The Western world is facing a crisis of stretched adolescence, keeping children exclusively "learning" for longer than necessary. 

Imagine that you are a student, around 14 years old. You fall into the top 5%, not the extremely motivated startup founder or math prodigy that you hear about on the news, but comfortably more intelligent and curious than the others. The system sucks some of your free time with busywork, but you build up a knowledge base, and start working on small projects related to your area of interest. Now what?

Young people are capable. Their neurons are fully myelinated, their worldview is fresh, their passion is strong. But we don't use them.

In fact we make it difficult for them to thrive: labor laws make it bothersome for companies to take on anyone under 18, even if they can demonstrate competence, so that path is rocky. Research internships and freelancing are more viable, but still extremely underused. Perhaps it's because the school system drowns people in busywork, forcing them to study things just to forget them within a few days,[1] and personal projects are stifled under the workload. Competent teens fall into apathy because the work is too easy, application of anything more difficult is inaccessible, and there's only so much knowledge-gathering they can do before they want to do something.

We need to put frameworks in place to take advantage of capable high school students. The current assumption is that the most qualified will find a way, and while that may be true, that leaves behind a huge untapped resource. Not everyone is hyper-ambitious but if provided engaging work or more exposure to interesting problems, they can be both useful and satisfied, and the world benefits.

The Internet provides some of these opportunities, however working with "professionals" on larger problems is an experience that cannot be replicated. The combination of years of wisdom and accumulated knowledge with a modern view of a problem without the inset biases of current models has serious potential.

TL;DR: Teenagers are underappreciated and a vast and unique source of cognitive power that should be more cleanly introduced into the working world.

  1. ^

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forgetting_curve

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Imagine that you are a student, around 14 years old. You fall into the top 5%, not the extremely motivated startup founder or math prodigy that you hear about on the news, but comfortably more intelligent and curious than the others. The system sucks some of your free time with busywork, but you build up a knowledge base, and start working on small projects related to your area of interest. Now what?

The problem is, as a business owner, how do I tell this person apart from the average 14 year old?

Competent teens fall into apathy because the work is too easy, application of anything more difficult is inaccessible, and there’s only so much knowledge-gathering they can do before they want to do something.

Typical-mind fallacy warning. Just because you were like that as a teenager doesn't mean that this is common. If it seems like a large fraction of people around are like this, that says more about your environment than it does about the overall population.

I agree that there is a certain amount of "wasted" talent among bright 14-year-olds. But it is not at all clear to me that the amount of talent wasted is sufficient to warrant companies throwing out the conventional wisdom on using years of education as a filter for hiring.

The problem is, as a business owner, how do I tell this person apart from the average 14 year old?

This is a limited and subjective answer but there are just some subtle conversational and lifestyle markers of potential (I've talked to a fair few "intelligent" people about this and they agree that you can just tell if someone is of their type). A more reasonable solution is to encourage cold emails along the lines of "hey, I'm taking initiative and pitching myself to you as a resource good for X, here's what I'm interested in, here's why there isn't much application-wise knowledge of my interests, consider taking me as an unpaid intern"

Just because you were like that as a teenager doesn't mean that this is common

Indeed. This may be biased by the fact that I intentionally sought out people like me (and found a fair few, many in similar situations).

companies throwing out the conventional wisdom on using years of education as a filter for hiring

This comment presumes that the reason companies aren't hiring more under-18 people is because of their own executive decision rather than a result of onerous labor laws as the post posits. A quick test for this is to see what happens when there aren't labor laws making it impossible or difficult for kids to work. History shows that even unskilled children were used as laborers. So I find the core of your comment kind of falls out.

I'm pretty sure that OP had something else in mind than twelve-year-olds working steam powered looms in sweatshop conditions, and losing the occasional finger or hand. Maybe I'm wrong, though. Maybe a return to the late-1800s is what OP has in mind.

