My name is Logan LaPlante. I’m 14 and I hackschool. I’m taking control of my education so it reflects who I am and what I want to do. I don’t go to school in the traditional sense. I don’t use one particular curriculum, and I’m not dedicated to any particular approach.
Hackschooling is like a remix or a mashup of learning. It’s flexible, opportunistic, and never loses sight of making happiness, health, and creativity a priority. I’m consciously taking advantage of opportunities in my community (in Incline Village, Nev.) and within my network of friends and family to build my education.
- I spend one full day a week interning at either Moment Skis in Reno, Nev., or Bigtruck Brand in Truckee, Calif.
- I’m a member of the Squaw Valley Kids’ Institute, a community of kids who study interesting world thinkers and activists, like Joel Salatin and Sir Ken Robinson. Before these speakers present to hundreds of Tahoe locals, we get to sit in a tiny huddle, shoulder-to-shoulder, and ask them our prepared questions.
- With a couple of friends, I take chemistry class from a biochemist who conducts research at the University of Nevada Reno and wants us to learn from making. This week we made ice cream using liquid nitrogen!
- I take a Constitution class from my friend’s mom who spent her summer taking a seminar on U.S. history in order to teach us.
- I participate in events put on by the Holland Project, an organization of kids that brings the arts to kids.
- I ski competitively, take math online, read what interests me (like the original Conan books), edit video, study Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and am starting my own clothing company with some friends.
Basically, while my friends are away at school preparing for life, I’m living it. Some people call what I do “homeschooling,” but really, I prefer to learn and make away from home.
By far my favorite way of hacking my education is being an intern. My internships at Moment and Bigtruck give me a clear sense of community, depth, and pride. I get to make things I’m proud of with people I admire.
I remember the first time I got to wear a five-panel hat I designed at Bigtruck. I was skating to my friend’s house and when I got there he complimented my hat and asked where I got it. I told him I made it. It made me feel proud that someone noticed something I designed and sewed myself.
My friend Max Louis Miller lives in New York and is a designer for Moment. I’ve always admired his designs and graphics. They’re strange, which makes Moment so unique. Two winters ago, I got to sit down with Max, who was out West designing the 2012–2013 line, and we made some weird designs together. The next year, on the hill, I looked down at my new pair of Moment skis and saw one of my ideas from that night. I had made my first mark on a ski.
Now, as an intern, I’m a part of the whole ski-making process at Moment, from the computer and a plank of wood to running the CNC saw and attaching sidewall and fiberglass and carbon fiber. I put the skis in the heat press and cook them for 40 minutes. I participate in many steps of the process, and then I get to click in and jump cliffs on them. Most people think their skis are planks of wood with a plastic sheet overlay. Because of my hackschooling knowledge I feel more deeply connected.
Internships are a great way of getting involved in your community, getting an education from people you admire, and having fun. What most people don’t realize is that when you’re a kid you have a better chance of getting really cool internships. These opportunities are time limited and should not be passed up.
+To read more about Logan’s experiences as an intern, see Being an Intern Rocks.
+To hear more of Logan’s philosophy, check out his TEDx Talk titled “Hackschooling Makes Me Happy” (which now has over 3.5 million views):
+And for a window into a day at Logan’s internships, watch the video that he put together himself: