So it looks like my 15-year-old has officially dropped out of high school.
In the middle of the ninth grade, perhaps encouraged by the taste of freedom afforded him by distance learning from the Covid era, he realized that the whole system was simply too slow and inefficient for him and that it “hindered his work”. As it looks now, he will probably never return to any personal schooling and I will be surprised if he ever attends college.
Yeah Al that sounds pretty crap to me, Looks like BT aint for me either. And needless to say, I have mixed feelings about this.
I will start with worries and negative things, because as a parent, of course, I want the best for my child. And when I look back on my childhood, it seems to me that school was a source of formative experience.
Of course, education was just slow and miserable – I always longed for more advanced materials and more creative learning formats that simply weren’t there in my high school in a small town. But isn’t persisting in outdated and outdated systems a critical part of preparing for life in a modern society where things don’t always go your way? After all, the only way to extend your driver’s license or passport (or medical license) is to immerse yourself in a laugh and smile and transfer it for the sake of the ultimate goal.
And of course there were a lot of good parts: I had so much amazing experiences and friendships and adventures through high school and university. Beginner romances and heartbreaks, fighting the law, late nights by a campfire, horrible minimal work at gas stations and stores that I thought were amazing, all bathed in a swirling soundtrack of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam , colored with marijuana, Soundgarten and Primus and tools. I make reverse snow donuts in my mom’s 1988 Dodge Caravan, filled with eight friends, and then dance crazy in the headlights at a Wayne’s World soundtrack exploding from a giant stereo system I built into a minivan with my 16-year-old hands . .
How will my son grow up as a well-adjusted adult without the equivalent of such a 2020 experience?
But when I’m obsessed with these thoughts, I know I’m falling into the oldest parental traps: assuming I know what’s best for my child, and that his own desires and thoughts are not valid, even though he himself is on the verge of adulthood. So I remember positive side of this situation:
The world of 2021 is a very different place from my equivalent perch of 1991. And my son happens to be sitting in an unusual but still promising (hopefully) little corner.
Because of the internet and, to be fair, the damn great privilege of having two educated parents who were always available because we were retired even before he was born, he was able to quench his thirst for knowledge with incredible efficiency. This is an advantage that is still not available to most people today, let alone those that people of my generation had to work with in 1989. Thus, it has already exceeded the higher education level in the standard areas covered in school.
So. of course he noted that the existing school system is not as effective as its custom-made alternative. Like me, he feels disappointed in many of our institutions. But it is a frustration born of love and a desire to help, not just a complaining attitude and a desire to criticize. A public school for all is a Great matter and a great idea.
But like everything in life, we can only improve by first admits we suck at the moment.
The first thing little MM did when he retired from formal schooling was creates this entire 48-minute mini-documentary about the system he just left:
(Click this link to get the full experience on YouTube itself and see the description, show notes and comments. I’ll include a built-in version for lazy people below
also a hint for what The creator of YouTube you want to reward: their algorithm strongly recommends and promotes videos that people watch longer. So let it turn around and enjoy the epic soundtrack!)
Seeing him work so hard in this production certainly helped alleviate my fears about whether he would grow up and become a member of society or not. For about three months, he researched the U.S. school system, wrote the script, and composed 16-track orchestral music that to another align with relevant parts of the film, create 3-D models and animations in Blender to illustrate the main points, run multiple high-quality computers overnight, night after night, to depict complex scenes in 4K resolution, turning my house into a miniature version of Pixar’s animation studio.
Then he practiced his reading, set up a bright professional recording studio in my basement, hired me to help make a teleprompter, and narrated his script to the camera. And I finally put it all back in the editing software to cut it all together, with pretty stunning results from my really biased perspective as his father.
But just as importantly, a disabled child has a point: schools could really be much better.
And this could happen very quickly with a single major change, as he explains in the documentary: instead, switch from mild and repetitive teacher-led lessons to high-quality videos. This would speed up learning because it could be video content a lot more convincing than watching a man standing in front of a room. However, it would also relax teachers to help individual students instead of just using their valuable time to repeat the same material from year to year.
Even better: most of these videos already exist. By some miracle, my son decided to spend the last five years of his free time searching for stunningly good YouTube channels, watching most of their latest catalogs, and soaking up the content of almost every episode.
I am often shocked by his level of knowledge in so many areas, so I sat him down and interviewed him for his best recommendations on some key ones.
The list below is what we have prepared. I have seen a lot of them myself and I can guarantee their quality. If you’re looking for places to send your hungry baby, or things you could see together, take a look at the following list.
