[PODCAST] #378: An Introduction To Self-Directed Learning and Living For Teens (with Nick Hazelton)


This episode is what The School Sucks Project is all about! Nick Hazelton, the seventeen-year-old creator of The Anarch-Yakitalist Podcast, is back to share his new self-education plan. Nick first reached out to me in early 2014 to discuss the possibility of leaving school (he was a freshman at the time)and becoming a farming entrepreneur. You can watch a clip of that conversation here:

Nick left school this September to pursue this venture on a full-basis. He is still very committed to his education, and he asked me for some guidance on taking it into his own hands.

-Rethinking Education: Self-Directed Learning Fits the Digital Age (Wired.com)
-questions for potential autodidacts
-identifying strengths and how to use them
-selecting a field of interest
-idea generation
-goal-oriented planning
-finding your voice among the chorus of voices telling you what you should do
-cultivating an attitude of success.
-organizing your time
-personality traits of self-directed learners
-cognitive and executive functioning skills
-Nick's plan in detail
-The Trivium in action
-maintaining a vision, even if the path needs to change

Bumper Music:
"Concrete Schoolyard" Jurassic 5

Look Closer:
Rethinking Education: Self-Directed Learning Fits the Digital Age - http://www.wired.com/insights/2013/12/rethinking-education-self-directed-learning-fits-the-digital-age/
What is Classical Education? - http://www.welltrainedmind.com/classical-education/
Trivium Method of Critical Thinking and Creative Problem Solving - https://www.scribd.com/doc/59477946/Trivium-Method-of-Critical-Thinking-and-Creative-Problem-Solving
SKILLS for SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING - http://www.ode.state.or.us/opportunities/grants/nclb/title_iii/32skills-for-self-directed-learning.pdf
Reasons Why Becoming More Self-Directed Is Important to You - http://www.selfdirectedlearning.com/becoming-self-directed/activity-1-why-self-direction-is-important-to-you.html

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  1. Nick: “I am no longer a Nihilist”…
    Me: ‘Fuuuuuuuu…. Dang You Bret, you took another of our number…” lol.
    Actually, it doesn’t matter to me much, sounds like nihilism was too “oppressively existential” for him. Glad he’s moving in a direction that he feels brings fulfillment and meaning to his life. I’ll be the first to admit that nihilism isn’t for everyone, but it is good for me.

    Hey, I know I’ll probably just Google Nick Hazelton’s podcast in a few days anyway, but post a link to it anyway so the google bots can bump him on the search engines. I need to contact him someday and see if Yak Yogurt is a thing. Mmmm, I love yogurt.

  2. How far we have come to see morons like Ben diss the world’s oldest profession for being too theory-bound and out of touch with reality.

    After ten mind-numbing minutes on funkyeds I’d like to offer Ben some advice: Ease up on the fart-cupping.

    • I know that reading any one of Ben’s individual comments may lead one to thinking of him as a moron. I will admit that his presentation is lacking and often his delivery is hypocritically asinine, both in comments and his curation style blog. I will admit that I don’t personally know him and that you, Buford, probably have more contact with him than I do, seeing as I am relatively new to the comments section…

      That being said, having gone back and read about a dozen (or so) of Ben’s remarks, I believe I have similar concerns as those that I believe he is raising. One concern that I have is the concept that several members of the extremest end of the Libertarian movement keep trying to float by, that of non-conformity. It is sometimes carried to a point that conformity is seen as an evil to be fought against. Yet, in other circles of the Libertarian ethic there floats another concept which gets heavily espoused, touted by individuals who also strongly advocate for the Trivium method, that any reasonable individual who exercises logic will inevitably arrive at the same objective conclusions about life, the universe, and everything. And they affirm that those conclusions are anarcho-capitalism/trustless society/ NAP/ whatever personal flavor of Libertarian doctrine the espouser themselves, hold…

      Do you see the contradiction here…

      I will admit that Libertarian doctrine isn’t a single thing… Just like every other self identifying group such as religion, feminism, liberal, democrat, conservative, republican, etc… there will always be division and subtle in-fighting. And the irony is that the majority of each of these self proclaimed groups often use the very same rhetorical tactics as every other group to A) declare that they are fundamentally different than the other groups B) confirm their biases towards their own group and against outer groups and C) point out the contradictions (usually caused by said in-fighting) as proof that the other groups are false.

