Hackschooling Makes Me Happy: a 13-year-old talks about his education of choice

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Photo via Everybody to Safety.

Ariel found this video of 13-year-old Logan LaPlante's TED talk about hackschooling, which is summarized nicely by Iowa Transformed:

Logan LaPlante is 13 years old and he goes to what he calls "hackschool." Its really not a school at all in the traditional sense. As Logan says, "Hackschooling is a mindset, not a system." In this amazing TEDx talk, Logan sets forth a bold vision for education — one he lives everyday.

"What do I want to be when I grow up? Simple. Happy and healthy." Dr. Roger Walsh has identified 8 areas that create happiness and health: Exercise, diet & nutrition, time in nature, contribution & service, relationships, recreation, relaxation & stress management, and religious or spirituality. Logan asked Dr. Walsh if schools saw and practiced these as priorities. His answer: "NO."

Logan left public education at age 9. Today he learns through community, networks, by diving into context, and through experience. There is no curriculum, no "teacher" although plenty of mentors and coaches, and no scope and sequence. As Logan says, "I learn in community and I learn science, math, history and writing. I used to hate writing in school. I love it now because I get to write about what I love."

You can watch the talk right here!

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  1. I love education plans like this. I was homeschooled for a few years, but even that had a tightly restricted curriculum (we went through a program) that downplayed individuality. I never liked school until college- when I was able to plan my own curriculum!

    3 agree
  2. Love it! What a wonderful kid and a great name for what we've been doing with my almost-graduated son for the past four years: Hackschooling. Kids are so much more than what most schools think of them, they can be the primary part of their own education. It's our job to give them the tools and opportunities we can and then get out of their way.

    5 agree
  3. Logan is clearly very intelligent, passionate, and i have no doubt will go far! I am excited about the various offbeat, unconventional and experimental ways people around the US (and the world) are approaching education right now. Unfortunately, the surge seems to be coming at the same time that there are so many children languishing at the mercy of underfunded, over stretched, corrupt urban public school systems. I have a really hard time being fully excited for the innovation of new education, when i know that it just cannot be a reality for so many children who come from families (and entire communities) who can't afford for a parent to not work outside the home. Like it or not, these kinds of educational approaches are only an option for families who come from privilege- and I don't mean just money.

    What I really wish (and I promise it's a wish, i'm not trying to "push an agenda") was that as people and families and communities, we believed that our children deserve a kick ass public education. That when we see shortcomings and outright failures in public schools, we were motivated to fight for change and reform, not just pull out. Not because I think homeschooling, or hackschooling, or unschooling are inherently bad, I just believe that all our children deserve a fair shot at an even start. I believe that if the families who have options chose to stay and chose to leverage their power and voices, all children can benefit. There are countless stories of students, teachers and administrators who really are fighting to make public education something worth giving our children, but their fight would be that much lighter if the parents and families who want what is best for their children, and have the power to give it to them, stayed and fought with the rest.

    In the meantime, I hope that kids everywhere somehow get the messages that Logan is getting.

    50 agree
    • THIS!
      Thank you for so eloquently describing my mixed feelings on this subject. I am an elementary school teacher in Oakland, Ca working in a school with 90%+ below the poverty line. I'm incredibly frustrated to hear more and more of my progressively-minded friends deciding to homeschool. We need you parents!! We really do! Public schools ARE improving. We ARE moving away from rote memorization and teaching for the tests. I say this as a teacher still in a credentialing program that is extremely invested in cultural awareness and discovery learning. The teachers of tomorrow are preparing for this huge shift in pedagogy. But we will have nothing left if every family that has the time and money to contribute to public education opts out.

      Please send your kids to public schools. The future of public education depends upon it.

      19 agree
      • Thank you! We are coming to terms with the realization that my son will not be home schooled, but that doesn't mean we can't be engaged, radical parents within the public system! I'm trying very hard to get excited about, and I just have to remember that we can make the changes we want to see in the public school system, and there is no reason why learning has to end when the school bell rings.

        5 agree
        • Hell yes you can be engaged, radical parents within the public system! And your child/ren will benefit HUGELY because of it. Just because you aren't homeschooling your child that doesn't mean that you are not going to be their foundation of ideas and values. Take your kids hiking, to museums, to state parks, take them to that strange fish hatchery that my parents insisted we go to at least once a year.

          Although it is difficult to admit, I think one of the greatest things I will be giving my daughter by sending her to public school is the chance to hear opinions that differ from my own. I'm not raising her to be just like me. I'm raising her to be able to think for herself and to think critically about different opinions and lifestyles. That is an invaluable gift to give to your child.

          13 agree
      • Agreed! We DO homeschool one son because we couldn't get what we needed for him in public school (we tried through 8th grade, we really did) but the other four kids? All public schooled. I have hope for schools because I know so many of us are trying for better.

        2 agree
      • Agreed, I am an inner-city educator, committed to educating children below the poverty line because I believe that education should level the playing field. I think that superb K-12 education should be provided by the government, and that the future of society depends on it.

        More activist parents need to buy-in to the public school system, to enact change for everyone.

        3 agree
  4. I watched the video and was firstly impressed on this kid's public speaking skills.

    I was reading the Youtube comments (I know, a dangerous pasttime) and something that came up often was "it's only a choice for wealthy families". I suppose it would be hard to hackschool or leave your child alone in an unsafe environment in a lower-income neighborhood (I don't think the mother goes to Starbucks with the kid to make sure that no stranger-danger happens, or at least, it didn't feel like that in the video). I'm curious what other financial limitations could make hackschooling only a dream for those with less money.
    It would be cool for the mom or dad to write an article detailing the technicalities (legal, etc) of what they do and how they manage it.

    6 agree

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