Entrepreneurial Project-Based Ecosystem
How do we harvest the full potential of every child, regardless of their parents’ education or wealth, regardless of their nation, or of their teachers’ credentialing, regardless of IQ, and without major expense or relocation?
Consider the 2000 to 2015 RESULTS of the Organic Educational Ecosystem Experiment.
Compare the best College Bound students in the world, achieving a Harvard-level 1505 SAT score (4.3%) -- with the 31% achieving this lofty standard in the Organic Educational Ecosystem. The Organic Educational Ecosystem students are 700% more likely to achieve said astronomical score, exceeding the many PISA international success stories, as well.
With all data points verified, the likelihood of the SAT scores of the students educated in the Organic Ecosystem being randomly selected from the college bound population is less than 1 in 500 billion, and from the Private School population is less than 1 in 2 billion. This is not even a fair fight.
So, let’s talk a little bit about how we live this out in the real world. Education, business, and everything else are easy to talk about because they are all shadows of Reality in Jesus. Backwards engineer it - and you get the right answers :-)
As with everything that’s real, whether so-called education or Spirit life, it is the intersection and overlap and constancy of application and observation and “hands-on” in seemingly unrelated events - that make it organic and fruitful, rather than “a subject.” Consider a “Worship service?” What could be wrong with that?
I'm thinking of it like the difference between how we can worship Him throughout our day as we notice and marvel at His ways and gifts to us and talk to Him about those things... or our “worship” could just be a “subject” that happens in our own segmented times. That's sickening by comparison.
As from the beginning, the tree of life will always seem riskier and harder to apprehend or master or control or predict than the tree of the knowledge and systems. The risk is higher, it seems, but the reward is 10 million times greater.
The Banner: Entrepreneurial Project-based Ecosystem of Education
Here is a banner to help you as you walk forward in living these things out: “Entrepreneurial Project-based Ecosystem of Education.”
“Ecosystem” means everything’s involved.
“Project-based” means small groups by definition. It’s going to involve 1000 different topics. A “project” is a LIFE LESSON MULTI-FACETED APPROACH, filled with parables and hands-on and the CONSTANT intersection of disciplines, as opposed to “Math time from 9-10 on weekdays, then literature, then blah blah.”
“Entrepreneurial” means you are asking them, “How can I start a business doing this? What kind of businesses are out there? What kind of money is there to be made with these things?” You bring in finance and design and art and all other sorts of things. But “Entrepreneurial” doesn’t “only” mean something to do with “starting a business.” Rather it means “CREATING something NEW from disparate but intersecting ideas or platforms or topics of “subjects” being learned.
But if you have that banner in mind, you can keep asking yourself all day every day, “Is this entrepreneurial?” Yes, or no? Project-based? Yes, or no? Make yourself take whatever it is you’re doing, whatever your topic is and see how it lines up with that banner.
Years ago we learned Algebra II with several but we mainly did what the textbook said. But there was another way to have done that, because what we did was not entrepreneurial project-based. We brought a lot of color into it, we brought a lot of kingdom principles into it - but it wasn’t all it could have been because it was in a vacuum. It was a topic, in a vacuum, surrounded by nothing. It should have been drug into “What are we going to do about this?” Time constraints create a lack of creativity sometimes, “I don’t have time to be creative.”
I remember you telling us to teach each other and if we couldn’t figure it out, then to ask you. And it worked!
That’s the way I’ve described the project-based scenario to the leaders I’ve talked to. I have to fight off this thing called Teachers Union because that’s the most powerful union in the United States to take on. The way I presented it to solve that problem was - the teachers still have their jobs, but they are facilitators, not lecturers. They wander from table to table between groups of 4-5 that are investigating this project or that project and creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem, creating a project based off of an idea or observation somebody had. And the teacher is saying “Did you think of this? Have you considered that?” So there is a little bit of guidance and staying on track and no social problems happening in the group. But teachers would be facilitators so they don’t lose their job and that takes a lot of pressure off me when introducing the idea because everything we are doing is against the Teachers Union, unless we make it so they still have a place. What they are doing now is pathetic, being paid 4 times what they should be only to leave us 32nd in the world results.
C’s are degrees. Are you kidding me?
We have a very creative and full-of-ideas child. He has such big ideas, we wouldn’t be able to afford to do them, not to mention some of the materials required are not really safe to use.
Well there are kits too that are a simpler version. Scale him down. Just scale it down.
Entrepreneurial Involves...What Should I Change?
Entrepreneurial. Obviously in my company, if you want to be an executive, you have to be entrepreneurial or else you are gone. You have to find the best way to make money and find the best people to do it. You have to solve one problem to solve another problem. Then it has to show up on the bank account at the end of the year.
Yeah, any kind of interpretation of what education has to be must include that. We live in a very fragmented world that is no longer just being a cog in the wheel at General Motors. Now we live in a real world where everyone has to contribute their own bottom line. Everyone has their own profit and loss.
At my first job they told me, “When you come to the table for your annual review, have your salary in front of you and prove to me that you offer 4x that as a contribution to the company. If you don’t offer 4x then you don’t deserve to be here, because that is our metric.”
The people who say, “I come to work and do my job,” are the ones who 5, 10 years later are in the same cube. But the ones who take steps and are successful are the people who have said, “How do we get more money for the owner?” and who are commercially-minded. One executive’s slogan: “Everybody needs to be commercially-minded.” In other words,“How do I maximize my efforts to make the most money for the company?”
And that will never be status quo and never be what everybody else “has always done.” It will always be, “What can I change?” But that thinking never comes up in old-school teaching. It’s always, “What should I know? and then repeat what I know.” But asking “What should I change?” is a whole different mindset. It’s not going to get better without change, so that’s part of the entrepreneurial mindset.
Internet started as an online brochure then morphed to an online catalog. But now we have Airbnb and Uber which came from combining multi-platforms. That’s entrepreneurial project-based education. “How can we make this better, faster, different? How can we get money from this?” Who knows, maybe they will come up with something like Uber that changes the world (or at least their bank account.)
Good questions, because this is what we are going to do everywhere. So as things come up, let’s talk more and make appropriate changes and upgrades. :)
A couple months later…
This conversation began with a question about educating the children and if scheduling several blocks of time a week sitting at a desk for focused work would help productivity…
Commitment to Time and Focus
I’m actually opposed to a 9 a.m. math session three days a week. I believe that’s a lower path. Instead you could say to Jimmy, “I’m not going to wake you up. Get yourself up and get dressed, and I want you sitting at that desk at 9 a.m. and start reading that book. I want you to read it for 45 minutes, and then I’m going to give you a quiz on what you read to make sure you actually read what you said you’d read. I’m going to ask you questions from that material, okay? And then we are going to talk about how to apply that.”
So you read on how candles are made. “Do you want to make a candle sometime? What’s involved? What do you have to do to do that?” Make a trip to Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. So you get the best of both worlds. You’re demanding discipline, increments of time. You’re demanding him to be a self-starter. It doesn’t matter what the topic is. “I want you there at 9 a.m. reading this or doing that.” That’s a lifestyle.
But it just wouldn’t be the same thing every day?
No, it wouldn’t be the same thing every day. It wouldn’t necessarily be the same start time. It certainly wouldn’t be some repetitive, “We always do that at 9 o’clock sitting at a desk.”
I would never do that to anybody. Life is not like that.
I feel frustrated and like I need to jump in and overcompensate because I can tell that my household is not focused. We can have ideas for this or that and the next thing we know we are back at square one, where our days are entropy.
We get up. Life and busyness starts unfolding. Morning stretches into late morning which stretches into afternoon, and the next thing we know the children aren’t getting the focused time they need.
That can’t be right. We can’t look back on months let alone years where our young son doesn’t really get the focus he needs. I am a little less worried about the littler toddlers, but I am concerned about Jimmy getting real focused time. Most mornings everyone can start out working, but then the littler ones need help, and then Jimmy gets distracted and doesn’t get the help he needs. The advantage of having a block of time upstairs in that room is just that there’s no distraction. The door is shut.
Okay, so let’s make a distinction. Saying to your wife, “I want you to teach our son math four times a week.” —That stinks! And that’s not too far from what you are saying.
That’s not what I’m saying. I’m talking about blocking out time for focus.
