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[liberationtech] Thiel Fellowship

Carolyn Santo cysanto at
Sat Feb 27 23:29:07 PST 2016

Laughing as I read this Aaron.  I agree that a lot of homework is 
unnecessary if you truly understand the subject.  That said, in this 
particular case, within the International Baccalaureate program, 
completing your project homework is where you show you have mastered the 
content.  Ironically, my son does the simple BS stuff without effort or 

Until the entire world runs on the "Thiel Fellowship standards", bright 
students in a competitive environment still need to suck it up and 
complete the assignments since grades are such an important measuring 
device.  Even though it may not be the most efficient use of time and 
effort, allowing bright students to only do what they "feel like" can 
lead to narcissistic and destructive tendencies.

So much of life is living up to obligations and having the grit and 
self-discipline to slog through setbacks and difficult demands.  In 
addition, we've forgotten that failing is one of the most important 
parts of learning.  In my son's case, failing to turn in his final 
project (even if he did the research) should have natural consequences 
so that he makes better choices in the future.  The skill to push 
yourself to do things that you DON'T want to do is the key to success 
because you fail 100% of the time if you give up too early.

As a parent, I see others doing too much for their children and taking 
away all obstacles in the rush to make sure they get into the "best" 
schools, etc.  When the students are away from home, they haven't 
developed some crucial life skills and maturity because they were 
brought up to think that they were "special snowflakes" and personal 
development was overlooked.  Many don't have the confidence that comes 
from achieving things through hard work and consistent effort.  Some 
don't even have the ability to articulate their own goals since they 
were taught from an early age that they need to get into the "best" 
schools to have a shot at a decent life.

In some ways, it would be easier to let my son do only what he wants and 
pursue his interests at the expense of being a more aware and 
well-rounded person.  Since I'm not sure he has what it takes to be the 
next Steve Jobs, I think it's best to hedge our bets and insist that he 
do his homework, even though a portion of it could be BS.

Since he's only 14, he has some time to build up to a Thiel Fellowship 
application.  Hopefully he'll be more mature by the time he's 18 or so.

Sorry to ramble on.  This has been a hot topic at our school recently 
since the Book Club is discussing How to Raise an Adult.

Happy weekend!


On 2/27/2016 7:43 AM, Aaron Wolf wrote:
> On 02/26/2016 11:38 PM, Carolyn Santo wrote:
>> Thank you for sharing this!  I'll keep it in mind for my 14 year old
>> son.  He is definitely an out-of-the-box type of thinker.  132 IQ, but
>> doesn't do his homework. . . ugh!
>> Happy weekend!
>> Carolyn Santo
>> CO '81
>> On 2/26/2016 8:06 PM, Yosem Companys wrote:
>>> From: *Amrit Kandel* <amrit at <mailto:amrit at>>
>>> I'm looking for a Software Engineering student that would be
>>> interested in submitting an application to The Thiel Fellowship. The
>>> applicant must be 22 years or under.
>>> I will help with every step of the application.
>>> To learn more about The Thiel Fellowship, please
>>> visit <>
>>> Thanks
>>> AmritÂ
> Sorry to go tangential but…
> If his homework is like *most* homework, it's at least half bureaucratic
> busy work that just tests whether people follow all the rules of the
> system and isn't at all the most productive way to spend his time…
> There's some moves in our society to end the insane trends of so much
> homework. At the very least, anyone wanting to get their kid to do their
> homework would have the best start to the discussion by acknowledging
> the degree of bullshit it includes rather than pretending it's valid
> top-priority activity. Of course, it depends on the exact case.
> I went through school getting A's on all my math tests and basically
> doing zero of the homework. Instead of reflecting my understanding of
> the subjects, my grades reflected the variations in how much portion of
> the grade the teachers made homework. Some teachers agreed to count only
> tests for me and drop the homework portion of the grade as long as it
> was clear I understood all the lessons and passed all the tests.
> The best way to actually practice skills is to put them to use on
> real-world issues that matter, not to just do tedious busy-work.

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