      I have my own fondness for some of the ideas floated in Libertarian circles. However, there are times when self proclaimed Libertarians begin acting just like every other group in the above stated manner; setting up Us vs. Them (in-group vs out-group) dynamics, Lobbing little more than ad hominem attacks, letting the quality of discussion turn into a vapid content-less bitch fest etc… And I can do little more than cringe…

      How far we have fallen indeed…

      So what do we who see things from this angle do? (and forgive me Ben if I’ve got you all wrong)
      We do what we can, with what we’ve got, and often its not enough.

  3. Well, this is a change of pace… Slap me silly cause I didn’t see that one coming. So you are “over the top” on purpose… That is awesome. I’m warming up to the cut of your jib already… perhaps I can put on some show to match.

    I’m curious though… When you refer to “criticisms… not seeing the light of day” are we talking comments being ban hammered to the spam folder or just the unfaltering dismissal by typical comment section patrons (aside from the above individual who has little more to say then to call you a moron and a connoisseur of your own farts.) Not being any admin myself, and so far not having any of my comments banished to the void, I am curious how much discussion never makes it through moderation. I was wondering if you had any data to add?

    I do believe, in your first purpose, we are talking largely about the same subject though, what you refer to as “ludicrously black and white, good vs. evil claims,” I refer to using “in-group out-group dynamics.” On your second purpose, I find myself taking similar precautions against a stagnant echo chamber. My list of podcasts range from main stream politico, to crypto anarchy, and from atheism the likes found on Cognitive Dissonance Podcast, to the religious views found in believing media centered around the church of my upbringing (the mormons). I still sense my own lack though, my own boundaries. SS is one of those that constantly plays on that boundary, there are times I largely agree with what is being said, and other times I want to rage against Brett or particular guests.

    Anywho, back to the drawing board I suppose. Gotta come up with some good show to match… But who knows, perhaps we can open some dialogue. Now my curiosity is peaked… Who is the person behind screen name Ben? What is his/her story?

    • For the record, Ben received the following email from me on October 13th:
      I really try to avoid censoring people on the web site, but you comments are becoming unbearable. They are almost always rude, abstruse and they have little constructive value. In the future, I’m not approving any more of them. No one is really reading or responding to them and it seems like a waste of your time.

      If you are the same person Tony M and I skyped with about six months [ago], I assume you are capable of a better presentation. If you want to create a 30-60 minute critique of SSP, our understanding of The Trivium or our sketchy connections, please do. I will post it on the site and promote it in the group, if the presentation encourages a productive discussion that can move us all for forward.


      I didn’t receive a response. I have continued to approve his comments, because they have become more descriptive and there appears to be at least one person who appreciates his input. I strongly urge Ben to prepare a presentation, and as long as it is constructive, I will promote it through my channels.

      Here’s another conflict: This comment blends some very valid critiques of me with pure fantasy, exaggeration, and ad hominem. I remember deciding not to approve two of Ben’s comments, out of dozens, primarily because they were attacks on other presenters who have their own sites. Ben can post those comments there. With his 17 years of experience, Ben certainly has a lot of valuable information to share. Unfortunately, in the pre-interview, he failed to present himself as likable or engaging – an issue that has continued in the comments section on this site. I have no interest in talking to him 1:1, and I find his obsession with me and this site to be a little disturbing. However, his critiques of my work are unique; they have the potential to make us better and to benefit the listeners.

      I know Ben did a considerable amount of work in preparation for School Sucks; he submitted 19-page outline to me at the end of May 2015. I would like to find a way to get this information to other people. His website is not particularly easy to navigate, nor is it organized in a way that makes it accessible to a novice on these topics.


      • Post links to the books please. And if your goal here is to promote “issues related to literacy, science, and education still left to be discussed and debated” please consider changing your tone; if you would like to be taken seriously by more than one person on this site, stop trying to gaslight.

      • I agree Brett, in the current state of things, its pretty intractable. Ben is unaware of the world of design, where a “search bar doth not a visible tag list replace.” And frankly, you, Brett, are beholden to your boss(s) (aka. your audience) which, judging by their intellectual allergic reaction to the likes of Thad Russel and his narrative based epistemological relativism, would burn you at the stake and threaten to pull funding if you gave too much air time to the likes of Ben.

        Good thing this is all pretty well contained to the comments section, which it seems only a dozen or so people actually frequent past the first week of release. My apologies for the shit storm I stirred up. : (

        Beyond that, a plausible solution would be to wait another day till a surrogate who understands Ben’s critiques can come forward and give the information in a format that is more palatable to your audience so they don’t pitchfork you.

        I guess the other option is to wait till you aren’t financially strapped and then you would have more freedom to deliver the criticisms as you understand them yourself, again, without the audience pitchforking.