I don’t know that blocking the time is what you are after. What you are after is focus and time. But the blocking out time is not required to accomplish those.
What we are currently talking about is not entrepreneurial project-based ecosystems. We are talking about you and your wife letting entropy take over. The solution is not to go back to the Industrial Revolution, and your idea of blocking out time for education is getting really close to being a similar method.
Depending on what you do with that time, right?
No, it’s not. Not if they are sitting in that room at a desk for scheduled time blocks.
Let’s take a step back and be clear. This current conversation is not about the difference between the Industrial Revolution and the entrepreneurial project-based ecosystem. This particular conversation is actually about a character problem. That’s a whole different topic.
If your wife is focused on the entrepreneurial ecosystem, then she will get those 4 to 5 hours of concentrated time without any time blocks being associated with it at all. And I don’t know that the time blocks are a steppingstone towards that.
I have always said it was an overcompensation on my part to avoid the entropy. So the time blocks are a crutch to help.
Actually, I think it might be a crutch towards damaging their potential as opposed to helping their potential.
I’ve compared it to my workplace. Forcing myself to get started at a certain time every day is super helpful to me. If I am sloppy in how I get started for work, then I tend towards entropy.
Can you see that’s a character problem? So instead of trying to solve the problem by having Jimmy start the day with “a block of time starting at 9 a.m. sitting at the desk,” let’s approach this as a character problem.
Instead, what if your wife were to start her day at 8 a.m. She’s focused and she’s thinking about and considering what she’s going to accomplish today. As the younger two get a little older she is going to be able to sit them down and ask them to read for an hour while she is working with Jimmy. Right now it’s tough to juggle these things because at this age the little ones are high-maintenance.
They are all learning, but they need one-on-one help.
Yes, and three years from now they can get that one-on-one help because they can be self-starters in other things. You give them an assignment and you can walk away and find that 45 minutes later they’ve accomplished a lot.
Be Self-Disciplined and Expect It From the Children Too
(Directing conversation to the wife) At this stage the two younger ones in particular are going to have trouble grasping that. They’re just a little too young. Of course the school systems have always known that, and that’s why first grade starts at age six. It’s always been six. Because they know that younger than six, they sit on a rug and play with Legos and call that education. So yeah, you’ve got your hands full. I admire and respect the difficulty of what you are trying to do.
I’ve known you since you were quite young, and I know your wiring. I know this type of focus is not really in your wheelhouse. So your husband is just trying to find a way to help you get there.
So for you, I would just say your current approach should be the combination of two things: you get up at 8 a.m. and you are very focused. You’re very focused to get ready, and you focus very clearly on what you’re trying to accomplish. You consider very specifically Little Person A. Little Person B. Little Person C. “Before noon I’m going to have this done with this one, and this done with this one, and this done with that one.”
You mean having a plan?
Yes, having a plan is a good thing. Being sloppy is a bad thing. And it should never be a consideration that the entrepreneurial project-based ecosystem means fly by night, shoot from the hip, just kind of walk around in a daze and if you happen to throw in some education, good. That’s never what that meant.
If you were doing a start-up as an entrepreneur, you would have to be super disciplined, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it in a garage like Amazon, Apple or whatever. You don’t have to play the game by everybody else’s rules as a start-up. The Manhattan Project did not play by anybody’s rules. The Skunk Works did not play by anybody’s rules. They broke all the rules. They got creative. In the work space of today, there are almost no walls and no offices. You just roll around the walls and roll around desks. It can turn into a big desk or a little desk. That’s what architecture is doing with office space now because they know that this collaboration thing has to be very fluid and the offices and the 9-to-5 thing doesn’t work anymore. It doesn’t create the best outcome.
So I would say the biggest step in the right direction is about you being disciplined, and then insisting that they be disciplined. But I wouldn’t say that implementing a block of time sitting at a desk every day at the same time is a step in the right direction. In fact I would say it’s the opposite—it’s a bad idea.
I understand why you’re suggesting it because it is a kind of band-aid to the entropy problem. But it is a band-aid. And the band-aid isn’t the same as healing. Healing is solving the character problem of you being sloppy with it all (and others can help you with that).
You need to have some goals of what you are going to do before noon, and then between noon and 5 p.m. Maybe you let one of the children play for an hour while you do something else with another one, and another one is in a room having quiet time while you are doing something with another one.
But if you just let it happen to you, then you are going to end up with sloppiness and entropy that doesn’t amount to anything for the whole day.
The self-discipline is good for you, Mom, but it’s not about a desk and room and a time block for Jimmy. Because if you do your part, then you are going to be able to end the day with four hours with each of them at different levels and feel pretty good about it, staggered some here and there.
But you add up those four hours over five years, and you’ll have some pretty sharp young cookies. You put one of them in front of How It’s Made and ask them to write down with good grammar what they learn from it and what ideas it gave them about what they are going to create... “What ideas did it give you about what you are going to do to create a business?” Then you go onto the next step of, “How many employees are you going to have?” “What do you think you will have to pay them?” “How much is that going to cost?” “Will it take a separate office space or can you do it out of the house?” You are making them think about these things. That’s what’s going to make them super, super successful in life.
You Don’t Have to Have Every Skill Set
But that’s not my wife’s skill set, right? So how is that going to work?
No, it’s not her skill set, but that’s what we are doing right now is equipping her skill set. I think for you, (wife), to get up at 8 a.m. is possible, right? For you to make a plan for the children, you can do that? You haven’t been, but you can. So we are halfway there already. So it doesn’t have to be a skill set. It can be a commitment.
To choose your weapons as a How It’s Made video for one of them, reading some poetry or literature for another and then asking them to write their own poem after they have read 10 poems… “I want you to read these 10 poems with my bookmarks in it. I want you to think about it. I want you to think about how it sounds, and then I want you to write your own poem, and I’ll be back in an hour. Clock is running.” So I don’t think that is a skill set. That is a character thing and a self-discipline thing.
She doesn’t have to know poetry or factories in How It’s Made. But I think she knows that it is good for them. Literature is good for them. You don’t have to know iambic pentameter. You don’t have to know all the words for it. But they can read it and look and learn. You can read a book about poetry and let them tell you; let them teach you about the different meters and different rhyming schemes and examples of those. “What is haiku?” and “Write your own haiku.” That is a discipline thing and I don’t think it requires a huge amount of experience or intellect.
And often it is the Mom overseeing things directly since she is the one home with the children most days, but there is no reason the dads couldn’t be helping direct things by emailing their children in the day saying, “Ok, Jimmy, this is what you need to do.”
And then at the end of the day saying, “Jimmy, what did you learn today? Sit down with me for the next 30 minutes and tell me everything you learned today.” And he better be able to say it. He can’t say that he forgot. That’s not an acceptable answer. That’s the dads opportunity to find out what each of them learned in a given day, not as a report card for the child (or the mom)… but as a reminder to the child that everything they learned that day matters.
They don’t just turn the switch off and on. “Dad is about to ask me about it. I better try to remember this.” It’s a tag team thing, but it doesn’t require anything other than a commitment. That’s the beauty of it.
And also you have got other people around you. That’s the consortium of skills, experiences, fire power, talents. There’s somebody who can help with poetry. It doesn’t have to be you.
Be an Orchestra Conductor
I think a huge part of this involves the Mom viewing herself not as the sole educator, but as the educator in an area where she is good, but then as an orchestrator of the other stuff.
That’s always been the plan. You don’t have to have any skills. You just need to be an orchestra conductor. You don’t have to play any instruments at all. I hope you will. I think you’ll learn from the children. You’ll learn from their How It’s Made. You’ll learn from them teaching you about poetry. You’ll have them read it and say, “Now tell me everything you know.” And then say, “Oh, that’s cool. That’s interesting.” For instance, one little guy has told me many interesting things about Jupiter’s big red spot and all about the constellations.
You don’t have to feel like you are an expert in anything. We always have a consortium, a cooperative, of people that you can draw on. So you can’t play clarinet, flute, trumpet? You can’t play the bass drum? That’s ok. You can always be the orchestra conductor and look at what they need. Nobody is going to do that but you. Nobody is going to look into the hearts of those children, in the minds of those children, and see how they react day to day and really know what they need except for you. Everybody else is a guest in their life in a sense because you can say 100 mothers, fathers, sisters if you want, but the truth is you two (the parents) are the only ones who are really going to know exactly how this is working and it’s going to play out on the couch, the dinner table, and in the backyard. So your job is to be an orchestra conductor, not an observer, not “I can’t teach literature,“ etc.
