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EP87: Unschooling, Homeschooling and Childhood Entrepreneurship

Are public schools killing the Entrepreneurial spirit in our children?

Ashe Oro: Hey what’s up everyone? Welcome back to the Liberty Entrepreneurs podcast I’m your host Ashe Oro and I’ve got David Rodriguez on the show today. He is the founding principal of Valor Academy. It’s a private school that empowers students to pursue their own interests and passions utilizing the apprenticeship model, and he’s also a publisher of the Underground History of American Education, Volume One by the world renowned school teacher from New York John Taylor Gatto, and he’s got another book on the way. So, David welcome to Liberty Entrepreneur

David Rodriguez: Ashe, great to be with you. I’m very excited to have this conversation with you man. I’m looking forward to it.

Ashe Oro: Yeah for sure. And I just want to add, I just happened to wear this pineapple shirt today and David said that he had a pineapple shirt so apparently it is pineapple day.

David Rodriguez: Yes. He had it on and he was like, when he said he put it on I said, “Alright let’s do it.” So we’ll have a good pineapple conversation, lighten up the conversation a little bit.

Ashe Oro: Today we’re going to be talking about children, and those with younger years than us David. People who are still for whatever reasons forced through schooling to follow someone else’s passion rather than their own passions. Fill in the gaps here David. Who are you? What are you passionate about? And how are you building freedom?

David Rodriguez: The short of it Ashe, is that my original dream was just to make a lot of money and sit on the beach, and then as I continued to study success I found out that truly impactful people leave a legacy, they leave something behind for their family or for the next generation, so I started to ask myself, and of course I had mentors around me either through books or actual live humans and I said what do I want my life to be about and so after I learned about what’s going on in the school system, we can talk a little bit about that with John Taylor Gatto and how schools were created to create obedient people, I said man if that’s true then the school system is really hurting kids. Because I was in school and I thought this is weird, like why do I have to do all these assignments?

So I wanted to empower the students that are in schools now and actually I have to speak to parents because the parents are the ones that make those decisions. So just kind of decided that’s what I wanted to get into. I started an Expo called the Education Options Expo, turned into a YouTube channel and the purpose was to introduce respectful models of learning to parents, because they don’t know these schools exist which don’t force you or coerce you. So that’s the short of it, background in business and some sales and these kind of things. But really just trying to empower people and see people as the infinite potential that they are which I believe. And what Buckminster Fuller said every child is a born genius, the challenge is they get de-geniused trying to please their teachers and please their parents.

So just all these inspirations around me and when I look at children I see myself inside of them, I’m like that was me when I was 10, that’s me when I was 14. Trying to go out and do something exciting and fun but then they shove you in the school system and one we realized where it came from we were like oh my gosh this is so disheartening in some degrees and with some of these options we’re gonna talk about I think it’s gonna be very hopeful and hopefully inspiring some of the parents out there.

Ashe Oro: Yeah, so looking at the school system in general just from a Liberty Entrepreneur mindset, it’s kind of outside of the marketplace. You buy a house and your children go to a school that you’re in the district, and what’s going on? Give us some background on school in general and why do we not pick schools for our kids most of the time like we would choose a daycare or a restaurant?

David Rodriguez: It goes back to 1852 the first compulsory attendance school law in the country was Boston, Massachusetts. California was 1874 and I think the last state was 1918 and what happen was the state got together and also large corporate foundations and they wanted to create obedient workers for their factories and for their products as well, you know, because that’s what schools teach young children to be is to be consumers where as we’re going to talk about being producers, and that’s really where you can be independent.

So that’s the kind of background where the school system came from. And then it’s just a matter of finding solutions that parents can realize, because it’s a generational thing, right? So my parents went into the school system, and let me just take a time out because my mom was a school teacher for 20 years and I have family members who are principals and teachers in the school system now. So as we reveal what’s going on in schools, it’s not to bash those people. I love my family, I love my mom of course, and it’s the system. It’s the structure, the compulsion, the mandatory everything, and you’re there for 12 years and so you’re learning habits, you’re learning attitudes which limit you and kind of put you in a box, so.

This came from 18, well before Boston it came from Prussia, Germany. And these guys, as I mentioned for the government purposes for the military and they wanted, this is what Johann Fichte said, the philosopher, 1806. Last name is spelled Fichte. He said, “We have to create a system of schooling that limits the imagination of children so they can’t even imagine doing something other than what they’re instructed to do or what their teacher would approve of.”

Ashe Oro: Yeah, so they can’t imagine freedom.

David Rodriguez: They cannot even imagine it. So this is where it goes to Einstein’s quote, he said, “Imagination is more powerful, or more important than knowledge because imagination encompasses everything which is or could be but knowledge just encompasses that which is known and is.” So it’s super important to expand your imagination.

Ashe Oro: And what do you think about children, I mean most children start going to kindergarten around five years old. I know that has German roots as well. I of course went to kindergarten, I went to pre-kindergarten starting at three years old. What do you think that this does to a growing child who’s full of energy and curiosity and can play outside for days on end. Now you’ve strapped them down in a school room, a school house for sitting in straight lines, walking in straight lines, raising their hand. I mean what type of person is being shut down inside of that child?

David Rodriguez: A very fear filled person I would say. You know, if you were three or someone’s four or five, or maybe you’ve seen these videos where kindergartners are crying on their first day of school and their parents are pushing them into this building of complete strangers whereas the first five or six years of their life, you’re like hey, oh you fell down that’s okay. Oh you pooped in your pants, that’s okay. Right? All this love and support and now you’re will all these strangers and then you’ve got this giant stranger who is like three times your size and weight and they’re like oh, I’m just gonna stay with you all day. So from day one the children are beginning to realize, okay, is this life?

Because remember this is their first time around the world, just like ours, and they’re like oh this is life, this is a real thing so now I’m kind of in that flight or fight mode and so that teaches them that you have to obey strangers, right? Getting in lines, listening to bells, oh the bell rang. Now it’s nap time. The bell rung. Now it’s lunch time. It’s like well how about my own intuition that instructs me that I’m tired, I should take a nap, I’m hungry, I should eat?

