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Students: Palo Alto is getting more accepting of alternative post-high-school plans

Original post made on May 24, 2019

With graduation next week, student representatives to the Palo Alto school board said this week that a positive shift has happened in recent years towards acceptance of nontraditional post-high-school plans.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 24, 2019, 2:42 PM

Comments (104)

32 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 24, 2019 at 11:57 pm

While I understand the school culture problem, in our experience, it was the schools that have the most trouble with nontraditional paths. My DS decided to take five years for high school to get a broader education. Although the state ed code allows it, we found the pushback was from public programs that would not allow a high-achieving high school student to have five years of high school. This is very different than a gap year. It allowed DS to take major risks with his education.

There are many reasons to do an extra year of high school, including cognitive and developmental maturity, the chance to get a broader education and do things beyond the classroom, the chance to travel, the chance to get an associates degree in a different field before going to a four-year college, the chance to lead a more balanced life. DS will still be 18 on graduation.

I feel really sorry for the kids in local schools that they miss out on the educational opportunities that community college offers out of such parochial biases. Homeschoolers tend to see CC as an important educational resource, yes, including the homeschoolers who go off to Ivies for college.

I would like to see more awareness of the benefits of independent education, and support locally. We pay taxes, too. For example, the City, not the schools, run middle school sports. Why is there no provision for homeschoolers?

The schools are not going to innovate, the have no incentive to take risks. But if they bring in people who are taking those risks and others can see what is possible, then it will be more likely that the schools can see the benefits and how to innovate. Students can see there isnt just one way.





7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 25, 2019 at 7:28 am

Speaking as a parent of someone who took a gap year and also hearing anecdotally from friends overseas whose teens have also taken a gap year, this gap year experience can be one of the most rewarding and educational times for a young person.

If they are spending some of the time in travel they are learning the skills to be truly independent and at the same time learning how to cope with life in a country that is different from their own. If they are doing some type of volunteering for a non-profit they learn that there are ways to live successfully without comparing salaries and perks. They can see that people live in different value systems and still be happy. They learn just how privileged they have been by living in a society where material items are the norm and that in places where say owning a car, or the latest fashion fad, or even a Starbucks down the street, is not very important to living a rewarding life. Seeing how people live outside the Palo Alto bubble is definitely an eye opener.

Additionally, to spend a year outside the relentless need to be told to study, get good grades, think like this, do this, do that, which is necessary to graduate high school and to get into a "good" college, actually allows them to think for themselves for the first time. We are a society that seems to value turning out young adults from a cookie cutter mold, telling them what to think rather than how to think. We need to make the next generation a great deal more rounded than the average American education is doing.

Gap years may not be for everyone, but they definitely make a difference in the future lives of those who experience them.


37 people like this
Posted by Born To Run
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 25, 2019 at 8:31 am

> My DS decided to take five years for high school to get a broader education...the pushback was from public programs that would not allow a high-achieving high school student to have five years of high school.

Generally it's the 'low-achieving' students who require 5 years to graduate from high school. Most kids can't wait to get out and to actually want to spend more time in HS is perhaps more indicative of arrested emotional development.

The problem with a 'gap year' is that the student is still a minor so his/her exploratory options are limited to a certain extent. Better to graduate or drop-out of HS by 18 and then proceed with one's aspirations.

When I get out of of high school in a couple of weeks, I'm going to hit the road and see America. My uncle bought me a Harley-Davidson Softail and I've watched Easy Rider over a hundred times now. He noted that Peter Fonda & Dennis Hopper could not find America back then & the task will be even harder today. I'm going to keep a journal and prove or displace his theory. Chances are America is lost.

Going to college and studying Liberal Arts is something than can easily be replaced by READING books. Majoring in the REAL sciences (i.e. chemistry, physics, biology etc.) does require a college education as the behavioral sciences are not a true science and like Liberal Arts, can easily be self-learned
by reading books on the subject.

My uncle who is an old Baby Boomer (70) told me that back in his day, a guy my age either went to college (or trade school), got a menial job, or went into the service. With the Viet Nam War in full swing, many opted for college deferrments & majored in easy subjects to avoid the draft. As a result, there are a lot of college-educated male Baby Boomers with lousy jobs or working in dull civil service positions.

^^^That's not for me as there's no draft to deal with and I wouldn't join the service anyway...probably get court-martialed during the first week.

Most kids today are mental robots & too locked into their social media addictions. As a result, many of them are quite dull and clueless. No sense of history or an active awareness of what transpired earlier...to learn from.

My uncle says that I am a 60s era renegade now entangled in the mundane web of a New Millennium and to ESCAPE it at all costs...flashing the middle finger along the way.

This I will do as one does not need to take an extra year of high school just to see some added light. That route is for dullards and folks with sub 1.00 GPSAs.


29 people like this
Posted by Soon To Graduate
a resident of another community
on May 25, 2019 at 1:44 pm

I am going to join the Marines and hope to become a sniper as we are still at war in Iraq & the Middle East. The conflict will not end soon & fresh troops are needed to replenish those who have served multiple tours of duty.

After my service time is completed, I would like to attend college and maybe enter theological school. 'Onward Christian Soldier' is one of my favorite songs and a personal mantra.

Those who are striving to destroy the American way of life must be taken out.

As for taking five years to graduate high school, I suppose it's OK in the event you happen to fall behind your classmates & need to take the extra time to make-up classes.

On the other hand, staying in high school just for the sake of wanting to remain there is kind of lame. Grow up!


1 person likes this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 26, 2019 at 12:48 am

^ First thing learned in military is to play your hand close to your vest, as in loose lips sink ships. Also a good way to lose your job in private enterprise.


24 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2019 at 1:08 am

Wow, these responses REALLY make me feel sorry for our local youth.

"On the other hand, staying in high school just for the sake of wanting to remain there is kind of lame. Grow up!"

"Most kids can't wait to get out"...

...because brick and mortar high school pretty much sucks and almost hasn't changed in 150 years.

You are describing such a completely different world, I forget what we escaped. Nobody said anything about "for the sake of wanting to remain there" -- I said "broad education". I forget that people in school have no exposure to what that means.

When you aren't limited to being in a box all day long with people exactly your same age, being told what to do all the time, education can actually be exciting, consuming, creative, interesting, self-directed -- and expansive beyond anything offered in school. The gap year everyone espouses is actually limited by comparison, because students are more restricted in what they can do in a gap year.

My kid is actually "indie schooling" not in a traditional high school. That means the student is in charge of designing their own education, and is already much more mature and independent than kids in school because of getting away from being constantly told what to do.

That can mean traveling around the world when everyone else is in school, doing projects of their own that last four years instead of a semester, making things they want to make that are cross-disciplinary and take intense focus and time, exploring all kinds of fields that students in brick and mortar schools could never even imagine studying, including fields that won't be available in college, having years of actually doing more advanced work while having time to read lots of books, have authentic hands-on cultural, music, performing, writing, professional, personal, and technological experiences that wouldn't have been possible in school, having more time with friends (except the ones in school who are always taking tests and doing often meaningless busywork), and more time with family, too.

It turns out that a lot of people who unschool/indieschool etc, end up taking nontraditional paths. They might do "high school" for five years, or two years, or something that blends so seamlessly with college, or they really are effectively college students in high school, but with more control over their lives. (My student has been taking college courses since 9th grade, for credit and also just out of interest.)

This is the gap year without the constraints, except way more than that, and for all years of high school. It's amazing how kids can grow into their own when they're given the autonomy and support. Unlike the kids who are escaping the brick and mortar boxes, for ours, the college experience means a much more constrained educational experience than high school, and far less chance of getting a broad education. It makes way more sense to get this broad experience now and be ready to specialize in college. Too bad it's not possible to just skip to grad school learning/freedom-wise...

It's really amazing what can happen when people get the freedom to learn. Getting the chance to do so on their own terms for an extra year (and not be any older than the peers on the usual treadmill whose parents held them back in kindergarten to give them a leg up on everyone else) is priceless. What you are describing, that makes students so closed they need a gap year to mature and de-stress, it's just completely unnecessary, in fact, it's counterproductive to getting a broad and deep education.




7 people like this
Posted by Alum
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 26, 2019 at 1:45 am

Alum is a registered user.

It's interesting to compare this to college, where it's actually not weird to take an extra semester or even year to do a co-op, study abroad, etc. Or graduate a semester early and travel or start working. The four-year college experience itself is so varied for different students, and further reinforces that there is no one best path.


8 people like this
Posted by Born To Run
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2019 at 7:22 am

> ...because brick and mortar high school pretty much sucks and almost hasn't changed in 150 years.

True. As Pink Floyd conveyed in The Wall....'All in all you're just another brick in the wall'.

To hell with that. However for those forced to endure the system & without the option of this 'indie' approach to education, it's often best to get in & get out of high school ASAP. Conventional high school is just another 'process'.

In reality, a 10th grade education provides an individual with most of the basic tools required for adult life. I've known some who even did it with an 8th. Depends on the individual & their natural IQ + personal initiative.

Some of these college-educated individuals masquerading as teachers & counselors couldn't get a real job if their lives depended on it. It's all about putting in time & establishing tenure, ind of like working in the post office.

That is why I question someone actually wanting to remain in a 'conventional' high school for 5 years. An 'indie' approach is a far cry from dealing with 4+ years of public high school.

So we'll agree to disagree in some respects. Indie schooling may have its potential for self-growth but trying to schieve the goal by going to Gunn, Paly or M-A for an additional year is LAME...because the teachers there are not indie-style educators, just 'brick & mortar' masons putting in their time.


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2019 at 7:43 am

There are some interesting points being raised.

Going back to my own high school days, I felt protected and safe and to some extent I didn't want to leave. At the same time, I knew I was in a narrow existence and wanted to broaden my horizons but I was stuck. Some of my emotions were probably from a home life that was difficult and the hours I spent in school were better than those I spent in my home where anger and fear made me spend as little time there as I could.

However, the standard high school education is very much suspect. When making comparisons with the rest of the world our high school students seem to be lacking behind. Education seems to be a race here with a series of boxes to check off. Geography, history, etc. seem to be subjects taught with a series of "units" that give the impression that they are not overlapping into anything else. American history is taught without any hints of what else might have been going on in the world at the same time and how they might have affected what was going on here. European history is taught without any understanding of religion and how people were completely motivated and dominated by the teachings of the Catholic church, or even what those teachings were. Social studies today are teaching ideals that we are the most free and wonderful country in the world and everybody else is so in awe of us. Science and math are divided into yearly boxes and as soon as one year is completed the material is never approached again, to the extent that each discipline can be taken in any order, rather than what is learned one year is the foundation for the following year, etc. etc. etc.

Our high school years are looked on as the race to get to college. Our students are not fellow learners, but actual competitors to win the few prized As and even more the few prized top college spots from any given school. No wonder we have stressed out students who do nothing else in their lives in case it might take away from time to study for a goal which if they fail to meet will hold them back for the rest of their lives (or so they are given to believe). At the same time, we have parents who are grooming them for career paths the parents want, rather than the students want, and even go as far as paying for whatever they can inside the law (and as we have recently seen, outside the law).

We are sending the wrong message to our high school students. Education is not academics. Education is a lot more than what a high school diploma looks like with the various boxes checked off and the requisite grades applied. Education is what happens when someone has been allowed to think for themselves, allowed to find an interest and learn all there is to learn about it over a lifetime of investigation. Education is so much more than the 4 years of high school, or even the 4 years of college. Education is what goes on in the mind of an intelligent being who wants to learn more about whatever is their passion. Education is much more than preparing for a future career. Education is an opening of the mind to the universe and a voyage of discovery that will last a lifetime.


26 people like this
Posted by Indie Schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2019 at 10:39 am

I didn't intentionally raise the spectre of spending 5 years in brick and mortar high school, as a family that didn't spend one year there, I wasn't remotely suggesting it. I especially agree with your last post, @Resident.

The reason we have all those "boxes" as you say, is that when this system of education was invented, those boxes encompassed everything one needed to be a learned person. But think of all the fields of human endeavor and knowledge, and knowledge about the natural world that are completely new since then -we could sit here for a very long time listing them- especially because of technology. Forcing kids to continue to spend all of their time on those old boxes now has a huge opportunity cost to them personally.

The opportunity cost is especially acute to anyone who is not in the top rungs in our local schools. Everyone is competing for their tokens (the grades and courses), rather than best developing their own talents and experiences. Those at the top do get rewarded, but those even just below the very top are actually worse off for it. Those in the middle will have wasted four years of their lives being ground down, jumping through meaningless hoops, creating a record that will actually limit their choices, after wasting four years of their lives in which they could have been developing their talents and getting a broad education to help them decide what to do in life -- and even DO those things as a high school student.

Yes, I am saying it: school locally, the way it is set up, is actually hurting and disadvantaging a lot of kids who could otherwise be getting a lot out of those years. By keeping them from real-world endeavors of consequence, school also infantalizes young adults, who not surprisingly are anxious to escape by the end of it.

And their "success" in that system is not even about their intelligence, creativity or ability to work. Our schools pretty much punish creativity from early on. As one student wrote in an op ed, there is no support for GATE here (the district publicly and ignorantly proclaims AP courses as the same thing as gifted education). They ignore and even punish 2e students.

The thing I strongly disagree with you about @Run, is that most of these students don't have the option to indie school. In fact, the vast majority of them do have that option, they just don't know they do.

Furthermore, our schools could create a way for students and support that option for everyone as part of a public education. We asked (and were told that if they let a few people do it, then everyone will want to, and some other stuff about how dinosaurs can't change that fast). There are other districts in the Bay Area that have such programs, and have for decades. The only thing standing in the way of more students having far more personalized and positive educational experiences in high school is, ironically, education about what is possible.


23 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2019 at 11:00 am

@Alum,
Thank you for that comment. Yes, that's why a lot of independent study students/homeschoolers tend to take a lot of college courses, because they do have more freedom.

The challenge there is that indie schoolers have gotten to see what education can be like when it is self-directed and allows them to prioritize learning and their own educational development. That puts traditional testing-based learning in a different light, meaning, it changes how even college looks, including that especially the most competitive college means being in amongst all these students who embraced and just escaped the boxes, as @Resident described, and giving oneself over to new boxes. It's a conversation a lot of us have -- did we take all these risks and do all this just so our kids could funnel themselves back into that system for college?

We're not against college, on the contrary, we're for colleges that allow students to continue as independent and mature learners -- like I said, like skipping ahead to grad school. Those places are few and far between, especially on the west coast. And where they do exist, often the regular brick and mortar students are so giddy with their newfound freedom, they ruin the environment for those who are there to learn, with a lot of counterproductive juvenile personal-risk behavior.

Our society is changing in really profound ways, and there are other conversations we are not having. Students today have so many resources that school locks them away from, frankly. If our educational systems do not change, at some point, it's going to be like the recording industry, or the publishing industry. And it could happen fast, as families whose kids were actually disadvantaged by the traditional education in "good" schools start to wake up to what they could have been doing all that time.

(Indie Schoolers actually value school and teachers, too, but only if they support rather than compromise learning and independent.)


22 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2019 at 11:14 am

Sorry, of course I meant:

Indie Schoolers actually value school and teachers, too, but only if they support rather than compromise learning and independence.

We had an experience at a local educational tech resource (I won't name it, this is not a criticism of them), in which the students were invited to work on a real-world problem, with people actually involved in working on those problems (supposedly, it didn't pan out). This was exciting to DS, because it was an opportunity to do real-world work and learn at the same time. But we discovered instead that it was a contrived exercise -- and the traditional school kids mostly had to be nudged or even pushed to participate (who can blame them).

It was just an exercise. The indie schooling kids enjoyed it, but felt a little cheated. Why spend so much time and effort on an isolated contrived exercise like that? In the end, there was no connection to real-world efforts. For the indie schooling kids, it disrupted more self-directed, independent and real-world learning. It wasn't intentionally done, but for those kids it felt almost like an educational bait and switch.

Teachers and schools everywhere do their best, I'm not even suggesting any individual could change the system from where they are. But creating supports for self-directed, independent education within the system is what will allow teachers and schools to transition to a new way, because they will have contact with those who are able/willing to be the pioneers.