The big problem with giving kids jobs is that most kids are not strong enough self defenders to defend against potentially-subtle attacks and manipulation by people employing them. identifying kids who are strong enough self defenders and or adults who are not inclined to take advantage of vulnerabilities arising from lack of knowledge is a very hard problem. as with any inter agent safety problem, large capability differences are hard to simply normalize away.

also, agreed, I got a lot of benefit from being home schooled and getting software work early. lots of potential is lost because of society's bad approach to protecting kids; it protects many kids successfully, fails to protect many kids, and yet almost all kids lose out on advantages that would become available if a better approach for coprotection of kids was specified clearly enough to the senses that everyone can understand why it's a better idea with few presentations.

The big problem with giving kids jobs is that most kids are not strong enough self defenders to defend against potentially-subtle attacks and manipulation by people employing them

I disagree that this is "the" big problem; in fact it seems to me to be quite a small problem. There are plenty of bosses who are sort of jerks, or who manipulate their workers into maybe working extra hours without pay or whatever. This is bad, but it's not the magnitude of harm that requires society to pour tons of extra effort into eradicating it. If it escalates into something like outright wage theft, then this is already illegal and at most we might want to make it easier to report and investigate these things. (For really serious cases such as a manager sexually assaulting a subordinate there are several responses: first, this isn't all that common, second, it's already very illegal.)

In any case it seems weird to use this as a counter-argument given that the alternative is legally requiring students to be in school for 4-8 hrs/day without any compensation at all.

worker protection is currently not very effective though. being illegal doesn't prevent most of those things from happening unless you have union with your coworkers or money for a lawyer. making significant changes to coordination capabilities of a group makes big differences in societal outcomes.

I agree that the current alternative is similarly quite bad though. I have no intent to argue that the situation is currently good, just that the reason people have not improved it is understandable and we need to protect the thing they are worried about.

You can add additional protections for people under 18.

If you believe that an union is required to prevent exploitation you can simply write into the law that you can only employ people under 18 if they are in a union.

At least that would be the German way to approach the situation.

If school is busywork, how would you call daily "agile" meetings, more meetings, JIRA tickets, SNOW tickets...?

If you say that internship is possible but underused, and school system drowns students in busywork, it seems to me that a relatively straightforward solution would be an alternative high school that would require only minimum busywork (the minimum required by law, and even there simplify things for students if possible), but in turn would require from each student either individual projects or internship (otherwise you might get the laziest students in the neighborhood, not the most talented ones).

School in concept is a great idea. Give the new generation a base of knowledge from which to build. It is just very very poorly implemented. So, I'd say the meetings and other maintenance/organizational devices common in the programming world fall into the same class: useful in theory, essentially useless in practice.

Alternative schools exist, and they output arguably more useful individuals, however they are chosen at the will of the parent. There remain many students stuck in typical public schools, and there should be something they can independently do to help themselves. 

My naive, inelegant, long-term solution requires a paradigm shift on the side of businesses and the law in taking (the risk of) on younger workers.

I think this needs to be done for >18 year-olds as well. Most research positions require a PhD as a prerequisite, when there are many talented undergraduates who could drop out of college and perform the research after a few weeks' training.

Alternative schools exist, and they output arguably more useful individuals

I have yet to see any kind of "alternate school" actually do a better job of outputting "more useful individuals", however that's defined.

I agree that such a school can exist, but given the current parlous state of research when it comes to education and teaching, I have yet to see any kind of firm evidence as to whether such schools do exist.

In Germany students who completed 9 years of schooling are allowed to work. That means you do get on-the-job apprenticeships that start at 15/16 years of age. For people under 18, there's a maximum of working 40 hours per week and no work on weekends (there are a few expectations for weekend work).

You need 12/13 years of schooling to be accepted into a German university and getting to that point is a sign of status on the job market.

To get more teenagers into productive work you would need to reduce the status that academic credentials bring with them. 

A billionaire who wants that to happen could shift the hiring practices of his corporation to be strictly guided by what predicts new employees achieving high KPI scores. 

On the political side, you can attack requirements for college degrees as structural racism if you are on the left or as inhibiting the free market if you are on the right. While it would be hard to argue for woke people that the requirement is not structural racism it's obviously an unpopular argument among woke college students.