Whatever your skill is or isn’t—it doesn’t matter! That’s the principle. What you have to do is make sure they get everything they need because nobody but you can do that.
Specialize and Rotate
Once you get over the “thing” everybody does, you start to get into more complex problems. Now it’s actually about a skill that can be acquired and sold, building things, research, new ideas and how to market it, learning how to use digital marketing, etc.
The idea is that you [pointing to one mom] can specialize in ______, and another something else, and another something else, etc. You won’t always have your 3 with you. It may require learning some things you don’t know. Say one person pretends they are a nurse and so they have to learn some things about the medical process and what Neosporin is and how in the world does it work.
So you are going to have to specialize. Specialize and rotate. Specialize and rotate. Because if you are all trying to spin the same plates at the same time, you’ll go nuts but also you won’t do a good job.
Whichever modules you are rotating, make sure you are exploring more than the subject. Make sure you are covering the whole gamut. “We just built this, how are we going to sell it? How much are you going to sell it for? Well, how long did it take for you to make it, how much are you worth per hour?” Go through all the financial modeling, all the potential customers, everything about everything - integrated life as opposed to subjects. Finding the tentacles of how the real world works and integrating into it.
Like when we were in my kitchen the other day…. The fridge has an iPad screen and a water dispenser. “What if we put the water dispenser 4 inches lower? No. Well, why not? You don’t want the dispenser lower than the iPad. That would just look ugly.” Human minds understand symmetry and art and the law of thirds, even with a fridge.
We do discuss things like that at home but in bigger groups that gets hard because you’re trying to keep their attention.
Yeah, not bigger groups very often. Trade it up. Make it a rule of thumb that if they don’t get their hands on it and touch it, you didn’t do your job - because that’s how people learn. The real learners are the ones that actually touch things. Not just physically touching it, but the learners are the ones thinking it through, moving things. And you are shutting up long enough to let them fail, and you don’t bail them out too quickly.
And eventually that’s how when they are 14 or 16, they know calculus - because a few of them are ultra-interested in math and linear algebra and complex ideas. Other ones could care less about all that but they are wordsmiths and into human communication and poetry. Let them find their own way, but that will happen in these modules that are small enough for hands-on activities. Make them do some research.
Technology and Search Engines?
Here’s where it gets a little tricky because of technology.
Yeah, how do you make them investigate on their own with the possible dangers of technology?
There are search engines that are pretty clean. So we’ll have to find those. “What is the average wage of a construction worker? What is Davis Bacon? It’s the equivalent wage of a non-union worker to a union wage.” See, they will know more about everything by age 17 than most adults twice their age will know.
Ok, so we need to find some ways they can research without having to pre-read everything and hand it to them.
One of the ways they measure quality of university education is student/teacher ratio. (It ought to be whether its hands-on, but it’s not, they don’t measure that.) But they know even in the pagan world that with a ratio of 17:1 you are going to get half the education of an 8:1 ratio. We are going to be more like 4:1 or 3:1. That’s what you need to work at, and if you have too many children and not enough modules (parents that have shown an interest in something and want to dedicate themselves to something for awhile), then recruit another parent. Get the dads involved in the evening sessions with different modules. I call them modules, but they are projects.
“Project-based” because you have teams that have to learn to work together, social skills, leadership skills, all the things that happen in the real world. You better have that down or you’ll be a failure. Doesn’t matter how smart you are if you don’t have any personal skills.
Don’t be afraid to make an iPad into a child-friendly search engine machine. It’s not an iPad. It’s a child-friendly search engine machine. It’s all they use it for. You don’t have to load a bunch of games just because you have an iPad. Decide what this device is for and just lock everything else out. If you want to have it for Peppa pig in French in the evenings, maybe you leave the photo gallery open for that, but all in all you have timers and passwords THEY NEVER SEE. You don’t get lazy and let them know the password because you are too busy for a moment and hope they forget. Edited 10-year old encyclopedias are an option but even with that you are not going to find the average wage of a construction worker or a backhoe operator.
(Yeah, encyclopedias are more for things like facts about a kangaroo. :) )
It seems like we swap children once or twice a week. But at home with the varying ages they are constantly distracting each other. It’s hard to focus if the 4-year-old is making things difficult for the older children. If the the 8-yr-old is going to get daily solid education, it seems like swapping children is going to have to be more like 4 days a week so that the oldest one has time away from the littlest. Because as it stands now the required focus just can’t really happen well at our house.
Well the things we are talking about solve for that, without actually having to solve that. Meaning, the 4-yr-old is not going to be interested in the same module as the 8-yr-old. So they are going to pull different directions anyway based on the subject matter and the particular projects and experiences. There will be some dragging apart just based on interest - if not age, at least interest. Once we fire up what we are talking about, it will be the opposite, only 1 or 2 days a week you’re not together or swapping.
Core Learning with Hands-On Experience is Essential
One thing the pagans have done for us is they’ve indicated that STEM and STEAM is what is important to them. They’ve indicated the children better be learning science and technology (and art if you want to go the STEAM route ;). They have shown us what the core of a good education means. We are going to add to that because of some hands-on stuff, like building a small vehicle.
Even a highly-educated former finance minister of a country tells me he wants to learn a skill with his hands. “I have no skills.” We are going to solve that because we are creating hands-on skills so that when it comes time to change the oil in some apocalyptic period when you can’t drive down to the dealership - you can change your own oil! I mean, one young one just loved learning to grow carrots.
(even though the carrots turned out kinda weird :) ).
Yeah, I remember working with guys on construction things. I always wanted to do something new. Even if I only watched or saw it. But the interest is a starting place. So maybe we’re not awesome at growing carrots at first but then it gets better over time.
Physics is so much more intuitive if you’ve done construction stuff. My work is in so many different fields and yet construction skills is what seems to always come up. Knowing how things fit together, order of operations - that mindset helps so much.
We need to make sure they are getting that experience as part of our plan. What is the difference between aquaponics and hydroponics, anyone know? The children should know.
Both sound like they are about water but one is a closed system where the guppies fertilize the plants, and the other is an open system. (More to it than that.) But that’s the kind of thing that perhaps in some future world we should better understand some of those principles. We are turning our children into MacGyvers because they understand so much about so many different things, that they will be able to put stuff together. That was Steve Jobs’ key to success. He wasn't a great programmer but he understood design and components and aesthetics and ergonomics and he just put it all together. There was such thing as an iPad before Steve Jobs but you wouldn’t know it because he was the first one to make it user-friendly and feasible for the masses.
The point is, the more people know about more things, the better they’ll be able to function and be creative and innovative, combining things that you wouldn’t be able to sit down at a desk and work your way through because you’re an academic.
In a Scandinavian country (Finland I think) they out-test and outscore everyone in the world. The difference is they do a lot of critical thinking together. Not just “answer this question on this test,” but it’s practical. To an outside observer it looks like they are just talking to each other all day. But their testing is off the charts throughout the whole world.
Our system here was built by Henry Ford to create a bunch of doofuses that will stand on an assembly all day long without thinking. That is the system of regurgitating a lecture. That won’t help you with your SAT necessarily since it’s built for regurgitation, but who cares. “Just for this stupid test let me introduce you to these little boxes.”
But even with the tests you can figure them out because you can reverse engineer the problems without even being able to remember the information. That’s how you solve real life problems too.
Committed and Artistic
There’s so much technology now between the computers, the streaming, the History Channel. We never had any of that stuff. Who at age 5 can name all the planets and their relative sizes and whether it’s a gas giant? Who at age 5 can do that? But we have the technology available to give them a chance to do that. It’s the easiest possible opportunity in the history of man that you have in front of you to raise three geniuses who can compete easily with anything else the world has to offer.
But you have to be committed. And from what I am hearing, there hasn’t been enough passion, focus, systemization, and commitment. And by systemization I don’t mean the block of time in a room. But that you are making sure they learn some core things that they have to know.
