What the Hack? Public Education Can Learn from Alternative Schooling

Homeschooling has always intrigued me. I have a Pinterest board to prove it (yay for self-promotions!) This might be surprising to the people who know me because I grew up in a family of public educators. My grandmother was a history teacher, my grandfather was a superintendent, and my father is a business teacher turned principal. So naturally, they have instilled the values of quality, public education in me from a very young age. They have also provided me with plenty of reasons to steer clear of private schools and charter schools, but that is a different discussion for another day. The biggest draw of homeschooling for me stems from my faith. Though I loved every school I attended, the atmosphere was just not Christ-like. In addition, despite hard work put in by the teachers and administration I felt as though I wasn’t learning all that I could. This is understandable, considering in a public school setting a small amount of staff is responsible for the betterment of a large amount of students. Therefore teachers must make sacrifices, and students receive whatever education they are given without much (if any) personalization. The result is that some aspects of learning slip through the cracks.

This became even more apparent to me this past week as I was exposed to a couple neat sources on alternative schooling. Hearing about the experience and ideas of others really gave me some food for thought on what public education has to learn from other schooling options. Despite the fact that public schooling and homeschooling are two totally separate entities with different needs and expectations, both can take pieces of the other in order to make themselves more successful. Since, God willing, I am going to have the opportunity to be both a public educator and a homeschool mom my mind began to think of ways to take information from these sources and apply it to both areas.

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Photo from Sarah Mueller over at the blog Early Bird Mom. This article she wrote brings up some great pros and cons for both public schooling and homeschooling. Check it out!

The first source I had the pleasure of viewing was a TED Talk entitled, “Hackschooling Makes Me Happy” by a young boy named Logan LaPlante who introduced to me the concept of “hacking” education. As he states in the video, throughout history the term “hack” has often had negative connotations such as with computer hackers or sales hacks. These people used hacking to accomplish illegal or immoral objectives, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. The essence of hacking is flipping something around— like a technique or belief— to accomplish a goal by new means. This is demonstrated in his schooling. Logan had the opportunity to take part in many awesome adventures where he learned about life by experiencing, rather than simply reading about it in a textbook. I think this is something that public schooling could really run with. Learning should be playful and hands on; this approach should be taken advantage of more often.

Centering on Essential Lenses: Make/Hack/Play” a blog entry cross-posted by Bud Hunt discusses the concept of learning through the example of lenses. He claims that it is important to use the right lens to focus in on a certain situation or idea. I completely agree. The three lenses mentioned in the article include making, hacking, and playing. As an aspiring English teacher, I hope to be able to fully utilize each of these approaches to their fullest potential. As an aspiring homeschool mom, I hope to do the same. What really attracts me to these concepts is also what relates them, creativity. Making, hacking, and playing all promote students to bring forth and exercise their creative instincts, which should be the goal for all types of education.

Maybe I’ll have to create another Pinterest board that links ideas from both homeschooling and public schooling. I’ll call it “Super School”… Well, I’m all for alliteration but it might need a little tweaking. All fun and names aside, it would be awesome to create a think tank that takes the best from both worlds in order to improve all aspects of education, formal and informal alike. Because if I’ve learned anything as I’ve researched schooling, it’s that one can always learn from the other.

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8 thoughts on “What the Hack? Public Education Can Learn from Alternative Schooling

  1. You have quite the family background in education, no wonder you are in the education field as well! It is interesting that you mentioned and brought up alternatives schools, because so many times that can have a negative cogitation. You should also consider sharing links on your blog or your Twitter page when you come across stuff you find interesting for you “Super School”.

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    • Hey Cory! That’s a great idea. I’m totally down to incorporate Pinterest into any class of mine. Maybe you will all be seeing some Super School resources soon. Thanks for dropping by!

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  2. Oh gosh I loved how you called it Super School! I had never really thought about it that way until I read your blog! But it truly is! I love the hackschooling concept!

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    • Hey Jaylinn! I am rather fond of the hackschooling concept as well. There are so many different approaches to the idea of education floating around this world, why not take the best ones and use them for a greater good. It is definitely something I will be looking at with all of my future pursuits as an educator. Thanks for the comment!

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  3. Jessica,
    You have an interesting perspective on education, I like your ideas! I love “super school” I think you are right when it comes to “one can always learn from another” and I think that at times we forget to embrace that opportunity instead of always having to be right. After this research, I feel like allowing students to create, play, and hack is the only way we should educate our students!

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    • Thank you! I couldn’t agree more about the research. This really has been an eye-opening unit. I already had firm beliefs that creativity should be an important aspect of education, and this reading has only solidified them! It’s important to be a lifelong learner, in all areas of our lives including our career. Resources from both ends of the education spectrum can be applied in innovative ways. I appreciate the comment!

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  4. It seemed like being an educator is in your blood. However, from reading your other posts, its awesome that you found to love teaching on your own. The idea of a “Super School” sounds like so much fun, but a lot of work. You sound so inspired and driven so I believe it is totally achievable for you!

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    • Yeah, thank you! I’ve known what I’ve wanted to do for a very long time, but my family never pressured me into a career in education. Rather, they were great examples that inspired me. Also, I really appreciate the comment about Super School! I’m a bit of an interesting combination since I want to someday be both a public educator and a homeschool mom. I know it will all work out for the best.

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