You could pass a law that says that any employer who requires a college degree has to write into his job applications explicitly why a college degree is required and open up lawsuits for those cases where people get discriminated against for not having a college degree. 

Do you know of any drawbacks to the apprenticeship system in Germany? I wonder why that isn't more common across the world.

In the 19th century, Germany had a three-class voting system and also a three-class school system. While we switched our voting system, we kept our three-class school system.

In the US you have the idea of the American dream where in principle anyone can reach the upper class (even when the Americans hate to use the term upper class). If you believe that 12 years of schooling are a requirement for reaching upper class and you want to get everyone to upper class it makes sense to give everyone 12 years of schooling. 

In the US class has a lot to do with race. The German class system is built in a way that assumes that important class differences are not about race as it assumes most of the citizens are Germans. In the US middle class often means something like not being Black but there's the pretense that it doesn't. 

Americans who want to overcome racism, then do things like letting universities have a quota for accepting a certain number of Black people to give them access to the middle class. From a German perspective, it's very unclear why a plumber who's middle class should have a college degree. It does make sense if you actually want a plumber who isn't Black when you can filter for that by requiring a college degree.

If you are in Washington and don't want a Black person to look after your kids but don't want to admit that you don't want a Black person to look after your kids, requiring a college degree for that work makes a lot of sense.

It's worth saying that these days German culture isn't very strong and we switch a lot to the Anglo-Saxon way of doing things. 

Data point: I started working professionally at the age of 15 (part-time, in parallel with education) and it was one of the best things that have ever happened to me. Definitely found it way more enjoyable, rewarding and beneficial than traditional school.

It was software engineering, which is probably the best case scenario - the field is desperate for people and there's a lot of room for growth.

Did you get the job through connections, personally seeking it out, or something else (technical HS)?

Short answer: hired by NGO which helped me skill up first.

Long answer: Where I was growing up there was a comp-sci training NGO. Their approach was quite interesting:

  1. Grouping by skill, not by age. You decide which level you attend. You choose your pace - you can progress very quickly, but no one will force you to progress at all.
  2. Competition-oriented - primary activity would resemble IOI. Add lectures, math, sport and psych workshops on top.
  3. Teachers and technical organisers recruited almost exclusively from current top students and recent alumni. Often they would teach one level and partcipate as students at a higher level. This had a bunch of benefits: community vibes, access to smart hard-to-hire people with relevant skills, and opportunity to learn the practical side of things for the team.
  4. Big chunks of the work paid pretty well - like local senior developer effective hourly rates for (top) high school students.

I joined as a student first, did well in some external national and international competitions and then I was asked to join the team.

Do you know if this organization still exists or of anything like it? Closest I'm familiar with is the recurse center

It still operates, but I haven't kept in touch closely enough to know how well it's doing and what has changed – https://talent.edu.pl/. 

My first patent (for a hybrid analog/digital method of detecting pulse centroids for noisy signals) was awarded when I was 14... but, then, my father was a Chief Scientist in a large electronics design department and I had all kinds of electronic parts as toys since I was a toddler, and at some point he started taking me to his office so I started interacting with real engineers building real computers.  (When I've read Robert W. Wood's memoirs I discovered that he had a similar experience in his teenage years; in Surely You're Joking Richard Feynman writes about playing with real-world tech - fixing radios - when he was 12 years old).

I think the current idea of academia as a carefully isolated age-segregated bubble of theoretical learning is seriously misguided, and that guilds running apprenticeships was a much more useful form of education, at least during teenage years.  You need to develop problem-solving skills in the real world before going for theory - then you get the benefit of intuition and understanding of how the theories relate to the reality, and how to effortlessly cross the artificial boundaries between disciplines when you need to something in the real world (which has no such boundaries).

By the time I finished the university I already got one of the top civilian awards from the government for contributions to the computer industry.  Starting playing with things in the adult world as a teenager has benefits!

As for deference to authority, I never learned it.  Lack of it served me well by quickly getting me out of places where I was wasting my time (not that being fired feels good), but it all worked out OK as nobody can fire me now:)

Can you think of any way to fix the system without forcing everyone into an apprenticeship? The status quo in America right now is respect of the system for most because it's easy and a clean path ... hands-on learning wouldn't appeal to all

The same argument applies to academic learning... it doesn't appeal to all.

