Anybody who’s followed my posts probably knows by now that tv shows tend to ignite my thoughts about unschooling. Usually, it’s kid shows I have something to say about, but today I’m writing about one of a handful of grown-up shows I manage to watch: Harry’s Law.
This particular episode caught my attention because it was about a 16-year old boy who had dropped out of high school in order to pursue a full time career creating Twitter apps. He was pulling down a salary higher than I’d seen in all my years of teaching. But he was also a junior in high school headed for the Ivy Leagues, if his parents had anything to say about it. And so there they all were, in court, trying to determine whether sticking this kid back in school was ultimately going to help him or harm him.
My ears first perked up when the boy took the stand and started explaining why he’d dropped out of school. They stayed perked for the rest of the episode, as I became increasingly suspicious that some underground unschooling tv writer had miraculously managed to get the unschooling philosophy some much needed air-time.
In fact, I called my husband into the room so often to hear another gem of a quote that he finally said in mock exasperation, “Why don’t you just write a post about it!”
So I am.
In fact, I’m writing two. Maybe more.
In this post, I want to share with you what the young man himself had to say. When asked by his lawyer why the rush – why not just finish high school and then pursue this career – he answered eloquently, “I want to think, I want to create now. I don’t want to waste my time in SAT prep classes or essay workshops.” When reminded of his tender young age, he replies, “Let me tell you something, in the high-tech world, 16 is the new 30.”
He’s not the only one who thinks so, either.
John Taylor Gatto, New York State’s teacher of the year-turned public school critic, writes in his book Weapons of Mass Instruction that two centuries ago, when this country was just coming into its own, young men and women were not prevented from contributing to society for the first 18 years of their lives. America at that time was known as a “spectacularly resourceful and inventive society,” Gatto asserts. He continues, “With few exceptions, invention is the provenance of youthful insight; cut that spring of ideas off by embedding the young in a network of rules and judgments and you should expect important negative consequences.”
Negative consequences like parents suing their children for ditching SAT’s in favor of a productive career?
Perhaps. What do you think?