Hacking Your Education by Dale J. Stephens


Hacking Your Education: Ditch the Lectures, Save Tens of Thousands, and Learn More Than Your Peers Ever Will, by Dale J. Stephens

I almost didn’t read this book. At first glance the book seemed a bit frivolous, and the author seemed too young, but I have a 17 year-old daughter who was homeschooled and extended the “no school” philosophy to college, so I decided to give it a quick read. This book has been surprising and I think it is worth reading, especially for goal-driven parents who have difficulty grasping the idea of a valid education outside the system. 

I was with one such parent, a concerned father who also happened to be a physician, over the weekend and after about 30 minutes of being questioned about the “why’s and how’s” of homeschooling, I realized my understanding of education and how children learn best was so foreign to him that I had to pause for a moment, and then suggested he read some books on the topic of alternatives to a public school education before we continued our conversation. 

He asked me to text him some titles, and I agreed to do this. However, as I went through the list of books I usually recommend, I somehow couldn’t see him reading them. And, that’s precisely why I found this book so interesting. 

You see, Dale J. Stephens starts at the end and for parents of young children, we can take his conclusion and move backwards to whatever point in our children’s education we happen to be standing at. He doesn't go into lengthy explanations about anything, but gives the point he wants to make and includes suggestions for reference material if you choose to learn more on your own. He offers suggestions that I found useful like his “to-learn” list of things one wants to learn, his email cold-calling, and his suggestions for networking to reach your goals and to help others. Some of his statistics were also interesting such as 57,000 Phd’s currently work as janitors because they can’t find a job in their field (I plan to check this stat out!).

With the loss of morals and the increase in vulgarity in Western culture, I should warn you that there are some sexual references in the beginning of this book that I thought were inappropriate and unnecessary, especially as the book could have been useful for homeschooled children, too. Also, some of Dale’s suggestions are lacking somewhat in ethics like his suggestion to pretend to have bought a ticket to a conference, so the organizers will think they made a mistake and give him a pass for free. As with any informative book, read it with a grain of salt and take from it what is useful and leave the rest. 

For those parents who don’t want their children in the system, but don’t quite understand how an “education” can take place outside of it, for parents who would like some ideas on how children can relentlessly pursue their passions, for homeschooled children ready to begin some learning adventures of their own, for parents whose children don’t want to waste time in college (like my daughter), and for someone like myself, who’s interested in a homeschooled student’s journey, you may find this book intriguing.

And, for my physician dad, I’m going to send him a text right now and suggest he read Hacking Your Education by Dale J. Stephens.