8 people like this
Posted by Be Sure To Wear A Flower In Your Hair
a resident of Barron Park
on May 26, 2019 at 11:37 am

Indie schooling may work for enlightened parents who are liberally educated and well versed. For the regular folks absorbed into the system, it is not practical.

[Portion removed.]


23 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2019 at 12:45 pm

@Hair,

That's a pretty inaccurate charicature; it may be the roots of homeschooling from the '70s -- the hippies (and then the religious people) -- but today's indie schooling is better described as the Silicon Valley version of schooling. It's very entrepreneurial about education, creative, smart, independent. That's a perfect fit for Palo Alto.

The resources that ordinary people -- and schools -- have to customize and support individual education have never been better, and certainly didn't exist 50 or 100 years ago. Including just access to books, I'm not even talking technology (at least not directly).

I understand how hard it is to imagine something different than what we have, because I've been there myself. But we're doing a disservice to the lives of too many kids by failing to consider the opportunities. I remember one long-time independent educator (who worked for a school district program) who said, "I don't know why every school district doesn't do this."

That was in another town at the epicenter of Silicon Valley, whose program was begun 30 years ago not by hippies but by tech people who wanted their kids to get a more broad, up-to-date, and self-directed education.

Research on test scores of homeschoolers shows the level of education of the parents isn't hugely important. That's probably because indie schoolers are not sitting at home with the parent as teacher, especially in high school, as is often assumed when people don't know better.

This way of educating we do today has been developed in a way that worked best in another time. It is not doing a great job serving everyone, and in many ways, it's even cheating those at the top (who can become unable to work without a lot of direction when they get out of college, it's something employers have been complaining about for years). Again, I see DS's contemporaries, and how many of them actually HURT their opportunities, hurt their learning, and intellectual and emotional development by sticking with a system that isn't geared to best support them.

Their time was taken up on tasks that didn't best educate them, while taking their time from more substantial things they could have been doing, and saddling them with a record that actual hurts their opportunities moving forward after high school. School for the majority of them was a sorting mechanism for someone else's benefit, and not an educational resource/opportunity that best supported their learning and future.

DS's journey would have been far better if it had been in partnership with our local schools (assuming they had a functioning independent study ability that served more than just the few privileged ones who administrators like or who have lawyers). Like most indie-schoolers, I am not anti school. I am for customizing education and ensuring that all students have the support to be self-directed learners from an early age.

Schools can do this too, it's just that they won't without either being forced to, or being convinced by willing association with people who blazed the trails. People for whom things are not working are the ones who innovate, not those who are most comfortable. We didn't do this because we are "hippies" -- far from it -- we did it because the system of schooling was hurting our child and our family, and wasn't supporting independent development, learning or creativity.

The saddest thing of all to me is the children who think they aren't smart, who endure a system that tells them year after year that they aren't as good or competent as those who literally make the grade. Again, that essay by the student who found she was in fact gifted only after she left high school, ought to be required reading. Students like this are, I would argue, the majority of kids in our local schools.

Indie schooling is the educational version of a startup company - it is what you make of it.


17 people like this
Posted by Be Sure To Wear A Flower In Your Hair
a resident of Barron Park
on May 26, 2019 at 1:07 pm

@Indie schooling

It's not just the 'hippy-dippies'. I know of a Pentecostal couple who has been using a home schooling approach to brainwash their children...masquerading religious indoctrination as the 3-Rs.

When the children get older, the parents hope to embark as urban missionaries in an ongoing effort to save the souls of countless lost and forsaken individuals scattered along the big city streets (homeless/vagrants et al).

While different than what you are advocating, these 'indies' are WHACKED & their children would probably be better served attending a public school regardless of it being 'brick & mortar'. At least they will grow up NORMAL.




21 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2019 at 2:53 pm

@Hair,
What does that have to do with this conversation, or, more to the point, with independent education that allows far more students, not just those at the very top, to thrive, become more mature, and better succeed?

Are you saying that creating a system of education that allows students to have autonomy, self-direction, control of, and some customization in their learning is going to mean that, instead of becoming the more mature, well-developed people the evidence shows they do (better prepared for life and college), they will all become fringie hippie dippie cultists? Among other things, reality and the data say otherwise. Your invoking of this unrelated and extreme case is troubling, though.

I think anyone with a memory here knows of a couple of kids who were sexually violated by teachers in our own school district. The perpetrators used their position to groom and then abuse the children over an extended period of time. Sexual violence and abuse against children in schools (both by adults and classmates) is a problem across the nation.

Does this mean there should never be teachers? Does it mean we should look askance at all school educators as no better than the predator above or at education as no better than a chance for predators to find children? Does it mean all those children should put told to homeschool because they would be better off someplace away from the predator teachers?

Or instead that we should put in place safeguards and practices (like not just shuffling bad actors into other districts and not just ignoring students complaints until the evidence is overwhelming) that protect kids and allow them to thrive?

And if we were talking about improving the curriculum of the social studies program at school, what place would there be to derail the work by invoking the problem of sexual abuser teachers in school if it's not relevant to the matter at hand? Your example is rhetorically no better than I-know-another-black-person-who-steals by an employer making a case against a black hire (and I've seen that in my life, too).

Your post wouldn't be the first time in recent memory that people with an agenda have tried using a few of the most extreme cases to attack an educational model that isn't the issue -- and in some of the key cases -- the families weren't actually engaged in educating the children, or the traditional schools had persistently already failed to protect those same children. You may be right that those children in your extreme example may be better off in school, or you maybe missing the point that many more people with weird beliefs just like your example (or just plain abusive tendencies) manage to control and abuse their children who go to school.

You are still stuck in a wrong mindset, and you clearly have no familiarity with independent education. I hope you will get beyond that in discussions like this, for the sake of our kids. I'm not even talking about an either/or school or home, it's not relevant to the educational model.

I just posted above about how independent education is probably best done in partnership with public schools and teachers. What DS accomplished had to be done through homeschool only because it's not available in our district. But frankly we started by working with another PUBLIC school district. I would say the majority of independent educators in the region work through some kind of public school entity, and of those who don't have professional educators and schools to work with, I would say the majority wish they did.

That said, the schools aren't just going to create that opportunity without help. And unfortunately, this means that the majority of our kids who are not at the top of their class in the local schools (and even in many ways, the top kids), don't get information about how they could benefit their own educations and development through independent learning. The majority of our kids instead spend the four years of high school churning through meaningless work that will advantage a handful of them and actually make a record for themselves that hurts their future opportunities and fails to develop their talents. They will develop intellectually doing largely meaningless tasks with no real-world implications, at someone else's direction.

It's just not necessary to waste kids' time with the box busywork model. The fact is that by high school, students are young adults. A few hundred years ago, many or most of them at that age would have been married with families or working. They deserve a whole lot more autonomy, intellectual freedom and support. The dirty little secret is that it's really not that hard to create that for yourself if the school won't. At some point, this is going to sink the old paradigm like the music and publishing industries if educators do not start focusing on how they can do help.


23 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2019 at 3:06 pm

@Hair,
By the way, what's "normal" about kids being sequestered into exact age-matched groups for their entire development, away from the activities of adults they could learn from, and told to do contrived tasks at the direction of others that take up all of their waking hours and cause considerable stress, and prevent them from developing real-world skills, experiences?, and accomplishments?

Humans didn't exactly evolve this way, even in relatively recent history. This Prussian model is an experiment on kids that is less than 200 years old.

Students under this kind of developmental constraint grow up without being able to interact normally with adults, they don't learn by watching adults and working with them (the way humans did for most of their evolution), and they don't usually know how to direct their own time and learning. They are objectively less mature and less eady to be independent in college.

High school shouldn't be a waiting game, or some kind of grades and AP beauty pageant. That's four years of their lives those students will never get back. Too many of them are even hurt by it, having created records that mark them as inferior even as they were never supported to develop their own interests and talents.

Independent education lets students do that. It doesn't mean educating without school, it just means students don't need school to achieve it if school is harming them more than helping them.


8 people like this
Posted by A Place In The Sun
a resident of College Terrace
on May 26, 2019 at 3:37 pm

Indie schooling...

Is a Pentacostal-themed indie school OK in your book as an option to a conventional public school education? And does religion have a place in a child's academic (as well as humanistic) education?

Have you ever read 'An American Tragedy' by Theodore Dreiser?


18 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2019 at 4:36 pm

@Sun,
Is chronic sexual abuse of a child in school OK in your book as an option to homeschooling in a safe environment?

Nearly 1 in 10 school child is subject to sexual abuse by the time they leave school, according to a report by the federal government.
Web Link
Evidence thus far is that homeschooled students are subject to a lower rate of abuse than kids in school. That is data, not a single one extreme example.

Neither of those questions is related to the matter at hand. Neither of them is related to whether we support teens to develop independently or we continue to funnel them into a system that was designed 150 years ago to create dependence and compliance.

It is common for people who do not understand or are even threatened by the independence and success of others to engage is that kind of spurious rhetoric. It does hightlight why families have to leave to get the independence here currently rather than collaborating to create something amazing for those who need it.


22 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2019 at 4:42 pm

I can think of numerous students with special needs, with anxiety, on the autism spectrum, 2e students, who were being treated like idiots in school locally, not accommodated, and who were not learning or developing, who went on to succeed as independently educated self-learners. I can think of dozens of gifted students in the region who were languishing and treated like discipline problems in school but were saved by being supported to be in charge of their own learning. (Some going on to top colleges at an early age or accomplishing astonishing things in the real world.)

The tragedy is that for every one of those, there are countless others who are hurt by our system of schooling and don't know they have options. It's a shame that the adults responsible for the educational system don't know about them or how the students could benefit, either.


Is it okay with you that hundreds of students in our schools every year who are really bright and could succeed at good colleges, are made to spend four years of their lives being made to feel like they are failures, and creating really bad school records that ensure they cannot go on to opportunities that would allow them to succeed at what they want to do in life?

Is it okay with you that the educational environment is so narrow and parochial that students interested in engineering make those interested in art or business feel inferior? Is it okay that we funnel young adults into tracks like that when they have had no chance to be exposed to a broad education?

Parents would never let that happen if they understood the options. I was like them, like most people, I had no idea what is possible. This time of life never comes again, we should be giving our students wings not putting them in boxes. There is so much overhead associated with attending school here nowadays, there is a huge opportunity cost to students just in terms of what they could be learning and doing with their time. The overhead exists for the benefit of those running the system, usually so they don't have to change.

I love this youtube video about Billie Elish's homestudio -- she and her brother were homeschooled their whole lives and credit this with the opportunities that led to success.
Web Link

The point is not brick and mortar versus home, the point is do we support students to lead independent intellectual lives or do we keep them on this treadmill despite the evidence that many are hurt by it?


16 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2019 at 4:48 pm

Sorry, Correction, Nearly 1 in 10 school child is subject to sexual abuse BY AN ADULT IN SCHOOL by the time they leave school, according to a report by the federal government. The number who experience sexual abuse is higher.

Which is unrelated to whether the students deserve to have more freedom in their own learning by the time they are young adults.


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Posted by concerned
a resident of College Terrace
on May 26, 2019 at 6:11 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by The Indie Man I Remember
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 27, 2019 at 9:24 pm

This might be an example of indie schooling. I'm not sure.

Back in grammar school there was this new kid who started kindergarten kind of late (at 7) and was then held back in the 3rd & 5th grades due to his 'indie' nature of exploring hobbies and not focusing on schoolwork. He liked to build plastic car models and then progressed to spending much of his rec time slot car racing.

By the time he made it into the 7th grade, he was already 15 and the following year he had a driver's license! While we were all riding our bikes to school, he was driving a hot-rodded 65 Mustang. He was so cool & attracted all of the cute girls in junior high. Naturally, he neglected his schoolwork and was held back once again.

When he began his freshman year in high school, he was 18 and by the time he became a senior he had just turned 21. During his freshman year, he actually had a draft card but was exempt due to his student status. This was during the Viet Nam War so having been kept back a few academic years turned out to be a good thing.

To make a long story short, he too was a '5-year man' in that the guy was carrying a 1.0 GPA and had nearly a year of core classes to make up.

At 23, he finally completed high school while many of us had finished college. Along the way, he played varsity high school football from ages 19-22 and had a distinct advantage over the opposing players. At 6-4 & 245 pounds he creamed those 175 pound weenies! Cars, girls & football were his indie focal points.

The war ended by the time he got out of high school so in many ways his extended indie years kept him out of the service.

Another cool thing...he was the only kid in 8th grade with a full beard until the principal made him shave it off. Plus...he could also buy beer while still in high school. How many kids can do that?

As an indie style student this guy was a man among boys. Last I heard, he was living in Lahaina...67 years old with a foxy 25 year-old wife.

Indie High might be the way to go. It sure beats conventional schooling and keeps you young at heart.







8 people like this
Posted by Indie Rules!
a resident of another community
on May 28, 2019 at 11:21 am

To make & decide one's own path is where it's at.

Conforming to conventional schooling is BS.

Decades ago I asked a high school classmate what his post graduation plans were.

His reply, "To join the Hells Angels."

Today is is a head of a CA chapter.

HS auto shop, ditching PE classes & going to the Fillmore Auditorium on the weekends were his indie aspirations at the time & they served him well.

Not everyone needs to be focusing on GPAs, SATs & getting into the college of their dreams.

Just fire-up that old 'knucklehead' Harley & ride!


18 people like this
Posted by Eliminate Conventional Schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 28, 2019 at 2:45 pm

I agree with all of the Indie advocates. Conventional school is a drag.

OK if one is an athlete & needs additional exposure for a college sports scholarship.

Other than that, self-taught (or via a hip mentor) is the way to go.

I'm now considering dropping out of Gunn and going indie. Who needs the BS?


2 people like this
Posted by PA Education Professional
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 28, 2019 at 11:02 pm

So many comments ring true here regarding the pathetic state of our local public schools. I work with many of them in my profession. And, very unfortunately, I see little change coming within the near future. The best hope is with some of the private schools and non-traditional education paths. But for those who have been restricted to our public schools, I would highly recommend considering various possible paths forward; a four-year college is not the best choice for everyone. And to parents, I would suggest making up for lost time by supporting your kids NOW & INTO THE FUTURE in whatever positive path they want to pursue...


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Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 29, 2019 at 2:03 am

@PA EDucation,
"But for those who have been restricted to our public schools, I would highly recommend considering various possible paths forward; a four-year college is not the best choice for everyone."

This is surely true. I think it's tragic that our district doesn't support partnerships with educational programs like Silicon Valley Career Tech Education (which offers UC a-g courses in things like animation, veterinary science, law enforcement, forensics, cybersecurity, fashion design and textile art, sports medicine and kinesiology, mobile app design, and Internet engineering, among a lot else).

What I find really wrong about the way they currently encourage alternative paths is the attitude, as if they are saying, "It's okay to be inferior. Don't push yourself, just accept that you are inferior."

The education program does not support the talents and development of every child, especially not those with special needs. It basically sets a whole lot of students up to feel like failures and then tells them they should just accept that they would be better off on an alternative path (just not til they've endured doing badly for the whole of high school).

Although the above posters' stories gave me a chuckle, being a free spirit in public school in a way that makes one fail is pretty different than indieschooling. The whole point of indie schooling is to give kids a chance for a better education than they could get in public school because it gives the students more autonomy and control of their time.

Indie schooling is an umbrella idea for all kinds of education that support autonomy. Someone could do a completely classical education or unschool. (I'm struggling not to violate anyone's privacy, but the gist of it is, a lot of kids really shine in astonishing ways when given the chance, which they could never do in school because of the overhead and lack of support for things like creativity.) Indie schoolers go to all the top universities in the country. They also tend to be way less snobby about community college.

My own DS could never have taken all the advanced coursework in school that was possible indieschooling. I was told recently that DS might consider not reporting all the high school credits earned even in just the first four years because it starts to seem like too much and colleges don't believe it. (They were not recommending anything deceptive, rather, that given the blurring of lines between coursework and extracurriculars for some things, maybe report more extracurriculars and minimize the credits because there are already so many, or just don't report the nontraditional classes a regular school wouldn't give credit for anyway. For sure DS would not have gotten such a diverse and positive education in school, including advanced STEM classes.)

