Personalized Learning and Inspiration from Gifted Homeschoolers

homeschool Nov 7, 2016

This was a brief talk at the The G Word announcement on Oct 30 on how gifted homeschoolers helped to inspire Outschool. Directed and produced by award winning filmmaker Marc Smolowitz, The G Word explores what giftedness looks like through a mosaic of personal, intimate stories of children, adults, and elders.

Thanks Marc, we're excited to be here and support The G Word.

I wanted to introduce Outschool and share our story. Our project is very much inspired by what I have learned from the gifted homeschooling community.

What is Outschool?

Let me start by explaining what Outschool is. It is a community marketplace of classes for kids. Parents can come to to find and book a huge variety of interactive group classes, both online and in-person.

The classes are provided by a mixture of professional teachers, amateurs sharing their skills, and educational organizations. They don't teach to standard age or grade levels, nor are concerned by what is core curriculum or not. They work on multi-disciplinary topics that they themselves are passionate about.

Why I started Outschool?

I started Outschool in part because of my own experience. I had a great, very standard, education in England attending a public grammar school and then Cambridge University.

But what has mattered most in my career were experiences outside of my standard education. For example, my parents bought me a computer when I was 5 to play games on and I taught myself to program. Seeing my interest, my parents found me a computer science class. It was offered by a retired economics professor who was teaching it from his home. This was years before computer science or skills started to be taught in schools.

That experience showed me that the most impactful learning can happen when you follow a kid's interests outside of a normal school context.

Gifted Homeschooling

I first learned about homeschooling through a friend who introduced me to several homeschooling parents with gifted kids. Seeing how they crafted their kids' learning was a revelation.

Read more on my findings and the ideas behind Outschool at Outschooling in the Bay Area

Parents of exceptional or twice-exceptional kids know that customizing education for their kids isn't an option, it's a necessity. I was inspired by the way gifted homeschoolers formed community, self-organized group activities, and prioritized their kids' needs over fitting in to what others consider standard.

Seeing this resonated with my own experience, and inspired me to start Outschool as a service for the gifted community, homeschoolers, and any parent who sought to personalize their kids' learning based on interest.

Whether they identify as gifted or not, every kid is different and unique. None exactly fit some kind of average on all dimensions. As a result I believe the learnings and techniques that the gifted community have pioneered are useful to all families, and can help transform our education system for the better.

That's why I'm so excited by The G Word and eager to help get the word out.

Amir Nathoo

Amir is co-founder and Head of Outschool.