What we need is diversity in education - scrap the system of academic accreditation and the prohibitions on "child labor".  So that more academic-inclined kids may go for academic courses while more hands-on oriented kids would join companies and learn on the job (actually there is some of that in family-owned businesses even now; unfortunately the estate taxes tend to destroy generational family business operations).

Several not-that-thought through things on this interesting idea. I agree that an above-average 14 year old could demonstrate a lot of hard skills as well or better than a below average adult worker. If you need a spreadsheet populated, some averages taken and a graph made then their are a surprising number of working adults who could not even start. In any typical school class there will be many students who can finish. My suspicion is the things called "soft skills" might be a lot weaker in 14 year olds though. ("My mum forgot to pack my lunch. What should I do?" they ask their line manager.)

-Many parents will be wary of their 14 year old children travelling to an unfamiliar place on their own. (So will either drive them to the work place, make sure really hard they have memorised the right bus/train changes, or forbid them from going at all).

- In social ways 14 year olds are importantly different from adults. They will over-estimate the knowledge and understanding of the "adults" even more than the adults will under-estimate the understanding of the teenagers. They will (I suspect) be very keen on everyone-agreeing-about-everything and being happy, and so will be loathe to bring up anything they know that suggests that actually something might be wrong.

These adolescents are also likely ahead of the curve on what new stuff (tech and social) means and how to apply it in practice. At least, that's what I gather from my son.

One idea that I have been toying around with is scaling angel investment to this group. The approach pioneered by Y Combinator to reach earlier startups was to let go of some of the requirements of formal funding (inventing the SAFE) and to batch them together. What other constraints can we drop to reach teens? Clearly we can't require a percentage of their later startup when they might not even have a fully formed commercializable idea. Maybe they just want to throw a new type of party. What weaker request can we make? Request to be invited or kept uptodate on their project. The funding amount could also be much smaller, the Y Combinator funding was a few percent of VC funding and I think a group of teens could get started a lot with 1000$. I less clear whether or how to scale the batching. Should you run big school fairs? This seems too close to existing school invention competitions.

One possibility: I suggest that with decent schooling, the kids who could start working professionally at 14 can instead be doubling their productivity every year, so there is a benefit to working on building talent directly before trying to extract outputs- exploration vs exploitation.

My public school was beyond good to me, and so I was learning math as fast as I could from the age of 11 to 21, commuting to the local university for my last two years of high school for multivariable calc, diff eq, linear algebra, and discrete math at the university, then taking a mix of undergraduate and graduate math during college. During highschool I also spent some time working at a lab at the university. The time I spent working in the lab was valuable 99% as a learning experience to 1% actually pushing science- the crux of my actual contribution was a single pull request to matplotlib that took months and months to craft, which would take me around a day today. My work in medical imaging that takes years now would take infinity time without 10 years of math classes behind me.

The question then is, is working on real adult goals a better proxy task for learning than the typical gifted highschooler fare of unproductive projects, contests and tests. I'd guess that as proxy goals, contests > self chosen projects >> real productive work >> school assigned projects > tests.

I was typing up a comment to this, and I realized I don't understand what's forcing the current equillibrium. Companies are said to want university graduates because that signals their ability to follow boring orders for years successfully. But, like, why isn't high school and some impressive projects enough for that? Surely completing high school serves as a following orders well signal, and impressive projects serve as an intelligence signal. In which case, universities should be irrelevant. Unless you're also signalling that you obey social pressures, which included a pressure to go to university because that was correlated with earning a lot of money and prestige, and lots of the people hiring you went to university and think less of people who didn't go to university because it was prestigious when they went. Does that sound plausible to anyone?

University has value in its connections and the confirmation that a candidate has the requisite knowledge. Many large companies auto-reject anyone without an "upper education" for these reasons, as it's easier to apply that as a filter and miss a couple people than take the time to know everyone's unique situations.

