“I’m very pro-having a well-rounded liberal arts education as an individual, I’m not pro- that being a requisite to start working, I’m not pro that being a separate thing from working, and I’m not pro-having to go through a traditional educational system to obtain that.” – Hannah Frankman


In the fourth episode of the new series Success Without School, co-hosts Deb Fillman of The Reason We Learn and Hannah Frankman of rebelEducator talk about kids working as a form of higher education.

Deb and Hannah explore whether it is possible, advantageous, and relevant to get work experience in addition or as an alternative to higher education.

Hannah outlines strategies you can take as a parent to manage your kids’ time effectively (between work and study), to help them find the right opportunities, and to support them in exploring their interests in the real world.

Deb and Hannah also share their own stories of how they integrated work into their education, and Deb shares the story of her daughter working her first service job.

This conversation covered:

  • The lack of practicality in modern education, and the problems that emerge from it (3:05)
  • Strategies to manage kids’ time when working part-time and going to school simultaneously (7:15)
  • The advantages of starting to work young (11:41)
    • People being more impressed by young hires than older hires (11:42)
    • Advantages to a hiring manager in terms of time and money spent in training (14:07)
  • The stigma surrounding service jobs, and specific things service jobs teach that actually provide a high-quality practical learning experience (17:29)
  • Hannah’s journey of developing a well-rounded body of knowledge while working as a farmhand, and why she thinks learning and work can co-exist (and compliment each other!) (25:45)
  • How academic learning can be sped up or slowed down according to your needs, and why school curriculum is largely arbitrary (29:08)
  • The practical aspects of helping your kid get a job, and places where opportunities that would suit their unique needs can be found (33:55)
  • How to think about jobs that help your kid make money vs. the ones that don’t (40:57)
  • Deb’s story of how she met her inspirations when working as a young pastry chef (47:32)
  • The emotional/cultural angle to the idea of working kids (52:54)



Hannah mentions a few different resources this episode:

Online learning resources:

  1. Project Gutenberg: Project Gutenberg is an online library of freely available digital books. Anyone with any interest can access this archive to read and learn from some of the best books on the subject, for free.
  2. Librivox: Librivox is a sister company of Project Gutenberg that provides freely available audiobooks All audiobooks in Librivox are narrated by volunteers, and can be accessed for free. Hannah used Librivox during her time as a farmhand to develop a well-rounded body of knowledge about the world, while weeding carrots.

Schools emphasizing practical education

  1. Acton Academy: Acton Academy is an alternative school that emphasizes practical work experience in addition to academic knowledge. Students are encouraged to spend mornings studying academic literature and afternoons apprenticing for people in professions they would like to work in.

Resources to find the right jobs

  1. Fiverr: Fiverr is an online freelancing marketplace where freelancers of various skill sets can sell their services for money. If your kid is interested in content writing, copy writing, visual design, video editing, or even creative work, this might be a good place to start looking.
  2. Upwork: Online freelancing marketplace. Similar to Fiverr, but less saturated.

Noteworthy quotes

“I think young people have a really outsized advantage in the workforce.This isn’t just theoretical, I have seen this in practice with the kids who have been through Praxis. When you’re young, people are more impressed by the work that you do BECAUSE they factor in your age. People are more likely to help you because they think it’s so cool that a young person is hungry to grow, and is taking on this responsibility, and is excited to be working.” -(11:41) Hannah Frankman

“The other nice thing about hiring somebody who’s young is that the intellectual capital spent in bringing you on, training you, is going to pay off for longer. They also don’t have to worry about any bad habits that they have to break or any expectations that they have to meet.– (14:12) Deb Fillman (While talking about the benefits to a hiring manager when bringing in somebody young)

“Start to develop an awareness of what you find interesting even if you don’t know specifically, and completely let go of the idea that those interests have to remain consistent for any amount of time. If you’re really interested in photography right now and then in a year you’re like “I hate cameras I don’t want to touch one ever again” that’s totally fine!!” – (37:07) Hannah Frankman (While discussing the transferability of skills across different interests)

“The upward mobility from where you grew up to where you want to be, is not determined by your education anymore. And I’m not sure most parents, certainly most guidance counselors, understand this yet.” -(59:02) Deb Fillman

You can find the full episode on YouTube.

Kovid Bhaduri

Kovid Bhaduri

Kovid Bhaduri is a self directed learner and the author of “A one stop guide to productivity”. He has previously worked in SEZ research and spends his free time playing music and learning economics.

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