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A new book with 23 illustrated stories about giving yourself an unconventional education in a conventional world.
A new book with 23 illustrated stories about giving yourself an unconventional education in a conventional world.
A new book with 23 illustrated stories about giving yourself an unconventional education in a conventional world.
264 backers pledged $8,357 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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The Art of Self-Directed Learning

$8,357

264

Welcome to the Kickstarter campaign for my new book, The Art of Self-Directed Learning. 

To find out more, check out these excerpts—1 / 2 / 3—and read on!

***Update: We're fully funded, and the audiobook stretch reward has been achieved! Every backer at $7+ will now receive a free copy of the audiobook, narrated by yours truly. You can still contribute until the campaign ends tonight at 7:45pm PST / 10:45pm EST***

***The "Blake in Person" reward has been dropped from $1000 to $850***

In high school or college, did you ever take a class that taught you how to learn? A class that helped you become a more self-motivated and self-directed learner?

Neither did I. 

Yet when we finish school, self-directed learning is exactly what we need most. It's a mindset and toolkit that enables us to: 

  • design our own careers instead of simply accepting what's offered
  • build things from scratch (whether it's a blog, a business, or a house)
  • continue our educations without formal classes or assignments
  • live a life that’s very different from our family's or society's vision
I grew up going to traditional schools, but in college, a series of events conspired to radically open my eyes to the alternative path. Since then I've dedicated my life to tracking down the people, places, and theories that exemplify the spirit of self-directed learning.

My last two books—College Without High School and Better Than College—showed you how to get a higher education without a formal background. Unlike them, The Art of Self-Directed Learning is a more general-interest collection of the best stories and insights I've gathered from a decade of working with self-directed learners of all stripes: unschoolers, world travelers, small business owners, freelance creatives, and the founders of innovative camps, schools, and retreats.

I'm excited to get this book into world because there's a lot of confusion about self-directed learning that I want to help clear up. Many people think it means doing everything on your own (it doesn't), that's it's only for people blessed with self-discipline (it's not), or that it's all about online learning (quite the opposite). Such a powerful approach to education—and life in general—deserves more thoughtful consideration.

When finished, the book will be a quick read (~20,000 words) and each chapter will be accompanied by an original illustration. 

If you're: 

  • an independent young adult (or the parent of one)
  • someone thinking about going back to college
  • an educator who doesn't buy into the mainstream approach
  • someone working in (or toward) an entrepreneurial or creative career
  • anyone considering a big life change that requires independent learning

...this book is for you. 

Please help me bring The Art of Self-Directed Learning to life by contributing to the campaign, sending a link to a friend, or pitching it on your favorite social media account.

(First time on Kickstarter? Scroll to the bottom where I explain how it works.)

About the Author

I'm an author, educator, and entrepreneur who took a 180-degree turn in college from studying astrophysics to get involved in the world of alternative education. Read more about me on blakeboles.com.

To pay the bills, I run the travel and education company Unschool Adventures, through which I lead life-changing international trips, month-long writing retreats, and leadership retreats for young adults who don't go to traditional school.

I'm also the author of College Without High School and Better Than College

Here's what a few people I respect have said about my books:

"Boles offers an antidote to the over-scheduled, grade-driven, and sadly uncreative existence of most high-schoolers today."

Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive

"Blake Boles offers a clear and compelling roadmap: grounded in real-life examples and insightful analysis, lofted by a wide and exuberant sense of what life can become."

Grace Llewellyn, author of The Teenage Liberation Handbook

"Before you spend four years in college, devote four hours to hearing what Blake has to say."

Seth Godin, author of Stop Stealing Dreams

"There is joy and hope in new directions, and Blake is an inspirational guide."

Sandra Dodd, author of The Big Book of Unschooling 

"This splendid book is intended as a step-by-step guide, but can be read with profit by anyone interested in moral philosophy."