The article also references the subgroup of "competent but apathetic" (which I would subjectively say is common, and the main missed population, as those with perseverance and unrelenting raw passion tend to do well on their own). A lot of people don't have the motivation for following through with "impressive projects" on top of the drain of HS, and (to use the example of programming) just internalize the concepts, create smaller utilities and projects as needed (alongside self-imposed pressure to do things for school clubs, volunteering, casual competitions, et cetera). You're left with a young group that enjoys a subject, is relatively knowledgeable about it, but with insufficient experience, not able to apply themselves past a certain threshold of individual motivation.

Societally introduced opportunities and mentorship that is more open to the top 3-5% as opposed to the .1% that knows how to market themselves mitigates that.

Wait, I am a bit confused about where we stand. Can we establish as common knowledge that university is mostly about signalling and not about gaining knowledge that is useful in jobs? Do we also agree that apprenticeships/live experience are a better way to gain job relevant skill? Do we also agree that we're stuck in an inadequate equilibrium right now, with strong forces stopping messing things up on the supply and demand side for apprenticeships? And that the purpose of your article was to say "hey, there's a problem here. Think about it some more" rather than to present new insights?

I have heard the theory put forward a lot that a university degree provides plausible deniability to the person who makes the decision to hire you. If you turn out to be a problem then whoever hired you can say "degree from X" and suddenly no one can blame them for making a bad choice. If you hire a 17 year old who "seems competent" then they probably are fine, but if something goes wrong the person who made the hiring decision suddenly has to defend the "they seemed competent" position in a hypothetical where everyone now knows they were not.

The usefulness of university depends on the job. It's better for networking than anything.

And yes, I'm just calling some attention to the problem. I've considered a few solutions but nothing stands out as reasonably implementable within our Overton window

Could also be that you're a more reliable worker if you have a ton of student debt.

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you'd be more inclined to be obedient if you're a debt slave, yes

There's an inplicit assumption, both in the post and in many of the comments, that the 'value' of school for teenagers lies in knowledge acquisition. And therefore, if school is busywork a.k.a. does not lead to acquisition of useful knowledge, homeschooling or 'alternative' schooling must be better. I think this is wrong.

For society, the principal lasting value of schooling teenagers relates to the acquisition of skills like:

  • dynamic balancing of self-assertiveness vs. deference to authority (both on an interpersonal level, and also on a societal level)
  • productively handling highly heterogeneous interpersonal environments e.g. where people have a broad mix of skill levels, temperaments, abilities, interests, etc.
  • learning to handle common but undesirable traits in others e.g. aggressiveness/bullying, jealousy, etc.
  • balancing behavioural risk/reward factors (e.g. via 'playing up' and assessing the reactions of others)

These things are all important in the real world to ensure effective function of society. They emerge as a result of contact time, and whatever other things also happen during that time (e.g. learning synthesis paths for ammonia, busywork etc.) don't really matter that much. 'Alternative' schools where there's more homogeneity (everyone is super bright, 'finds school boring' etc.) deprive teenagers of time spent in 'normal' (heterogenous) society - at a time when such exposure has the most impact - and thus compromises acquisition of the skills that help thrive in the real world.

Knowledge acquisition, on the other hand, can be done via Wikipedia etc. and does not need to occupy school time. People who want to acquire knowledge can do this easily in their bedroom at night. Soft skills cannot be learned this way. 

There's a lot of comments here from people saying things like "I dropped out of school / did not attend regular school, became a software engineer and that was a great decision". Great for who? I've worked with many software engineers and I can say that "software engineer" as a profession is at least somewhat correlated with a lack of the soft skills that others do gain from teenage schooling. So it isn't surprising, then, that "software engineer" is also correlated with "didn't get much out of school". But the direction of the arrow of causality isn't clear. And having more teenagers spending more time on software engineering (and hence less time on acquiring soft society skills via extended time in heterogenous interpersonal environments i.e. 'normal schools') may be great for the teenagers if they're not interested in society, or for GDP, but I don't see any indication it's a net positive for the world as a whole.

