    I also think putting a person into debt for an education is ridiculous. Some kids want to go right to work and aren’t interested in years of more sitting and listening. Schools should add more training for skilled jobs (welding is offered at my son’s school, which is great). Knowing how to use a lathe or how to handle bedridden patients causes connections to happen in the brain. It becomes more than words on a page or noise from a teacher. I never understood doing things the same way when they didn’t work for decades. A good mix of physical and mental/bookish classes is an idea. The more bookish kids would take fewer physical classes. Physical kids would take less bookish classes. They should feel they’re making the choices. After high school, I wondered why they never taught things like writing a check, walk us through a pretend mortgage so we know how to buy a house, or take us to many workplaces. They never showed us real life stuff we could have used right out of high school. I still don’t get that. Teachers end up spending their own money and going out of their way to help their students, and that’s not right.

    I tell my son it’s okay to change his mind about his choices. I tell him not to believe the hype about college. It’s not the only path. And sports is treated like such a high priorty. Like a religion. Sports is a game. He’s not into sports, but I like him to be aware of what kind of club it is. Starting your life (after college) with serious debt needs to be thought through. I tell him that supporting community college is great, especially for a skilled trade. If he can’t get all he needs out of community college, then go on to university. It all depends on his goals. But he seemed to figure some of that out before I said anything!

    To poster Jim P, great ideas. That’s about how we think here. I told my son if the common core stuff puts him on the path to failure, there’s always the GED. Or if a teacher puts him on the path to failure……. he’s bi-racial, so he is starting to notice teachers who will take smartphones from the brown kids, while letting the white kids keep theirs with a warning. And other things. That’s also a whole ‘nother story. I’ve found there’s absolutely nothing like real life, hands on experience.

    Peace, everyone.

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