There are some peripheral things based on their interests and their talents, some things that are unique to them, and you want to make sure to get that in. One of them may be a musician and the other two could care less. Don’t force them. There’s no point in forcing them. Let them be exposed to the flutophone. Everybody had to do that in the second grade. But then some people eventually took up trumpet, trombone, sousaphone, French horn probably because of that “dumb little flutophone.”
Understand that music is also math. Music is art. Music is poetry. So flutophone is not just a dumb flutophone. Reading music is a discipline. It connects some things in the brain that has nothing to do with music. The sensitivity of the embouchure, that’s a discipline of the physical nature of nuance which helps with golf. How does the flutophone help with golf? It’s a nuance of physiology that you have to pay attention to where the club face is at 100 miles an hour. You have to control your embouchure to get the next octave. It’s all related to how the brain works.
You paying attention to all these things and making sure they are getting the core and that they are getting the things that are most important even if you are not the one teaching them. Using all the technology you can and making time productive for one while you are working with the other. All of this stuff is a commitment and you have 10 or 15 years ahead of you with this, so buckle down.
But I would suggest that that the room upstairs with the desk is just a prop…and you can use it as a part of this whole thing. And part of it is the discipline of— “I want you sitting in that seat tomorrow at 9 a.m. fully dressed and opening that book for 35-45 minutes. I may not ask you to do that again for three weeks, but tomorrow morning I want you sitting in that seat without me waking you up. And after you have read for 35-45 minutes, I’m going to read a paragraph and ask you to finish the paragraph for me.”
“What did you learn? What did you learn? What did you learn? Alright now go watch this video on the History Channel about Napoleonic wars, and I will ask you about that once I am done doing Legos with your little sister.” — These are things you can do but you are not going to be able to be sloppy.
You will be able to delegate too. There are other ladies who can pick them up and do something with them for an hour or so and add their abilities or skills to the picture. But you have got to be an orchestra conductor.
You have got to at least be committed to that for the next 15 years. Use your props as you please, but do it with some grace. Anytime you have fallen into a pattern, you probably made a mistake. So use it and be very consistent with discipline… “9:01, sorry. No dessert for the rest of the week.”
Force it. Work it. But be artistic about it. Don’t fall into the trap of taking the easy way out. That is what teachers in the school system do. Their whole world is homeroom and 9 to 5 and syllabus and what is the product of that? Nothing. The children go all the way through that whole 12 years and read at a third grade level. And the teachers checked all the boxes along the way. There’s no creative thought; there’s not a seminal thought coming out of a single one of them except for the ones who didn’t go half the time because they were so bored. The system doesn’t work, but the discipline of the system is valuable. You just have to be creative.
They’ll Be MORE Prepared, Not Less!
To me the project-based entrepreneurial project education and the sort of flowy way of learning makes perfect sense except for those who will go to college or be in the workplace one day.
You have two advanced degrees and this is more or less the process you experienced, although it wasn’t executed perfectly, but you were taught at home by many people. You didn’t have all the “Morning at nine” etc. But you’re suggesting that the entrepreneurial project-based ecosystem is only good for those who don’t have to go to college or work? I’m assuring you it’s the exact opposite. You’re totally wrong on that point. It’s the best thing for somebody who is going to college and into the workplace. That expands them into being creative in a way that nothing ever could.
Calculus, advanced calculus, DiffEQ, etc, is achievable by age 16 using the entrepreneurial ecosystem and is not achievable with “go sit at the desk and work by yourself.”
The typical school system will not teach them DiffEQ by age 17, but the entrepreneurial ecosystem will, just like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison. All those guys learned in the kind of environment I’m talking about. Not in a schoolhouse. And I teach at Harvard, so it’s not like I don’t understand what it takes to succeed in the world.
It’s time commitment that’s the biggest difference to getting a child ready in time for college.
Nothing I said limits the amount of time. It could be 18 hours a day. I agree that whoever is orchestrating things for the children needs to start their day early. And I agree that at the end of a day you need to have had a full morning and a full afternoon and maybe some work in the evening. And I agree that perhaps little Annie is going to need something a little different than Jimmy, but I would never in a million years accept the idea that the right solution is to go back to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil rather than the Tree of Life.
There’s no flaw in the entrepreneurial ecosystem that would limit a child full-bore, 100% in what I’m describing, in being very successful in college. If more time is what you are after, that’s fine. But it is an apprenticeship as opposed to a tree of knowledge factory. Apprenticeship is not less time; it is probably more time. There is no problem with that.
And can they learn calculus at the highest levels? Absolutely.
Wouldn’t you say that your son is way ahead in programming because of Susan helping him? Is that programming going to help him in his college? Of course. And it is organic and project based and not some system or “class” but an experiment in life, as it relates to coding. And yes, girl or boy, it will help them, though without a lick of institutionalism.
Find the Bridges and Life Examples
How do you extend this to Algebra II or Calculus for example? There’s a lot of volume there, and you don’t often randomly encounter the need for what you need to know for algebra or calculus in day-to-day life. How do you bridge into these 15 to 30 calculus concepts that you will never encounter in your average daily life until you get into hard-core engineering, but if you don’t do it beforehand, then you won’t be ready.
Well, flip it around though. When you know you need it, if what you are doing is learning these calculus concepts and then you go find life examples of them, then you’ve still bridged it.
Now, my education (even at the number one engineering college in America for 31 straight years) didn’t bridge it into reality very well. There were a very small handful of people that actually saw it, and the rest of them just learned it for the test. So go for it. Lay it all out like Rose Hulman does, but then bridge it into reality. Go on a field trip and figure out what this has to do with that. That’s the bridge. That’s the entrepreneurial project-based thing—when you get to that level when it’s esoteric and then find ways to bridge it backwards. If you don’t bridge it forwards by a life example, like what’s the geometric pattern here of these things, well then bridge it backwards.
What cues you to even explore it in the first place though?
You know you need it. You are going to have to deal with calculus if you’re going to be an engineer or just want to be smart enough to know what it is. So it’s back to the core thing that we talked about earlier.
You have core things that you’ve got to get done, and then you find a way to bridge the academic with the reality. Whichever way it comes it doesn’t matter.
If you are walking down the aisle in Kroger and you want to talk about the art on a cereal box or the packaging with shrink-wrap on the meat you can say, “What’s that machine look like? Let’s go watch a video on shrink-wrap machines.” You can do it with what you see and work backwards or you can do it because it’s essential and then go the other direction and find the real world examples so that they know how to design a turbine engine at the end of it instead of just how to run the math on it.
I know how to take a calculus textbook and bring it to life. But I don’t know how to come up with projects that draw me in to each of the necessary areas.
Start where you are comfortable. Take the textbook. Go through the basics. And then stop and think about ways that you could bridge it into the real world and a project that you could do. A lab that you could do. I mean even in the university you have labs that go along with what you learned in your EE classes. You go right in the lab and work out an EE project. This is a resistor. This is a capacitor. This is a switch.
And after you’ve done that a couple of times you are going to start opening it up. So we did the material. We did the lab, and then you say, “I wonder what makes this work?” And you open it up and point out a capacitor. And so you are working it through what you see and experience by backwards engineering it based on what you learned and the lab and the observation. And the next time you see the object in the real world you go back the other direction and say, “Let’s run the math on this.” It’s just connecting these things all together. That’s the ecosystem.
What you described makes perfect sense to me. I’m just not sure every parent can execute that.
They don’t have to. That’s why it is a consortium. Nobody is expecting an individual to do it on their own. The responsible parent or parents are just the orchestra conductors. For instance, your wife will do what she can do, and she’ll find somebody like you or me or somebody else to do the other things and help. Nobody’s asked me to help with anything in quite a while. I probably could. Harvard is the only one that asks me to do anything lately.
The point is that you know what the general core needs are and what the peripheral needs are. And you’re committed to making sure the time is well spent to dig as deep as possible into those things. You are not on a schedule that will unlock calculus by age 12 like Thomas Jefferson and some of these other guys. Abraham Lincoln—no formal education whatsoever and yet brilliant, a genius. Where did that come from? He got it organically. You can make sure that happens.
Now what you can’t do is end your day in some wistful way where you don’t really feel good about what you’ve accomplished with them. But you are making sure that the time is well spent day after day after day, not five days a week, but seven days a week.