I was the one of the most conscientious people in school (had high grades and my teachers praised me for being a hard worker [and really, they don't care about you...]) and school burned me out so much that I developed a long period of ADHD/burnout after (avoiding all the things that made me unhappy) . The thing that happened to Qiaochu Yuan also happened to me. 

dynamic balancing of self-assertiveness vs. deference to authority

The proportion of "deference to authority" is too high, in my opinion.

Knowledge acquisition, on the other hand, can be done via Wikipedia etc. and does not need to occupy school time. People who want to acquire knowledge can do this easily in their bedroom at night. 

This isn't application-based knowledge. I mentioned that students can learn concepts on their own, but what society currently lacks is a path to do something useful with it from a younger age.

Also, I agree that learning social behavior is one of the primary purposes of school, and I'd like to stress that I'm not advocating for the removal of the school system. 

The proportion of "deference to authority" is too high, in my opinion.

 

In school, or in the real world? And if the latter, what context in particular? In a career context, for example, lower deference to authority (when carefully executed) tends to lead to more rapid promotion, where at the terminus (CEO) everyone in an organisation defers to you. It doesn't seem there's a huge supply/demand imbalance for senior roles, which suggests to me that the self-assertiveness vs. deference balance in working-age society is more or less optimal.

what society currently lacks is a path to do something useful with it from a younger age.

Agreed, but why should teenagers being 'useful' be a goal? A century ago, most teenagers did actually do useful things (work in factories etc.) but we've moved away from that these days. Being a teenager is fun, with low responsibility, a lot of free time for self-discovery, etc. We have a lifetime after that to be 'useful'. Why should we cut our young years short?

I meant that school generally tries to embed deference to authority. It fades in the real world for certain jobs though.

Why should we cut our young years short?

  1. Brain myelination and information processing speed are highest then. Time is ticking if you want it to be easy to do creative, innovative work quickly. It is, of course, very possible to be successful as an adult with lower levels of neuroplasticity and processing and more "crystallized" intelligence, however adolescents have that particular advantage, differentiating them and making them valuable in a unique way.
  2. This is turning into more subjective philosophy territory, but is relaxing and having "fun" necessarily better than intellectual stimulation and learning from challenges? And won't experiences like that speed up self-discovery?

but is relaxing and having "fun" necessarily better than intellectual stimulation and learning from challenges? And won't experiences like that speed up self-discovery?

I think it speeds up self-discovery, at the expense of narrowing the domain within which that self-discovery takes place. So if you spend a lot of time as a teenager developing software, you certainly learn more about yourself in terms of your aptitude for developing software. But there's an opportunity cost. I favour unguided self-discovery (a.k.a. "having fun") for longer, because I view self-discovery during teenage years as a global optimization, for which algorithms like simulated annealing tend to find better optima with a higher temperature, albeit taking longer to do so. As a result, I do not favour cutting short 'childhood' so people can be 'useful' sooner.

Also, it may be well be that the LessWrong demographic favours intellectual stimulation as "better" than many other things, but for the general population, I don't see evidence this is the case. I know plenty of highly satisfied people, not driven by intellectual stimulation but nonetheless doing things most would regard as valuable to society. But yes, this comes down to subjective philosophy on what is "better" in terms of one's own utility function, and what we should be optimising for.

I'd argue that working earlier and having fun are not necessarily mutually exclusive - for example, look at university life. There are a lot of students doing research and other work, while participating in probably the strongest self-discovery of their lives. I also don't think specialization has a significant impact on what forms of self-discovery someone can engage in - software engineering covers a broad variety of things, from working with people to problem solving to time management to creativity and pitching your work

Relevant part of a documentary made by a homeschooler (who you could talk to on discord if you're interested.) I'm also homeschooled.

The true problem is liability. Since teenagers can't assume it for themselves until the age of majority, nor sign any binding contracts.

A teenager that messes up in some catastrophic way and turns themselves into a quadriplegic, will need several tens of millions dollars in healthcare over their lifespan, and will likely be awarded it by most courts, especially if they get enough media attention. Even if it happened solely because of their own negligence, unlike how it works with adults.

No teenager can contribute enough valuable work for any organization doing anything remotely risky physically to take on that risk. 

