Jun 9, 2021
Jenna has Erin Rosemond joining the show today as a guest co-host. She has been home educating for 18 years and has four children. She became interested in home education early on when a friend of Erin’s mentioned she’d be home educating her son. That conversation happened when her oldest son was just a baby. Erin explains how they were self-directed from the beginning as her family is very self-directed anyway. She would describe herself as unschooling, yet she never felt the need to label what they were doing, outside of digging into content for her own homeschooling practice. Jenna adds that she also is cautious in labeling her family’s home ed lifestyle as she likes the freedom to know that they can be whatever they need to be, without needing to label. The label is helpful when searching for resources online, Erin adds.
Jenna asks Erin about her 1st takeaway from episode 016 with Zak Slayback. Erin had many takeaways from the episode, but her first was about Zak’s comment about narrative violations. The expectations people have about going to school don’t actually match up with the results. Erin found that in her job recruiting young people, she has often found that her hiring is not always based on credentials (although a range of people with and without qualifications are applying), but rather they are just a better fit for that role.
Erin reflected on the amount of active learning that actually takes place in a college year and was shocked to come to the realization that it’s really only a total of 23 weeks. (six months) It made her look even further into our k-12 education and realize it’s no different there. We spend hours of our lives wrapped up in the huge production that is our education system, but the number of engaged hours spent learning is so few.
Jenna adds that the lack of efficiency in schools helped reveal to her husband how unschooling could actually work and that by practicing academic skills for years (that their son had already mastered) was a big waste of his time.
Jenna talks about the research illustrating how 4 hours of work is sufficient and how assigning specific hours to our learning time is virtually impossible since we all have different times of day in which we're productive, particularly if you’re talking about doing hard work. More info about “The Making of an Expert” can be found here. (not mentioned in the show, but I found it relevant to SDE nonetheless.) Jenna feels like she didn’t have enough practice as a child and young adult in setting her own goals and then planning out how she could achieve them. She wonders how this may have helped her now in her entrepreneurial endeavors. Erin has always sought out entrepreneurial positions where she feels like she has some autonomy. She acknowledges some of that might be attributed to her personality, but she also remembers having some of her best ideas and creative thoughts outside of school, while on the bus home.
Regarding socialization, Erin agrees that school doesn’t provide a better environment for interactions with diverse populations than home education. In her experience as a homeschooling mom, there was ample opportunity for her kids to socialize with people of all races, religions, and especially socioeconomic statuses. She’s often seen people buy houses or move houses to live in a better school district, so people are purposefully avoiding diverse schools if they can afford to.
Erin adds that many people think of home education happening within the home and only amongst family, but she calls it a myth. Jenna’s experience this year, albeit unique because she’s living abroad, has lead to many conversations about different customs in the Uk vs. USA. She feels like homeschooling allows you the opportunity to seek out experiences with a variety of people, even more so than school can. Erin adds that although some aren’t exposed to a variety of cultural and diverse experiences when they’re young, it doesn't mean that they won’t or can’t later on in life. She refers back to a quote from the last episode where Jenna points out that there really is no expiration to learning. You always have the opportunity to travel and learn about people and places at any time in your life. Jenna says that’s a good argument for schools to not offer diverse learning environments, because kids can always learn it on their own time when they’ve graduated.
Jenna’s second takeaway had to do with a quote from Peter Theil’s book “Zero to One” that Zak mentioned. It referred to competition leading to complete and utter apathy toward their goals. Jenna experienced this with her photography career. It is highly competitive and she remembers the creativity and idea generation plummeting when she’d be surrounded by other talented photographer’s work.
Erin talks about an author she heard discussing how when she’s writing, she purposefully cocoons herself from other’s work so she can keep her ideas original. Jenna talks about how her daughter also feels a degree of intimidation upon seeing expert level work from others and sort of shuts down because she fears that the only reason the person has successful work is because she has an innate ability. It seems to Jenna, that her daughter sees talent in a very black or white manner, you either have it or you don’t. Jenna talks about how someone once told her that baby’s learn to walk, not by crawling, pulling themselves up and taking steps, but rather by falling down. She feels like school doesn’t give children room to make mistakes or fail because there is so much riding on their ability to perform.
Erin’s third takeaway is about the schooled mindset, which she interpreted as people going along life, completing all the various steps society expects from you and never considering another way due to the fear of it not being tried and true.
Erin shares how she walked into three separate libraries in her area just before school was meant to start for the year, and the book exhibits were full of resources and picture books about bullying and adjusting to school. Erin thought it was kind of odd that we’ve accepted this as part of what’s necessary for society. Jenna added that bullying is a result of how schools are organized, so it seems like a mute point to continue teaching about how to combat it. Erin also added that we’ll continue to need assemblies about bullying so long as we have such a high student-teacher ratio and we compare kids to their peers. Jenna compared it to healthcare and how we treat the symptom rather than the cause of the disease.
Jenna’s last takeaway was in regards to Zak’s advice about emailing hiring managers directly and finding mentors or apprenticeships as a way of gaining first-hand experience in the field you're interested in. She plans on encouraging her own kids to network with professionals working in the careers they are eager to have one day. First, she hopes to give her kids numerous opportunities to work alongside adults so that her kids feel comfortable and confident interacting with people older than them. Erin describes two examples of mentorships that were particularly nice for her kids, one with an artist and another in woodworking. Jenna would like to find a mentor for her son involving coding and game development. Her daughter began a mentorship with a pet sitter before the pandemic started and Jenna found that it offered more than just information about pets for her daughter, she learned so much from her conversations with the mentor. Sadly, she didn’t get to continue because of the lockdowns.
Jenna is noticing a transition with her kids, where meeting up with a large group of other home education families is not fulfilling the needs of her kids. They are yearning for connection with people who have similar interests as them. Erin points out that sometimes those mentorship experiences can provide a much richer form of social activity than a home ed group. Erin points out that a lot of people find connection and social engagement online these days. Jenna has noticed that her son feels comfortable and happy with his friends from Galileo and the gaming community, which is all online. She quit bringing him along to the home ed groups because they were not serving him in any way. Erin thinks there is often a bit of a bias towards extroverted and organized types of socialization.
The Making of an Expert (not mentioned in the show, but interesting article I found when researching productivity and flow)
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