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Don't Go Back to School: A Handbook for Learning Anything [Kindle Edition]

Kio Stark
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.95
Kindle Price: $4.99
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Book Description

Here is a radical truth: school doesn’t have a monopoly on learning. More and more people are passing on traditional education and college degrees. Instead they’re getting the knowledge, training, and inspiration they need outside of the classroom. Drawing on extensive research and talking to over 100 independent learners, Kio Stark offers the ultimate guide to learning without school. Don’t Go Back to School tells you how to learn what you need to learn in order to do what you need to do, without having to bend your life or your finances to fit into traditional schooling. This inspiring and practical guide provides concrete strategies and resources for getting started as an independent learner. Don’t Go Back to School is essential reading if you’re considering traditional higher education—and if you’re ready to become an independent learner.

Praise for Don't Go Back to School

"You don't need school for that! This is not a book about an easy path, but a book about a path that works. If you want to learn, go learn. But you don't need school for that." Seth Godin, author, Stop Stealing Dreams

"Don't Go Back to SchoolHere Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus

“Not going to graduate school felt like a failure at the time, but wound up being the best choice I ever made. It set me out on a path of self-learning and discovery that led me to work I love, work that would've never flown in an academic setting. How I wish I'd had Kio's book as a guide to help me along the way!” —Austin Kleon, author, Steal Like an Artist

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Kio Stark is a writer, researcher, teacher, and passionate activist for independent learning. She is also the author of the novel Follow Me Down. You can find out more about her work at

Product Details

  • File Size: 654 KB
  • Print Length: 216 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0988949008
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Kio Stark (April 10, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,696 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The independent learning revolution is now May 27, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
By my junior year in high school I had concluded that most of my public, formal education had been pretty much useless. After graduating, when everyone else went off to college, I took a year off in which I tried to give myself the kind of education that I believed school had failed me in. I read non-stop, everything I could get my hands on, and while my methodology was a bit haphazard, I honestly believe I learned more during that period than in four years of high school. But it was a very isolated process and I eventually came to long for the interaction and dynamic exchange of ideas that can only happen in a social setting (mind you, I didn't even have a computer at the time). It's this, more than anything else, that spurred me to go to college after all - a very progressive one, almost radical even, so as to ensure it would be nothing like high school.

The social aspect has always been one of the primary benefits that institutional learning has offered, along with a ready-made infrastructure in the form of curriculum, physical resources like libraries, and plenty of opportunities for networking. It's for this reason that I've fantasized, on and off, about grad school for over fifteen years, not for the learning, which I can do quite well on my own, but for the people and the connections. But with tuition fees and student debts spiraling out of control, depressingly low employment rates and increasing skepticism about the concrete benefits of a graduate degree (at least in the liberal arts), I kept putting it off until I eventually almost gave up on the idea.

Enter Kio Stark's 'Don't Go Back to School,' a book that aims to show people how they can still tap into those same social and infrastructural benefits that school offers without actually going.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a smart, smart book. While the target audience appears to be those who are on the fence about the value of college or grad school, I think the subtitle ("a handbook for learning anything") is closer to the mark. I'm one of those people who went to college and grad school, and I still find this to be filled with provocative ideas and practical suggestions.

It's dense, and I expect that I will go back to reread it more than once. That is not a bad thing, mind you -- it's actually very readable, and 'density' just refers to the sheer number of things for me to think about. I'm very impressed.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected April 28, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I feel like Kio Stark took the easy way out with this book -- if you can even call it that. In fact, this is not so much a book as it is a large and aimless collection of 2-to-3-page personal snapshots. Stark takes leaders in various fields who have thrived on self-education techniques and briefly recounts each of their life stories (or maybe they've written them themselves; they're written in 1st person so it's unclear) to underscore the viability of independent learning in today's formal education-dominated workplace. As you progress through the snapshots, you start to pick up on certain themes (i.e. the importance of failure, of a support network, and of intrinsic motivation in effective learning) and begin to get a sense of what works and what doesn't. That's the good. The bad is that Stark does little to help the reader consolidate all of the information she's collected into useful knowledge. I would have appreciated, after each of the snapshots, a section set aside for Stark's analysis, comments, key takeaways -- anything. Instead, it's section after section of personal anecdotes and opinions, many repetitive, others contradictory.