Ashe Oro: No, it’s amazing, I mean they really are creating producers, excuse me not producers but consumers. And just people that can fall in line. How do you see if a child and I know you have a lot of home schooling experience and you travel the country and give workshops and presentations about home schooling. Rather than that fear induced type of child that our standardized school system creates, how do you see home schoolers? Are they nervous to be around people? Are they scared to go out in society? Because this is some of the common criticisms of home schooling is that your child is gonna have no social experience or social life at all.

David Rodriguez: Yeah, so one of the distinctions I like to make right now is homeschooling versus school at home. So what I call homeschooling is when a leader creates an atmosphere where personalized learning can occur. That’s my definition of homeschooling whereas maybe some people’s definition is school at home. Where you actually take the textbooks, you sit at the kitchen table, you say okay mom or dad I’m gonna be the teacher, I’m gonna teach you these seven subjects. That is probably better than being inside the school building with complete strangers but I want to distinguish between the two.

So that’s homeschooling and then more powerful, if mom and dad can allow freedom for the child is unschooling and this is in my opinion 100% self directed learning where there’s trust involved and of course there’s risk, right? When you take personal responsibility for your life there’s risk involved but mom and dad trust the student, their child to proceed. And of course they’re not gonna let them run across the street but in the house these kind of things allowing them to study what they want to study.

So home schoolers in my experience are really kind people. Really empathic compassionate people. And of course you have the socialization question and how I normally help parents realize is that socialization is a weird word that even in public schools, you’re not allowed to talk. Right? You’re in a project, you’re in a test, if you ask your buddy, hey can you help me with this? Shh! You’re cheating! It’s like –

Ashe Oro: Literally cheating. Asking for help is cheating. Like when does a business person not ask for help, you know? Well you’re not gonna do it that often because you can’t do everything yourself. I mean building teams and building your network, how many times have you heard that your network is your net worth? Well in school they do everything they can to prevent us from networking to help each other. Whereas again, home school, I imagine unfortunately I wasn’t homeschooled but you and your circles, I read a lot of what you guys produce. And it just seems that all these criticisms being laid against home schoolers are they just by people who have vested interest in the public school system, or why would people come out so angrily against home schoolers?

David Rodriguez: Beautiful question. You know why? Because the super large business, conservatively, the K12 public school budget is 600 billion dollars. I’ve heard some estimates 850 billion and some people put it at a trillion. Regardless of what the number is, it’s massive. And guess what the largest union in the country is? The teacher’s union. This is the national education association followed by the American Federation of Teachers. So it’s supposed to be about the kids and I know there’s sweet loving people inside these systems. However, when you start playing with somebody’s money, just like you play with your money or my money, it’s like ooh, you know? I was planning on a life time pension and lifetime medical and now they’re trying to shake it up and if you see some of these documentaries, like I think Waiting for Superman is one of them where this young woman, I think she’s 30s of 40s is just full of energy. She wants to go reform the school system I think in New Jersey and the union was like nu-uh, we’re gonna keep all these poor performing teachers. So, nu-uh. And they walked out of the meeting, it’s incredible. They wouldn’t even have a conversation, they wouldn’t even have a vote.

So it’s a massive business. Publishers are making big money. Bus manufactures, the food. You know, bologna business, trash business.

Ashe Oro: Milk business, the pizza business, the school textbook business, the pencil business. I mean there’s a lot of consumers down there whenever you force this. And look, we’re not trying to say that all teachers are bad. Actually, my mother was a substitute and assistant teacher for years and she drove a school bus as well. We’re just specifically talking about the system and not all teachers are bad.

Speaking of one really awesome teacher, John Taylor Gatto, who is he? How significant is he in just your influence and what he’s doing?

David Rodriguez: John Taylor Gatto is to education like Michael Jordan is to basketball, man. Or like LeBron, or Kobe, whoever you like. He’s a real champion, he taught in the public schools for 30 years in New York. He retired at the top of his game two time state teacher of the year.

Ashe Oro: State teacher of the year. In New York.

David Rodriguez: State, yup. State. I’ve got copies of the documents and everything it’s incredible, and the reason he got that award is because his students, his eighth grade students were going out and winning all these different awards. Writing contests, essay contests, starting markets, going and volunteering, true volunteering at the homeless shelter. Eight of his students ran the homeless shelter and just story after story, and you can check out some of his stories on John Taylor Gatto TV on YouTube.

But he just has so many testimonials and I think he taught maybe about 1500 students, but he was such a champion that at the beginning of the year he would sit with his students and say hey, Susie or Johnny or whoever you are, what would be something interesting that you could get excited about for the next nine months? What’s something that you’re interested in. And some guys wanna learn to write comic books. Some girl, her dream was to be an Olympic swimmer. So she ended up creating some project around all the local swimming pools and resources and that. So there’s all these different things that he has done.

And then he at the top of his game, he basically made public speeches and he did an opt ed page in the Wall Street Journal. And he said if you find a profession where you don’t have to hurt kids because I’m done, this is my final year. So that’s what started his speaking career. He started getting speaking opportunities all over the country.

Ashe Oro: And now he champions what?

David Rodriguez: Now he champions, well self directed learning. He calls it unschooling also but there’s actually a great speech called open source learning and his great quote which I’m gonna share as long as I can, he said, “Teaching is not a profession. It is a function. Anybody with something to share, something to offer, can be a teacher.” So that was his whole thing and he wrote a book called Dumbing us Down, Weapons of Mass Instruction. I helped publish the Underground History of American Education and he is the top of the integrable type situation and I’m working with him as I mentioned a publisher. And this was maybe like two years ago and so I say John, I think people are interested in you. Like you’ve got a strong core fan base, and they wanna know who you are. Can we do a biography?

At this point still, he’s like no I’m not comfortable doing that. And I was like, why? You have such an interesting life, he talks about his life in Pennsylvania and so many cool stories and he said, I was taught it’s not proper to brag about your achievements. And I was like man, that’s even more of a reason. So I’m still working on getting that permission to get the biography going, but he’s 82 years old, he’s in New York.