That’s one of our big advantages. There’s no such thing as a weekend in our world. There’s no such thing as a summer break in our world where 30% of everything they’ve learned is gone just by virtue of the three months off. There’s no winter break. There’s none of that because it’s life. That is one of the key features of this ecosystem is life is about learning. It’s not school, non-school, school, non-school. It’s about this continual learning process. You’re filling in an awful lot of gaps because you are always alert to ways that they can learn, like putting on the History Channel instead of Umi Zoomi, etc.
Lack of Time or Energy?
I think part of my frustration is my own lack of time/energy and knowing that my long work days are super exhausting and mentally punishing. And then coming home and trying to squeeze in some more work. And then getting extra texts and emails from employees. Not knowing how to separate and then create time during the work week with my son. I think I need to be involved in what you are talking about, right? I’ve got to have the big picture of what needs to get done and then help orchestrate the orchestration at some level. And that takes time. And the position I’m in right now makes that extraordinarily difficult.
That doesn’t intimidate my view of the potential for success here at all. In fact it is just enhanced in my mind. Either we send them to public schools and reap the reward/result of that or we do something different. Now what is that something different? Is it to duplicate what the public schools do and how they do it or is there’s some other possibility that yields better results than what they do? And that is what I am talking about. So here’s a little experiment and you can watch me do it. Grab the phone and say, “Hey, Siri, what are the core subjects that need to be taught in elementary school?”
English language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science.
Okay? So in one second we have an answer for what you need to be the orchestrator of. You now have five things that you need to make absolutely certain that all three of these guys are learning every day. In some form or fashion every day you are contributing to their knowledge and experience of these things. Well that didn’t take much to figure out what they should be learning. You don’t even have to wonder. You already know what they should be learning. Now the key for you is how do they learn it? That’s the organic part. It’s not what they learn. It’s how they learn.
The Consortium is Where the Gold is
How do I draw people in? Do I ask someone like Peggy, “Hey, could you take a little responsibility for science?”
That’s a little too vague, a little too demanding. But what you could say is, “I’ll take one of yours if you teach science on a somewhat regular basis to…”
Don’t you already kind of do that? I mean Judy is over here and y’all are working on educational things.
Yeah, I like how things are going, but I’m just trying to see how to ask someone like Peggy who has the ability to help but is already super busy…
But why is she super busy? Because she is managing her own three-ring circus with her children.
I’ve had the idea that I could take her younger ones if that enabled her to take the older ones to help them learn about science. But do I orchestrate that or do I ask her to take the lead?
So the point I just made is we’re not discussing what they need to learn but rather how they need to learn it. The “what” they need to learn I just found in a one-second google search. How they learn it is the organic part. So then for this situation regarding science. What is science? What kind of science do they need to learn from first grade to six grade? It will go into earth science. It will be some level of physics. It will be chemistry. It will tell you.
So you say to Peggy, “This is way more your area than mine. Would you be willing for me to teach a couple of your children while you do this for mine with science?” That’s actually a break for her. It’s not making her more busy. It’s better A) because it is in her wheelhouse, B) it’s not the same little circus of trying to put fires out all the time. It frees her up to be more productive. She’s going to have one of hers in this chemistry exhibition as well. So she is getting something accomplished. It all flows pretty well.
The thing that most people don’t have in this world is a consortium of trustworthy people. They just don’t have it. Nobody has to be all-talented in anything. But the consortium is where the gold is, number one. And the time is also the most beautiful part of this because seven days a week/365 days a year is about 50% more than anybody in the public school system will ever get. You just have to be committed to doing it.
So what you teach is a one-second google search. How you teach it is a consortium 7 days a week/24 hours a day/365 days a year. And then bridging the academic with the practical every possible chance you get. Keep your eyes open for life examples of an academic principle. You already know what the academic principles are. It’s a one-second google search; you don’t have to wonder.
So by the time they get to be 17-years-old they are probably two full years ahead of anybody else. And the little bit that we have done this has been extremely successful. You’ve seen it on my LinkedIn page, an average 1520 on the SAT for about a sample of 20 of our children is probably one million times statistically better than the public schools, the private schools, or homeschooling do. So what little we’ve done on this is actually statistically proven.
And you know some of the guys who were barely high school graduates and yet somehow, someway they have children with 1400 SATs. How does that happen? It’s because the consortium is very powerful and not having a schedule is very powerful. No time constraints. No book ends of 9 to 5 or 9 to 3 and then we have recess and then we have lunch break and we have track and field afterwards. Track and field is another subject. It is just one more thing that we work into this whole process.
It’s not what we learn; it’s how we learn that is the whole topic here. What we learn needs to cover what they are going to need in college, and it’s going to have to cover what they need in the workplace. It is statistically provable now not only with the 1520 SATs, when it takes 1503 to get into Harvard, but also by the extreme success so many of our guys have had in the workplace. They’ve proven themselves in the field as well, and you are an example of that.
You have two advanced degrees and are pretty successful and I’m not crediting you for all of that. :) I’m crediting the fact that you were in a kingdom version of the organic ecosystem. The academic side, the education side, still needed to progress, but even so, you still learned how to learn and later managed to get a masters in mechanical engineering. You had to work hard for it, and it was a lot of new material for you and so on. But ask one of these younger guys who are just finishing college now how much new material there was for them. Very little. And that’s only a few years difference between you and them.
I always told one of those young boys, “You are going to thank me later. Let’s just do this.” There was a trig/algebra book combined and he just detested it. He said, “I don’t know why you were making me do this. I don’t like it and I’m not going to use it.” He complained the whole nine months we did it. I said, “Let’s just do it.” And he called me two years later and said, “I just wanted to thank you. You were right.“ But that trig unit book that I taught him, that he didn’t want to do and he didn’t understand why we were doing it…he said he actually excelled in his college course because he had that foundational mathematics. He said everybody else had a really hard time with the course, but he just flew through it. He said it was because he learned that foundation. We’ve learned more and more over the years.
I realize I was a bit of a play baby but the organic relationships and input was 1000 times better than the public factory school. And the 10,000 proverbs you taught me along the way so that I could learn how to learn gave me perspective that I could never have had in the factory system.
I think we have progressed a lot. And there were a lot of Kingdom discussions along the way. A lot of “close the book and let’s talk about the Kingdom application of this” and parables. You couldn’t remember because you were young, but honestly we used the book as the material we needed and we elaborated quite a lot on it from a character standpoint, from an illustration standpoint. Because that’s just who we are, so how would we not do that?
And there are so many more resources now. It’s so important to teach the children how to learn. Learning to be a learner. With Allen, I’m starting to do a little more structured things, but also just trying to teach him how to dig into things like with the planets. I just got him another app and now he wants to actually read about the different magnitudes of the stars and the scale. All this stuff that someone might think is boring and needs pictures, but it’s actually one of his favorite books and it doesn’t have any pictures. He is just reading all of the technical stuff.
And there will be things they wouldn’t choose to dig into and learn, but they need help to dig into. For instance, when that child just came in and asked, “Can I have another piece of paper?” You can stop and take the time to say, “Do you know where paper comes from?” “No.”
When he is a year or two older and he can write well I’m gonna say, “I want you to do all the research you can on how paper is made and how a book is manufactured, and I want you to write a three-page report. Then I want you to stand up in front of 12 people and tell us about how a book is made and how a book is manufactured.”
When they do that they will learn several things: how to use grammar, how to use handwriting, how to use a keyboard, and how to do public speaking, which is priceless. (It’s just priceless. Had you botched all those CEO presentations, humiliated yourself, where would your career be? You can know all the stuff, but presentation is important.) So I picked up on, “Can I have a piece of paper?” And it floated through my head, “I wonder if he even knows where paper comes from? Does it fall off the tree or is it the tree? That’s not magic, so how is it made? That’s a process— the pulp and the soup and the milling process. The shiny pages have a clay coating. How is that applied?” And so on.
Using Resources Wisely
There is a lot of junk on Google and YouTube so we are not in the habit of jumping online and searching for any topic.
No, I wouldn’t either. I would say, “Hey Siri” or "Ask Alexa,”-- “How is paper made?” And it might have a YouTube link and there might be some junk on the side but probably not. It’s probably just six other things about how to make paper.
YouTube basically has all the cookies bought, so what you see is mostly based on the algorithm of your search and search history and patterns. The more you stick to your task at hand and are just looking for “how is paper made” and other educational information, then you are probably just going to get links about paper and education on the side.