    • Finally. You’ve actually provided some substances to your monologues. If you’re all about improving education, why did you not follow up with Brett on this:

      “If you want to create a 30-60 minute critique of SSP, our understanding of The Trivium or our sketchy connections, please do. I will post it on the site and promote it in the group, if the presentation encourages a productive discussion that can move us all for forward.”

      I tried to find your “Building Blocks” but only came across some posts which appeared to be in a general ‘building blocks’ section.

      I also find it curious to read your continuous rants against using strawmen, ad homs, false dichotomies, misrepresentations, etc while continuing to liberally employ them yourself. Maybe it’s just me.

  4. Far back in the ages,
    The plough with wreaths was crowned;
    The hands of kings and sages
    Entwined the chaplet round;
    Till men of spoil disdained the toil
    By which the world was nourished,
    And dews of blood enriched the soil
    Where green their laurels flourished:
    –Now the world her fault repairs–
    The guilt that stains her story;
    And weeps her crimes amid the cares
    That formed her earliest glory.

    The proud throne shall crumble,
    The diadem shall wane,
    The tribes of earth shall humble
    The pride of those who reign;
    And War shall lay his pomp away;–
    The fame that heroes cherish,
    The glory earned in deadly fray,
    Shall fade, decay, and perish.
    Honour waits, o’er all the Earth,
    Through endless generations,
    The art that calls her harvests forth,
    And feeds the expectant nations.
    — William Cullen Bryant

    • *Applaud* much more deserving a comment in this conversation than the former. I wont deny that growing food for family and community is a honorable occupation. However, that being said, I still must agree with Ben’s sentiment towards caution against romanticized nostalgia. The world is changing whether we like it or not. As a human race we are moving towards more reliance on globally interconnected systems to wring more efficiency out of our human productive capabilities. As we march backward into this reality it is easy to spot the concerns, or possible negative outcomes. But as with any complete calculation, both the bad and the good must be weighed. Often times, it seems like members in the SS and broader Libertarian community focus only on whats wrong with the current socioeconomic systems, and ignore the realistic reasons why society has moved in this direction, instead attributing credit for our present circumstances to a simple narrative of bad actors in powerful places. Conspirators pulling inordinate power to make unwitting slaves of us all.

      Now I’m not saying that there weren’t conspirators. But I am pointing out that everyone has their own part to play in this grand narrative. As a society, the majority of us have had psychological desires and needs which have led to those conspirators getting into and (seemingly) securing their power. Perhaps over time the proportions of individuals who have the psychological needs for safety, security, etc.. will change in relation to those that have the psychological need for power and possession, and the mix wont be such that the powerful few can easily sell the illusion and narrative at high cost to the many.

      But as Ben said, tramping triumphantly through intellectual fields of straw-men, knocking over supposed Statist arguments which I personally haven’t seen any but the most insecure individuals hold, then claiming intellectual victory and self assured rightness, well, from the outside does seem a bit isolationist, and academically distant from the reality that so many others appear to be experiencing. And it won’t do much in the long run to change society as a whole because the narrative that is being sold by Libertarian individuals doesn’t jive with the current mix of psychological needs, or ends up eerily like the same narrative other Libertarian individuals are trying to attack.

      However, Ben I will ask this… I don’t see so much evidence that SS and the broader Libertarian community are all that nostalgic, at least not in an american fashion. Perhaps I need to look further back though. What fictitious national era do you think these communities are nostalgically reaching for? Some ancient primitive community back before the formation of tribal warlords? Something for me to ponder.

      • Yep, seems you got the joke. yuk yuk yuk and all…
        I do find it curious, though, that in the same vane as “One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s rebel.” here, one man’s nostalgia for a false past is (nearly indistinguishable from) another man’s hope for a future which doesn’t exist yet.

        Now, I’m as skeptical as the next person that a stateless society can exist in any sort of stable fashion long for various reasons. However, just as the mystical “perfection” sought after by adherents to some religions, may not be obtainable… or how about I put it this way, the capital T “Truth” sought after by oh so many people, may not be obtainable… the seeking after it still makes people better… actually scratch that… “better” is relative to the ends desired. I started down this track to open the possibility of multiple interpretations of experiences, as a means of giving some legitimacy to Libertarian hopes and dreams of a stateless society even if I don’t personally share those hopes… But I took a left turn somewhere and now I’m lost.

        about as lost with the 1984/1776 thing… Forgive my ignorance on lots of context.

  5. For the record Brett, I once left a message on this board I greatly regret. Thanks for the wonderful service you provide us all.

  6. Thought this was amazingly apropos: Obama interviewing a terrific author (not the other way around) for the New York Review of Books.


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