Ashe Oro: I mean I’d put him up there with like Mises for economics or Ray Dalio for business principles or these people who are challenging the status quo and he’s got the history and background to prove it. I mean he does, you know, there’s one thing about people that have great ideas. People who can talk the talk, that’s amazing. But he walked the walk to the highest extent. He was the number one stand out teacher in one of the largest states and most difficult school systems in the country, in the world maybe, who knows. But this is a guy, Weapons of Mass, what was it? Instruction?

David Rodriguez: Weapons of Mass Instruction.

Ashe Oro: And I assume this is what his take away of being inside the machine and just seeing what type of damage people can, the system can do to a young, hungry, curious kids mind?

David Rodriguez: Yes. And the one of the most powerful weapons of mass instruction is the extension of childhood. And this is documented in the early 1900s I think by Elwood P Coverley in the history of public education, but it’s the extending of your childhood. So rather than saying your childhood ending at age seven, they extend it three more years, four or five more years, now you’re 12. Well now it’s up to 18, even 22 or 24 years old. 30 years old. And even 40 years old, some Government documents.

Because what happens is, if you’re child minded, you have childish fears. So the boogeyman scares you, right? Or facing your fears scares you. I mean we all have fears but like childish fears, like imaginary ones and then you’re not concerned about the higher life or the mature life of maybe higher values of love, of courage, of compassion.

Ashe Oro: And you’re not taught any of that in school. I mean you’re not told a single thing and most people’s parents aren’t gonna be able to teach you this. And now you go to school with some stranger like parent 2. 0, and these people don’t have the credibility or the respect to teach kids what they actually need in order to be a successful happy independent free person. I mean think about the bullshit that we were taught in school.

Civics. I don’t give a shit about government’s history, right? Geography. Okay, cool, why do I need to learn all 100 counties and their capitals in the state of North Carolina? Why do I have to remember that crap? And think about some of these. I mean Social Studies. I know I just said that but this is literally just learning how to be a good citizen, maybe how to stay out of jail. Knowing that your obligations to this state. Even stupid classes like English.

Like, I don’t care about Edgar Allen Poe. I don’t care about any of these writers, I’m a mathematician, I’m a scientist. I’m somebody who wanted to be an astronaut, not somebody who wanted to give a 40 minute presentation on Edgar Allen Poe’s entire history, his childhood, his parents, everything he wrote, why … I mean what is this nonsense. Is this just where socialism and socialized goods go over time? To please not their customers, the children, but to please the people in control of the state?

David Rodriguez: Correct. Yeah, so since we’re on the Liberty Entrepreneur podcast we’re all aware of the State, right? And so understanding the Left/ Right paradigm or individualism versus collectivism. And the great Lysander Spooner helped liberate my mind in so many ways that the document of the constitution really doesn’t have any effect if I didn’t sign it. Like these guys have all passed away, so in reality if somebody believes in God or evolution or nature whatever it is, I’m connected to the Creator, to the source. And if I don’t give consent then how does any third party have any rule over me? They don’t. So that’s why they gotta get the schools teaching the kids, I pledge allegiance to the flag. I mean you pledge allegiance when it says it means the Republic. So what you’re allying yourself with is a Republic, is a State, and they’re gonna go off and kill people because they’re protecting you. Killing people is their solution to helping you. And it’s imaginary like, what if McDonald’s owned the school system, what would they be teaching?

Ashe Oro: I pledge allegiance to McDonald’s, and the holy burgers they create. I mean this is so weird, I mean the first time I heard Tom Woods say this. What if Wal-Mart was in control of our schools. And what if your children, because I just see the government as another business, it’s just another type of corporation except they steal their profits rather than earn them through peaceful trade. But what if McDonald’s owned all the school systems and it was just of socially norm to send your child to McDonald’s. Do you think they would teach your children to be entrepreneurs or burger flippers and cash register workers?

That’s what the government does. They’re just teaching our children, whatever the hell. It’s a propaganda camp, isn’t it? You drive by a school and you can’t sometimes you can’t tell if it’s a school or a prison. Like, so let’s spice it up a little bit. We’ve got these pineapple shirts on here, okay? What was your, what do you remember in school being fun or having enjoyment, or finding pleasure or having passion? If anything?

David Rodriguez: The only thing that kept me in school Ashe was sports. I was a three sport athlete, I got athlete of the year my senior year. Just because I loved the game, right? I’m not a vertically superior man, but I’m strong, right? I can move, I’m fast. So that’s how I was able to play the game. And my parents demanded I have a 3.0 GPA, right? They have high standards in my house. So, and I love you mom and dad. So that means I had to learn to play the game. 2.0 was not gonna allow me to play in the game on Friday or Tuesday or whatever it is. I had to actually follow and I felt the line of how rebellious I could be? You know, I was class clown sometimes like this, but I was like damn I’m gonna get suspended you know?

Ashe Oro: And that means no sports.

David Rodriguez: No sports! It’s a carrot that they use and it’s very strategic. Just like recess is a carrot, extra activities, extra curricular. Oh, you didn’t do your homework? You’re not gonna go on the field trip today. So it’s all this B.F. Skinner operant conditioning type stuff. So it was really sports, bus rides, going to sporting events, coming back, having a good time, ripping it up with fellas. Seeing some nice girls and everything. But it was really sports and trying to have fun in the middle of having to do a mandatory –

Ashe Oro: The obligation, yeah.

David Rodriguez: The obligation. For some reason I think about mine, the eighth grade report about doing the Oregon Trail. About the people that came from the East Coast to the West Coast and I had to do this report and I’m like –

Ashe Oro: And who cares?

David Rodriguez: I don’t give a shit about that at all? Like zero.

Ashe Oro: I mean I just know from the video game that you never try to forge the river. But for me the best thing about school and looking back on it was when I got to integrate with the marketplace, you know? Buying lunch. Or at least getting to pick, do I want the burger or do I want the pizza? Do I want the chocolate milk or do I want the regular milk or do I want to pay extra for the soft drink or something? Or like the book fair, do I want this pencil, do I want this book marker, do I want this notebook? And even buying ice cream, just having I remember feeling free when I got to make my own decisions as a child. And I got to make my own decisions only in school whenever it had to deal with money for some reason.