John Taylor Gatto, New York Teacher of the Year, author of Dumbing Us Down and The Underground History of American Education

Partial Chapter List

  • The Girl Who Sailed Around the World 
  • Motivate Thyself 
  • Discipline, Dissected 
  • Cages and Keys 
  • Second Right Answers 
  • Do It Alone, Together 
  • Give and Get Consent
  • Google Everything 
  • Email a Stranger 
  • Create Your Digital Paper Trail 
  • Get Off the Computer and Talk to People 
  • One-Way Train to Portland 
  • The Dance Lesson 
  • Indescribable Sexiness 
  • Practice, Deliberately 
  • Find Your Nerd Clans 
  • Pumping Poop for the Win 
  • Passion, Skill, Market 
  • Build Time Wealth 
  • Be the Bacon 

Rewards

All campaign backers will gain early access to the final book, The Art of Self-Directed Learning. The more you contribute, the snazzier your reward. Here are details about some of the more complex rewards.

$50-level backers get a silky smooth American Apparel t-shirt printed with your choice of any illustration from the book (not just the ones shown below). You'll get a chance to browse the full book before making your decision, so you know what your illustration represents. Both unisex and women's fitted shirts are available. (And if you choose the poop truck illustration, I will personally e-mail you and commend your boldness.)

$60-level backers get three lightweight, flexible, 3D-printed illustrations from the book: muses for summoning your inner self-directed learner. Keep them on your desk, pin them on your wall, or prop them against your laptop. (One will be the "Carry Your Own Carrot" illustration—a metaphor for self-motivation—and the other two are TBD.) 3D-printing by Shapeways.com

$75-level backers get an extra-large soft-cover Moleskine notebook—my favorite tool for self-directed learning—embossed with the "Carry Your Own Carrot" illustration. The interior pages are blank, and the notebook opens flat no matter which page you're on. I've gone through about 10 Moleskines over the past decade. They're badass.

$175 backers get an hour-long Skype session in which you can ask me all your unanswered questions about self-directed learning. (You may also gift this conversation to someone else.) If you want our talk to be recorded, we'll save it to a YouTube video. In addition to the conversation, you also get your choice of the full $50, $60 (U.S. shipping only), or $75 reward.

$1000 backers get to bring me out to wherever you are in the continental United States to give a talk on The Art of Self-Directed Learning. This is a great option for schools, homeschool groups, colleges, and extended families. (Drop me a line to talk details before selecting this option: yourstruly@blakeboles.com.)

No matter how much you contribute, I will list your name as a supporter in the back of the e-book.

Stretch Rewards

If this campaign earns more than its $6000 goal, then I'll have enough funds to do some pretty awesome stuff:

$8000: Audiobook

If we get to $8000, I'll create an unabridged, professionally recorded audiobook of The Art of Self-Directed Learning. All backers who contribute $7+ will get a free copy! (This goal was previously $9000.)

$10,000: Video Animation

At $10,000, I'll have The Art of Self-Directed Learning turned into an animated whiteboard video like this one by Sir Ken Robinson and this one by Daniel Pink. The video will be uploaded to YouTube and free for all. (This goal was previously $11,000.)

$12,000+: Book tour!

At $12,000 and beyond, I'll hire a publicist and do a book tour, beginning in the San Francisco Bay Area, in either the fall or winter of 2014. The more money I raise, the farther I can travel! (I'll make it a priority to visit the cities and towns where campaign backers live.) (This goal was previously $13,000.)

Illustration Previews

Here are a few second drafts of the book's illustrations, created by my friend Shona Warwick-Smith.

"Motivate Thyself"
"Motivate Thyself"
"Camp vs. School"
"Camp vs. School"
"Discipline, Dissected"
"Discipline, Dissected"
"E-mail a Stranger"
"E-mail a Stranger"
"Pumping Poop for the Win"
"Pumping Poop for the Win"
"Passion, Skill, Market"
"Passion, Skill, Market"
"Do it Alone, Together"
"Do it Alone, Together"
"Practice, Deliberately"
"Practice, Deliberately"
"Build Time Wealth"
"Build Time Wealth"

Where the Money Goes

The $6000 I'm raising is the minimum amount of money I need to professionally and independently publish The Art of Self-Directed Learning. It goes toward:

  • Illustrator, editor, designer, and publishing fees: ~$2700
  • Kickstarter (5%) and credit card (3%) fees: ~$500
  • Reward fulfillment (printing & shipping books and rewards): ~$2800

Any additional funds raised go toward stretch goals and the author.

