I was lucky enough to have been homeschooled until high school age, Year 9, or about thirteen. Until then my parents who taught me kept me accountable to a strict learning curriculum. I was constantly surrounded by people who had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and self improvement. With this environment on my side, I grew up loving the process of learning.
When I was about thirteen I managed to convince my parents to enroll me in our local high school. I was curious to see if my lifestyle and knowledge would hold up against the formal education system.
I wasn’t particularly good at maths, I wasn’t a confident speller and I didn’t understand all the social politics that surround that system. But even though I wasn’t strong at maths I loved solving problems. Especially problems that didn’t have the answers written in the back of the book. And even though I wasn’t going to win any local spelling bee, by a long shot, I loved writing and I loved reading.
These skills were what allowed me to stand out in class, not the ability to simply retain facts until the knowledge is no longer required. I’m not saying that all formal education is useless and that we should all run into the woods and raise our children on daisies and dress them in bearskins as we teach them the ways of the earth through contemporary movement around an open fire.
That's definitely not what my childhood education looked like. Although I often think, that is the image that people conjure up when they hear the word ‘homeschooler’. In reality, my parents were kind, intelligent, nerds who wanted to spend lots of time with their kids and teach them how they wished they had been taught.
I dropped out of high school not even halfway through my third year, the middle of term two, because I couldn’t justify wasting my time any longer. The first year had been fun, it was exciting to be the expert in the class and the teacher's pet. But as the terms and the years went on I kept waiting for it to get harder. For the challenge. But that never happened. I even convinced one of my teachers to let me sit in on one of his Year Thirteen classes. Expecting to be well out of my depths, I was disappointed to see that all they were doing was making a scrapbook.
I promise I’m not just full of myself. I did struggle with many elements of my high school experiment, just not any academic ones. After a while, I started to ask my friends if they too found the academic level a little easy. Then not just my friends. I would start talking to kids in hallways and un-strategically segway into my investigation.
My research amounted to three typical questions:
- Yeah, it's easy but I don’t want it harder.
No, I think this stuff is crazy hard.
*Melancholy and a dramatic shrug of shoulders* I dunno.
All three of these answers alarmed me exponentially. Fed up with not feeling out of my depth I started my journey of self-educating. The rules were simple:
I had to be able to learn about the topic through a process that I enjoyed and was highly engaged in.
It had to be free or at least very, very cheap. (I was fifteen when I started guys, babysitting money was the full extent of my funds.)
I had to learn about the topic until I was comprehensive enough to be able to hold a conversation with an expert in that field.
This Study Of Everything is not meant to make me a master or everything, nor is it designed to make me the ‘Smartest In The Room.’ It is designed to be a crash course in a very broad range of subjects that will bring me up to the level that I can simply hold a halfway, non-idiotic conversation with the smartest people in the room.
Over the next blog posts in this category, I will share what I do and what resources I use so that you too, can get chatty with geniuses and not look like a complete ass.
Thanks for reading..!