There can be some random provocative stuff thrown in.
Maybe, but don’t look at the provocative stuff. But if I went to a YouTube video about paper right now, I would probably have to click on 10 things before the provocative stuff started to come up.
Search engines on google or YouTube use algorithms to guess what you want to see based on what you have previously clicked on, so don’t click on garbage or stupidity and you won’t start getting garbage and stupidity. Also, you can pay for YouTube premium so that YouTube won’t show ads. I believe that will cover up to 5 people in a household. And you can create children user accounts and it would be illegal for them to show certain things to that user. But do what you have to do. Figure out how to use the resources safely.
There are billboards that I hate. There are filthy magazines in grocery stores and there are people dressed in certain ways in certain places... I hate all that junk. You just have to keep your eyes devoted to Jesus and do what you need to do. There are also some internet reporting mechanisms for sending a weekly summary to parents or friends to help keep accountability.
With all that said, I respect and appreciate and agree with your desire to: have discipline to have lots of hours in a week, to have content that’s appropriate, and to have a challenge that ultimately leads to the goal of college and career. All good. I think we’ve talked enough about the process of how to get there and even how to find the subjects necessary to be the building blocks of how to get there.
“What are the core topics?” It’s just not that hard. We can adjust course as we need to but this is going to be much much better than depending on you to be their school teacher starting at 9 o’clock every morning. That’s a band-aid and what you need actually is an orchestra.
Books and Resources
I know we probably don’t have much more time and I’m not sure how to ask this question, but I’m not asking Peggy to be their science teacher, so do I each week say, “Can you come over and I’ll have the younger children?” or “I’ll buy the stuff and can you come over and do an experiment once a week?”
I don’t think there is a right answer to that except to say that you are the orchestra conductor.
If you wanted to run a marathon you don’t just randomly decide once a week am I going to run a little bit or not or wait until inspiration strikes. You need something right?
I totally agree.
So what does that look like?
I think you could get a book and have it as a sounding board, but then expand on it. I don’t think it would be a problem to have a few resources.
Books are a resource. History Channel and Science Channel are resources. You can stream stuff. Great Courses are a resource. Great Courses are amazing. There are some others like Coursera. There have been people from Africa who have ended up with PhDs from Harvard and MIT because they took edX courses, which is the Harvard/MIT free version of Coursera, in Africa in a village someplace and then got a scholarship to MIT and their PhD from Harvard. That’s kind of a do-it-yourself organic ecosystem.
I have asked others, “Can you come over and do this idea?” But it hasn’t gotten any traction. Do I need to just ask each time?
Don’t turn it into just an idea. Turn it into, “I want them to know everything they can about chemistry over the next three months and I will do the same for two of yours with whatever.” And meanwhile you take the other children and show them the Science Channel or the History Channel and you can teach history.
Actually history is what I was good at.
I didn’t know that, but they need to know that. They absolutely need to know history. My whole philosophy of accomplishing things on planet Earth boils down to my observation of history that could be summarized in the great man theory of history.
I like to see how one part of history would affect another part. Not just memorizing dates.
When you’ve done all that guess where you are going to end up? You’ll end up with--nothing ever gets accomplished without a great man. So the point is, with Attila the Hun, Napoleon Bonaparte, Amelia Earhart, Margaret Thatcher, these people have made huge advances and bent history. So it’s not a series of disconnected events. Catherine the Great—she was amazing. You can actually lead them through facts about history and how it relates country to country and continent to continent, not just memorizing dates. This was happening here while that was happening there. They are not unrelated. Benjamin Franklin spends all his time in France. Why? What impact did that have on our Constitution? Quite a lot. You just don’t think about Benjamin Franklin in France but that made or broke us. It also allowed Lafayette and other guys to help participate in a war that we didn’t want to have and couldn’t have won without the French. So weaving all of this stuff together is part of this organic ecosystem. And then while you are helping the other mom with her children and they are learning things that she doesn’t have time to do, she is able to specialize with yours and her older one on the sciences. So just say, “Chemistry, how about that?” “Well, I’d rather do physics.“ “Ok, fine. Let’s work on physics.“
You could take some kind of syllabus to guide the process of what would need to be covered over the next three months, and then she could find 100 ways to express that and bring in other people to help with it. Maybe she could ask one of the dads to do the lab. That sort of stuff.
You brought up this idea of getting traction or momentum and then you said something about, “Well, it’s not just about learning a lesson. It’s about learning a package, so let’s commit to a package.”
There are two ways you could go wrong. You could say to one of the moms, “Could you teach them how to make a volcano?” One and done. No traction. She did what you asked. Or you could say, “Could you please teach them all the science of the universe?” You aren’t going to get any traction on that one either. So find that middle ground of, “I really want them to learn chemistry, electronics or physics or something else you’d rather, but I’d like for them to learn chemistry. Could you do this for about 12 weeks. Here’s the topics I’d like them to learn,” because you have researched a little bit and found out what happens in a third grade chemistry class. What kind of things do they have to learn about reactions, about the periodic chart, valance, protons, and electrons and whatever else they need to know. Those are all things she can learn and teach. And she may not remember any of it, but she can learn it fast enough to stay one step ahead of the children. So you need to offer a package that’s comprehensive but not so far out there that nobody can commit to it because of the scope of it all, or so small that it’s one and done and then you are back to square one. So the process needs to be a three-month or so process. And the amount of material that you would like to specify that you’d like them to learn helps guide everyone.
One of the children loves learning about science. I found this very expensive science kit with lots of science tools, etc. So the question is should we buy this kit for a lot of money? If I buy it can we get some sort of commitment to a package that makes sense or at least starting down a path that makes sense?
I think that’s a conversation you have with Peggy because she is the package. And you say, “Would this kit help you do what you need to do with the children working on learning some science with you?”
I did actually ask her that, but she was wondering if the science kit wasn’t really project-based enough. She was thinking of something along the lines of making a car and they will learn everything they need to that way.
Or you do an experiment and say, “This is how you make rubber. How did they do it in a rubber factory where they are making car tires?” So you can work either direction. It doesn’t matter. It’s how you connect those things that matters. That they are connected is what matters.
But Peggy is the package.
Your wife is not “the package” in this case because to ask her to do a very expensive science kit is a big ask because it’s not her area of interest or expertise. Just like I’m never going to spend a whole lot of time thinking about ice hockey. Because I hate the ice. My ankles are not made for ice. They are made for running. You can try to interest me in hockey, but it’s not my thing, so it’s never going to get any traction with me. So you find the people those things do get traction with, and they become part of your consortium.
So she researches the list of the things they need to learn and presents that to Peggy. “Can you do these things over the next three months?” And then you ask Peggy if she wants that expensive kit to help. And maybe she says she only needs some of those experiments because “I’m not going to base it all around experiments. I want to base it around some other things too. Experiments are good, but that’s not all I want to do. That would be a full-time job to do all these experiments. That’s part of it but not all I want to do.” That is all just a conversation with Peggy.
But your job as parents is to be orchestra conductors because they are your children. They are not somebody else’s job. They are your job. So you figure out, “Hello Google.”
I actually really enjoy science and I really get into it. It’s just that Peggy is 10 times ahead of me.
So maybe you have the older ones together and the younger ones are with another mom doing crafts. And with the older ones, you spend a couple of hours learning history with all of them. You spend a couple of hours with Peggy learning some science with all of them and you get to enjoy that part too and learn something and be a sidekick so it’s not Peggy by herself.
I had this picture of me getting the materials and getting things ready for her and then she can come in and bring her expertise.
Add learning about history to that after lunch. And think about it as seven days a week, not a morning here and an afternoon there. If that’s how I saw it happening that would drive me crazy too. That’s just too loosey-goosey. Loosey-goosey will never result in what you are after.
My mentality is always that we would be learning throughout the day. But there is the lack of focus, like he said, or the making lunch and then it just drags on, but my mentality is definitely always that we are learning. I know that. Or the focus in the morning like we have talked about. Getting up in the morning and having that focused time and getting ready and prepared for the day. These are the things that I will change in.