What I wish parents understood is that if a child is struggling in school, struggling to turn their homework in, doing boring homeework instead of challenging thmselves, and getting bad grades even though they seem smart, it's not the answer for everyone to just make them experience "natural" consequences (as if the Prussian model were natural) if a child's unaddressed executive function problems, for example, are related to brain development.

It really is possible to find courses or ways to learn the subjects for less time and none of the heartache. Instead, at best the kids in the middle in the district get labeled in a way that indicates deficiency, and encouraged to come to terms with their mediocrity and embrace the "deficiency" to take an alternative path. If the district supports "alternative" educational paths, let them put their money where their mouths are before the kids leave K-12 schools.

Famous people who are said to have been homeschooled/indie schooled:
Simone Biles
Taylor Swift
Hailee Steinfeld
Ryan Gosling
Selena Gomez
The Jonas Brothers
The Williams Sisters (Serena and Venus)
Emma Watson
Justin Timberlake
Michelle Williams
Christopher Paolini
Christina Aguilera
Ansel Adams
Erik Demaine
Benoit Mandelbrot
Yehudi Menuhin
Thomas Edison (partial, after a teacher said he was slow)
Florence Nightingale
Alexander Graham Bell (partial)
Louisa May Alcott



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Posted by Bananaphobia
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 29, 2019 at 9:18 pm

One thing I've often wondered about...why is it that children can be prodigies in areas like math and music but not in art...judging by some of the crap turned out by adults?


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Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 30, 2019 at 8:11 am

@Banana,
There have been prodigies in art, but what constitutes great visual art is often subject to more debate than the other fields, as you seem to appreciate. There was even a documentary about a child prodigy modern artist, and the debate her work sparked (some accused the father of having done them, because the works were so good, though I think those people never had kids, who commonly imitate what they see in the home).

There is a difference between giftedness, child prodigy, and genius.

There are numerous examples of the latter who were homeschooled (as much because school is a poor fit and the kids are terrible students as that the student needs advanced work, or both) -- including Marie Curie's daughter Irene who also won a Nobel Prize. I would say the Prussian model being a poor fit to support giftedness and creativity is one of the biggest reasons for the surge in Silicon Valley homeschooling.


23 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 30, 2019 at 8:36 am

I want to be more specific here.

We have many students who are gifted, even profoundly gifted, who are ending up in the middle in our schools, and who don't even realize what they are capable of, because our schools do not support gifted students. Those students then get records that actually hurt their potential and ability to move on to opportunities that let them meet their potential.

Our schools really, really do nothing at all to catch, much less support, smart/gifted kids that fall through the cracks because of problems in the curriculum or a lack of gifted education or poor attention to working for the best outcome when students have life problems like illness or the way subjects are handled as kids advance.

There will always be enough students who will do well in this district because of the skewed demographic, that the leadership can get what it wants: the data that make its great rankings. But this empty (slap-in-the-face) PAUSD "Promise" is only the most useful if it helped people who wouldn't be okay otherwise, such as special needs, or students the district failed by not reporting and redeeming past wrongs or students in traditionally underrepresented minorities.

The students who are extremely bright but stuck in the hell of useless massive academic overhead without deep learning or real-world achievement opportunities, for their whole development, are robbed of the spark that would make them happy and successful in life.

I just want to make it clear that it's just not necessary to subject one's child to that, and indie schooling (with a path to good college opportunities) is an option even for people who work full-time. Middle school is actually the perfect time to experiment with it because it won't go on the high school record. The kids (and parents) have to "deschool" in order to start becoming independent again -- it's like they have to get used to being let out of the cage before they can feel comfortable with the independence.

Parents who are tired of watching their smart children basically being psychologically tormented/abused and told repeatedly to just accept that they aren't all that (when the system has failed them repeatedly) and to just accept that they are "inferior" so go find an alternative -- they need to know that there are alternatives that allow the kids to recover and soar.

It's possible to do that in partnership with public districts, even in the Bay Area, just not this one, because the leadership gets what it needs and has no incentive to make up for current or past failures in its stated goals to all students.


10 people like this
Posted by Some Bad Indie Schools
a resident of another community
on May 30, 2019 at 7:54 pm

Some cults promote indie schooling & that can be a dangerous educational as well as psychological option.

Scientology, Branch Davidian, & People's Temple indie schooling immediately comes to mind. Some white supremacists also conduct indie schools of their own.

Probably better to take one's chances at an accredited public school or if one can afford it, a good private school.


17 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2019 at 10:35 am

@Bad,

You seriously misunderstand what I am talking about.

"Indie schooling" simply means students have more say in their education, that they become independent learners, and have the opportunity to spend their time pursuing more and better learning opportunities without academic overhead that may even completely crush their curiosity or ability to pursue their interests.

It's an approach that says students are better off having the opportunity and support to become independent and self-directed learners rather than becoming used to constantly being told what to do and getting out into the workforce to become what employers have been complaining about for decades, which is the kind of person who got great grades in school but can't work independently.

In the Bay Area, many PUBLIC school districts support indie schooling, through public school independent study programs, county charter programs, public schools like D-Tech, etc. In fact I would say the majority of homeschoolers/indieschoolers I know, educate through a PUBLIC program.

Isn't that what we aspire to help our students achieve, becoming self-directed learners, independent people, autonomous, rather than hoop-jumping, box-checking, treadmill-runners?

"Indie schooling" is just a commitment to student independent learning, something our state and county educations departments support.

It no more about cults than schools are about sexually abusing children just because sexual abuse by adults in school is such a problem. The point is that as a society, we deal with the problems that arise by those who abuse something good in order to keep what's valuable, whether it's brick and mortar school or indieschool. The other point is that you can have indieschool IN public school, many districts already do this.

Our district could, too, and I think probably should, because the people who most benefit from the current paradigm are never going to fix things for the students who are being hurt by it. And they don't want to take the risks -- so they should partner with those who are already taking those risks for the mutual benefit to the schools, and to the kids our district is NOT serving well.

And there is a very large contingent of students who are very smart, many even gifted or 2e, who end up actually being hurt by the record/transcript/school experience this system of education generates, when instead, they could be joyfully learning and building on their talents and interests.


12 people like this
Posted by Some Indie Schools Worse Than Others
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 2, 2019 at 12:06 pm

> "Indie schooling" is just a commitment to student independent learning, something our state and county educations departments support.

OK. So you agree that cult-related schools are BAD as they limit independent learning & thinking. The same could be applied to the Amish & Mennonite educational system as well as Catholic parochial schools (which are oftentimes even more rigid).

Secular schools seem to fall in the middle somewhere. Though they are far from perfect, at least they do not encourage indoctrination & brainwashing...wouldn't you agree?

Now be honest. Based on your premises, private religious learning institutions are contrary to the ideals you are promoting.


15 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2019 at 12:36 pm

@Some,
Sorry, I’m not even engaged in the conversation you’re having, it’s not related to what I’m discussing.

To continue the analogy, I can have opinions on how terrible adults are who commit sexual abuse of students in brick and mortar schools without having it constantly derail a discussion it has nothing to do with, such as about whether kids learn well if they are treated like performing monkeys who have to constantly display what they learned for someone else’s benefit and then be labeled by it rather than helped (the treadmill of homework and testing), or if they are better off being treated with more respect and independence.

You clearly have an important, but completely unrelated axe to grind. Maybe you should start a new thread. I am on this one to talk about student independence in learning, and how that relates to valuing a bounty iof educational paths that the article is about. I’d like to see us get to where we support all students and not just the ones who do the hoop jumping best (or assume the hoop jumping is the only or best way to measure learning, intelligence and potential).


10 people like this
Posted by Pravit Singh
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 2, 2019 at 2:59 pm

If our children took 5 years to complete high school, we as parents would be very disappointed.

The indie explorations you speak of can be achieved after school or on weekends. We encourage outside activities such as athletics, music & art but establishing proficiency in a conventional school environment is also very important.

We have a basic rule of thumb in our family...good grades/GPA + good test scores/SAT = getting into a good college (sans having to cheat or bribe one's way in).

After a viable profession is secured, one is then free to pursue any outside interests they choose...not the other way around.

In other words...if you want to be a ceramist or a comedian, fine. But get a professional degree first so you can afford to pursue those avocations without having to be a menial waiter or barista to tie things over.

The starving artist routine is for the birds because if one does not achieve professional success from their indie desires (e.g. being a comedian or pottery-maker) they will be branded a LOSER or ne'er-do-well by society at large.

This is unacceptable to immigrant families who have come to America for both a better life as well as professional opportunities for their children.

I did not become a surgeon to raise idealistic BUMS who want to devote their entire energies to seeking higher levels of consciousness and/or write disposable poetry.

They can do that on their own time.




2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2019 at 3:10 pm

Posted by Pravit Singh, a resident of Old Palo Alto

>> We have a basic rule of thumb in our family...good grades/GPA + good test scores/SAT = getting into a good college (sans having to cheat or bribe one's way in).

So, the 2/3 of Americans who -don't- have four-year college degrees are what? Failures? Would it be OK with you if your child becomes a -good- gardener or a -good- auto mechanic? Not every person, even in Palo Alto, would benefit from college.


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Posted by Pravit Singh
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 2, 2019 at 3:23 pm

> Would it be OK with you if your child becomes a -good- gardener or a -good- auto mechanic?

There are no good gardeners around here anymore...just 'landscape maintenance' workers with leaf blowers.

I don't have a problem with someone becoming an auto mechanic providing they are proficient and have an aspiration to someday own their own business.

> Not every person, even in Palo Alto, would benefit from college.

Then I suggest they join the service & learn a viable trade (i.e. medical/dental support fields, non-consumer electronics, heavy equipment operator etc.).


23 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2019 at 4:39 pm

@Pravit Singh,
Thanks for posting. I understand your perspective, that if your children did the schooling that they do now but spread over 5 years (which is not what I'm suggesting, but let's go with what you're talking about), you would be disappointed. Or that if your children chose to pursue art instead of medicine, you would be disappointed. (Although people in some areas of art/design are now as sought after as engineers, according to what the head of personnel told the audience at Gunn High School during that film screening a few years ago, I still understand your perspective.)

However, you, too, misunderstand what indieschooling is. The education offered here works for many kids. It doesn't work for many others. For some, they may even have more potential to be great surgeons or engineers, but they don't learn well in an environment in which they are constantly told what to do and constantly tested and measured. Those things create a kind of overhead that can kill productivity and learning simply because of the time they take away from more productive learning.

If your child could do everything they take 4 years to do in school but in 1 or 2 years, so that they can learn a whole bunch of more advanced stuff they will never have a chance to learn in school (including science), and if this led them to want to do this for an extra year and also allowed them to be more successful, why wouldn't you choose that?

What if your child took 5 years in order to take a much more advanced math trajectory than was possible in school -- say, differential equations, linear algebra, abstract algebra, real analysis, complex analysis, differentiable manifolds (a real list from math-oriented indieschoolers) -- and especially if it enabled a child who was being funneled into a lower lane in school and who would never even be able to study advanced calculus in school to do advanced college mathematics and college at a place that met their potential?

Following a passion can be and often is for the things you also seem to value, especially for gifted kids. (Oh boy, I have all kinds of trouble with the assumption that only sports and art can be passions or enjoyable.)

It is actually a well-known problem with gifted kids that teachers will say, oh, why don't the gifted kids just do those advanced things they want to pursue after school and on their own time, forgetting that school takes up the bulk of students' time and energy and those are not infinite. The opportunity cost in the use of their time isn't the only problem, many of the kids do not perform well in an environment in which they are on a homework and test treadmill and constantly jumping through others' hoops. This does not mean they aren't going to study the things you say you value.

It's also a well-known problem that very gifted kids will end up as trouble students and never meet or understand their potential because of how poorly the fit is to the Prussian model of education. The Prussian model was brought to this country in large part to make compliant workers and soldiers for the industrial revolution. The world and needs of employers have changed, but the educational system has not.


Again, the kids study chemistry, biology, physics, etc., as separate subjects because those things encompassed pretty much everything you needed to learn 150 years ago to be a learned person. But there are so many more fields of human endeavors (including science and technology) and science about the natural world now and they expand every day. When a kid can learn everything they could learn in basic chemistry, biology, and physics from high school in a few months so that they can learn a whole lot of other interesting things, without constantly being tested and measured and made to wait to learn things in a certain non-applied constrained way, then if they want to spend 5 years to cover a whole lot of other advanced subjects -- or apply what they learn in research, including other fields of science -- why would you be disappointed in that?

Your children may be doing fine with this system, but for many students, even students who may be smarter than and do more advanced work than your kids if given more independence and support, the system actually prevents them from achieving their potential while at the same time basically saddling them with a record that makes it impossible for them to reach better resources at the college level. I see that happening to many of kids we know who are just graduating now.

@Anon & @Pravit Singh,
With all due respect, I agree with you that not everyone should pursue a college degree, and that people who don't should be the best at what they ARE interested in doing. That trouble is that our local public school doesn't support that. It's only a college track. It basically supports a limited number of students for whom it is a good match, and then everyone else is a wash out. This is a waste of their time, for one thing.

Rather than changing the system that works for some, why aren't we instead just supporting those for whom more independence and autonomy allow them to be the best at what they wish to pursue, whether it is competition figure skating (one reason people indieschool is high-level sports and music), a math PhD from Oxford at age 15 or a professional animator? And what is the point of subjecting someone who wants to be a professional hairstylist at Vidal Sassoon to the same gauntlet as the kid who wants the transcript to go to Princeton?

I personally have seen how indieschooling has allowed far more advanced academic work far more successfully for a kid who was NOT able to do those things in school. (And I'm not really understanding the pushback since in our case, with a fifth year my kid will still be younger than half the classmates who started at the same time because so many parents held their kids back for an advantage. Why should it be held against my kid to use that year to get in a whole bunch of other fields of math, computer science, engineering, politics, humanities, writing, and professional work and performance opportunities, instead of being older in kindergarten to lord it over other kids?)

What people are not getting is that independence for many students through the teen years can be essential and beneficial, and allow them to meet their potential in ways they never will in a system so based on compliance and external direction. The hierarchy that comes from our current gauntlet of a system is not immutable and yet even these discussions about educational alternatives starts with the assumption that it is. Not so, if many students have more independence.


8 people like this
Posted by Indie Curriculum
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 3, 2019 at 3:34 pm

Teaching chemistry 'indie-style' in one's garage can be dangerous.

OK for indie auto-shop.

Indie field trips can be more fun than those offered in public school...if you know the doorman, sometimes they will let you witness events usually restricted to those 21 or over.


16 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2019 at 8:02 pm

Ha ha. Very funny. But the jokes get independence in learning so wrong, I'm left wondering whether you are just determined not to understand the opportunities for kids for whom it is lifechanging, or whether you feel threatened by students and families having more power in their lives so you feel you have to keep misdirecting?

We all claim we want our kids to be independent, yet stick them in a traditional educational system that was designed 150 years ago to make them compliant. Some kids still do okay, but many do not, and there is a huge opportunity cost.

The current system basically infantilizes kids and fails to give them control of their own time and learning. Too many do the same in college and then get out, unable to work independently.

On the chemistry independent study:
There are a variety of options for learning chemistry these days. If you want to DIY, you can get good lab equipment following a curriculum mailed to your home.

There are many independent educational options that offer high quality chemistry instruction with lab and experiences teachers. Kind of ala carte instruction.

The independent study charter in Fremont has its own physical location where students can take lab courses with qualified teachers. Some private schools offer challenging one-of classes to homeschoolers. There are independent study schools in the area that offer chemistry classes. Public school independent study programs allow students to take a few classes at their local high school -- lab courses are popular. Students often take community college courses. There are advanced courses to take online, and yes, people do put together really nice labs in their garages using surplused equipment, or they explore, such as with Biocurious, etc.

Even if an option is through a tradition school, students are in control of their educations. Many offer other kinds of grading rubriks, more projects, or fewer tests so students can focus on learning and not a constant treadmill of tests.

We designed our own course at Tech Shop (when it was still around) and had middle schoolers learning on all the equipment. The instructors commented on the difference in the attitude toward learning and safety, and how with typical high school classes there was always someone who thought it was funny to scare or do something unsafe when others were using equipment, but that was not a problem with the independent learners. There is often a clear maturity difference when students are in charge of their own learning versus those in school doing their paces, even if they are covering the same kind of material.


