The Day My Son Decided to Quit School

Two days ago, my son, who is a seventh grader at a local charter school here in Hawaii, sat my husband and me down just before dinner to discuss his future. 

He told us that he didn’t want to go to school anymore. “I don’t see how anything I’m currently being taught is moving me toward his future goals in life,” he explained thoughtfully. 

My son is a B student. He’s on student council, plays sports—tennis and swimming are his favorites—has plenty of friends, and generally loves his school.

Why would he want to leave? 

“It’s not the school itself. It’s what I am learning,” he explained. “The more information they feed me, the less interested I am in retaining it, and when it is something interesting that I want to learn more about, we move on to the next subject so fast.” 

How can that be learning?

My husband and I looked at each other and did an invisible fist pump. 

Because a year ago, when we asked my son if he wanted to go to a new school that his dad and I would open, he was reluctant; he returned to his charter school because of his friends and teachers.

We listened to his reasoning—it was detailed—then told him to take some time to think about it, get some rest, and that we would revisit his decision the following day. 

Much to our surprise, the next morning at breakfast, he said, “I’ve thought about it, and I definitely want to leave. But I don’t want to leave next year; I want to leave now.”

We thought he was talking about leaving the next school year.

The Budding Creative

“Why the rush?” I asked. 

“I don’t want to wait any longer; it will delay my plans further,” he replied.

“What plans?” I was both curious and surprised. 

“I plan to spend more time with my grandparents,” he answered thoughtfully. “I want to spend time playing golf and getting better at it. I also want to take the time to create my board game and sell it online. The longer I wait, the more time I waste.” 

It’s hard to argue with logic, especially when you can physically see the urgency and sincerity in his eyes. 

And so that morning, my husband and I wrote to my son’s charter school and told them that he would be leaving, that Thursday would be his last day. 

A Digital Education With Acton Digital Academy

It’s been six months since my husband and I decided to open our own learner-driven micro-school, Acton Digital Academy, here in Honolulu, Hawaii. Part of the Acton Academy network of schools, Acton Digital Academy, uses a 21st-century education model focusing on technology, real-world projects, and Socratic discussions. 

Together with our partner, we are creating a different learning environment for Honolulu families and are excited. Our daughter is currently enrolled, and while she’s still adjusting to self-directed learning, she loves the freedom that Acton provides to create the life she wants. 

Fingers crossed, she’ll hang in there and stay the course.

Let’s be honest. We are hella scared we’re going to mess up our kids. But we’re choosing to trust our gut because this feels right.

Our kids used to be culinary worldschoolers—we’ve traveled through Europe and schooled them on iPads for an entire year successfully. We spent a couple of their formative years traveling through Europe in an RV. They’re tenacious and creative, and inspire me every day. 

They say they are happy on this new journey of education. Of course, we, their parents, are happy, too. 

So we have to be doing something right, RIGHT? Only time will tell…

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.

– Albert Einstein


Pinterest image with two pictures juxtaposed on each other—the one in the left is a child writing in a binder with their left hand. The image on the right is a dictionary definition of the word academic. 

The text for the pin is: Learner-driven micro schools. Learner-driven microschools such as Honolulu's
Acton Digital Academy use a 21st-century approach to education focusing on technology, real-world projects, and Socratic discussions.