Alert to the Opportunities
You will become more alert as time goes on. Alertness is a big part of this. Spiritually that’s true. Being alert to the look in the eye rather than just oblivious to it. So you’re boiling water for something you’re fixing for lunch and you see the mist coming off and you say, “Hey children, is that steam? Actually it is water vapor.” You can go through this process of deciding what the difference is between those two things. A quick google search and you know the difference. What’s the difference between water vapor and steam? You can find out that there’s an exciting of molecules that isn’t necessarily about boiling. The water is not boiling yet so how can there be steam? But there’s something coming off of there. What’s fog? This morning was the foggiest day in forever. What is fog? What’s dew point? And that’s how you understand what fog is. It’s how much water is in the air versus what the temperature is. Boom. Fog, no fog. Dew, no dew. And you will learn so much in the process, but you are forcing them to be inquisitive.
Teach Them to be Inquisitive
The organic ecosystem is being inquisitive. How in the world did Benjamin Franklin discover electricity with a kite and a key? He was just inquisitive. He figured out there’s something going on that I can’t explain so I’m going to do my own experiment. Whether you live in a village in Africa with mud huts and no toys and no water and no sanitary disposal, or if you live in a penthouse in New York City, inquisitiveness comes for free. Either you are or you are not. You have to decide to be inquisitive if you really want to advance yourself, and helping your children advance is teaching them to be inquisitive.
What questions are you not asking? What questions are they not asking because they’re so busy all the time? Force them to stop and think. A lot of the discipline issues or behavior issues tend to go away when their minds are occupied. If they are looking around for something to be inquisitive about and then you give them the tools to go find the answers, they don’t have nearly as much time to be crazy and breaking stuff and out of control so that they don’t even hear you anymore. That’s the job. That’s the beauty of it. You can feed them a fish and they are fed for a day by sending them to the room between 9 and 12. Or you can teach them how to fish by teaching them how to be inquisitive and how to find the answers. And if there is no answer then they find one anyway. And then they solve a problem that no one even knew existed and so on and so forth.
But you have got to care enough. Don’t think the organic ecosystem is shooting from the hip, just wandering through life and popping up your head every once in a while to say something interesting and hope that they are prepared for college and career. That’s just not going to happen. But it’s not hard to find out what you need as the building blocks and at what pace you should be working. And you can speed it up because you have seven days and others out there have five. You have twelve months; they have nine. There’s absolutely no reason they can’t be way ahead just based on pure time. They can be two or three years ahead by age 17 easily in the most advanced subjects just purely on time. The consortium of watching and learning and knowing how to ask the right questions, that’s gold for a lifetime. That is gold. Time itself is on your side if you do it right and you are disciplined.
I think the entrepreneurial project-based ecosystem has taken on different meanings to different people. I think we are going to need some strategy sessions… a little help thinking through the orchestrating and setting up orchestras.
A lot of these things are a part of your experiences, but all this was in its emerging state. There was no list. There was no book to consult, no guidelines, no checklist. And you all were the product of it, and quite successfully the product of it, even though it was still in its emerging state. It helped you all tremendously, but still you can’t quite repeat it with your own children because you don’t know what was done to you without some further discussion to say, “Here’s what was done to you, and here’s more thought on that same process, and here’s what you need to be doing.”
I had that conversation two or three months ago about education and I was personally shocked how little of that was not obvious to everyone who was standing there because to me it feels like we have been talking about this for 20 years. I guess I can see if I’m a 14-year-old or a 17-year-old and I grow up a certain way, I don’t understand the principles necessarily and I don’t remember it as it really was. Maybe I remember my own perspective of how it felt, but I didn’t understand principles so how can I repeat it.
What is a project? Success Towards the End Desired
It might be partly misconstruing some of what was said a couple months ago. I’ve heard it quoted that going forward everything should be 100% project-based and viewed that way… As if you wouldn’t want to use a science kit because it is not “project-based.”
That’s a very limited and faulty interpretation of anything I've ever said or done. Why would I have talked about doing a google search about what we need to accomplish ages 6 to 9 or 12 if it was just going to be wandering around trying to figure out what the next project is going to be??
That would be a terrible misinterpretation of that idea. The project is best defined as success towards the end desired.
What did Henry Ford do when he wanted to build 10,000 cars in a day when in the previous 10 years there were 10,000 cars built, period, in the world? In his short span of time he figured out how to build 10,000 cars in a day. What’s related to that? A lot of systems, a lot of training, a lot of material science. At first, instead of a conveyor belt they put the parts on racks, like a rack for suits, and they just wheeled the rack from station to station. And they said, why do that? Let’s have a conveyor belt.
So what is a project? A project is how we accomplish the task. "Google, what do we need to do in the next six years with our children??" That’s the task. This is what we are trying to accomplish. That involves 10, 15, 20, 100 different things and 10 different people.
The project is to accomplish the goal. The goal is they need to be somewhere close to Calculus III by the time they get to university so they can CLEP out of the stuff like others before them have. That way they can get their masters by 19 if they want, like others have (And at that time the project-based entrepreneurial education was not yet in its full bloom.)
And whatever Jimmy needs I would suggest Annie and Johnny and Becky need too. It just might play out differently in each of them, but all of them are going to get the same education.
Recently I asked if I could help a child learn to read. That IS the “project.” And while I didn’t use these terms, I was offering to be the “package” to get the “project” of this child having success in the “core learning objective” of learning to read. I carefully considered the child and came up with a plan and path (tailored for this particular child), and I shared the thoughts and plan with those involved with the child. And the first steps of my plan don’t involve any projects such as kits or candle-making or crafts. It involves books, flash cards, videos and printouts of stories I know are meaningful to her life. But the “project” is success in reading, and the “package” is the path designed in consideration and love to bring that success in reading to the child.
Right. Again a “project” is a LIFE LESSON MULTI-FACETED APPROACH, filled with parables and hands-on and the CONSTANT intersection of disciplines, as opposed to “Math time from 9-10 on weekdays, then literature, then blah blah."
My point is communicating what project-based entrepreneurial education is. Entrepreneurial—there is a key expression there. Nobody talks about that part of the title. Entrepreneurial means that I am looking for ways to create. Not just things to learn, but ways to create. The entrepreneurial part means I could start a business or I could hire people or I could create income from something, like an idea that’s related to a new way to make drywall or a new way to make paper. Thinking in terms of a new way to be creative and not just learning is a key component of all of this.
So you get your core stuff that they need to know ages 6 to 12 or 6 to 18, and go through that list. You draw on your consortium; you find ways to take a field trip; you find ways to experiment, and you move towards their interests. We were at golf today and one of the boys brought me this book of mazes that he is just loving. I mentioned I used to sit around in class when I was 6 or 7 or 8 years old making my own mazes because I was bored out of my mind! So that never happens when you are doing all of this stuff because it’s always moving and it’s always changing. You are bending it towards their interests and their strengths and you are bringing in people that also have interest and strengths.
It’s also not a problem to bring in a Dari teacher from someplace else. We have all sorts of resources. FaceTime and video streaming has made our world so much easier. All the things we are talking about now weren’t even all that possible 15 years ago. You could think about it all you wanted, but you couldn’t bring in a Dari teacher in from Kabul. The Wi-Fi and the bandwidth weren’t there. All the things that we discussed 15 years ago and implemented to some extent have become more and more and more possible over the last few years.
Just to go back to my conversation with Peggy, it just seemed like she was trying so hard with the project-based idea that when I said, “What if I buy this very expensive science kit? My husband wants me to commit to doing it twice a week…”
I have never taught anything in my life on any level on any topic that wasn’t abused by somebody somewhere by accident. That is a prime example. And I’m not blaming Peggy. I’m just saying that is a very limited, narrow interpretation of anything I’ve ever said that has got her kind of caught and spinning.
I might have caused some confusion because I said choose a time block, a couple days a week for a couple of hours up in the room.
I understand your goal in saying that and that’s really where the public school systems came from. It came from: “We know we need to cover a certain amount of material. We need to have somebody committed to doing it on a regular basis. We need a certain amount of time and energy and effort. Some will excel; some won’t. We know this is how it’s going to happen. But one size fits all is better than nothing.” And that’s how they came up with it. That’s all they could do. What else can you do with a government program except try to commit to something that allows some people to have enough escape velocity to excel even if everybody else is back in the pack.