12 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2019 at 8:05 pm

Just a clarification - it was not a chemistry class at Tech Shop but a tech chop gathering for high schoolers. The most dangerous thing about it was probably one of the teens riding his motorcycle there (with his dad).


13 people like this
Posted by Talk about monopolizing a thread!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2019 at 9:27 pm

Wow, Indie Schooling, start your own blog. You posted so much that you lost your audience. Not everyone is a lawyer who enjoys reading dissertations. Homeschooled kids miss out on life skills. There is no reason to homeschool in Palo Alto.


12 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 4, 2019 at 1:21 am

@lost,
It’s far easier to bash and make fun of something you don’t know anything about or understand than it is to explain it. Given your poorly informed post, apparently what I wrote is not enough.

For example, it is the schooled kids, who spend all their time sequestered into contrived, age-matched groups their entire development who miss out on life skills, not the homeschooled kids - who usually aren’t at home all day, but out in the world. They are typically much more comfortable with different ages including adults and mich more prepared to be on their own (that’s what independence is). Because they can learn as much without all the school overhead, they typically have time for things like family time, chores and other life skills kids here have a class on but no real experience with. I know my student has far better life skills as a homeschooled student and his contemporaries in independent study classes tend also to be more mature and capable.

I only wish there were no reason to homeschool in Palo Alto. Are you aware of what 2e is? Children who are both profoundly gifted but also with learning disabilities. They are so poorly served here, parents are talking about starting their own school. There are actually many in Palo Alto who are homeschooling because schools here have historically treated special needs kids so antagonistically, especially 2e kids. Homeschooling/indieschooling is also more flexible so students with special needs may find they can work however they best can and excel for less effort.

The culture in school is still pretty unhealthy AND unhelpful for many kids. Many would be better off if the schools had programs to support independent learning, but they don’t. Until that changes, unfortunately, yes, there are many good reasons to homeschool in Palo Alto, as many already do despite paying large tax bills every year for the schools.

The original article here is also evidence of a need for support for independence in learning.


12 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 4, 2019 at 1:37 am

@lost,
Here’san article from Business Insider last year:
Reasons Homeschooling is the Smartest Way to Teach KidsToday
Web Link
“Research suggests homeschooled children tend to do better on standardized tests, stick around longer in college, and do better once they're enrolled.”

And
“The most common misconception about homeschoolers is that they lack social skills.”

It’s not home versus school site, it’sabout customized independent learning versus factory model that de facto unnecessarily chooses winners and losers.


3 people like this
Posted by Sara
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 4, 2019 at 4:12 am

Haha, the list of famous people who were homeschooled. There is no cause/effect; they were homeschooled because they were so talented that they chose to pursue their careers (and academics is the law and for them, second priority).

I could understand homeschooling if in a ghetto school district, prone to bullying, but for PAUSD and the like, there is no reason to homeschool. Kids who are homeschooled are a bit off; they have not been exposed to unfortunate situations and unfortunate people, their lives are in a bubble. They lack discipline because they get to do what they want to do without restraints of a school schedule or bad teachers. They don’t learn life skills and think the world revolves around them. Homeschooling is a great way to raise a Snowflake. Regular schooling prepares them for the workforce by teaching them how to get along (or tolerate) all types and they learn to be independent. Paly has 2100 students; there is no way that homeschooling can offer the same experience. Perhaps homeschooled learn more academics but the experience of regular school is more important. Perhaps the type of parent who would homeschool has offspring that might need the comfort of hanging out with mom for security. No doubt, homeschooled kids feel loved (an important thing) but they don’t learn to work within limits.

If a parent is nurturing, their child in PAUSD will be more successful than a basic (vs. ultra-talented) child who is homeschooled.


7 people like this
Posted by Army Vet
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 4, 2019 at 7:12 am

Getting your parents to pay your way for everything and into success might seem like the safest path, but there's a big world out there. If the graduating class thinks they are really all that, I would recommend some consider military service over gap years. You meet the heart of America in the military. It will challenge you to your core. If you are really above average and a naturally successful leader, the military will make you put yourself second to a greater good, a skill you can take forward into other fields. I served as an airborne infantryman in the 1980s and attended college on the GI Bill, eventually getting into UC Berkeley graduate school. I have had a very successful business career and am retired at 46 and now devote my time to helping others.

And BTW, there is nothing wrong with homeschooling or other alternative HS education paths. I've met plenty of folks with all the right background and degrees from all the top schools who can't perform the simplest tasks.


17 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 4, 2019 at 7:32 am

@Sara,
I chose the list of successful people who were homeschooled because the people on it homeschooled for a variety of reasons, not only the ones who did so they could pursue their sports/etc. The mother of the Jonas brothers says homeschooling was so positive, she would have done it whether her sons had needed it for the entertainment industry or not.

Ryan Gosling, for example, was homeschooled throughout because of being bullied in school and having ADHD (like THAT never happens in PAUSD) and credits it for his success.

Pierre Curie has been mentioned before -- although most write-ups about him say he was homeschooled because he was a prodigy, Marie Curie's own diaries tell a different story. Pierre was apparently a terrible student who couldn't focus in school and couldn't handle the constant rotation of subjects. He was able to be a prodigy BECAUSE he was homeschooled. In school he would have continued to be a miserable, failed student.

This guest editorial from a PAUSD (and the prior article it links to) discusses the negative emotional consequences to gifted students of having no specific support for giftedness in our system. Our experience speaks to that, too, including that being in school here can actually HURT students' well-being and success.
No gifted program in PAUSD
Web Link

Our district does a good job supporting those who already do well in the souped up Prussian model we have here, and giving them more opportunities. There will always be enough students at the top that the leadership doesn't have to care about the students who would otherwise be successful if they were supported, but who are otherwise made to feel stupid, bad students who should just set their sights lower and not be such special snowflakes.

Your conclusion is exactly wrong. I've seen too many ultra-talented students, even profoundly gifted students, with nurturing parents, whose development was actually HURT by Palo Alto schools, and who only thrived because they were allowed the intellectual and personal freedom of homeschooling.

It's not a choice between education at home or school, because homeschooling high school usually isn't done at home, and the same kind of independence can be and is fostered in public districts with "homeschool" programs.

I do think you are right from the standpoint that the local district does have lots of resources, and if it were willing to consider allowing a program that allowed customization and independence in education, it would support and serve many more students that it is currently failing. The district's own identification of gifted students relies on grades, for example, but it is very often the case that ultra-gifted students will be so unhappy, their grades and behavior are not good, and asynchronous development and delayed executive function are also common. Such students get through our system believing they aren't talented, and end up ironically without access to supportive educational resources. They can end up in high school with a negative transcript that prevents them from opportunities to get beyond being failed in school after high school.

There is a whole group of parents in PAUSD looking at starting a 2e school here because the district does such a poor job. Some of them already felt they had to homeschool. But your wrong ideas and overlooking children being hurt by our system highlights why things don't change -- and why alternative paths are still, in actuality, not being supported.




8 people like this
Posted by A Tale Of Two Students
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2019 at 7:41 am

One went to an 'alternative school' in Marin County after being 'homeschooled' by his hippie parents during the elementary grade school years.

The other went through the conventional public school system & matriculated to a small private liberal arts college in the mid-west.

The former was self-perceived as an artist & focused on playing piano & guitar (albeit not very well) for much of the day. The latter combined both conventional schooling & pursued his musical interests on the side.

The indie school student had no actual GPA & failed miserably on the SAT. The conventional school student maintained a B+ average (3.40) & scored well on both college entrance examinations (SAT & ACT).

Today the former indie school student is a recovering drug/alcohol abuser working at Rite-Aide. The conventional student went on to earn a Ph.D & is now teaching English at a major university.

Both had 'artistic' interests as youths but one was delusional while the other was more practical.

Moral of the story...if born with exceptional artistic talent, indie school may be an appropriate educational choice.

If not born with natural talent, it's OK to enjoy certain activities as a hobby or recreational outlet but be REAL about life & its everyday challenges.

Indie school is fine but we never hear about the LOSERS..only the artists who have succeeded in their careers. This is false advertising as not everyone can be a artist.

The only way for a 'no-talent' individual to suceeed in a chosen field (regardless of the school format) is for him or her to make a deal with the devil...but that is an entirely different topic.





14 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 4, 2019 at 7:47 am

@Sara,
You wrote "[Homeschooled students] lack discipline because they get to do what they want to do without restraints of a school schedule or bad teachers. "

This idea is in particular just wrong.

First of all, it is the students who are basically put in a rat maze and told what to do all the time who end up unable to be autonomous and self-directed in life, per research. Students who are most constrained in school (with externally directed activities and schedules) often end up the most out of control when they get to college.

Students who are given the respect to control their own time and learning are the ones who develop the self-discipline.

But I'm sure we fundamentally disagree that a treadmill of meaningless, inefficient homework and tests should be the measure of self-discipline.


18 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 4, 2019 at 8:04 am

@Tale,
I know a local homeschooled middle-school student who is doing research with a world-renowned professor in that student's technical field, and only has the time to do that (and tutor kids in a less-well-heeled area out of interest, there's no high school transcript in the picture) because of homeschooling. Same kid has been taking college courses at two top universities. This is a kid who was NOT well-supported in traditional school, and like many boys (in our district), dealt with like a discipline problem.

I know another homeschooled student who is living at home as a Berkeley STEM undergrad because of that student's young age. I know another homeschooler whose father is proud of their, hippie undisciplined schooling, who has gotten a PhD in math from Cambridge (or Oxford, I forget which), and is very successful.

I'm sure we could pull up examples of failures and successes from any model of schooling. But the fact is that on average, homeschooled students perform better on standardized tests, are better prepared to be college students, and graduate from college at higher rates.

And I have seen gifted students in our local schools just absolutely beaten up for unrecognized learning disabilities or disciplined for just being who they are. (Let's forget for a moment the shameful ways adults in the district have historically reacted when nurturing parents try to prevent those children from falling through the cracks.) Researchers are finding that executive function in the most gifted students develops later; we have a head of secondary instruction who equates good executive function even in middle school students with intelligence and can't understand how our schools are failing profoundly gifted students anymore than you.


14 people like this
Posted by Privateschoolmom
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2019 at 8:14 am

I don’t understand Sara (and others) venomous opposition to homeschooling as a sound choice for some children. Is she not aware of the proliferation of anxiety and suicides in Paly and Gunn? I know of nearly a dozen, well-respected families in PAUSD who have had to pull their children out of school because they had crippling anxiety. Some families choose homeschooling (for a time) while they get their child the treatment they need to address their anxiety. And any blanket suggestion that homeschoolers lack social skills and do poorly on their SATs is absurd. Have you read the lists of California State STEM Fair Winners, National Scholastic Art and Writing Medalists and even Caroline D Bradley Scholars? They are filled with the names of homeschoolers. I am the proud parent of a child who has won all of the aforementioned awards; and I also homeschool my other child. Because I have chosen to parent *to the child’s needs* to give them the greatest chance for happiness (and success) in life. We should strive to be a society that respects each other’s differences and choices.


9 people like this
Posted by member
a resident of Portola Valley
on Jun 4, 2019 at 10:23 am

I can't believe how violent people react to others taking a different path than them. I do homeschool my son and it is certainly not because I am a hippie. In fact, I have a Ph.D. from Columbia University in STEM. I am about as far away from a hippie then you can get. My son was in school until a teacher completely traumatized him because she refused to listen or believe me about what he needed. I even had test results to prove it and a very well documented (data driven) case for why he needed the things he did. I am not trying to make my son live in a bubble or take him out of situations where he must deal with difficult issues. I am trying to make sure my son actually gets an education. For him, for many different reasons, this means that he cannot currently learn in a classroom environment. I wish people could be more accepting of differences like his instead of making assumptions about what he is or is not getting.


11 people like this
Posted by Reluctant Homeschooler
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2019 at 10:57 am

@Sara
I don't think that being forced to sit in a classroom with 30 other people of the same age and sitting still and waiting for them to catch up, or for them to be quiet, or for the next subject, or quitting in the middle of a task to move on, and asking permission to use the bathroom and being denied access to OTC medicine like tylenol, prepares anyone for "real" life.

Homeschoolers learn how to interact with a variety of age groups. Many of their classes take place with students both older and younger than them, with different needs. The homeschoolers I know are more tolerant of people with unique situations than those in the public schools are. They are also a lot better at time management skills.

Instead of being told what to do, and when to do it, between 8am and 3:30pm, they need to keep track of which activity occurs when and what they need to pack. Activities take place all over the place, and homeschoolers need to be organized in order to be prepared for class. They are set up for success because they move at their own pace rather than the pace set by a teacher and the rest of the class. They have the flexibility to seek a different curriculum if the first doesn't click.

Not everyone thrives in a homeschool environment. Not everyone thrives in a large school environment. It's not because they have been conditioned, but because they are individuals. We do them to most good if we acknowledge their learning needs and provide everyone with the best learning environment...for them.


6 people like this
Posted by Homeschooling OK But...
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 4, 2019 at 7:06 pm

Homeschooling is OK if the parents/teachers are qualified to teach. If not, the student will be at a distinct disadvantage in the REAL world where no one cares how you were taught...just what you know & where you stand in the percentiles.

Score well on the SAT/ACT & homeschooling if fine. Blow it & a homeschooling background might be viewed or construed as an educational detriment & hinderment.

The vagabond Deadhead/hippie homeschool teachers are the worst.


4 people like this
Posted by Alternative Path
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2019 at 10:10 pm

@Homeschooling OK but...

It is so hard for those of us whose children who have been actually harmed by "qualified teachers". I didn't expect to do what I do, but the "qualified teacher" that royally screwed my kid wasn't able to think her way out of a paper bag. I don't think this is all that uncommon. Teaching is no longer a valued profession so you don't always get the best and the brightest. Before making such judgmental comments about why parents do this, maybe think more about what it really means to be "qualified teacher". It doesn't take much. Not to say that there aren't many very talented teachers, they tend to be the exception, not the norm.


12 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2019 at 9:05 am

@OK,
The largest study of standardized testing and homeschoolers found that homeschoolers scored higher on average than kids in school, that there was no gender or race achievement gap (which makes sense since education is customized), and that students whose parents had less education did nearly as well as those whose parents were very well educated.

The latter also makes sense for a few reasons. One -- and one wonders how many times this needs to be said -- modern homeschoolers mostly don't just learn at home. Even the ones that do have access to a variety of real-world and online curricula from outside sources. Two, homeschoolers learn to learn for themselves. That's fundamentally what independent education is about. So, if the student has a good curriculum, the parent's level of education is immaterial.

My kid's best math courses were the ones involving a good well-vetted book, chosen with the independent study teacher, and just doing lots of problems independently to learn the material. Tests were done when my kid felt ready, and if the score wasn't perfect, the teacher suggested more honors problems, and redo a test for that level. It was way faster. My kid was in the driver’s seat, and the “class” was setup — by my kid — to best allow learning and life.


20 people like this
Posted by Some Homeschool Environments Are Questionable
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 5, 2019 at 9:16 am

Isn't interaction with other children in a public setting important for child development & acquiring socialization skills? Public schools provide that while individual homeschooling does not.

Over nurturing also has its drawbacks. I know of one homeschool teacher/mother who breastfed her child up until he was about five years old.

This is seriously whacko & the child will be prone to some 'issues' as he gets older.

Perhaps an unwillingness to 'let go' (on the part of both mother & child) is another underlying reason for promoting a homeschooling environment.

The child shows no apparent natural talent in anything other than always getting his own way. If anything he is a mini 'head-case'.

Both mother & child IMO need some form of psychological counseling.


5 people like this
Posted by very reluctant homeschooler
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2019 at 9:34 am

@Some Homeschool Environments Are Questionable

Your assumptions couldn't be further from the truth in terms of how homeschooling actually works. Again, it seems like those who do not understand what it is insist upon making up these crazy assumptions. I guess it is a sign of the times that we simply cannot accept "other".


20 people like this
Posted by Abnormal Parenting
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 5, 2019 at 12:05 pm

> Over nurturing also has its drawbacks. I know of one home school teacher/mother who breastfed her child up until he was about five years old.

