Michael Ellsburg’s pro-unschooling book (even though he might not know it)

“I typed these words on a computer designed by Apple, co-founded by the college dropout Steve Jobs.  The program I used to write it was created by Microsoft, started by the college dropouts Bill Gates and Paul Allen.

And as soon as it is published, I will share it with my friends via Twitter, co-founded by the college dropouts Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams and Biz Stone, and Facebook — invented, among others, by the college dropouts Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz, and nurtured by the degreeless Sean Parker.

American academia is good at producing writers, literary critics and historians.  [although I would add that you don't need a degree to be any of those things]  It is also good at producing professionals with degrees.  But we don’t have a shortage of lawyers and professors.  America has a shortage of job creators.  And the people who create jobs aren’t traditional professionals, but start-up entrepreneurs.

…Start-ups are a creative endeavor by definition.  Yet our current classrooms, geared toward tests on narrowly defined academic subjects, stifle creativity.  If a young person happens to retain enough creative spirit to start a business upon graduation, she does so in spite of her schooling, not because of it.”

This is from an op-ed article by Michael Ellsberg that appeared yesterday in the Times.    I’ve just downloaded his new book, The Education of Millionaires, and am itching to get started on it.   (For those of you keeping track, I finished the Fever series that I mentioned on Friday.)    The subtitle of his book is “It’s not what you think and it’s not too late.”

[In a related aside, I was having trouble getting the book to download after purchasing it on my Nook.   Because I was sitting in Barnes & Noble, I went down to their Nook section and asked for assistance.   The guy who helped me read the synopsis of the book, which was visible on my Nook screen and said, "Boy, that's true."   ( That getting a college diploma is not a guarantee of success).   He went on to say, "I think a lot of times people get degrees and then they can't get work in their field, they get frustrated and end up taking a job....like this one."    I asked him what his degree was in and he told me "film production". ]

After a quick glance through the index of Education of Millionaires,  there do not seem to be any references to homeschooling, unschooling or John Holt. Interesting, given that the subject matter – based on what the article says and what I do see in the index – is all about the merits of self-education, real-world education…in other words unschooling/life learning.

“It’s time that we as a nation accepted a basic — and seldom mentioned — fact.  You don’t need a degree (and certainly not an M.B.A.) to start a business and create jobs, nor is it even that helpful, compared with cheaper, faster alternatives.   Parents could turn the system on its head if they weren’t so caught up in outmoded mentalities about education forged in the stable economy of the 1950s (but profoundly misguided in today’s chaotic, entrepreneurial economy.)”

Ellsberg’s book revolves around people who started college and then dropped out to pursue their ultimately successful business ventures.   He says he hopes more kids will drop out of college and do the same.    Here is the one place I disagree with Ellsberg.   I hope those kids don’t drop out of college.  I hope they never enroll in the first place.

About Amy

Amy Milstein was born and raised on a farm in Indiana, but after 20+ years considers herself a full-fledged New Yorker. She is married with two kids, who do not go to school but are instead life learners. This means they learn by living in the world (real life ) instead of hearing about it and simulating it in a classroom. With her family, Amy loves to travel, read, watch movies, write, sew, knit - the list is endless.
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