At the book fair, at the carnival or whatever it was. And looking back on that, nobody ever said anything about hey what was it like going out and going to book fair and being able to freely purchase whatever book you wanted? Because all the other times were you’re gonna learn this, and you’re gonna learn this at this time for this amount of time and then when the bell rings, you’re gonna go learn this and then learn this. But it’s just so interesting.

What do you think happens, let’s say public schools starts to become less and less popular and more parents, or even a collective of adults in a neighborhood or so decides, hey I think I can homeschool. Not school at home or home school. Or if more parents are able to unschool, which is literally you just living with your kid and experiencing life together.

What do you think would happen to children if that was the environment that they grew up in?

David Rodriguez: I think children would be happier, parents would be happier. There would be more, probably even more these kids starting businesses, like selling lemonade. I’ve seen situations where these guys are getting shut down because they don’t have a lemonade permit. There should be a hot chocolate stand, there should be a lemonade stand, they should be selling their baked goods. That should be on the street sharing like this. So I think there’d be stronger relationships and young kids, teens, they’d be independent earlier. As I mentioned, by the time you graduate, 18, I remember this. My senior year in high school they had this virtual business class and I was so burned out I was like I don’t care about that, man, but I’m like, that was like one class that I should have took but by that time I was just so over it. I just wanna be done with this.

Ashe Oro: Out of here.

David Rodriguez: Oh, man. Eighth grade graduation, I’ll give you a story too is that I had my gown on and someone was congratulating me, they were like congratulations on graduating eighth grade and I had my cap and everything and I was just like I’m not even happy, dude. I’ve got four more years, this is not graduation, this is like a time out. I gotta get back in the game so it’s so exciting to consider where home schooling came from. You know back in the 60s and 70s it was illegal.

So I have a lot of hope in the homeschooling movement because mom and dads are passionate. Also in California where I’m at, they have mandatory vaccines if you’re gonna put your child into the government school system so that’s a huge aggressive move by the state, so that’s also what inspired me to get into the home school training business which is a new thing to help parents understand what’s going on. What is an education, how can you do it? And then what do you do next? This is just a process, this is not like an end outcome where the public school, if you get into Harvard or Yale, they’re like man you have succeeded in life, that is the way to go.

Ashe Oro: Into college. Not that you’ve created any value but you’ve learned the system.

David Rodriguez: You became a customer and you’re probably going to pay 50 or 60 grand a year to get this piece of paper right here. And then guess what, you still gotta go get a job or build a business or give value to somebody, you don’t need this piece of paper. So in a homeschooling school or unschooling environment, they’re like you don’t have to wait until you’re 18, 22, 30, what do you want to do right now? And you won’t hear very many home schoolers ask their child, what do you want to be when you grow up? It’s like what do you wanna be now? What are you interested in now?

Ashe Oro: Like screw when I grow up. I don’t know what I wanna be when I grow up. I still don’t know what I wanna be. I’m on my fourth career now. I don’t know what I wanna be when I grow up. It’s amazing, like that’s really the only question that parents or teachers ask children when they’re young. It’s like what do you want to be when you grow up? Well how about you ask me what I’m feeling now? Or how about you ask me what I’m passionate about now? Like where’s the curiosity with the children in public school? It’s not there.

What have you found when you go around the country, what type of energy are you feeling at these unschooling and home schooling conferences. Are they small, are they big, have you noticed growth? Is there media there, or?

David Rodriguez: Yeah, no media. But a lot of energy, there’s a lot of passionate parents who have basically drawn the line in the sand for whatever reason. Sometimes it’s religious reasons. Sometimes you have religious people and they’re like you can’t even pray in school, you can’t even say God so I’m taking my child out for that reason and they are growing and more and more parents are taking leadership which I think is the best thing to do.

You know, this is when I lost hope in the whole system with Ron Paul getting his election stolen. I’m like, no savior’s coming man. If there’s a savior, it’s you in the mirror, it’s me in the mirror, whoever is listening, take a look in the mirror, say it. I love you, I believe in you, let’s do it together. Man, because building that leadership community I think is the way to go and these conventions are continually expanding and it’s basically at any age that I meet these children or teens with parents, it’s like it’s a good age to remove them. Ideally, you know, maybe seven or eight you can begin that process or just allowing them to learn.

But by the time they’re 12, 13, 14, we’re talking sixth, seventh, eight grade, if they haven’t been allowed freedom to pursue their interest, freedom to pursue their passions, it’s hard to ignite that and so it’s a sad thing or great question parents could ask is what’s your dream? Or as Napoleon Hill talks about in the book Think And Grow Rich, what’s your major definite purpose in life? And that’s such a major question it takes time, you gotta let that question resonate and kind of beat in the dirt for a while and let something sprout up. Because that’s like a future long thing but that question, that purpose, just like my phone has a purpose, this computer has a purpose, your life has a purpose. So does mine, the listener’s. Your life has a purpose so if we can begin asking that question to our children at a young age they can sit with that and maybe five years later they’re like, yeah. I think I wanna do this. I wanna help out humanity in this way and that causes a lot of passion and excitement for them.

Ashe Oro: Yeah, without taking up their mental cycles learning the crap that is in the curriculums. What if children could just sit around and think and play and be curious? You know, we’re talking away, public schools take away the best part of being a kid. Freedom. Curiosity. More energy than you know what to do with. You don’t wanna sit still. Kids don’t naturally just hate each other. I notice kids everywhere I go and they’ll just, it doesn’t matter if they’re short of tall or with some age difference or black or white or it doesn’t matter. Kids just go up and hang out with each other. And then you grow up and you’re taught to fear. You’re taught to fear the outside and you get conditioned to be ordered around by a stranger, a teacher, which later in life of course it’s not that uncommon whenever some stranger like a cop comes and orders you around or a politician or you know riot guard police or whoever.