^^^ The mother should have her head examined. This is not normal.


6 people like this
Posted by Reluctant Homeschooler
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2019 at 5:34 pm

@ Some Homeschool Environments...

Do you only socialize with people of the same exact age you are?

I believe that most people who are against homeschooling have only seen the negative portrayals. I have met many homeschool families. Very few can be found at home reliably because they are busy "socializing" their students with a variety of classes and outside activities.

Homeschoolers are often *more* self reliant and *better* socialized than typical school kids because they learn how to find what they need, how to self advocate, how to talk to grown ups, and how to interact with people of various ages. They mentor younger kids and are mentored by older kids.

It isn't a fit for all families, and it can't really be compared to the public school experience because both are different and have different benefits and drawbacks.


12 people like this
Posted by Strange Days Ahead
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 5, 2019 at 6:03 pm

An aspiring home school teacher/mother who breastfeeds her child up to kindergarten age obviously has a few loose screws.


9 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2019 at 7:37 pm

@Strange,
What is this obsession with trying to make weird connections to homeschooling?

First of all, regarding breastfeeding (which is so unrelated to this conversation, but what you have said is just negative to women).

The Mayo Clinic says
Web Link
"Worldwide, babies are weaned on average between ages 2 and 4. In some cultures, breast-feeding continues until children are age 6 or 7. In other parts of the world, however, this is less common and can sometimes provoke UNINFORMED, negative reactions." [emphasis added]

I don't know anyone who breastfed that late except when I lived in another part of the world, it was common. Don't think anyone knew about homeschooling. The issues are unrelated.

The cool thing about homeschooling is that students usually are more motivated to become informed, educated citizens than the average school student who is on the grades treadmill. In our household, essay writing looks a lot more like college research and writing. It's really very easy to learn about all kinds of issues, including child development, using free advanced resources that weren't available even 25 years go.

When we talk about this issue of alternative paths, we shouldn't be focusing on it like some kind of leftover last chance. If we provided opportunities for all children to thrive and meet their potential, then high school itself would be full of "alternative" paths, without the current stigma.





9 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2019 at 7:38 pm

One of my friends, whose homeschooling of their children in middle school was important in our decision, said the thing they most wanted was for their kids to get through middle school with the spark still in their eyes.

It gave one of their children the time to sing professionally in the SF Opera (for which the child was paid scale -- a good college nest egg). Another was able to take on all kinds of advanced math and engineering. They had probably better social time because of homeschooling.

They decided as a family to attend the local high school. This was a far better experience because of the independence the children had as homeschoolers for middle school. The kids were more ready for high school and college, too.

I wish we had homeschooled for middle school. The children generally have more positive and diverse social experiences and become more able to relate to different age groups. There's a kind of wall that same-age-matched peers put up, it's almost like they feel they don't have to engage with anyone else. That's actually not normal (the Prussian model only being about 150 years old).

One of the social benefits of homeschooling is the flexibility allows students to have real relationships with family. We are older parents, and the flexibility has allowed our child to have a more fulfilling relationship with family, cousins, grandparents, than would otherwise have been possible given our geographic distance. Without sacrificing the advanced academics.

Honestly, schools could do this too, some of them already do.


8 people like this
Posted by The American Way
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 5, 2019 at 8:23 pm

The American Way is a registered user.

> In some cultures, breast-feeding continues until children are age 6 or 7.

In which case, homeschooling is probably best. A second grader still being breastfed might be subject to ridicule by other schoolchildren. This practice could also be impractical for the child's mother by having to stop by school during milk & cookie break and/or lunch period to provide this form of maternal nourishment & nurturing as well. On the other hand, it negates the need for milk money.

That said, homeschooling does offer certain advantages other than breastfeeding opportunities. One can sleep in & time management becomes less structured as some individuals are 'night' people while others are 'day' people. Thus a child who is inherently a night person could sleep till noon and study during the evenings if so desired.

And if the kid is inherently lazy & unmotivated, home schooling provides a perfect opportunity to goof off & watch cartoons or get into mischief (if periodically unsupervised).

But I see your point as several elementary school teachers have confided to me that they are essentially glorified babysitters operating a day care center cleverly disguised as a classroom.





9 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2019 at 8:43 pm

@Way,
Leaving aside your silliness about offtopic stuff, you bring up an interesting issue.

The role of school as high-quality childcare is talked about by homeschoolers as an advantage of brick and mortar school, don't knock it.

Some homeschool communities have physical communities that are like community centers or like community colleges, where students can take lab classes, extracurriculars or group activities like plays and sports, have maker spaces, parents can get guidance and parent ed, but the education is still self-directed and customized by the students. The closest thing we have here to that is in Fremont's COIL program.

The other interesting issue you bring up is "lazy" kids. Until you really homeschool -- including the time period to deschool at the start -- you really cannot appreciate how demotivating it is to be told what to do all the time. I think someone above mentioned school bells for example, as if kids are rats (or, more aptly, factory workers who needed to be trained to the bell, which is what this system of education was designed for).

Homeschooled kids have to learn how to get themselves up because they have things to do. That is ultimately a better thing because they do this for themselves in a way kids who have been give only external direction do not. All kids are kids, and especially teens struggle with sleep. But my kid's relationship with time and self-direction has been far more positive because the students are in charge of themselves.

Homeschoolers learn that having a growth mindset about independence, rather than a fixed mindset, is much more beneficial. Many kids need a lot of external direction because that's what they learn their entire development in school. Independence is a process, not an inherent trait. Schools are simply not set up to foster self-motivation and independence, and where they try to, they seem unable to distinguish independence from destroying solid family relationships (at least locally).


19 people like this
Posted by The American Way
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 6, 2019 at 7:30 am

The American Way is a registered user.

OK. Time to get REAL.

"you really cannot appreciate how demotivating it is to be told what to do all the time. I think someone above mentioned school bells for example, as if kids are rats (or, more aptly, factory workers who needed to be trained to the bell, which is what this system of education was designed for)."

In reference to your quote above ^^^...in the REAL world, there are two types of jobs, TASK-ORIENTED & PROJECT-ORIENTED. Both are necessary for a society, company, military etc. to function effectively.

The homeschooling approach is fine for those who are destined to be PROJECT ORIENTED as an indie schooled individual will most likely be a MISFIT in a TASK-ORIENTED working environment. In other words, they are not cut out to be worker ants.

There are no guarantees in life & an indie-schooled individual working as a mailman, assembly line worker, office clerk et al is destined for a miserable existence in their minds & personal sense of fulfillment. They will also be a MISFIT in the military as lower-tier enlisted personnel.

There is a need for both types of workers and your educational ideals are not practical for 75% of mainstream society...maybe 10-25% at best.

Indie/homeschooling may only be suitable for the truly gifted or inherently rebellious type of individual and to blanket the concept as an ideal learning environment over a conventional public or private school environment is ludicrous.

Lastly, the sardonic commentaries pertaining to extended breastfeeding practices have a place in this conversation as they are yet another example of coddling...which in the long run, can prove detrimental to one's adaptation to the REAL adult world. Homeschooling is another example when taken to overzealous extremes as most people will not grow up to be artists, rocket scientists or any of the individuals you listed as examples of homeschooling success stories.

If anything, the negative exposures & experiences you condemn as symptomatic of conventional education are actually the ones that give rise to further innovation & creativity as a whole...not alternative education which remains a small % of the whole.




7 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2019 at 8:38 am

@Way,
First of all, I just gave you a Mayo Clinic link, in which they called your very portrayal of breastfeeding as "UNINFORMED". (Mayo Clinic being a highly respected medical organization.) Specifically, they say not "coddling", but "uninformed". The parts of the world where breastfeeding happens later, it's not a stigma, and it's definitely not what you clearly seem to be imagining. The breastfeeding thread is an example of how so much of what you are bringing up is unrelated strong opinions that are simply uninformed.

Regarding your rigid framing of the work world, that is so oversimplified, and rooted in the last two centuries. Teaching kids to be dependent throughout their DEVELOPMENT as human beings is a very different issue than whether once grown-up, they are able to live and work independently and be self-directed, regardless of their profession.

Your framing has nothing to do with our school actually causing a large segment of students not at the top to FAIL, when they could otherwise be as or more successful - academically - than the students at the top, if the educational system supported independent learning (doesn't have to be homeschool, as I keep saying).

Our schools are so focused on retaining a system that works for the adults at the top, the behavior of adults who burnish their stars from those who succeed in the traditional system have been to even go the the extent, not just of failing students who may not promise to do that (such as gifted students with special needs), but the practice of proactively hurting such students and pushing their families out of the district has long been a dark shameful secret.

It's not just failing those students, who could otherwise shine and develop their talents with the great resources of this district, it's that in many cases adults are actively taking steps to hurt them and get them to leave. I"m not saying that happens in the majority of cases where a lot of students get bad records in PAUSD because the system isn't set up to support their learning and independence, but it does happen to many students with special needs. (I think asynchronous traits/special needs among the highly gifted are the rule rather than the exception.)

I brought up homeschooling because students who would otherwise shine can get what they need immediately (whatever alternative supports their educations) rather than waiting for adults to never fix things. And because schools could learn a lot from that (many already do).


8 people like this
Posted by The American Way
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 6, 2019 at 9:39 am

The American Way is a registered user.

@ Indie schooling

OK. Time to get real once again...

Rather than tiresomely extolling the virtues of independent learning, homeschooling, indie schools et al, why can't you simply come out & say (aka admit) that this alternative style of education has its virtues BUT is not applicable NOR suitable for ALL students?

For many, conventional public or private schools will serve the needs & purposes of MOST students quite adequately.

OR are you advocating a form of alternative education for the entire country? If so, you are barking up the wrong tree.


4 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2019 at 11:18 am

@The American Way

I do not believe that any one type of schooling is appropriate for all students.

As a homeschooler that does it simply because a classroom doesn't work for my child, I get a lot of really amazingly silly assumptions about what it is. Many of the assumptions stated in these comments are ones that I hear all the time. I don't really care what people think, but I really hate it when my son hears these things. I have worked so hard to undo the damage caused by school and then to have it compounded by these kinds of hurtful/hateful comments is really hard. I would be very happy if school could be something that could work for my son, but it doesn't. I am hopeful that at some point he can get to a point where it will work for him, but there is a lot of work that needs to happen before that can be true.

I do not believe that every student should be homeschooled just as I believe that public school does not serve the needs of all students. Private schools understand this very well as they try hard to only admit those students that they feel will benefit from their style of education. I also believe that I should be allowed to homeschool my son if I truly believe that it is the best option from him.


4 people like this
Posted by Reluctant Homeschooler
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2019 at 11:25 am

I think the point is that both types of education have their place, both are valid.
Those who homeschool are constantly having to defend their choice, even if they are going a lesser known path simply because the "traditional" one is definitely not working for their child.
It would be nice to feel that the decision to go against the grain was at least validated by society.

Even with IEPs and 504 plans, schools can't always meet a child's needs.
And some kids can adjust to a school, but don't thrive there.
Some would be miserable with the open ended learning opportunities of a homeschool environment.
Some are able to adjust to either.

Our society needs all kinds of learners and thinkers and movers and doers.

Homeschooling is hard.
Schooling is hard.
Parenting in general is Really Hard.
We all want what's best for our kids. Even if what's best for our kid isn't best for ALL kids. I don't agree with everyone's parenting decisions, but I respect their rights to make them and acknowledge that I'm not living their life...I have no idea how many factors went into any specific parenting decision. I hope that others feel the same towards me.


10 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2019 at 11:44 am

@Way,
I actually find it shocking that you are even posing that question, as if there is any defense of infantilizing children and using the educational system to hurt their development to independence.

I have been saying all along that our system works to the advantage of some, but doesn't work for MANY others, and that everyone can benefit from independence and self-direction being more allowed and less crushed in our educational system.

I have also been saying, many times, that homeschooling is not the only way to achieve fostering student independence, and homeschooling through a district isn't even the only way to achieve it. But people who are successful within a paradigm -- such as tons of administrators making more than the governor of a 30-million-person state -- they're not going to change things because they don't benefit from change. They even have demonstrably engaged in hurting students and families who tried to improve things, because it threatened to change things (for the better for all students isn't necessarily better for the leadership).

Once again, we are having a completely different conversation. Your view is far too narrow. I have been talking about student independence, about the fostering of more diversity in fully-supported educational paths (which is what this article brought up), and about the very large segment of our student population who are being proactively disserved by the system that creates winners of a very specific sort: those who have good executive function skills from very early on (i.e., not the most gifted), those who have no special needs (i.e., not the kids with learning disabilities or 2e students, which the district's own data shows have an achievement gap), not those with nontraditional background (ditto on the district data), not those for whom any kind of life disruption knocked them down on the ladder.

I think I have been saying all along that the system works really well for those at the top, especially, and our leadership couldn't be more please with that because it keeps the ratings and their salaries high. But what happens, and this is related to the article, is that those not at the top get viewed as if this parochial hierarchy defines their intelligence and potential, even their potential to be great students. "Alternative paths" are being encouraged, but my understanding from students just graduating now is that they aren't nearly as accepted as this article suggests, and it's not suggesting utopia by any means.

The alternative paths are things like community college transfer programs, which every year send hundreds of students to top schools like UCLA, Berkeley, and even Stanford, and allows students who need it time to mature and destress. Yet it's still viewed by the students as a loser path. That's just one example.

The trouble is that those who are encouraging students to consider the alternative paths are still considering the hierarchy from school as THE measure of potential and success. The subtext is: students who aren't going to Harvard, etc, just accept your inferiority and stop trying to do what these Gods of success are doing. It's demeaning, patronizing, and not changing things, because the system is failing to support the success of these students all along.

There are many in that group who would probably do even better at Harvard, if they had more control of their own education. As I keep pointing out, there is no achievement gap in homeschooling, or gender gap, the students on average perform better and graduate from college at higher rates. But as I also keep pointing out, this is not about homeschooling, per se, but about providing those students who are being hurt by our system with the independence that would allow them to succeed. Don't just tell them they shouldn't be ashamed of the alternative paths the top students still snub, support everyone to meet their potential (which our district espouses in writing) by giving students more autonomy and allowing those for whom the system isn't working to start succeeding.

For some, it may mean they are taking graduate level math courses the school doesn't even offer, for others it may mean supporting their journey while they are still in school.

The example I gave of a hairdresser above is not far off a real example I could give from our schools. Top hairstylists make as much money or more than many tech workers, and research shows the work is very satisfying at all levels. It's creative and can be lifechanging for clients when someone is really good at what they do. Why should someone who has the talent to be the top at such a field have to wash out of a college track that works for very different people who want to do something completely different with their lives, before that person's talents and dreams are supported? Imagine if they were supported, and that person could transform her classmates lives while learning the craft? The respect would come from seeing the excellence, even in a very different field.

When students who want to do something else have to first wash out -- as the system is basically designed to do to many of them -- how is it that we think anything else is going to happen except that no one respects anything or anyone except those at the top of the heap in that system?

We do the students a huge disservice to ingrain in them the idea that their contrived hierarchy in school is immutable. There are a great many gifted students in our schools, so even if fostering independence helped only them, it would be a sea change. But I'm not suggesting anything our district doesn't already claim it wants for our children: independence. I'm suggesting that doubling down on a system that was designed to compromise independence is contradictory to that goal.

Students do not realize they can take an independent educational path even in high school through homeschooling tomorrow IF the system is failing them. Reform takes time they don't have. Many don't know the options they have, and how they may even be more likely to get into a good college or have the career they what if they pursue a more independent, customized path.


10 people like this
Posted by Former Indie School Student
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2019 at 12:30 pm

I was raised by a single mother who felt indie schooling was the best alternative educational environment for her offspring.

Yes, it provided a unique learning platform & allowed for both academic, artistic & recreational explorations.

Today I am homeless with no prospects for the future. As a child, we followed the Dead tour & led an alternative lifestyle as well.

It was fun & enlightening to a certain extent but eventually one must contend with the real world & its inherent brutalities. Some refer to it as growing up.

My mother never learned to 'stay high but keep one's priorities straight'. As a result, she is directly to blame for having instilled & promoted a jabberwocky sort of perspective on life itself.