I don't expect an author to spoonfeed me, but from a book like this I do expect a clear, finished product instead of the raw materials that Stark offers. A book is supposed to challenge you, yes, but also to leave you feeling more satisfied and assured; this one left me a bit too confused.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Book on Self-Education September 19, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As someone who is deeply interested in self-education and anything having to do with people being empowered to learn and grow outside of the formal education system, I recommend the book. Stark is a smart woman who defines herself as a "learning activist," among other things, and she also served as President Obama's Chief Technology Officer for the Obama for America campaign during the 2012 election.

Stark begins from the standpoint of acknowledging that the formal school system as we know it, at all levels, is broken. Amid the current debates taking place about the true value of a college education and the dramatically rising costs of higher education that's fostering the student debt crisis, Stark does not propose reform, but rather a radical proposal for transforming learning itself with traditional school one among many options rather than the only option.

The book is based largely on Stark's own personal research (which I would best describe as ethnographic research in which she discovered four facts garnered from her interviews that are shared by almost every successful form of learning outside of school:

- It isn't done alone.
- For many professions, credentials aren't necessary, and the processes for getting credentials are changing.
- The most effective, satisfying learning is learning that is more likely to happen outside of school.
- People who are happiest with their learning process and most effective at learning new things - in any educational environment - are people who are learning for the right reasons and who reflect on their own way of learning to figure out which processes and methods work best for them.

Stark presents the book in three sections.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars It was a great instruction book for independent learning
It was a great instruction book for independent learning. It's motivational and the different stories paint a clear picture for how to succeed without going back to school. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Rebecca Monterusso
5.0 out of 5 stars A meaningful life in your own eyes
A way of looking at using our choices in life to attain a valuable life. So often, we look to others for the meaning we are desiring in our lives. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Lee J
3.0 out of 5 stars A good way to get your head around the concept
I understand entirely why Kio Stark has called her book Don't Go Back To School. It makes good marketing sense and it speaks to an idea, a concern and a longing that many people... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Fiona Leonard
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read with useful hints on how to learn anything on your own.
Many of the useful things I've learned in life have been self thought, but often, I tend to underestimate them because by cultural inertia I've been accustomed to believe that... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Ivan E Del Toro
3.0 out of 5 stars reveal another way to learn but repetitive
I pick up this book as I have seen enough people incurring thousands of dollars on formal education debts hoping that he/she can get a good job afterwards but they come up empty. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Ming Siu
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I would recommend this book to anybody who is interested in learning.

If you just finished high school and you have no idea what to do, or if you have been in college... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Vicky
5.0 out of 5 stars inspiring!
This is a great intro for any person who is a firm believer in self education. The people who provide the meat of the book, self-learner all, provides the reader with a framework... Read more
Published 12 months ago by barbara a. trumpinski (kitten)
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Go Back To School
This book is a tried and tested manual. It gives you the philosophy of a different way. Then lots of interviews of those who did it and their steps to their success. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Kay R.
5.0 out of 5 stars Interestng text
The book is very helpful in understanding the needs of older learning who need a different approach to learning. It is a good resurce for facilitators.
Published 19 months ago by Terri D Coustan
5.0 out of 5 stars Opened my eyes
Great book. Gave me a very different perspective on learning. :) very good read. Very structured at the introduction and some very good insights from the interviews.
Published 19 months ago by Carl Graham
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More About the Author

Kio Stark's most recent book is Don't Go Back to School: A handbook for learning almost anything. It's a practical guide with concrete strategies, inspiring stories from learners, and how-to advice on things like getting started, staying motivated, and getting jobs without traditional credentials. She is the author of the novel Follow Me Down, studies and writes about the way humans relate to technology, and teaches geeks about ideas at NYU's graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program. She coordinates the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews Learning initiative, and is a passionate activist for independent learning.


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