Turn the classroom:
As a context for all this, absolutely must to know first about Khan Academy. This is free video education in all major subjects, which is of better quality than most lessons in school. Many teachers already use this system to “turn the classroom,” and my boyfriend and I used Khan Academy to help him with math from second to eighth grade in just one month. So video learning can be effective!
Footnote: because we were so excited and grateful, I also donated $ 9,000 to Khan Academy in 2016. This is a great reason if you are looking for more places to own philanthropic dollars.
Watch Ted Sal Khan speak here – and notice a special guest joining him on stage at the end.
- Everybody (which increased to All2 in All3)
- A physics girl (fun to watch exploring many physical and scientific things in the real world)
- Emporium thought (gene editing with chemical methods and DNA 3-d printers! And also art)
- Scott Manley (charming Scottish astrophysicist / Apple engineer with hundreds of great videos about the Kerbal Space Program simulation game, plus now detailed reporting on space and astrophysics)
- Anton Petrov – Daily videos on new discoveries in science (and a fun look at current events from a scientific point of view)
- Kurzgesagt – In short Short but intelligent summaries of all sorts of handsome things that include a dynamic British storyteller and a fun cartoon.
- Deep dive – a relatively new but very promising channel with great science videos. We hope they release more!
- Stratzenblitz75 Kerbal Space videos with beautiful science lessons behind them (such as orbital mechanics)
- Wendover Productions – neat explanations of extensive things (including transport logistics!)
Inventions and building things
- Colin Furze – Crazy, energetic, brilliant videos about making things like home-made hoverbikes, a two-story bike, a giant robotic suit with a mechanism.
- Simone Giertz – super smart and witty engineer / builder, perhaps best known for her DIY conversion of Tesla’s Model 3 into a crazy mini truck.
- Wintergatan – a stunningly ingenious, gentle guy in Sweden who works on the beautiful “marble machine” musical instrument and much more. Also a great musician!
- Mark Rober (a former NASA engineer who now makes really fun videos about his intricate and whimsical inventions – best known for “glitter bomb” anti-theft devices)
- Styrofoam (a guy who makes insanely powerful lasers, etc.)
Video creation, 3D animation and Youtube strategy
- Lazy tutorials (Ian Huber teaches you 3-D animation with Blender at the speed of thought). It also maintains Default cube channel.
- The mixer guru – Friendly, easy-to-view in-depth blender tutorials
- CG concerns – Quick, advanced Blender tutorials
- CG Geek – longer, more detailed exercises for Blender
- Captain Disillusion (video editing and special effects – this man puts a a lot works in each of his super entertaining videos)
- Daniel Krafft – useful tips and tutorials for the mixer
- iridezium – creation tutorials film quality special effects in Blender
Coding and artificial intelligence
- Two-minute documents (AI) – A super smart guy sums up academic contributions in the field of artificial intelligence in a really interesting and easy to understand way, with visual examples.
- Code Bullet (AI) – The software developer incorporates machine learning / AI into his code and displays the results in a variety of contexts.
- Carykh – AI and the creation of some interesting applications, including the famous interactive “space size”.
- Sebastian Lague – Bob Ross coding, this young gentleman calmly takes us through a fun series of iterative improvements on various advanced programming projects.
- CodeParade – excellent parts of coding, mathematics and graphics combined
- We Hart – The original “Mathemusician”, Vi’s soul-brilliant explanations of mathematical concepts are great for both young children and adults.
- Zach Star – math puzzles and other interesting things
- Numberphile – another fun math channel – sometimes with fun visuals and special guest experts.
History, English, etc.
- Tom Scott – Linguistics and various travel and geographical stories
- History of the Earth – History Brothers cover millions of years of our planet’s history
- Half so interesting – light-hearted stimuli about English history and other things
- Andrew Huang – so smart, so energetic, so talented and teaches you SO much about music! (his songs are great too, as are his youtube friends)
- Official Room – fun to watch, instructive and funny good and versatile singer.
- Davie504 – An amazing bassist as well as fellow bass lovers may learn a few things.
- Adam Neely – Fantastic music theory and neat analysis of existing things.
- AU5 – one of my favorite emerging electronic music artists who also teaches you how to do things in Ableton and related tools
So what’s next?
Like everything in life, I look at it as an experiment. It may go well, but there will certainly be some pitfalls and weaknesses as well. Neither of us is perfect and sometimes we make mistakes in judgment. But now that seems right and promising, so we’re running with that. We will learn from our mistakes and develop along the way and make the most of it. Which is a really good plan for life itself.
Congratulations my not so little MM, I am proud of you and wish you all the best in this next crazy chapter!