In retrospect, I wish I had gone to a conventional high school school & lettered in sports. Academic discipline is necessary for some & perhaps I was one of those individuals as too much freedom can equate to a lack of responsibility & direction.

Being just another cog in the wheel of life has its advantages & these blissful tales of homeschooling are misleading in many respects.


7 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2019 at 2:13 pm

@Former,
Ha ha again.

Let’s look at the actual issue you are trying to bash: the very free-est end of the homeschooling spectrum, Unschooling (assuming that we are talking about actual unschooling and not parental neglect, as in your made up scenario above).

Here’s a thorough article on outcomes from Unschooling from KQED’s education blog, including a link to original study:
Web Link

The research professor who authored the story says that “unschoolers” make up about 10% of homeschoolers (not the majority).

In one survey of over 200 unschooling families, who defined unschooling "as not following any curriculum, instead letting the children take charge of their own education. The respondents were overwhelmingly positive about their unschooling experience, saying it improved their children’s general well-being AS WELL AS THEIR LEARNING, and also enhanced family harmony.” [emphasis added]

“what the study does unambiguously show,” [the researcher] says, “is that it is possible to take the unschooling route and then go on to a highly satisfying adult life.”

In another survey,
"Other commonly cited benefits included having a broader range of learning opportunities; a richer, age-mixed social life; and a relatively seamless transition to adult life.”

He also points out that very few could cite any disadvantages to unschooling at all, and those mostly had to do with others’ negative judgments (as in, your post).

Further
"What stood out, he adds, is that 'many more said they felt their social experiences were better than they would have had in school.’”

Even more interesting is what they found out about unschoolers in College. 83 percent of those surveys were in or had graduated from college, including Ivy League ones.

And this is important for our local youth:

"Several themes emerged: Getting into college was typically a fairly smooth process for this group; they adjusted to the academics fairly easily, quickly picking up skills such as class note-taking or essay composition; and most felt at a distinct advantage due to their high self-motivation and capacity for self-direction. “The most frequent complaints,” Gray notes on his blog, “were about the lack of motivation and intellectual curiosity among their college classmates, the constricted social life of college, and, in a few cases, constraints imposed by the curriculum or grading system.””

Most in the college group either had no high school diploma or GED or SAT/ACT scores, interestingly. The most common route was community college, usually begun before age 16.

A significantly high percentage go on to fields in creative arts and STEM.

This should be required reading for kids who are being failed by our current system. Unschoolers can do quite well - it’s possible to do very well without any academic overhead - and THERE IS NO STIGMA OF ALTERNATIVE PATHS like community college. But there also is no ceiling created by the school to ruin students’ chances to do well later, either because of a terrible transcript for those not at the top, constrained educational opportunities because of the massive academic overhead, poor education on the bottom rungs, or because the adults in school proactively hurt the student to serve their own selfish interests rather than admit the school could do better by these kids and then do it.

Actual unschooling is probably not something kids here locally would be able to do well without a long stretch of deschooling, but provided that, it’s such a smart student population, they would surely do even better than the great outcomes described by the above studies.


40 people like this
Posted by For What It's Worth
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 6, 2019 at 2:33 pm

^^^^
@Indie schooling

VERY UNCOOL to mock someone else's misfortune for the sake of your advocacy.

Why is that anyone who begs to differ with your views on education is branded UNINFORMED by your seemingly judgmental perspectives?

It is one thing to be a zealous advocate and another to be constantly belittling others who may question or beg to differ with your views.

This in itself I find as narrow-minded as those you are branding as such.

Just saying.

Please note that I am not commenting on this particular educational issue but rather the manner of your follow-up retorts & put-downs.


8 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2019 at 3:24 pm

@What,
Your post is offensive and aggressive. I have done no such thing. I have been calmly providing information to answer unfounded, negative and often very off-topic posts and yes, uninformed, posts. But I answer then, as I will now, by providing information and never rising to the obvious bait (that somehow keeps coming).

A post above made off-topic comments about breastfeeding in which the post tried to use breastfeeding to make spurious claims about homeschooling; I posted a relevant report from the MAYO CLINIC that described exactly that poster's input as "uninformed". Mayo Clinic's word, not mine. If you don't want to be called out for saying something negative that stems from being misinformed (according to a reliable source like the Mayo clinic), please take a few moments to inform yourself. Our kids are at stake here, and many who have even suffered because our schools don't consider their needs and educational success as much as those who find the system the easiest.

Providing links to KQED education blog articles that directly address the claims and misinformation in the preceding post, with key studies from a respected source is hardly "zealous" or "belittling". In the post above, if we are to take it seriously despite the "sardonic" (poster's words) and tongue-in-cheek posts above, describes a lifestyle of following a rock band (presumably drug-fueled), in lieu of an education, not an independent education. Nevertheless, I took the poster seriously and gave actual information about unschooling, considered the most freewheeling side of homeschooling (which about 10% of homeschoolers practice).

But taking the post you alluded to seriously for a moment, people who self-identified as unschoolers in the study who were NOT happy with their experience as adults, were a very small minority (3) who were not unschooling as an educational choice, but rather, had very religious parents who seemed to have withdrawn their kids for religious reasons but through circumstances in life (such as illness) never actually got around to homeschooling at all.

It's a stretch to call what they did anything but parental neglect, just as what the poster above described. I can agree, too, that such a child would be better off in school, but then, I have never made any bones about the fact that I think brick and mortar education can be very good. I just think it can be better here, and especially for some kids for whom the system is actually hurting, the WAY of schooling can solve things. Once again, this is not about school versus home, which I have said many times. It's about children's independence and agency.

I won't apologize for being an advocate of children. One of the reasons we ended up indieschooling was to be able to focus energy on advocating for doing right by children, not on fighting the relentless negatives from adults in the district who had no such moral/ethical/altruistic inclinations.

Since this is an education thread, I just want to state the obvious: our district aspires to help children become independent. They do not see how what they are doing is causing this judgmental hierarchy, not do they realize that just talking up "alternatives" after high school for the kids who get looked down on as washouts, is not as positive or working as well as they seem to think.


8 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2019 at 3:48 pm

@What,
Maybe we can find some common ground. What seems to be the upshot of the posts above, taking them in good faith, and the research on unschooling (the least structured kind of homeschooling, which about 10% of homeschoolers adopt), is that those who unschool deliberately are universally glad, feel they were better off than in traditional school, and were on average more successful in comparison. If they had gaps in their educations, they felt they had learned how to learn what they needed.

Those who unschooled/indieschooled as a hindsight/de facto occurrence, rather than as an educational choice, who were maybe even trying to shirk school, were a tiny minority of those studied, but seem to be the only ones unhappy with "unschooling". So it would seem based on the above posts and the research, that those who look back and label their lack of education as "unschooling" are typically unhappy, and those whose unschooling was a deliberate act of seeking educational independence, were largely very happy and even, as the research shows, successful by traditional standards.

I think my counterparts in brick and mortar schools above have also expressed similar concerns about students who are not actually educating, but are defining what may even constitute parental neglect as indie schooling.

All the evidence seems to favor independence and academic freedom for those who choose it deliberately. We can foster than IN schools, it doesn't have to mean home, we just don't here.

I hope that provides some common ground.


20 people like this
Posted by paloverdeman
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 6, 2019 at 6:14 pm

paloverdeman is a registered user.

If I read the PA Weekly article correctly, it pertained to students taking alternative routes post high school graduation, as in a year to travel, study abroad or pursue individual interests.

It had nothing to do with pre-graduation homeschooling, alternative or indie type schools & this is where the thread got off the beaten track.

As far as alternative K-12 education, to each his/her own. And the same goes for extended breastfeeding practices which could potentially create an arrested developmental child who should ordinarily be able to handle a cup or plastic glass of milk by the time they are 3-4 years old at the latest. America is not a 3rd world/developing country and the same can be said of children who are not adequately potty-trained by 3-4 years of age.

Parents are entitled to make whatever decisions they feel are appropriate in terms of child-rearing practices but on the other hand, those who are transferring their off-beat hang-ups onto the child could be doing them a major disservice in terms of emotional growth & development.


8 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2019 at 10:22 pm

@paloverdeman,
And that's what I have been addressing, the focus of the article on alternative paths after school.

My point is that I have heard from graduating seniors, and the ones I know do not feel alternatives are being accepted. The reason I believe is because the educational path DURING school is so constrained and students who are not at the top lack opportunities to maximize their own potential. If the district is trying to promote "alternatives" such as community college, why not let these kids use independent study rules to do more community college while IN K-12, as homeschoolers/indieschoolers do, to good effect and without any of the stigma kids pick up in school

My point is further that a lot of students who feel they aren't good enough, who end up with relatively bad records in K-12 (because of the constrained system), are hurt in their opportunities after K-12, which further makes it less likely they'll feel empowered to take "alternative" paths, even though such paths could allow them to excel.

My focus was on the point of the article. There were a number of posts by people that juxtaposed an extreme example or unrelated issue with homeschooling. I don't know if you are familiar with juxtaposition, but it's taking two unrelated things and putting them together in writing or film, in order to make them seem connected. Considering that kids are already unfamiliar with the option that could change their whole trajectory and attitude when it comes to alternatives, I felt it was important to respond to the misinformation with facts.

You'll have to take your feelings about late breastfeeding up with the Mayo Clinic and the other poster, I actually have nothing at all to opine on the issue,I was just trying to add the respected medical information and refocus back on the educational issues at hand. I am trying to discuss independent education and how THAT would not only eliminate the stigma of alternate paths, it could allow many kids who are currently not able to be successful in our current system to shine. A

s I said above, why let the kids fail and only then push them to accept alternative paths as a kind of consolation prize, instead of helping all students meet their potential (especially gifted and 2e students who aren't well-served in our district)?


12 people like this
Posted by Keeping It In Perspective
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 7, 2019 at 1:47 pm

> And that's what I have been addressing, the focus of the article on alternative paths after school.

^^^ That's not what you stated in your first post.

> There are many reasons to do an extra year of high school, including cognitive and developmental maturity,

There is a big difference between post high school graduation exploration & taking 5+ years just to get out of high school.

Alternative schooling for those kinds of students = continuation school or adult education GED classes.


6 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2019 at 1:57 am

@Keeping,
It’s hard to have this conversation, because it’s like talking to people who live in a box who have never seen the grass or birds or the trees, and keep wanting to know why anyone would want to spend more time in the box. We decided not to educate in the box. Thus, there’s lots to do out here and high school and college merge, from 9th grade on.

The article said:
"a positive shift has happened in recent years towards more acceptance of nontraditional post-high-school plans.”

From what I hear from graduating seniors, that's not really true. It may seem superficially so, but not among the students. They’re just being told to consider those plans a lot more. “Nontraditional post-high-school plans” is mostly euphemism for community college, trade school, and other paths that K-12 kids here don’t respect.

The respect for nontraditional paths cannot be generated from thin air after pushing all the kids on a treadmill that only works for some of them, and even creates a record for many that unnecessarily HURTS their post-graduation life. The education here is not really learn to mastery, it’s basically an academic beauty contest with no chance for redemption. If you want nontraditional paths to be accepted, nontraditional educational paths (and respect for them) have to start earlier, and work better for everyone, not just those at the top of the contrived traditional ladder. Our schools do not do this, but students in nontraditional paths K-12 do.

One poster described high school as "the relentless need to be told to study, get good grades, think like this, do this, do that, which is necessary to graduate high school and to get into a "good” college”.

No room there for community college, one of the main “nontraditional” choices being pushed in the schools, for good reason. But the fact that most of the kids don’t really have a lot of benefit from community college BEFORE they graduate is a major part of the problem. We went to one of the community college nights at Gunn, and there were quite literally only two or three students there, the rest were all parents. Thus, none of them met the wonderful students, like the one who was homeschooled and would be heading off to UC Davis in the fall at age 16 (after taking a lot of CC courses). I’ll say this again, indie schooled kids are more likely to use community college (the main post-graduation “alternative”) at earlier ages, and thus there is no stigma of becoming a transfer student, etc. Changing minds has to happen earlier.

Kids who take an independent path to education, they realize that’s not really true that you have to endure the grind described by the above poster to get a great education, in fact you can get a better one away from the grind. They realize just how much of their time and energy and focus get sucked away in school without benefitting their education. They realize they can incorporate authentic experiences in a FAR more academically challenging program that allows them the control of their lives to give them that time back. (And this is not school versus home, as I keep pointing out, many students in the Bay Area do this through public programs.)

@Keeping, you wrote:
"There is a big difference between post high school graduation exploration & taking 5+ years just to get out of high school."

Yes, that’s right. If you are doing a gap year, you’re not allowed to do anything academic. If you’re doing 5 years of high school, you can do both academic and exploration, but then the whole high school experience is a far richer, more rewarding, usually much more advanced experience, in which it’s not necessary to have to take a stress break before college.

One of the many reasons for not wanting to graduate high school (5 years of high school being not that uncommon among advanced independent schoolers) is that homeschool students usually have so many college credits, but they don’t want to have to go to college as juniors, they want to apply to 4-year-schools as freshmen. Another is that when they are in control of their education, they can learn far more advanced material in less time than often even in college.

As the KQED education article I posted above says (on the subject of how unschoolers turn out),
Web Link
Scroll down to the section on college.
“The most frequent complaints [of former unschoolers in college] were about the lack of motivation and intellectual curiosity among their college classmates, the constricted social life of college, and, in a few cases, constraints imposed by the curriculum or grading system.”

"...by far the most common route [for unschoolers] to a four-year college was to start at a community college (typically begun at age 16, but sometimes even younger).

Taking nontraditional post-K-12 paths that the schools are trying to push on students AFTER they graduate are readily accepted by those who have access to, and support to avail themselves of those paths before they graduate, in order to meet their goals. When you take a nontraditional path earlier, it’s actually possible for education to be about learning and meeting individual goals (and living life).

It’s not my place to discuss the exact educational plan of my child. But one major reason to take an extra year is to get a broad education in a way that just isn’t possible in college, covering many fields that aren’t possible to study in such depth when one has gone back on the grade treadmill. Another major reason is to finish an associates degree in another field (as a high school student) that won’t be available in the colleges that best support the main major. Or just finish a degree at all, in order to not be automatically designated a transfer student for having so much college credit from high school (or to be sure to have all the transfer student requirements fulfilled so that if the college balks at the many college credits for a freshmen and thus makes the student a junior, the student won’t be booted out for not fulfilling the transfer requirements, which I has happened to some.)

Yes, five years of high school in the box so many kids these days are escaping when they graduate would be grim, no doubt.





3 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2019 at 8:16 am

Eats shoots and leaves clarification - I meant:

No room there for community college, one of the main “nontraditional” choices being pushed in the schools (for good reason).


8 people like this
Posted by When In Rome...
a resident of Woodside
on Jun 8, 2019 at 9:03 am

> Thus, none of them met the wonderful students, like the one who was homeschooled and would be heading off to UC Davis in the fall at age 16...

It is apparent you have never attended UCD...a very competitive academic environment due to the various 'pre-this' undergraduate aspirations.

So basically one is going from a less structured academic environment to a very intense, structured one...this doesn't make sense as per your advocacies. This adolescent & child indie schooling approach seems better suited to one heading off to a small liberal arts college.

And why would someone want to start college at 16? Is this some sort of 'Doogie Howser' mentality? A sixteen year-old at UC will be forced into a more 'semi-adult' environment...drinking, sex, recreational drugs etc. It's bad enough in high school.

You are still not clear as your points are ambiguous at best...one is to take more time in high school 'exploring' options while the other encourages attending JC early & getting a 'head-start' on traditional HS graduates entering college.

Sounds either incredibly lax or very neurotic at best.

BTW, two-year transfer JC courses are oftentimes very structured to ensure proper accreditation.

This is coming from someone who skipped a grade in elementary school, graduated high school in 4 years, attended Foothill College for 2 years & then transferred to UCD.

In between, I had plenty of time (including optional summer school) to pursue various indie-learning options (i.e. Outward Bound, jamming with professional musicians, growing/smoking weed, reading a variety of books, riding dirt bikes and perhaps most importantly...leading a relatively stress-free adolescent life).

Indie schooling may be OK for some but let's not make a mountain out of a molehill.




