For the Love of Learning – Dropping out of High School – Epi#104

For the Love of Learning Episode #104

Dropping out of High School


Monday May 15, 2017, 8pm-10pm EDT

Tuesday May 16, 2017, 1am-3am BST

 -During the showtimes, watch the show live by clicking this link-

John Rodrigues
Siren Patagon
Monica Chen
Stephen Choi

Hosted by:
Lainie Liberti 


In this episode we are going to explore Dropping out of High School.

What do you think of when you hear the term “high school drop out”? There is a social stigma attached to the term, and images of struggling unsuccessful people come to mind. But this social programming is intentional as it’s meant to guarantee people don’t seek an alternative and “stay in school” for their own good.

The message is enforced through scare tactics promising that high school drop outs will never have the earning potential that their high school graduate counter-parts do. The U.S. Census Statistics tell us that 38 percent of high school dropouts fall below the poverty line, compared with 18 percent of total households in every demographic. We are meant to believe that earning a high school diploma is the magic ticket to to higher earnings, and even if that was a fraction of the truth, the statement is meant to support the argument that high school is necessary to having a future. However most statistics don’t talk about those who opt out of the system. Do they have a future? Why do they drop out? What do they do instead? What are some of the side effects of dropping out of high school? Are they without opportunities and forced to always be living below the poverty line? Does dropping out actually preserve their love of learning? What other side effects are there for the high school drop out.

We are going to address these questions and more with an incredible panel tonight.
Guests’ Bios:

John Rodrigues

John Rodrigues is a national advocate for dyslexia and the founder of ThinkLexic, a non-profit organization serving the dyslexic community. Rodrigues graduated from U.C. Berkeley and spent one year as a visiting scholar at Harvard University. He is the author of “High School Dropout to Harvard” and featured in the PBS film about dyslexia, “Being You.” John founded Thinklexic to drive advocacy and use the arts to empower kids with dyslexia. He holds a Master’s degree in Education with a focus on learning disabilities. He’s interested in visual thinking and education innovation. He lives in Claremont, California with his wife and daughter.

The website for John’s nonprofit organization is

John was recently featured in the movie “Being You” his interview starts at minute seven. Movie featured in “Being You” 

John was also recently feature in an article from LEE Leadership for Education Equity John Rodrigues: “How this high school dropout ended up at Harvard” 


Siren Patagon

Siren has always disliked school. His disdain for it seem to grow the longer he was stuck in school. When he reached high school he got to a breaking point – he started skipping school by sleeping in, faking that he was sick, and slack on the work he would get on the days he did show up. Siren ended up dropping out in late 2012 in what would’ve been grade 11, but due to excessive absences the previous year he was going to be held back and that is what sealed the deal.

During the time he was skipping school Siren discovered the School Survival forums and that’s when he learned of alternatives. Homeschooling and unschooling stood out to him, especially because he wanted to be done with academia and stay at home full-time working on becoming an entertainer. Unfortunately, his parents vehemently opposed homeschooling no matter how Siren presented it, and forced him to go to school until he ended up dropping out.
It’s been almost 4½ years since Siren has dropped out and he says the only thing that’s improved is not having to deal with school. Things are still as tense as they were when he was being forced to go to school, as he’s basically just become a recluse waiting for the life he’s wanted before dropping out to come happen for him.


Monica Chen

Monica Chen dropped out of high school at the end of her junior year to begin unschooling.  In 2008, she wrote about this decision for Life Learning magazine in an article titled, “Daring to Drop Out.”  She then went to college and later graduate school where she earned a Master’s degree in elementary education.  She has been an educator for the last 10 years and cites unschooling as a strong influence in her pedagogical practice.


Stephen Choi


This episode is produced by Nina Downer

Hosted by Lainie Liberti

Lainie Liberti

As always, you can find out more about your host, Lainie Liberti at her website and the alternative education & world schooling project she runs with her teen son at: You can also connect with her on twitter @ilainie & facebook.

For full archives of this show and programming schedule, please visit: 

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