Generation Cedar

book, pencils, eraser and protractor

James Altucher wrote a counter, jaw-dropping piece entitled, “The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Having a Complete Education”, in which he said such antithetical things like:

“Let’s take it subject by subject:


You actually need to know NOTHING.

Biology textbooks are hopelessly outdated. As are physics textbooks. There are better resources online where you can learn faster without the pressure of tests and homework. But unless you are doing CPR soon, you don’t need to know anything.

Nobody remembers the muscle names five minutes after the test is over. Unless you are a chiropractor or a surgeon, when was the last time you made use of basic biology?”

I agreed with much of what he wrote, and disagreed with some of it, probably because of our different worldviews.

So I decided to write my own “Ultimate Cheat Sheet”, borrowing from Altucher’s common sense but reflecting my Christian beliefs, foundational to how we approach education.

Subject by subject:


I like what Altucher said:

“I’ve been a computer programmer, an entrepreneur, an investor, day trader, etc. All areas that needed “math.”

The highest level of math I needed to know in the past twenty-five years…


Only I would add:

Finance, as in how to flesh it out in real life, is of supreme importance. Regardless of the level of math one completed, the majority of Americans are in terrible financial trouble, swaggering under debt, and their lives, regardless of  income, are ruled by dismal financial failures from poor life decisions.

Most math is best learned as life necessitates it. A carpenter becomes fluent in geometry, not because he was studious in class, but because geometry is real to him and is necessary to his job.

Be numerate. The rest will come as needed.


Altucher: “First thing: Forget everything they teach you in school. None of it is correct, OR none of it you will remember. Probably all of it is lies.”

I think he’s right. Real, “living” history books and documentaries, that’s the way to go. And discussions about them. And visits to museums when the chance avails itself. And awesome resources like my friend’s new project, “Under Drake’s Flag”, where real history comes to life.


Health and nutrition will benefit you as much as anything. Beyond that, though, a cursory study of whatever interests you serves to reveal the glory of God and His infinite power.You can’t learn it all, that’s for sure. So, learn what interests you. Get out in the physical world. Look around and ask questions.  Then find the answers. Unless you want to become a surgeon. Then learn more.


The grand goal is communication. Learning to communicate well will cover a multitude of deficiencies. How to achieve this? Copy others who do it well. It’s the best way to learn almost anything. Vocabulary, proper grammar usage and punctuation, how to use words–it’s all done best by listening to, and copying those who do it better. Along these lines I would suggest that children don’t learn much from other children, including how to use words.


Everyone should learn to type.

But the most important part of a complete education?

Well, it’s not a subject at all, but far more useful than anything a curriculum can offer is the study of wisdom.

“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.” Proverbs 3:13-14

Which is preceded by the fear of the Lord.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10

Here’s an ideal curriculum:

    • Copy from the Bible, length of passage according to age. Copy poetry. Copy old books.

    • Hang out with adults. A lot. Especially wise ones.

    • Read. Then tell someone about what you read.

    • Write. Write letters, write on a blog, write to the newspaper, write in a journal. Especially write a thank you letter once a week. Have someone edit for grammar and punctuation. Use a thesaurus. Learn a new word and tell your family about it at dinner.

    • Write  more. Take a few sentences from your local newspaper and rewrite them using half the words. Learn to say things concisely, without using  extra words.

    • Watch videos about how things are made. Or about cooking. Or about things you like. Read books about the same things.

    • Find someone doing what you love and ask to watch or help them.

    • Learn how to do something new.

    • Ask questions. Do puzzles. Listen to sermons. Play Scrabble, Moneywise, Monopoly and other learning games.

    • When you read about a country, go to the map and find it.

    • Start a business. Start a blog. Find ways to make money.

“I wish I had been taught this way. Now I am busy un-schooling myself in this way.” -James Altucher



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4 Responses

  1. Love this! I’m finally starting to develop this mindset with homeschooling. We are on our 6th year of homeschooling, it has been a journey of learning for me as well.
    I’m struggling with a 13 year old that has no desire to start a business, and doesn’t do well with managing money at all. How much do I control, and how much do I let the natural consequences (has no money to buy stuff when he would like to because spends it on junk food) be a teaching experience?

    1. I think that the natural consequence is a GREAT answer! When he wants something badly enough, he’ll find a way. One entrepreneur I read about said the best thing his dad ever did for was, when he asked to attend a summer camp, told him he could, but he had to pay for it! It launched him into the world of self-employment. 🙂

  2. I read both your article and the other one you linked. I’m so thankful for people who have gone before us to show the things not to waste time on! To narrow it down to a select list is so helpful!!

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