6 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2019 at 11:43 am

@Rome/Keeping, etc,

Again,It’s hard to have this conversation, because it’s like talking to people who live in a box who have never seen the grass or birds or the trees, and they keep commenting from the perspective inside the box.

Indieschooling is about student independence, period. About treating young people like young adults are not rats in a maze, or widgets to provide the identical shaping, but about giving them agency and control of their lives and learning. I understand how difficult it can be to appreciate what that means when you have no direct exposure to it, it's taken me years myself. So I'll keep trying, but it would help if you would not keep assuming things from inside the box. It makes it very hard to answer because we almost aren't even having the same conversation, and you don't seem to understand the concept.

What form homeschool/indieschool takes can be a classical education with lots of Latin and AP courses (but probably with educators who recognize the role of self-motivation and structure the course for eager learners, not the usual boring treadmill) to unschooling, which I explained above (that is ~10% of homeschooling). When students go off to college early, it is because that meets their learning goals, and it's because it's what the student wants. We know someone living at home and going to Berkeley for a STEM field at younger than 16. There isn't this kind of one-ups-manship that kids experience in school, because everyone is taking their own path. Probably more often than students matriculating to college earlier, is students enrolling in online college courses, or auditing college courses, or taking community college courses.

Most indieschoolers of the type *I* am describing, use college classes as part of their high school educations and even their middle school educations. Since the goal is *learning*, college and grades 6-12 often blend together for this type of student. When you have a lot of flexibility in your schedule because of how you structure your learning, those structure UC transferable courses that may be part of the educational choices are suddenly not such a big deal.

You still seem stuck on the idea that indieschooling means something akin to playing music and smoking weed, rather than students putting learning first and having the agency and independence to do that. It brings to mind this article by a college professor about the difference between the homeschool students and traditional students, it describes what the professor used to believe and how that changed over time:
Web Link
Except you don't have any actual experiences to shake your prejudices like the author of the article did.

So, again, you should probably read the KQED Mindshift article about unschooling, because it addresses that exact concern, and I've already written about it above. So, even the most freeform, least restricted end of the indieschooling spectrum, unschooling, the kids on average go to college at higher rates and do better on average in college. Because they have learned to learn, if they have a weakness from high school, they know they can shore it up through their own learning. They do express frustration with the limiting nature of schools that put more emphasis on measuring learning than learning, per above, but clearly it doesn't stand in the way of students getting the education they want.

Do you understand that students who are unschooling can avoid the overhead of school that often obstructs learning and real-world accomplishment, that makes customizing education impossible, and that makes students with unsupported or unrecognized gifts or learning disabilities feel like they are stupid/takes away their opportunities? It's not so they can do nothing and smoke weed. It's so they can have control of their own learning and lives, and usually, this means they are taking some form of MORE advanced coursework than they would in school.

Yes, the community college courses are UC transferrable and equivalent to the general ed courses they would get at UC's. That's the best kept secret here: kids can get their general ed courses out of the way before they even get out of high school. Do you know that Foothill has a way to take all of the general ed courses one day a week? This may mean a lot of coursework, but it also means the student is free to study astrophysics, Japanese, and do linguistics research the rest of the week, if that's their plan. Even structured college courses tend to allow greater flexibility.

Which is another benefit of indieschooling. Students are more willing to be flexible because they have a better understanding of how to prioritize learning and get the most from the experience, even in a structured environment. But you are right, in indieschooling communities we discuss all the time the drawbacks of having to send kids back into that, when what the students are looking for tends to be what colleges claim they want when they get around to undergrad education reform.

As for starting college younger than 18 -- first my student is criticized for taking an extra year even though that student would be younger going to college if not, then another student is criticized for going to college just a year earlier than that, when that student had been a regular community college student (with all the same influences) for years already. No, it's not a "Doogie Howser" mentality, because students who indieschool are putting their learning and leading authentic lives first. It's not some kind of mazerunning game with a looming goal post like for kids in school. Again, K-12 and college end up much more blended -- most of the students are already incorporating these "alternative paths" in their k-12 education and thus don't have the same negative attitudes toward, say, community college, as their brick and mortar school counterparts.

I have been told that homeschooling changes the fabric of your existence. You are still assessing everything I am saying through the lens of the Prussian model. Our school district aspires to teach children independence, but that's all but impossible in a system that can be described, as one poster did above as "the relentless need to be told to study, get good grades, think like this, do this, do that, which is necessary to graduate high school and to get into a "good” college”. It turns out that you can actually get a better education without all that negative overhead, and students who are afforded agency and independence can make a panoply of better choices for themselves.



6 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2019 at 12:04 pm

There was an article about a Gunn HS science teacher who teaches an AP class where he doesn't give homework. I think it took him 20 years to get the ability to do that. He says the students are more engaged and actually do better, and still do well on the AP test. That's the kind of course indieschoolers would look for, something that allowed them to reach a learning goal more independently, focus on the learning, with teachers also focused on the learning more than the constant measuring. Note that the class is at a public high school. (Unfortunately there is still way too little of that at the local schools.)


2 people like this
Posted by Just Say NO To Homework!
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 8, 2019 at 12:57 pm

> There was an article about a Gunn HS science teacher who teaches an AP class where he doesn't give homework. I think it took him 20 years to get the ability to do that.

Duh...nobody likes homework. Students don't like spending the time on it & teachers don't like spending their off-hours grading it.


10 people like this
Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2019 at 1:55 pm

@Just say NO,
While I agree with your sentiment, I'm not sure what the "duh" is for, please explain. I have just spent this entire thread trying to get another poster to understand that freedom/autonomy and learning are not mutually exclusive.

Saying no to homework in school where homework is baked into the DNA is going to lead to failure not just in grades, but in access to learning and other opportunities. Saying no to homework by creating a system in which students don't need it to learn as much or more is what I'm suggesting, what that teacher did.

In fact, I just had an epiphany. Most of the posters above with no homeschool experience are equating "independence" with slacking off and rebellion, because that's what it looks like from within the box, not because they are trying so hard not to appreciate that it's possible to get a better education with less stress (and mandatory homework), as it seemed they were doing.

Homeschoolers talk about a period of deschooling when transitioning to independent learning, in which one breaks out of that way of thinking -- it's a deliberate process -- people who first get out of the box but are still psychologically constrained by it. First of all, if we don't put our kids in those boxes in the first place, they won't feel the need to rebel to break out of them. My experience in college is that the wildest students were the most under the thumb of adults -- teachers, school programs, studying, parents -- in high school.

Something similar to homeschool deschooling has to happen for educationally innovative programs in public institutions (including college), too, in order for the productivity doing things differently to begin. I knew this, but this conversation has really helped me to see why.

The teacher at Gunn according to the article, found the students has as good or better outcomes, better engagement in the class, without all the academic overhead. Studies on homeschoolers and unschoolers show they do as good or better on average in standardized testing and college. Student independence can look like that, and in general, once students really appreciate that they can learn as much or more, and that they can be as or more successful at the things they need to go to college, without all that unnecessary overhead, it gives them permission to focus on learning. Students having different trajectories, customized for them, in which they are better able to succeed and are in charge of their learning, tends to also make for more collegial rather than hyper-competitive relationships.


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Posted by Draw The Line...Somewhere
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 8, 2019 at 5:10 pm

Let's set the record straight on a couple of issues here...

(1) Indie schooling & homeschooling can be construed in different ways as some private schools are considered indie or alternative learning schools.

(2) ^^^ The above approach to learning is probably best suited to students with a certain degree of maturity & time management skills. It is probably not a worthwhile approach for slackers & goof-offs skating through life regardless of their alleged artistic & creative gifts.

(3) Regardless of culture, the Mayo Clinic et al...any mother in AMERICA who breastfeeds their child well past the age of seven is probably a nut ball with psychological issues of their own as a NORMAL child should be off the bottle prior to entering nursery school. The same can be said of diapers.

There have been accounts of mothers nursing children well into their teen years & this is DYSFUNCTIONAL behavior...bordering on mental illness.

Judgmental as this may sound, so be it.

That said, indie/private schools are probably OK based upon accepted parental review of their curriculum & academic perspectives.

Homeschooling is also OK providing the parental teachers have some idea of how to teach effectively in preparation for the adult world.

In the absence of the above....there is always public school.


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Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2019 at 6:56 pm

@Draw,

1) completely agree. D-Tech in San Mateo (public charter school) designs a customized learning plan with students, and if the students want to study something not offered there, such as Japanese, they leave early and go take it somewhere else. Very similar to ala carte schooling, which is how many if not most people indieschool high school. Just to blow your mind a little, some private schools offer individual classes and partial weeks to homeschoolers (as do public independent study programs).

2) completely disagree. That perspective comes from being immersed in the traditional school paradigm which encourages a "fixed mindset" about independence and executive function, and not having what's called a "growth mindset" about independence.

Research shows that very gifted kids tend to have a delayed maturation of the frontal cortex, meaning, their executive function may be delayed. Couple that with a lack of support for giftedness and especially of learning disabilities that are common (asynchronous development being common in the gifted), our schools can be a train wreck for kids like that.

Having the ability to do self-directed math allowed DS to learn faster, with more depth, in a manner that best met DS's learning style, and resulted in not only a much faster and more advanced math trajectory (with less input from me than in school), but it significantly raised standardized test scores, too. (Homeschooled kids tend not to use standardized testing much but I just mean the usual, no prep.) DS did not and still does not have good time management skills, yet was a far better student when it was possible to be in control of his own time. Having more control of one's own life, allows the students who struggle with those things to develop their own strategies to be successful in more real-world environments and challenges.

Independence and self-direction are learned, not a fixed trait like blue eyes. The students become more mature from the independence, not the other way around. You'd be surprised by how many "slackers" are completely different if given agency in their own lives and learning.

This is one reason homeschoolers recommend a "deschooling" gap as students transition from traditional school to independence -- because everyone (student and parents) has to get used to what independence looks like and be okay with being flexible. It's impossible to leave the box if one is still psychologically in it after one gets to freedom, but it is possible to learn to be productively independent.

My student's epiphany was realizing just how much school had inculcated a dependence on external direction. Reversing that was not because of a personality trait, it was because of having an independent education and having the opportunity. School never afforded that opportunity.

FYI, here's an interesting article on the history of child labor in the US
Web Link
It points out that the child labor movement was much about preventing children from becoming idle slackers, basically, before it was even about exploiting them for money.

3) MEGO (my eyes glaze over) - I have not even been engaged in this conversation, I just passed along the information from the scientists and researchers from Mayo Clinic. You can continue to post if you're talking to someone else, I just don't and haven't had the slightest inclination to engage on this. Not my issue.


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Posted by What Indie schooling Failed to Mention
a resident of Woodside
on Jun 9, 2019 at 7:57 am

What Indie schooling failed to mention...

Prior to the advent of school districts, boards of education, school superintendents, required course curriculum, teacher's credentials et al, the American education system was primarily homeschooled, indie or alternative based on location & the availability of someone to teach.

As a result, America became a growing country. The expansion into the Ohio Valley & Kentucky, Manifest Destiny (westward expansion) and homesteading all accomodated and benefited from the necessity for homeschooling & alternative-based education. Even Lincoln was homeschooled to a certain extent.

Overregulation of the public educational system has led to the gradual downfall of the United States. Parents should have an active voice in their children's education & it should not be limited by school board regulations and administrators.

An all indie educational format would bring America back to the prominence & innovation it once experienced during the late 19th century and into the pre-WW1 era. Colleges and universities existed at that time but there were no GPAs & SATs to contend with...just an acceptance committee's approval.

Vocational mentoring was another form of alternative education as one could eventually become a lawyer right out of high school after working under an established attorney. And this approach also applied to countless trades as well.

Over-certification has become a money-making racket offering no assurances of proficiency or actual skill in various professions. Just count the ever-growing number of lousy attorneys and dentists!

A robotic America clinging to the rigidity of what Indie schooling calls 'the box' will be the eventual downfall of this country & the wheels are already in motion.

The recently arrived immigrants from China & their school-aged children are well-adjusted to 'the box' because that is how their society in China has been structured for decades. As a result, their children flourish in the conventional American public school system because it is ironically perceived as 'alternative' to them!

In order to regain the global prominance it once had, Americans are going to have to resort to what was once referred to as 'Yankee Ingenuity' & this applies to education.

Breaking away from certain conventions will ensure that this country does not become a Borg colony.












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Posted by rational parent
a resident of another community
on Jun 9, 2019 at 11:16 am

@Pravit Singh
While I understand your thoughts on education priorities, I feel very sorry for your children.


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Posted by The Cultural Difference
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 9, 2019 at 11:26 am

I think this whole indie schooling thing is more geared towards enlightened American parents & not immigrant parents from abroad who are still seeking their fulfillment of the American Dream.

For most of them, the conventional educational route makes the most sense & their children are the ones excelling at college admissions ratios, GPAs and SAT scores.

Their children are not going to be the ones exploring America on a Harley, joining the USMC to defend America or taking time off from school 'to find themselves'.

An engineering, medical or dental degree will suffice.


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Posted by Indieschooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2019 at 2:39 pm

@Cultural,
I just got the list of colleges the homeschool students in one of my national lists will be going to this year, and it's full of Ivies, top colleges, lots of major scholarships, all manner of state schools (and indicates where students are transfers), small liberal arts schools, lots of UC's across the spectrum, etc.

I can't believe after all this discussion that you still think the difference between homeschool and traditional school is between finding yourself and success. As one poster above said, "Have you read the lists of California State STEM Fair Winners, National Scholastic Art and Writing Medalists and even Caroline D Bradley Scholars? They are filled with the names of homeschoolers."

It's about supporting independence -- which also happens to allow gifted students to meet their potential as well, because they have more time to pursue their interests -- including college-level ones.

There are many, many people from India and China in our local groups -- when we were still with the public homestudies group, one of the inside jokes was that the parents from India and China didn't have to explain that they were homeschooling to family in India/China since they just said they were in public school. And it was the best kept secret that all the children (regardless of where the parents were from) were happier AND able to better excel at their science and math interests because of the intellectual and personal freedom. (Never met a one in that program who went on the road trip on a chopper or even *needed* to find themselves - usually kids are lost BECAUSE OF what traditional school does to them.)

Indieschooling is not "geared" toward anything, because it isn't a program or something made up by someone and imposed on someone else. It's not a private school choice on a spectrum.

It is about recognizing that young people benefit from independence and giving them the respect and support to become independent people. (In part, it also recognizes that families are important even after kids grow up and doesn't confuse estranging kids from their families with independence, as the local schools seem to push.) The kind of extreme external control of and infantilizing that the traditional school model does to kids these days has no evolutionary or historical basis. It is relatively new (150 years), and people today are finding out that especially teens really benefit from having the intellectual independence to be in control of their own educations.

There are many homeschoolers who pursue a more advanced, challenging, college-level education than they could get in even a good public school, in fact, I would say it is most everyone I know locally who deliberately pursues homeschooling, especially gifted kids.

Just so you know, I am a child of immigrants (incl non-white) who literally were starving in the old country and succeeded here because of education. All of my siblings are highly educated and successful because of it. We are one of those families with a 2e child who was being thrashed and ruined (personally and academically) instead of supported in PAUSD schools. For us, indieschooling wasn't an "enlightened" choice, it was never even really a choice. Our district was busy deliberately stressing and pushing out families like ours. Homeschooling saved us as a family and it allowed our child to excel and get an *advanced* and broad education he wasn't getting and could never have gotten in the local school, not even close.

The local schools work for some, but they just don't have the incentives to do right by everyone, in fact, they did some pretty bad stuff to a lot of kids and no one ever seems held to account. They did a disservice to many of the kids we know who stayed, who now have worse records than they would have if they had been supported as well in their own educations as the kids at the top of the contrived ladder.

I really feel sorry for the kids, like my mine, who end up lower on the school ladder because they have other interests (including STEM), or their brains are maturing later or who had bad teachers early on (so the differences accumulate), or who had undiagnosed (or diagnosed but ignored) learning disabilities, because with the right supports, they would instead be excelling. Our school culture is so broken, there's even an impetus by adults to try to put students the system has failed "in their place", because it seems they feel it's better not to be "embarrassed" than to apologize, change, and ensure all students can meet their potential. Sometimes it seems like they just feel the winners and losers the system shakes out are immutable, and they need to enforce the "natural" order, so they hurt kids without even being honest with themselves that they are.

I would say even the majority of people who homeschool would be happy to send their kids to school, work with the schools in some kind of hybrid, or otherwise partner with public programs, if the independence were supported.

Indie is short for "independence", as in independent learning. It can mean the child is supported (not told to or pushed) to study astrophysics at a college level in 3rd grade (I know more than one) if that's what the child is interested in. If they have agency and independence in their lives, they don't usually need to rebel without a cause...


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Posted by A Former Middy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 9, 2019 at 3:13 pm

Outside of some possible examples from the earlier poster who cited homeschooling practices during the 18th-19th century in America, I'd be willing to wager that no indie high school school student has ever been accepted to West Point or Annapolis during the 20th century or later.

The conventional junior year in high school becomes the key preparation time for future acceptance considerations & the lack of proper accreditation, required coursework, and congressional letters of recommendation do not seemingly fall into play for an indie-style student taking additional time to explore his/her personal & private universe.

Then again, perhaps a distinguished military career is not the goal of most indie students and why attending UC or the Ivy League remains their highest aspiration where they can also retain the option of majoring in the liberal arts.


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Posted by LtCol. Beckham (ret.)
a resident of Los Altos
on Jun 9, 2019 at 6:03 pm

> I'd be willing to wager that no indie high school school student has ever been accepted to West Point or Annapolis during the 20th century or later.

Uh, they don't let these types into the military academies. Why ask for trouble?

> ...attending UC or the Ivy League remains their highest aspiration where they can also retain the option of majoring in the liberal arts.

Nothing wrong with the liberal arts BUT most Middys & Cadets major in engineering.


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Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2019 at 7:19 pm

@Middy & LtCol. Beckham,

Rather than rehash why your posts continue to propagate mistaken beliefs about homeschooling, I would just like to remind both of you that some of the strongest homeschool communities around the country are the result of needs of military families. Lots of Westpoint families homeschool their kids. I have one friend who homeschooled in San Diego through a public school that had its own facility that was kind of like a community college, where students could take lab courses, sports, theater, etc, but they were more like college students than traditional students. That program is decades old. It came about because of so many military families in the area and their unique needs, but the whole community benefited.

I'm not sure where this false idea that homeschooled students don't go into engineering comes from, especially since I have been trying to explain that homeschooling generally allows students to learn more and advance faster, and to study things generally not available to kids in school, like advanced math. I know homeschoolers who have gone to MIT, Georgia Tech, all of the UC's for engineering (with scholarships), Virginia Tech, UI-CU, etc. The list I mentioned contains numerous entrants into engineering schools and programs, with illustrious scholarships, etc.

Please note that many homeschoolers/indieschoolers educate through public programs, so their coursework is accredited, and many other educational resources are also accredited, including community college credits (which homeschoolers heavily make use of), college online courses, etc. Where they aren't, there are alternative ways of assessing the students, sometimes it's testing, sometimes it's a greater emphasis on recommendations. It depends on the institution.

All military academies accept homeschoolers, do every year, and have instructions on their websites for how to apply.

From the Air Force Academy (which I am partial to because of family members, one of whom, btw, homeschooled his kids):
"Home-schooled students are as competitive for appointment to the United States Air Force Academy as any other applicant, and must meet the same standards as students coming from traditional school settings. There are many ways that home schooled students can design their curriculum and choose activities to prepare for the Academy and to strengthen their application."
Web Link

From the U.S. Naval Academy:
"Home-schooled students make up a small but increasing number of applicants for admission to the United States Naval Academy. "
Web Link

If you just do a little searching online, you can find both admissions requirements, and postings by young people who have attended military academies, including West Point, after homeschooling.

I just really don't understand the need to keep misunderstanding what developmental independence is, and why it is a good thing for young people to grow up learning to be in charge of their own time, to get up and get dressed despite not being told to, to learn calculus in 5th grade instead of waiting years if that's their interest.

Thankfully, the colleges get it. While it is true that not every college in the country is homeschool friendly, pretty much all of the top colleges are. I am told by more than one college administrator that homeschooled students tend to do very well because they are used to being independent. So many kids get out of "rigorous" schooling and can't take care of themselves.






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Posted by Evolution & Indie Education
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 9, 2019 at 10:06 pm

If their brains are underdeveloped, how can indie school students be more advanced than those with fully developed brains?

This doesn't make sense. The evolution of humanoids from man-apes (i.e. Australopithecus) to homo sapiens was based on fuller developed brains. The early man-apes had very underdeveloped frontal lobes compared to humans.

Are you implying that Australolpithecus had the potential to equal or possisbly exceed the skill and intelligence level of humans based on alternative variations in the learning curve?

Both species have opposable thumbs & are capable of tool-making.


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Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2019 at 10:51 pm

Brains maturing later is what I said. More specifically:

Here's a science writer version, but you can look up the original research with the information:
Web Link

"The study found that in kids with superior intelligence, the cortex reaches its thickest stage a few years later than in other kids."

This is related to executive function.

Our schools reward good executive function at an earlier age and give those students advantages, and punish kids whose executive function lags. Again, there was a powerful editorial written by a former student about how she wasn't identified as gifted until leaving high school here, and the negative effects the failure to identify gifted students in our district had on her and others.

It's just like creativity. Teachers claim to value creativity, but researchers find that's because teachers don't know what creativity is, they actually punish creativity. Our district is no exception.

Getting real here, the hard truth is that a lot of our kids suffer through our high schools for no purpose. They don't need to in order to learn. They don't need to suffer in order to become college ready. And they certainly don't need to suffer like this in order to meet their potential and get into a good college. For many kids, the suffering only results in a bad record, a less quality education, too, when the students could otherwise be stellar students with a greater record of learning if they were allowed to learn to mastery rather than in the traditional model. Many gifted students are actively made to feel like they are stupid or failures, because the administrators' knowledge about gifted education and development are no better than your own.

As someone above described our schools as "the relentless need to be told to study, get good grades, think like this, do this, do that, which is necessary to graduate high school and to get into a "good" college" -- does it not bother you that the same kids could instead be experiencing joy and independence, and learn/do MORE? Does it not bother you the damage that years of living like that do to children's spirit and their relationships? And why? There is this idea that it's necessary to get a good education and go to a good college, but it's just not.

Our district is never going to take up the reforms it could -- it doesn't even have to adopt any new board regulations -- too many adults in the district don't want things to change because they benefit from keeping things the same and fear change. They fear change more than they fear what could happen to our kids, despite the significant levels of depression.


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Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2019 at 12:37 am

"There is this idea that it's necessary to get a good education and go to a good college, but it's just not."

Okay, that wasn't clear! There is this idea that it's necessary to suffer to get a good education and go to a good college, but it's just not.


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Posted by Just Another Excuse
a resident of Los Altos
on Jun 10, 2019 at 7:14 am

>> Our schools reward good executive function at an earlier age and give those students advantages, and punish kids whose executive function lags.

^^^ Isn't this what conventional Special Ed is designed to help alleviate? And holding back children a grade amounts to the same thing as taking another year to complete school while compensating for certain deficencies such as the lack of brain maturity.

It sounds like this indie school concept is best suited for those students who cannot keep up with the pack, have learning dificiencies, and/or lack the maturity to enter a higher grade in the conventional K-12 system when June rolls around.

To imply that those who cannot keep up with or adjust to the requirements of regular schooling are actually inherently gifted or creative is absurd.


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Posted by Indie Schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2019 at 11:41 am

@Excuse,
You have it backwards. I never “implied that those who cannot keep up are inherently gifted”, I was pointing out that the Prussian model of schooling is inherently mismatched to those who are creative and gifted, and since we have no real program to assess or support giftedness, and since gifted students' executive function develops later, our current school program can be not just unsupportive of the gifted and creative, it can be downright damaging .

Many children could have problems with the “requirements of regular school”, not just gifted students. When you seek and independent education, and prioritize learning, you discover just how little of those "requirements" are necessary or even helpful, and how many of them basically amount to overhead with a huge opportunity cost.

This is especially the case for gifted students who many not even have been identified as such, and who many go on in life believing they are subpar because of how our system picks winners and losers based instead of supporting each child to meet their creative potential (to quote from our district's once-vision). Unfortunately, from what I have seen, many kids in the middle rungs could actually be much more traditionally successful, if they were just supported to be more independent learners throughout.

Unfortunately, I see this conversation as somewhat emblematic of the problem in PAUSD. Rather than understanding what the district has done wrong and how it could fix it for the kids who need it, adults in the district tend to blame everyone else (including the kids) and double down on denigrating the students even when it's already done such damage to otherwise promising children's lives. There is still a scorched earth culture rather than one of reflection and improvement.


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Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2019 at 11:56 am

@Excuse,

Indieschooling is just independence. What Esther Wojcicki does in her journalism program, to give students more autonomy and agency, what the environmental sciences AP instructor at Gunn does not assigning homework and realizing the students are more engaged when their learning is their choice, THAT's along the same lines. It doesn't have to be mutually exclusive with school, as I have said many time, many public school programs have independent study programs. Our district has an independent study program too, actually, but like so many things here, it tends to be meted out under the table to a favored few or done so badly it's not really independent.

Locally, gifted students who want a much more advanced, rich education and more healthy social life are disproportionately represented among homeschoolers. I think Wired Magazine even did an article to ask techies to stop abandoning the schools for independent education. Among gifted homeschoolers, boys seem represented almost 2 to 1, which kind of makes sense. I'm told that many of the common learning disabilities such as dysgraphia, tend to be caught much later with boys, and that's not accounting for the problems we have in our district which I won't rehash. In an independent education, students can often work around such problems without needing special accommodations by choosing mastery-based programs, or programs that treat students more like grad students rather than recalcitrant adolescents.

You are right that both a gifted program (along with an understanding of giftedness based on science) and proper special ed would definitely help kids who otherwise get punished for having late-developing executive function. Our district is the worst for that. I've read that Los Altos has a gifted program, understands asynchronous development, etc, and I've heard from numerous parents that they do a much better job with special ed, the way PAUSD USED TO eons ago. I only wish special ed were dealt with better. A group of parents has even started talking about creating a separate 2e school. They’re not doing it because their MENSA-qualifying students are happy or getting their educational or social-emotional needs met.

Just an observation, there do seem to be more homeschoolers from Palo Alto than Los Altos, but there are no surveys so I couldn’t tell you for sure. There are homeschoolers from Los Altos, too. The ones we know needed more intellectual freedom to pursue a broader and more challenging education, mostly in STEM fields and computer science. (Los Altos has that wonderful freestyle academy so perhaps that's why fewer students in arts fields homeschooling? Just guessing.)


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Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2019 at 11:59 am

@Excuse,

Indieschooling is just independence. What Esther Wojcicki does in her journalism program, to give students more autonomy and agency, what the environmental sciences AP instructor at Gunn does not assigning homework and realizing the students are more engaged when their learning is their choice, THAT's along the same lines. It doesn't have to be mutually exclusive with school, as I have said many time, many public school programs have independent study programs. Our district has an independent study program too, actually, but like so many things here, it tends to be meted out under the table to a favored few or done so badly it's not really independent.

Locally, gifted students who want a much more advanced, rich education and more healthy social life are disproportionately represented among homeschoolers. I think Wired Magazine even did an article to ask techies to stop abandoning the schools for independent education. Among gifted homeschoolers, boys seem represented almost 2 to 1, which kind of makes sense. I'm told that many of the common learning disabilities such as dysgraphia, tend to be caught much later with boys, and that's not accounting for the problems we have in our district which I won't rehash. In an independent education, students can often work around such problems without needing special accommodations by choosing mastery-based programs, or programs that treat students more like grad students rather than recalcitrant adolescents.

You are right that both a gifted program (along with an understanding of giftedness based on science) and proper special ed would definitely help kids who otherwise get punished for having late-developing executive function. Our district is the worst for that. I've read that Los Altos has a gifted program, understands asynchronous development, etc, and I've heard from numerous parents that they do a much better job with special ed, the way PAUSD USED TO eons ago. I only wish special ed were dealt with better. A group of parents has even started talking about creating a separate 2e school. They’re not doing it because their MENSA-qualifying students are happy or getting their educational or social-emotional needs met.

Just an observation, there do seem to be more homeschoolers from Palo Alto than Los Altos, but there are no surveys so I couldn’t tell you for sure. There are homeschoolers from Los Altos, too. The ones we know needed more intellectual freedom to pursue a broader and more challenging education, mostly in STEM fields and computer science. (Los Altos has that wonderful freestyle academy so perhaps that's why fewer students in arts fields homeschooling? Just guessing.)

"holding back children a grade amounts to the same thing as taking another year to complete school while compensating for certain deficencies such as the lack of brain maturity"

When you indieschool, you don't "hold children back a grade". The young adults make the choices about their educations and lives.

Taking five years of high school (especially if a child was younger to begin with) is not the same thing as holding children back a grade, either. I did a survey once on this issue, and found that about 20% of the homeschoolers surveyed wanted a 5th high school year, but the reasons were all over the map (as were the year of high school they would choose). Grade levels are a little arbitrary for homeschoolers who are often doing above-grade-level and college-level work from the getgo. There is even an official designation as “ungraded” (which private schools can do, too).

When you indieschool, you're not sequestering kids into exact age-matched cohorts, and kids are free to draw their educations from a much larger palette, including local colleges and national online college courses (both for credit and not). They're free to design a curriculum that meets their own needs from local independent course vendors, private schools that serve homeschool students (per above), public school courses, community college courses, etc etc. So the grade level has less meaning.

That said — and please don’t ask me to defend this, it’s just an FYI (homeschoolers don’t need stuff like this) — there has long been a 13th grade phenomenon. For traditional school kids, it’s basically a way to indieschool after k-12 before going to college, since gap years don’t allow academics.
Web Link
For a long time, this was how wealthy students got serious and created a record to get into a top college (before it was fashionable to go the outright bribery route). It was usually a good transition to college emotionally, too. It really ought to be an "alternative" considered here.


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Posted by Indie schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2019 at 12:00 pm

"holding back children a grade amounts to the same thing as taking another year to complete school while compensating for certain deficencies such as the lack of brain maturity"

When you indieschool, you don't "hold children back a grade". The young adults make the choices about their educations and lives.

Taking five years of high school (especially if a child was younger to begin with) is not the same thing as holding children back a grade, either. I did a survey once on this issue, and found that about 20% of the homeschoolers surveyed wanted a 5th high school year, but the reasons were all over the map (as were the year of high school they would choose). Grade levels are a little arbitrary for homeschoolers who are often doing above-grade-level and college-level work from the getgo. There is even an official designation as “ungraded” (which private schools can do, too).

When you indieschool, you're not sequestering kids into exact age-matched cohorts, and kids are free to draw their educations from a much larger palette, including local colleges and national online college courses (both for credit and not). They're free to design a curriculum that meets their own needs from local independent course vendors, private schools that serve homeschool students (per above), public school courses, community college courses, etc etc. So the grade level has less meaning.

That said — and please don’t ask me to defend this, it’s just an FYI (homeschoolers don’t need stuff like this) — there has long been a 13th grade phenomenon. For traditional school kids, it’s basically a way to indieschool after k-12 before going to college, since gap years don’t allow academics.
Web Link
For a long time, this was how wealthy students got serious and created a record to get into a top college (before it was fashionable to go the outright bribery route). It was usually a good transition to college emotionally, too.


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Posted by Cornelius Sends His Regards
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 10, 2019 at 1:49 pm

> Are you implying that Australolpithecus had the potential to equal or possibly exceed the skill and intelligence level of humans based on alternative variations in the learning curve?

They never had the opportunity as most were too busy hunting & gathering.

Had just one visionary Australopithecus indie advocate stood up & offered to teach the younger teen-aged Australopithecus that there was more to life than spearing wild animals, eating grubs & foraging for roots, things could have turned out differently regardless of their underdeveloped frontal lobes.

Instead the Australopithecus clung to conventional survival-based educational techniques & ironically, became extinct.

The elders in Planet of the Apes realized this & swore that humans would never get the better of their brethren again. As a result, they made good use of whatever frontal lobe development they had & turned to alternative learning techniques.


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