After the Kickstarter

After Kickstarter backers receive their rewards, The Art of Self-Directed Learning will be available for sale online for roughly $15 (paperback, plus S&H) and $10 (e-book) retail price.

Sorry, there will not be a free PDF version of this book available online (as there is for Better Than College). 

New to Kickstarter?

Here's how it works:

  • When you contribute to my campaign, you're getting a reward in exchange. (That's what the options on the right side are.) 
  • Each reward has a minimum contribution level. You can contribute more than the minimum if you like.
  • The higher-priced rewards take me more quickly toward my goal. I encourage you to go big!
  • Kickstarter is an "all-or-nothing" fundraising platform. If I don't hit my fundraising goal before the time runs out, your credit card isn't charged, and I don't provide any rewards.
  • If you don't see a reward you like, write me an email (yourstruly@blakeboles.com) and suggest one!
  • If you have a question about the campaign, submit it to the FAQ section below and I'll answer it publicly.
Any other questions? Write me directly at yourstruly@blakeboles.com!

This campaign was inspired by Craig Mod, Carsie BlantonSeth Godin, @FAKEGRIMLOCK, and Kio Stark—among many others.

Risks and challenges

I independently published my second book, so I'm well prepared to publish this one.

Third-party delays not withstanding (i.e., unexpected delays with the book printer, t-shirt fulfillment service, 3D printer, and/or notebook imprinter), you will receive your rewards on time.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $3 or more About $3

    EXCLUSIVE ONLINE PREVIEW. Browse the full book online. I'll send you a link, it's up for 4 days, and then it's gone.

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    Pledge $7 or more About $7

    E-BOOK. Formatted for every device: Kindle, Nook, tablet, smartphone, and computer screen.

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    Pledge $16 or more About $16

    THE BOOK. One shiny new copy of the paperback book, shipped to your door.

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    Pledge $17 or more About $17

    THE BOOK + E-BOOK (EARLY BIRD). You get one shiny new copy of the paperback book, plus the e-book. (Only 50 copies are available at this early-bird rate!)

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    THE BOOK + E-BOOK. You get one shiny new copy of the paperback book, plus the e-book.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    ONE FOR YOU, ONE FOR A FRIEND. I'll ship one paperback to you and another to your friend (or family member, or arch-nemesis). Plus you each get the e-book.

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    FOUR 4 FORTY. The best deal for sharing copies with friends. Four paperbacks shipped to you, plus four e-book downloads.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    CUSTOM SHIRT. You get a silky-smooth American Apparel t-shirt (either unisex or women's fitted) printed with your choice of illustration from the book. Plus you get the paperback and e-book.

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    3D-PRINTED ILLUSTRATIONS. You get three physical illustrations from the book: emblems to remind you to continue your self-directed learning every day. Plus you get the paperback and e-book. (Sorry, we're not able to ship these outside the U.S.)

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    Pledge $80 or more About $80

    CUSTOM NOTEBOOK. You get an extra-large (7.5" x 9.75") black Moleskine notebook imprinted with the "Carry Your Own Carrot" illustration. Plus you get the paperback and e-book.

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    Pledge $130 or more About $130

    THE WHOLE ENCHILADA. This is a combination of the $50, $60, and $80 rewards: you get the t-shirt, 3D-printed illustrations, notebook, paperback, and e-book.

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    Pledge $175 or more About $175

    SKYPE WITH BLAKE. We'll have an hour-long conversation in which I'll answer all your questions about becoming a better self-directed learner. This can be private (just you and me) or public (recorded and posted on YouTube). Plus you get your choice of the t-shirt, 3D illustration (U.S. only), or notebook reward.

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    Pledge $850 or more About $850

    BLAKE IN PERSON. I'll fly to anywhere in the continental United States and give a 1.5-hour presentation to your group about The Art of Self-Directed Learning, plus Q&A afterwards. (You must provide airfare, housing, and local transport. We'll negotiate a specific date that works for both of us. International and special requests, please e-mail.) Plus you get The Whole Enchilada, 10 signed paperbacks, and an e-book to freely distribute to your group.

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Funding period

- (14 days)