I’m really fascinated with the entrepreneurial energy I see in children and I think about episode 45 or so there were these four little boys outside of a coffee shop in Denver, Coldorado, that had a lemonade stand. Very well positioned, right? At this very busy coffee shop. And it just struck me so much, I was like yes. It was in the summer, I can remember doing that stuff. Having car washes or lemonade stands, and so I interviewed these little boys and they knew what they were doing. They knew how to price this stuff, they knew how much they wanted to make per cup or how much they should pour or should they request the cups back from the clients or can they let them have and throw away the cups? And it’s just really amazing what children could do if they were allowed to build business or create value, but I want to get your opinion on this.

Do you feel that schooling, compulsory schooling as it stands today was created out of a desire to limit competition with like workers, factory workers, field workers, stuff like that because a 10 year old, 12 year old, 14 year old kid can create a lot of value and maybe some old guys don’t want that new fresh young competition.

David Rodriguez: Beautiful. You’re talking about overproduction or over education as they spoke about in the –

Ashe Oro: Over education.

David Rodriguez: I think William Tory Harris said that word. So they don’t want them to be super educated because then you create competitors actually. And let me read this quote if you’ll permit me here from Frederick Yates, this is from 1913, he was the advisor to John D. Rockefeller senior. He said, “In our dream, we have limitless resources and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hand. The present educational conventions fade from our minds and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive world folk. We shall not try to make these people or any other children into philosophers or men of learning or of science. We are not to raise up among them authors, orators, poets, or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo, great artists, painters, musicians, nor will we cherish even the humbler ambition to raise up among them lawyers, doctors, preachers, statesmen of whom we now have ample supply.”

So this is in 1913 and the reason that’s a powerful quote is because Rockefeller funded the pensions of the school system in that time period to make sure that the teachers follow their curriculum, their guidelines and that’s why they funded the Columbia Teacher’s College as well as University of Chicago. They wanted to have a monopoly. Now, many of these public school teachers, again many of them are earnest and loving sweet people. They do need a teacher’s credential. Again, let’s see a teacher’s credential in real life? There’s a piece of paper, that’s your teacher’s credential. You have now been certified by us to go out and teach these kids so all this school-ese, all this education-ese, all this language, it tricks people and they’re not certain about what they’re even doing. What is the purpose of education? And I think that’s why parents if you can define what success means for you.

Define what education is for for you, not for the strangers or your family outside of your house or whoever is blaring through your TV or whatever it is, for you. And the bigger question, which does take time is what do you value? What is important to you and that has to go deep. So there’s more levels that they have to go through, and this is called the unlearning process or for parents the de schooling process. And I’ll mention that because that’s a really important thing. So let’s say your son is 12 years old. So he’s been in the system for five years, he’s in seventh grade, let’s say. So you want to home school him so you remove him from the school system. Do not begin to use this curriculum, and say okay now we’re done with that curriculum you gotta do this curriculum. Just like you would shake up a soda and you open the cap there’s all this pressure that has to vacate. Same thing mentally and emotionally with your son. Give him, this is a recommendation, one month of freedom for every year that he was in the school system. Allow him to just be. If he wants to play video games all day or sleep all day or do absolutely nothing, it’s very important to allow him to do that because he’s getting back in touch with himself because for five years he was being forced and coerced and threatened.

Ashe Oro: He was someone else’s, yeah. Let these little people, you know, these young people have their own way. Have some freedom. It’s so amazing that we feel like children must be managed, they must be controlled, they must be told what to do because they don’t know otherwise. Whenever you hear this type of stuff, what do you wanna say or what do you wanna do or how do you bring attention to the fact that even some of the youngest most people, you know seven years old, six years old, five years old. They have a pretty good idea of what they want to do. How do we give children that type of freedom? How do we extend human rights and property rights to children?

David Rodriguez: I think one of the most powerful suggestions is to teach them they own themselves. And this is hard because mom and dad were taught normally through religious training or traditional culture type things to obey mom and dad. You must respect mom and dad.

Ashe Oro: It’s in the Bible.

David Rodriguez: Right, it’s in the Bible, it’s biblical, God said it, so now we can do it. Again, this is not to hate on the religious people out there. I was raised Christian, I went through all that, and then I started to realize what are all these factions telling me what to do with my body and my life and once I came to that realization that I own me and you own you. If we want to engage in business or engage in some type of way, let’s shake hands, let’s do a verbal contract, let’s a do a written contract and let’s engage. So one girl who I saw, she was practicing with her son who was six years old, or maybe it was five. But she said, son, is it okay if I pick you up? And he was like, yeah, pick me up! And I asked her, I said, do you always ask like that and she’s like yeah I’m trying to teach him about his personal space, and you know I don’t just come up and grab adults and just be go like this, I ask.

And so little things like that to help them realize they are the powerful, self owner, sovereign one, whatever you wanna call it from a young age and then they can begin exercising their language, asserting their rights. Hey, you don’t have a right to touch me, and the kid’s eight years old? What’s an adult gonna do? They’re gonna say, oh. Yeah you’re right, I can’t touch you.

Ashe Oro: And for the record David will sneak up on you and give you a bear hug. So anybody in Anarchapulco watch out.

David Rodriguez: For sure. See you in Anarchapulco.

Ashe Oro: But when you’re talking to some of these parents who are just learning about unschooling or home schooling, what are some of their major concerns or even maybe criticisms but mostly what are their concerns of maybe inadequacy or unpreparedness and stuff like that?

David Rodriguez: The biggest concern we touched on briefly was about socialization, so helping them socialize. And so you just take them to different classes, have them interact with people in general. The grocery store, the library. Volunteering at the local, wherever, food kitchen or wherever it is anywhere. You know businesses, stuff like that, socialization. The other one is they lack the confidence to do it. So they’ll say I want to home school but I was bad at math so I can’t homeschool. So again this goes back to the paradigm of what is education. Because a 10 year old who’s not interested in math, he doesn’t need to know. And if he does need to know, there’s something called the internet. You can use Kahn Academy, you can use YouTube. So there’s all these different resources. So the other part is mom and dad not having the confidence to do it.

