Would You Tell Your Kid to Quit School if He Hated It?

High school hallwayThis morning I opened my New York Times to a front-page story about the dotcom billionaire of the moment: David Karp, the twentysomething founder of Tumblr, which he’s selling to Yahoo this week for a fat chunk of change.

I expected to read a now-familiar story: socially awkward, hoodie-wearing kid holes up in his room with computer and a great idea, changes the face of the Internet landscape, goes on to collect his billions. I was expecting to read that Karp had dropped out of college, too, a la Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg.

Karp didn’t go to college. He didn’t even finish high school. But here’s the real kicker: His mother told him to drop out.

According to the Times, Karp’s mom, seeing that her son was bored with his studies at prestigious Bronx High School of Science, suggested he leave high school and be home-schooled instead. He was 14.

“I saw him at school all day and absorbed all night into his computer,” Karp’s mom, Barbara Ackerman, told the Times. “It became very clear that David needed the space to live his passion. Which was computers. All things computers.” After Karp dropped out of Bronx Science, he spent a lot of time working at MTV, building a website that went on to be acquired by Google for $50 million.

Speaking for myself, my family and I have pretty much built our lives around our kids’ education. My husband and I commute far to work, we pay too many taxes, and live in a small house, all to send our kids to good schools. These were choices we were all too happy to make, because we value our three children’s education. Even though things obviously worked out quite nicely for Ackerman’s son, I wonder if I was faced with the challenge of raising a child who was being underserved by the traditional education model, if I’d have the courage to tell my kid to give it up, and follow his true passion.

My three children still have a way to go before the high school years and making their billions of dollars (har). But this story got me thinking, and I’m sure it’s got you thinking, too: If your kid was clearly understimulated at school, would you make a move as bold as Karp’s mother did, and suggest he simply…leave?

Image: High school hallway via Shutterstock.

Add a Comment
Back To GoodyBlog