I discovered Daniel Pink around the same time that most home-schooling parents did, last fall when Reason magazine published the cover story, "School's Out: Get Ready for the New Age of Individualized Education."

I considered the article one of the best apologetics of home schooling I had ever read. What was most surprising was that it wasn't written by someone inside the movement, but by an outsider looking in.

 

Months later, he was gracious enough to accept my invitation to speak at the Virginia Home Education Association (VHEA) Conference in Charlottesville, his first home schooling conference. We sat down while Dan ate his lunch in between signing books and toting his two young daughters around the conference. This is the second part of the interview.

 

Amy: What was your school experience like?

 

Dan: I was a very good student. I was an extremely good student. But what does that mean? That means that I would write down on the test what the teacher said the right answer was. That doesn't mean that I thought about it at all, that doesn't mean that I approached the subject creatively, that doesn't mean the subject matter actually passed through my skull once I left that classroom.

 

But I was able, for better or worse - probably in many cases, for worse - to figure out the rules of the system and play the rules of system. And the rules of the system were: Please authority figures, memorize stuff, regurgitate it on the test, don't do anything too risky or creative, and don't even ask yourself what is your passion, what moves you, just go along with the system, march in step, don't listen to your own drummer.

 

In many cases, kids didn't even know they had their own drummer. They didn't even get to that point where they had to decide between marching to their own beat or marching to someone else's.

 

Amy: There's no time for it. I used to think, "Don't do anything that you can't get credit for." I was that kind of student.

 

Dan: That's a very good point. In a way those kinds of students often have a harder time making the transition to working for themselves. Because so much of school, of that kind of authority-pleasing habits, prepares you for the traditional world of work - where the boss is the surrogate teacher, and your performance review is a surrogate report card.

 

You find some curious things out in the data on this about the people who are most successful working for themselves. They often have extremely low SAT scores, for instance - SAT being the paragon, the apotheosis of traditional left-brain thinking and authority-pleasing habits. But there's no correlation between your performance on your SAT and any performance in life.

 

Amy: Which plays right into your Thanksgiving Turkey Model of Education.