And I think one of the biggest ones which I have a few ideas for and it’s really like the 600 billion dollar question I would say but it’s coming is I have to work out side of the home. So that’s valid, right? Maybe mom and dad are working or a single parent, so how to help them generate an online business, and this is either building their own products and services, consulting coaching, doing affiliate marketing, podcasting like you’re doing and figuring out a way to monetize it. Because we now have access to all this technology and platforms, and like Gary V. Talks about, he’s like whatever business you’re in, you’re in that business slash you’re a media company. Begin seeing yourself as a media company and what Brian Tracey talks about is that you, first of all, how many in this room are self employed? And some people raise their hand. But he said all of you are self employed. Because you might have a job with company A, but you won’t always work for that company, you’re gonna move someday, or there’s gonna be a change. So you are the president of your own personal services corporation.

And if I can share that with parents and they’re ready for it, then they begin to process it. Okay, so we do have two incomes. But what if instead of making three or four grand outside the house, what if can make three or four grand inside the house? Or maybe we sacrifice for a little bit. Or maybe we figure out a cooperative agreement but it has to do with income, right? We have to generate some income but I think deep down is they don’t wanna ruin their child’s life. And that’s respectable, you know. I don’t wanna ruin my child’s life, so if they’re in the school system then that’s kind of like the school’s responsibility. But if I pull them out and put them in my house and say I’m now … now it’s on me and guess what if they grow up and live a bad life I’m gonna regret it I’m gonna hear it from my cousins, my grandparents, my parents, the society. But the truth is that at some point, if you’re homeschooling with freedom and demonstrating, modeling, respect and compassion and love and empowerment.

At some point, age 15, 16, 17, 18 they say, thanks mom, this is my life, now get out of my way, I’m gone. And it’s like they want to flap their wings just like you did and myself, like I’m gone, I got some stuff to try, I wanna go travel and do something, I’m gone.

Ashe Oro: I’ve got some shit to build. I’ve gotta get out of here I couldn’t wait to leave. And think about, if anyone needs proof, think about the last day of school every single year. You couldn’t wait. I used to have this little thing where I would throw my backpack out in the yard and just leave it out there hoping that it rained you know, like prison is over. One of my friends, she has a 13 year old child and her kid, her daughter, literally calls school prison. And she knows my stances on public school and she never wanted to tell me for the longest time that her child called school prison.

But you know now, you have the internet. Let’s talk about that. Back in the day, any Government program, they’re usually pretty effective at the beginning. And then as social programs age, the inefficiencies start to catch up with them and the product that they create in this sense, schooling or I guess you could call it education for children starts to degrade over time because there’s not that market feedback loop to keep it good. But now we have the internet. The Kahn Academy. Ron Paul’s Home School curriculum. What are you seeing now? I mean I know we grew up in this digital age, but just think about what do you see is gonna happen with all these new possibilities now to compete against government school? Because I don’t think we’re gonna shut government school down, just like we’re not gonna audit the fed and shut the dollar down but we’re gonna compete against it.

What are you seeing with children or with parents that already have all of this for the most part free resources?

David Rodriguez: Yeah the Buckminster Fuller quote was that you never change reality by fighting against it, you have to create a new model that makes the old model obsolete. So I have no hope in political reform for schools. This is to help remove them from the school system so they can do something better. And then one of the tricky words also that a lot of homeschooling parents will hear is the world curriculum. The world curriculum didn’t even become a big issue until the 80s when more parents were removing their children from the school system and the school was scrambling because the schools get their money based on average daily attendance ratios, percentages. That’s why you have a truancy officer, when you miss three days of school or you’re tardy, you get the robo call. Your son was absent today, dadada. Because they don’t get the money, the districts don’t get the money from the state.

So it’s a massive business, and if parents can distinguish between schooling and education as Gatto taught us. Schooling is what other people do to you. Education is what you do to yourself. And also the root word of education, educo, the Latin, mean to pull from within, or to draw out. So this is why I named my academy Valor Academy for two reasons. One is that you’re already valuable the way you are. You don’t have to jump through some hoop, you don’t have to pass this little test and prove your intelligence, I believe every person is a genius and intelligent, brilliant in their own way. And the other reason was that valor, valor, a synonym for courage.

If your child can begin to value themselves, self-worth and then develop courage, their success is almost guaranteed in life because once you know that you’re valuable and you don’t need someone’s approval, you don’t gotta get a gold sticker, you don’t gotta get a smiley face on your piece of paper to feel, yay I’m good. You say, I’m good the way I am. Whatever you believe created you or brought into being, you’re valuable. You’re a human being. Man, your parents made sweet love and you were created and you were born and it’s like you are important and I think every child if they could hear that just every few days hear that. You know? It’s not about the grades and tests and scores, it’s about you connecting with yourself, learning about yourself, if you can think about how you want to serve other people, give value to humanity and then have a great life, you know? Have fun, fall in love, or go build some art or business or something great and enjoy it because it’s just a fast ride so I recommend parents do that if they can.

Ashe Oro: So your upcoming book, I like the first two words. The Apprenticeship. How to get a real education and solve the crisis of public schooling with a proven affordable method. In a free society, in a free market driven educational apparatus system, whatever, it wouldn’t be a system but if the marketplace was in charge of education, what value or what significance do you see with the apprenticeship model?

David Rodriguez: The apprenticeship model I believe in some ways is the future of learning just because knowledge is doubling either every 18 months or every 12 months and I heard someone, some futurist guy say by 2023, it’ll be doubling every three days. So there’s so much knowledge and research and information being created, content being generated, if people don’t stay up with it then they’re gonna get left behind, so. Everybody’s in the education business in my opinion. So whatever your ambition is, however you want to serve humans, young student or mom and dad with students, they’re going to want to connect with somebody who knows the business. So this goes back, way back, whether you’re a cobbler making shoes or a blacksmith or an agrarian farmer or something. If that person is making a livelihood doing whatever he’s doing and I’m a 12 year old, 13, 14, 15, shoot even 18, I can go give him my energy. I can give him my labor, I can give him my time and if he’s looking for that we now create a win win relationship. He gets a volunteer and I get an expert in the field that I’m interested in.

