Guitar Hero or High School? One Family's Choice

Blake Peebles is a high school sophomore who wakes up at noon, does a few hours of school work, and then practices Guitar Hero for 10 hours.  Are his parents crazy? 

Maybe they are, but consider this: since replacing eight hours of high school each day with three hours of home-school and tutors, Blake now tests at
 a 12th-grade level, he socializes more often and has more friends, according to an article in the May issue of American Way Magazine.  He is also absorbed in mastering computer gaming, one of the fastest growing fields in our economy.

It was not an easy decision for his parents to let Blake leave high school and it continues to be a hard choice.  They are attacked by critics —most of whom they’ve never met.  If the Peebles had taken the expected path and insisted that their son stay in school, no one would be giving them flack – even if their son was bored, depressed or learning less.  Many would tell them they were doing the right thing.

Yet, today Blake is 
absorbed for most of his waking hours in something 
that creates flow for him – 
a path to well-being that the majority of high school students do not achieve in class, accrding to Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi.  Not only that, but Blake has rid himself of the stress he felt in a public high school that was not designed to bring out the best in him.   He is learning, he is engaged in flow, and he is happy.

I give the Peebles credit for their courage.  There are many parents and educators thinking about reducing pressure in high school, but the critical issue is not just to reduce high school work, but to increase teens' engagement, or flow. The Peebles listened to their child’s needs and they were willing to take a risk in the hope of improving his well-being.  Their choice is not one that many would make, but it has proven to be a good one for Blake.

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