The Journey of a Teen Unschooler

Caitlyn | 12-07-2016

My unschooling experience

I have always been an extremely independent person. A side effect of this has been that even as a child I was vastly more self-directed and always had a more entrepreneurial way of approaching school. After a summer of trying to convince my parents to let me homeschool I was finally taken out of the public school system a few weeks into eighth grade.

For the past two and half years I’ve been a self-directed learner and this experience allows an intellectual flowering that would not have been possible in the public school system. I’ve been granted the freedom to explore my true interests and passions. Not only have I discovered them, but because I’m not learning to pass a test I can pass over aspects of a topic that are not applicable to my life goals. Being able to learn as I go has shown me that I don’t need to know everything about building websites upfront. I can and should just run with an idea and learn what I need as I need it.

Both my parents are college graduates. It was never “are you going to college?”, but where and once I started self-schooling it turned into “how soon are you going to college?”. I never really saw college as a continuation of my intellectual growth but more of a pause from entering the workforce and starting my life. All I wanted was to get the piece of paper that everyone said was necessary for success—I wanted it as cheaply and quickly as possible. I wasn’t looking forward to the experience but neither did I question it or look for an alternative. That is until I attend a seminar put on by the Freedom of Economic Education on entrepreneurship.

It was at this seminar that I was fortunate enough to hear TK Coleman, the education director for Praxis, talk about the power of the individual and how you don’t need permission from other people to do what you love. While this idea of getting out of the permission based mindset and just creating started to sink in, it wasn’t until I talked with TK and Derek Magill, the Director of Marketing for Praxis,that I realized that college was just another layer of preparation that wasn’t wholly necessary.

From that conversation with TK and Derek, I realized that the approach I was was taking with my high school education could just as easily apply to my career. I didn’t need to learn everything there is to know about marketing (ignoring the fact that a large percentage of what I learned would be obsolete by the time I graduated), before I started marketing. Studying the particular aspects and skills that I need for my particular projects and applying them as I learn them would give me a more practical level of knowledge in a shorter amount of time. Given that I was learning in a real, authentic setting, my skills were directly applicable, and therefore more marketable than if I had learned in a passive, hands-off college course.

I decided against college before I chose to do Praxis because I saw it as an enormous waste of energy, money, time and my own potential. I chose Praxis because I gain tangible, practical and marketable skills. I’m not going to college because it would be damaging to my creativity and discovering what makes me come alive. I’m choosing Praxis because the community alone pushes me to move towards the best version of myself every single day.

College is stagnation. Praxis is growth.

And I’m choosing to continue growing.



Caitlyn attended a traditional public school until 8th grade. She learned about unschooling, pitched it to her parents and has been a self-directed learner ever since. Caitlyn was also accepted into the entrepreneurship and apprenticeship program Praxis at 15.


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