Now you can do a one day apprenticeship, you can do a week or a month, and there’s various ways, conversation to have, set up a contract or an agreement because it’s gotta be a win win, right? And they don’t wanna work with somebody who’s negative or vice versa, or mean, or whatever it is. But once you connect with an expert, and then the amateur, the apprentice who wants to learn, there’s this synergy that’s created and whether they stay together for six months or a year, or two years or they say you know what, I don’t wanna be a farmer. I wanna be a scientist or I wanna build houses or whatever you want to do, there’s people out there who are looking for young energetic people and that’s what teenagers bring to the table because they do have that and they are a little bit ignorant and maybe they don’t know themselves but if they have an intention, just a clear intention, a purpose for being in this area, like I want to help people build houses or cure water.

There’s this young guy, I think he’s in his 20s now but he’s created some solution to all the plastic in the ocean. I just saw an article about it and he’s now removing like 500 pounds or 5000 pounds of plastic from the ocean every day, not for money but because he cares about the planet.

Ashe Oro: And he can do it.

David Rodriguez: And he can do it!

Ashe Oro: Following passions, it’s always amazed me how we always tell children they can grow up and be anything they want to be and they need to follow their passions but when it comes down to it we don’t let them follow their passions. And I say we, you know I don’t have children, but I was a child one time and I know that I couldn’t follow my passions. But imagine if you were even starting at the age of 12 or maybe 10, let’s just say 12 where you’re in school for at least another six years and if you had two internships for each of those six years you could have a taste of 12 different careers in the same time it would have taken you just to go through a couple years of school where you graduate and you’re not really any more employable then when you came into school.

This is why I’ve had two of the team members of Discover Praxis, the internship or mentoring alternative to high school and college because I just believe in this apprenticeship process so much. My grandfather owned a Harley repair shop and I can remember going over there a couple times and working with him to break down engines and stuff like that and I thought that was so much cooler than going to school and learning where Czechoslovakia was. Well I don’t even think there is a Czechoslovakia anymore but I had to learn that back in the day. How can people learn more about homeschooling or unschooling, at least to the point to satisfy some curiosity? Maybe they don’t even have children like me but they’re interested in trying to help anyone be more free, and in this sense, children.

David Rodriguez: Number one is to realize the difference between school and education and then also consider homeschooling as a way of life, you know. If you’re a vegan, or carnivore, whatever you are, it’s a way of life. If you exercise every so often, eating healthy or you’re religious, or whatever, it’s just a way of life and pretty soon you begin to see learning everywhere. And this is why I’ve designed a few curriculums, and it’s not like a curriculum in a book, you know, do this, say this. I set up curriculums which again from the real word of, meaning a course or to run a path. It’s an actual path, so if somebody has an interest in a particular area, there’s certain frameworks, or curriculums to use towards it. One of the most powerful ones is the question curriculum. And so mom and dad, if your student is interested in computers or music or nature, whatever it is, you don’t have to know anything about it. All you need to do, if you’re gonna practice the question curriculum is to learn to ask good questions or help them learn to ask good questions.

Because the better you are at asking questions, then the better information you’re gonna find, and some people say, which I concur with is that all knowledge is just an answer to a question. So what question are you asking? The other one is, the other curriculum which is really helpful and I teach my parents and clients, is the world as the classroom curriculum. So this is beginning to use the lens that learning doesn’t just happen in a building, right? It’s not from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM, it’s everywhere, it’s totally everywhere and you can do it like as you mentioned, buying books at the bookstore at school. Well guess what, there’s grocery stores. So when you guys are going shopping, let them know, or even allow them to have a $10 budget or $15 budget and say hey, this is your food money or this is your spending money, buy whatever you want and they’re like, okay. I gotta go find a coupon or something, you know? And they begin to use the mathematical calculations and if you’re living a healthy lifestyle, they’ll ask you hey mom or dad is this healthy? What about high fructose corn syrup of aspartame you know?

They’ll begin to inquire because it’s no longer do what I say, it’s do what you want as long as you’re safe. You know, and you want to speak freely with them. This is why Gatto was such a champion. He said I would talk with 12 and 13 year olds as if they were grown people. I wouldn’t treat them different, I would speak to them and he said because he was in Manhattan New York and there was downtown a lot of minorities he said the street idiom sometimes was hard to understand but he intellectual ability, the intelligence was there, it was just a matter of breaking through the language and allowing them to see that the world is the classroom and you can truly learn anywhere if you have the lens to do that. So those are a couple of curriculums that parents can use right now, and those are all for free!

Ashe Oro: Yeah, just follow your curiosity and follow your child’s curiosity and I see so often children not being allowed to follow their curiosity and using the perspective that the world is your educational room or whatever, there’s so much to learn everywhere. Especially with the internet, the type of a finger, ten strokes you can find out anything you want. And you can own your own curiosity now, all children are curious. All children are curious, they come into the world, they don’t know anything and they have to use their experience to go around and learn. To do that, they have to question, they have to be skeptical. And a lot of times they start to question and be skeptical to adults, right? And then we have the terrible twos, I call them the terrific twos because it’s them establishing property rights, establishing themselves and being okay with saying no. You want me to eat broccoli? I don’t want to eat broccoli. What do you think about that, you know? Let’s, so since we’re on this curriculum thing, what do you think about the Ron Paul homeschool curriculum. I’ve never had it, I remember a couple of years ago he brought it out.

Is that a good entry point or is that too structured school wise? Or have you experienced it?

David Rodriguez: Yeah, no I played around in there and there are some free components, there’d some paid component, but it’s good stuff. I mean Ron Paul, because Ron Paul is a good man, and he’s a freedom man, like that’s what he creates so you know and there’s talks about economics and there was actually one class in college that was helpful was micro and macro economics and believe it or not I actually had that professor, Dr. Edward Stringham, who was a Voluntaryists anarchist who we reconnected like 15 years later, I told him I said Ed, your class was the only helpful one. Because we did these various experiments of price, price fixing and price floors when the government gets in there like minimum wage type stuff. So Ron Paul has that. You can just join his newsletter list, he’s got some good content going out from his newsletter list but it is, it’s about liberty and freedom and he’s, I would say libertarian. I think the next evolution, Ashe in your listeners, is to create something which is Voluntaryists created.

