I’m not a parent but I think a lot about how to create a great education. I was inspired by this little reply by Don Q to post on Tim Ferriss’ blog.
“You ask about effective education.
I am a 37 year old father of two who grew up attending about a dozen educational institutions in 9 countries: public schools with the middle class; boarding schools with wealthy expatriates; 1 on 1 tutoring with a blind man; classes of 3 students in the rainforest and sessions of 40 students in suburbia; and later a state school and Harvard.
Based on my experiences, what did I decide to do for my own children?
I decided to combine the hard knocks of public schools with the rigors of boarding school. Combine the attention of 1 on 1 tutoring with the social enrichment of large groups. And combine the breadth of state school course offerings with the depth of an Ivy League education.
I decided to homeschool.
There are so many reasons not to send your child through conventional schooling that I will not even attempt to list them here (read “The Well-Trained Mind” for the most authoritative book I’ve found on the subject; and the works of John Taylor Gatto). But I will mention two:
1) Learning is only possible when the motivation comes from the student, not from the teacher; and
2) Homeschooled children repeatedly outperform their conventionally-trained peers in conventional, standardized tests. Consider Switzerland, a country with the world’s highest per capita income and yet only 23% of the student population attends high school.
“But what about socialization?” detractors protest.
One does not merely sit at home. Like the “Four Hour Workweek,” the objective is not simply to work four hours, but rather to free time to variegate one’s range of experience into other areas.
So my recommendation for the perfect education is the following 4 step program:
1) KILL YOUR TV: Yes, remove it from the house. Shakespeare will never compete with Bart.
2) BUY LOTS OF BOOKS: They’ll take care of the rest. We formally “teach” our kids no more than a couple of hours a day and now they’re already a few years ahead of their peers. The wealthy class of centuries past simply bought books and hired home tutors. Does it take a lot of brains to parrot a teacher’s workbook? Nope.
3) TRAVEL: Not unfamiliar to the great thinkers of ages past, the refinement that comes with international travel is simply not possible sitting in your hometown. There is something magical about experiencing new cultures, exotic languages, breathtaking sights, and intoxicating smells that is simply not possible sitting in your home country. And by travel I don’t mean getting a 3 week Eurail pass. I mean relocating to a new, preferably poor, country. Why poor? Because the poor usually have more to teach.
4) VENTURE CAPITAL: Starting from an age when your kids can act responsibly with money, usually 5 or 6, give them a hundred bucks and ask them to double it. Then ask them to give it away (intelligently). Sit back and watch them learn more in a couple of weeks than their peers would have learned in a semester.
These 4 steps don’t require a lot of money and certainly the 4HWW makes it completely possible. Besides, all the money that you previously wasted on school is now spent traveling with the kids.
Is it replicable? Easily. Is it cost effective? How many billions of dollars are we going to save by converting decrepit school buildings run by the government into community centers run by families?
By the way, on a completely different note: is it coincidence that your first name stands for “Time, Income, Mobility” and that your family name resembles one “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” who used brains, wit, and technology, to defy convention and authority?”
Don Q September 14th, 2007 9:44 pm