Playing with Legos is More Valuable than Learning Algebra
I was homeschooled. My mom really wanted to have a highly structured and rigorous curriculum for us. She didn’t. She tried — Lord knows the number of books she purchased at annual curriculum fairs — and we’d go through phases with a little more structure than others. But ultimately, she was raising three stubborn kids while also caring for a disabled husband (and just about anyone else we ever met who needed help…my mom is a wonderful woman who has a terrible time saying ‘no’).
The result is that my siblings and I didn’t do much consistent, structured learning. Today we might be called borderline “unschoolers,” but at the time nobody had heard the word. The most structure we had was in the daily and weekly chores we did to help keep up the house and yard and the fact that all three of us had paying jobs from age 10 or so on (One of the benefits of not being in school all day is that you can work and earn money, though laws make this harder and harder).
So what did we do? I would estimate that between the ages of 4 and 13, roughly half of my time any given day was spent playing with Legos. My mom used to feel guilty about this. Frankly, so did I. I was always a little worried that “real school kids” would be far ahead of me in their knowledge and skill and that it might embarrass me some day. But that day never came. Real school kids suffered all day while I played Legos, and by the time I went to school (one year in high school and then college, neither of which were worth the cost) they were no better for it.