I think that might be the final red pill for humanity is that you own your life, and young people get it. At a young age they get it and they do have a certain amount of authority that you and I don’t have when dealing with adults. If you have an eight year old or a 10 year old or maybe you saw the 13 year old girl who presented at United Nations, this is maybe 10 or 15 years ago, she laid it down. And what are you gonna say to a 12 year old girl who is laying it down at the United Nations saying you know what, you guys are wrecking our world and you need to stop because you can’t fix the problems that you’re starting. So yeah, Ron Paul’s the man, I got a lot of respect and love for him. He actually did the forward on the book the Underground History of American Education from John Gatto. So check that out, that’s a good curriculum.

And basically it’s like this, life is a buffet. Education is like a buffet. You bring your plate and you take what you like. If you don’t like vegetables or carrots or asparagus. Like I used to hate beets growing up and now I love beets. So it’s like you take what you want, you leave what you want and realize it’s a self serve type education and if mom and dad can get on board with that then it’s like it’s a happy family, I’m not forcing you and you’re not forcing me but trust each other in your brilliance, in your ability to self-direct your life because this is just a fast ride and we just want love and acceptance and community.

Ashe Oro: And we don’t necessarily need the government telling us what to learn and what to go and what time we need to learn and what day we need to learn and what subjects we need to learn and what tests we have to take and the crap we have to memorize. It’s as anti-entrepreneurship as I can imagine, schooling is as it currently stands right now.

David, man, I appreciate you so much you know. Understanding the role that children play in forming their own free lifestyle and giving them the options to create their own free lifestyle and to own themselves and to own their thoughts and to create compassion for themselves and all the things that we later in life learn that are so significant to being a full, fulfilled, happy person. I can’t think of a single thing that I learned in public school specifically that helped me achieve these things. Most of the time it was things like you said I had to unlearn. And what you’re doing in trying to help spread a perspective of first, it’s just respecting children when it comes down to it, it’s respecting children, and it’s respecting what they’re interested in and what their passionate in and not pushing ourselves onto children in any way. Be it you know, how you want to tell your children everything or you shove them off to school, but it’s really having that human to human connection and allowing someone to learn to express themself rather than us telling smaller people, children, what they need to express or what they should express.

David, if you’d like to leave us with any tips or how to get started, or books to read, videos to watch, presentations, role models or idols of yours, people who are also in this camp of producing free children, like maybe Dana Martin. What can you drop on us, where’s our next step here?

David Rodriguez: Yeah, Dana Martin’s a champion. Awesome radical unschool teacher and parent, John Taylor Gatto is a stud in my opinion. I have a Facebook group called homeschool leader where the purpose is to train peaceful parents to home school successfully, have peace of mind, have confidence and really those are really great places to start. You don’t wanna drink from the water hose too early. What I would say is just begin to realize that what school is designed to do is to create obedient people. I wish it wasn’t so, please look into John Gatto, look into Elwood P. Coverley, some of the resources there and begin to convince yourself because I’m not here to convince you, I’m here to show you solutions which will make the current system obsolete. And we might not change the whole system in the next five, 10, 15, 20 years and you know, who wants to? It’s about your child. It’s about one person, or you have two children, or three people. That is your little tribe, that’s your family, your love, your flesh and blood and DNA. And if it’s an education that they’re after, then they can find it anywhere.

Ashe Oro: Yeah, they’re gonna find it.

David Rodriguez: They’re gonna find it. And also the last part, it’s like if you’re in the public school and you’re still struggling to withdraw for whatever reason, I support you, I encourage you and you can even have a conversation with your child about the school system.

Ashe Oro: Imagine that.

David Rodriguez: And say hey, here’s what’s going on. I’d love to withdraw you so you can be home and self-direct and do that. But I’m working away to do it.

Ashe Oro: Like, what do you want? Do you want to stay in school? Why do you want to stay in school? Do you think you’d be interested in not going to school? What do you think you would do if you weren’t in school? What would you want to learn? It’s just like, yeah, learning’s everywhere man it’s a beautiful thing and we libertarians, Voluntaryists, people who understand who the root of who the State is, I’m so proud of you and everyone in this movement, this revolution of education centered around freedom.

David, how can people keep in touch with you if they’d like to learn more?

David Rodriguez: Yeah, you can join the Facebook group, you can email me at if you want to do some coaching or consulting. I can graduate your child early, you want to graduate them at 13, 14, 15. I just graduated this 15 year old girl who was really doing well in school was bored, so I said okay, here we can graduate you. What do you want to do? She was like I wanna study real estate. Great, you have a mentor? Yeah, I like Ty Lopez. Great. What else do you want to do? I want to start a YouTube channel. Great. So she’s started, she’s making videos. So whatever it is, because the school system hurts kids, I want to help you, mom and dad, however that is. If you can put 40 people in a room you can invite me to your city on a weekend. I’ll come out and do a workshop like I’m doing in two weeks in North Carolina, whatever it is.

This is really important, and it’s basically just success training for the young. Having a conversation. Take a look at John Taylor Gatto’s YouTube. Email me, we can chat. Join the group. Support Ashe and what you’re doing here, I really appreciate you putting me on because you’ve been doing it and this conversation is so important that young people learn to basically create a product or service and sell it. And you didn’t even have to do it for profit in the beginning, it’s just starting that process of giving value and then the high level, because I have a degree but it didn’t help me. Here’s the high level of business, generate some revenue, minus your expenses, you’re left with a profit, you’re now a business entrepreneur. I encourage you to own your life, see yourself as the president, connect with me, stay connected with Ashe and maybe you’ll see us in Anarchapulco.

Ashe Oro: You will for sure see me down in Anarchapulco in February. I hope to see a lot of my listeners down there. David I know I’ll see you down there. Jeff Berwick, all the good guys. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I don’t need to say it, everyone listening knows that you’re a liberty entrepreneur. Thank you so much David, and to everyone listening until next time, keep building freedom. We’re out.










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