I understand the goal and what I’m suggesting isn’t less. It’s more. I got so much grief when I said Sunday morning services are worthless. Why did I get that grief? Because that is all they had. It’s in that book called the Traditions of Men. It said that I’m not suggesting less. I am suggesting that the organic is more than the traditions of men. The traditions get you locked into certain things, like Bible studies for all and worship services. What’s wrong with praying and singing and worshiping and sermons? What is wrong with that? I’ve been hearing that my whole life. For 40 years now I have been hearing people attacking me because, after all, what’s wrong with sermons and music? What’s wrong with this? I’m not suggesting less. I’m suggesting organic is always more. Organic is always more.
Goals and Guidance
Hypothetically speaking, if a child is going to start college in a year. How does that relate to, hypothetically speaking, you committing to some marathon eight months from now. You go into a program of discipline. And I don’t know if you commit to yourself three runs a week or five runs a week or no runs a week and let’s just see how it goes? But how do you relate that to this?
I got a program which is like saying, “Google, what do I need to do in the next six years?” I got a program that says what I need to do in the next 26 weeks. Did I ever keep it once? Probably not. But I did have a road map of what, in general, I needed to get accomplished. Because I knew, in general, that I better get a couple of swims in this week and they ought to be, generally speaking, at least 2000 yards, maybe 3000 yards with some sprints, I would get off an airplane at 5am from an international flight and sit in the parking lot until they opened at 6 a.m. so I could go swimming. So did I ever keep it exactly? No. But I had the general roadmap of “what needs to happen between age 6 and 18” and then I did everything I could to find a schedule and a way to creatively make those things happen. I ran in 136°F in Dubai. I ran a 10K in and out of canals on concrete.
You probably had a certain number of miles you felt like you needed to get in?
They told me I needed 15 hours a week. And that broke down into swim, bike, and run. I averaged seven. And yet placed somewhere around 250th in the world rankings even with a broken bike and a broken rib. It was good enough. But I did have a map of what people who have done this before me had to do though I couldn’t keep it. But what I lost in the inability because of world traveling and other more important obligations, I gained just from the process of buckling down when I had to. I wasn’t sloppy about what I did do and I wasn’t uncommitted, and I never DIDN’T do anything because I didn’t feel like it. Never once.
And you didn’t get distracted doing other stuff, right?
Exactly. Same thing. Because I knew what I had to do and it’s life or death. I’m going to either drown with 1000 people in the water flailing like piranhas. I’m going to die. I’m going to drown. OR this is a big project. I’m going to do it, or I’m not going to do it. If I’m going to do it, then I need to get somewhere in the vicinity, somewhere within the parameters of the life I’ve been given.
Is that kind of what you are saying, having a little bit of structure?
It’s not even structure, but it’s objectives.
Which a textbook can help with.
A textbook is one of the tools as is the google search. A textbook on Algebra II gives you the principles they need to be taught and probably even the sequence they need to be taught in. So you aren’t a slave to the textbook, but you aren’t stupid enough to ignore a recipe book when you were trying to cook dinner. You’re not that stupid.
What we all know is wrong is thinking everyday that I’m going to have interesting ideas that will lead the children in the path they need to go. It seems random to approach the days thinking, I’m just going to have lots of good ideas today, and we are going to do all these cool projects.
That has nothing to do with anything I have ever said.
Find the recipe book for what is necessary. We know what is necessary to achieve the ultimate objective of college and career. You want to make money. And you want to be as successful as you can be whether it is entrepreneurial or part of a corporation, which is somebody else’s entrepreneurial thing. It’s all the same thing. But I know what I need to be successful. The parents have to guide that process using the recipe book and finding the components.
Google search, “What do I need to do in the next 12 years?” Go through it and make sure you are checking these boxes. Make sure the right people are involved in our consortium which nobody has, and our time that nobody else has. Make sure all the elements of the recipe are being fulfilled, and we WILL end up way ahead of everybody else, and it will be higher quality because they are learning how to learn as we go.
As it relates to Algebra II, once we get to that part of the google search and we get into Calculus II, which is not a part of normal high school but it will be part of ours. Calculus I isn’t even a part of standard high school. It stops at Trigonometry and not even that. It stops at Algebra I. That’s the normal high school experience. We are going to blow that out of the water.
So what is Algebra I? What is trigonometry? What is calculus? What is geometry? You get the textbook. You get the tools. You get the videos streaming. You get some outside help if you need. The same way you do with piano. You have a lot of different ways you can crack that nut. We know we need Calculus II if they are going to be an engineer. Probably not if they are going to be something else, maybe. We know that there are elements necessary, and we did a google search, and we have textbooks that show us the sequence. That gives us a recipe book.
It’s not “what” we do. We aren’t a slave to a time and a spot on a page and a quiz exactly like they do it, but we can use those things if we want to. We also have many other things and people and ways to crack the nut. Perhaps they get a little bit stuck at cosine and tangent and we find six other ways to focus on that for about a month until it becomes second nature to them. If they get stuck, you don’t just go on because the book says we are supposed to go on and we have to finish this by the end of the semester. That’s what the school system does. They are going to finish this textbook by the end of the semester. They will finish that textbook. It doesn’t matter if anybody got it or not. They don’t care. They just get a lower grade. Move on. They will never hear about it again. We don’t do that. If they get stuck on cosine and tangents then we stay on that. We bring in videos. We bring in Great Courses. We bring in whatever other resources and people. We stream a live person from Bulgaria, if we have to. We do whatever in the world we have to do to make sure this becomes second nature to them, and they know the real world application of those things. Again it’s not less, it’s more.
Learning How To Learn
You had very clear objectives, near term, medium term, long-term as it related to this roadmap to an Ironman, and I think that’s what I feel we lack in right now. Maybe it’s just me but we lack that clarity and goals.
But I think we just talked about how to get there. And I don’t think you have to have all the answers for even six months from now in advance. We don’t even know who we’re going to know or where we’re going to live six months from now. You can’t map all that out in advance but you can at least know that for the next 90 days I want Jimmy to learn as much chemistry as possible. I want him to understand on an electron level what’s happening here. He may not describe it perfectly, and we don’t have to get into atomic weights necessarily. But he needs to understand how these things exchange electrons in order to accomplish a goal. What is a lithium ion battery? That’s interesting. How does this battery put energy into a little toy? What kind of energy are you putting in and why? Explain this. Do batteries die? Why do they die? There’s the project-based component of this thing. It was never that we couldn’t learn anything out of a textbook because we have to wait for the next project. It’s taking chemistry and saying, “What is this AA thing? What is it, why is it, and why does it die? And is there any hope for this going forward now that it is dead? It depends. Some are rechargeable and some are not. Why?” That’s the project-based thing—bringing reality in and learning how to learn which was always my theme song. Learning how to learn. That’s the process; not learning how to regurgitate.
Learning how to learn. And if it’s not project-based you don’t learn how to learn. That’s why it is project-based. That’s the only chance of learning how to learn unless you are just the top half of a fraction of a percent and you just do it on your own because it’s interesting. Now you, Richard, did that a little more than some others did for sure but that was because that’s how your mind works. Some just wanted to get a good grade and move on. You learned how to learn but that was a choice you made.
The questions you ask are what force people into that mode and force the children into that mode. “Don’t get up from this table until you can explain why this battery dies. Here are the tools you have available to you. Here’s a video you can watch. Here’s a search page you can look at that I printed off for you. You can read it.” Give him the tools. Teach him how to learn, and say, ”Don’t get up from this table until you tell me why the battery dies.” That’s the project-based part. Now is there chemistry in that? Sure. Was that part of the google search? Yes. So there’s a roadmap and there’s a way to execute the roadmap which was always what I was all about. It’s not like there isn’t a roadmap, but there’s a way to execute the roadmap that takes them into the real world of creation, discovery of learning, of getting out into places that other people don’t go because they have enough comprehension. Why do people create? Because they have learned how to connect things that seem disconnected. They see the universe. They see music is math. They feel the things that are all interconnected and so now they are able to discover new things and new applications and new inventions and new patents that separate them from the world of regurgitators.
I fully understand why this whole topic could create some tension. There’s a lot of ways to misunderstand these things without having conversations about it. So I get that. Fair enough. And for as long as I am here, whether it’s for a month or a year or a decade, we can keep having conversations until we can refine these ideas.
It will take a time or two more I think.
I think maybe about 20 years ;). Deal?