Hack the system you’re in.

It's Your Duty to Hack

Homeschooling, private schooling, charter schools, public schools… the list goes on. Many platforms exist for the purpose of meeting the educational needs of students.

I just watched a TED Talk by a young teenager named Logan LaPlante. He Hackschools. It’s a homeschooling philosophy that uses life experiences to teach. It works for Logan, and he seems to be thriving.

From the TED Talk, one can see that Logan has rich opportunities to explore nature, business, physical activity, and more. His experiences have allowed him to see how the academics he is learning about relate to real world situations. As a result, he is intrinsically motivated to learn. (For more information about hackschooling and Logan’s TED Talk, visit hackschooling.net.)

In the TED Talk, Logan discusses the guiding principles that hackschooling is structured around: a creativity mindset, experiential classes and camps, tech and online resources, and 8 Happy and Healthy TLCS (Dr. Rodger Walsh’s Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes – they are diet/nutrition, time in nature, relationships, recreation, relaxation, and religious/spiritual).

Hackschooling is not for everybody. Some families do not have a parent at home during the day that can oversee the activities and learning of the child. Some families do not have the financial resources available to cover the expenses of such a schooling experience. Not all students would do well under a schooling method that requires that amount of self-guided learning. All learners are different, and what works for one, may not work for another.

If the school system were a spectrum, I think Public School and Hackschooling would lie on opposite ends. The philosophies of the two methods are very different. However, that does not mean that we have to disregard some of the hacks that Logan talks about in his TED Talk when we are looking at public education.

Public schools do not exist for the purpose of providing individualized learning experiences outside of the classroom. I wish there could be more field trips, nature camps, and exposure to the arts. Public schools do not have the resources or ability to provide a large number of these activities to students though.

We can, however, take our class on virtual field trips. We can have guests from other cultures or occupations into our classrooms to expose our students to the world around them. We can provide opportunities for kids to experiment and observe. As teachers we will need to think outside of the box in regard to how we expose kids to real life situations so students make connections between the academic world and the world they live in.

What we can do is to teach kids how to think critically. We can teach them how to problem solve.   We can help them discover their individual learning style. We can help them discover the areas within education that gets them excited. We can strive to develop in students intrinsic motivation that will help shape their lives and choices.

Rather than focus on what I can’t do within the walls of a public school classroom, I want to seek out innovative ways to bring the outside world in. I want to help my students think, read, apply, and create. I want to help make the lives of my students better.

I want to hack the school system I am in.

Photo CC: by Thomas Hawk

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6 thoughts on “Hack the system you’re in.

  1. I definitely agree that hackschooling is not for everyone. However, I like the point you made about giving our students similar experiences to make it seem like they are out in the real world gives them a better understanding of how it works. I’ve never actually done a virtual fieldtrip, but I’ve been doing a bit of research on them and am excited to use this technique in my own classroom someday!

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  2. Sarah, your blog post reflects what I’ve been thinking all week.
    I’m sure people in class are tired of hearing me spout about how teachers make the difference, but it’s true. I know I still remember the handful of teachers who I could tell cared, who I could tell actually wanted me to learn, and were willing to do whatever was in their power to get it done.

    I was thrilled to see you mention kids with their own individual learning styles and the importance of critical thinking. Not everyone learns the same way, and people seem to forget that. Critical thinking encourages question asking, which leads to interest developing and passion!

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    • I agree that teachers make all the difference. I dreaded my entire fifth grade year, and had a rough year in high school biology because of teachers I struggled with. Kids know that school “should” be a safe place, but the adults in the building are often the ones who make the time spent there a good experience or a trial to go through. I really appreciate what you said in the last sentence. I think that is the crux of learning.

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  3. I love what you say in this post, Sarah. I think that Logan’s experiences–and his clear joy in learning–have a lot to suggest to teachers about how we might rethink education. I became a high school teacher after spending a day observing at a high school and being horrified by how disengaged and disinterested most students were. They were compliant, for the most part, but there was no joy anywhere. And joy is absolutely at the core of learning for me. I was intrigued by the problem that school as it’s currently organized and practiced presents. How can we make school a place for passion and joy, curiosity and wonder?

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    • I think that is the challenge for teachers. How to get kids engaged in learning is what we want. I really don’t know if there is one magic way to get kids excited, because each teacher is different. What works for one teacher may not work for another. How long did it take for you to find a way to get your students excited? Was this a learning process for you or did you already have a knack for reaching kids?

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