This includes even basic things such as woodworking, or milking a cow. Which is why any 'employment' of that kind is done on an informal family and friends basis in the U.S.

Even fast food franchisees are getting wary of hiring teenagers because the chances of a huge lawsuit are becoming significant.

In other countries with much lower expectations of liability or healthcare, there is far less 'stretched adolescence'.

This is what I came here to say :) I am taking a different approach with my kids: homeschool, then get them to graduate college at 18. Thus they have the credentials to be 'adult' at the same time as the legal rights of an adult. I think it is very hard to be faster than that, at least in the US. 

To the original point, there are often very few rules (it depends on the state or smaller area) about what constitutes 'school'. If you really want to make a difference you could start a private school, and then make real work 100% of your curriculum. Call it work study, internship, vocational study, practicum, whatever. This lets you choose your students, and then give them a chance to live up to their potential. If it works you can make it a franchise.

You can do that, but you are opening yourself up for one of the students suing you for not paying minimum wage. 

What were the principal factors that led to your decision that homeschooling and early graduation was 'better' for your kids then a 'conventional' schooling approach/timetable?

Clearly entering the workforce earlier leads to financial independence sooner, more years in employment hence greater lifetime wealth accumulation, etc. It's not clear that these things are that important either to individual well-being and happiness or in terms of one's place in broader society, so I'm interested in other kinds of reasons.

Full disclosure: I am 'a priori' against homeschooling in most cases. My belief is the principal value of schooling is to provide maximal 'contact time' with a highly heterogenous group of people, to enable acquisition of the kinds of skills that are important for societal cohesiveness in a heterogenous world. Substituting at least a significant part of this contact time for time at home (or time with a more homogeneous group i.e. other homeschooled children and their parents) reduces the size of the 'soft skills' training data set for teenagers at an important time in their lives. I'm not sure if this is a good thing, even if it leads to on-paper 'adult credentials' at age 18.

My decision to homeschool was due to my own experiences in public school, and the common thread amongst my similarly public schooled friends. We were all smart, socially outcast, and had a terrible time in school. If you're smart and weird school holds you back, limits your exploration of your potential, and retards your social growth by forcing you into age based groups instead of intelligence based groups.

For my kids, they get contact with a more heterogenous group than school would allow. They spend time with kids and adults of a wide age range, and a wide social range. Think hippy live in the woods unschoolers to more academic atheist homeschoolers. They also get much, much more time to be kids. School is around 2 to 3 hours per day for each kid, until they go to community college. Plus no bus, no arbitrary schedule, no homework, no forced nap time, and no bullying. 

At 14 or so they go into community college, which is again more heterogenous than either public high school or 4 year college. My son's lab partner was a 50 year old retired fireman from Alaska, and my son learned more than chemistry that semester. Then they go to 4 year college, and learn to be part of their future class of college educated upper middle class folks. 

In truth it was about not forcing my kids to endure what I had to endure, what I felt was unjust and cruel. I've seen wonderful outcomes so far, and that wasn't a forgone conclusion. The kids are happy, educated, and ready for the world. I'm happy enough with it to repeat this for the next 4 kids.

This is awesome, I hope I meet your kids sometime.

1517 fund (Medici fund) is supportive of these people. It has a discord and is generally very "anti-school". Danielle Strachman and Nick Arnett are very understanding (and approachable) of these people.

Hack Club is also a source of them. I know some - like https://medium.com/@kevalin.create - who are trying to craft an alternative path.

I helped fund one (https://mobile.twitter.com/calithameridi ) to SF at age 16, upon which he immediately dropped out of his University of Washington early entrance program to join a new Thiel Fellow at his new startup. UW EEP gives you an immense degree of freedom (you can choose your own classes or skip classes) + some resources, though even EEPers often self-limit themselves to WA and the smartest WA students don't do EEP just to gamble for elite universities (one of my EEPer friends considered most of them "normies" and unfriended them all after moving to SF)

If you know of any disillusioned teenagers, contact me and I can try to set something up (I've liberated more than one). I have some track record of turning people into Thiel Fellows. :)

Another rising star in this demographic is https://twitter.com/raidingAI/ .