I was struck by this interview on NPR with the authors of Becoming Brilliant:

NPR: What led you to write this book now?

Golinkoff: We live in a crazy time, and parents are very worried about their children’s futures. They’re getting all kinds of messages about children having to score at the top level on some test. The irony is, kids could score at the top and still not succeed at finding great employment or becoming a great person.

Hirsh-Pasek: If Rip Van Winkle came back, there’s only one institution he would recognize: “Oh! That’s a school. Kids are still sitting in rows, still listening to the font of wisdom at the front of the classroom.” We’re training kids to do what computers do, which is spit back facts. And computers are always going to be better than human beings at that. But what they’re not going to be better at is being social, navigating relationships, being citizens in a community. So we need to change the whole definition of what success in school, and out of school, means.

Of course, this makes me want to write about what to teach your kids so they have a good adult life. One thing, for example, is kids need to learn to tell a story about themselves. And we can complain all we want about resumes, but writing a resume well is the process of learning to tell one’s own story.

A great place to start writing resumes is Online Resume Builder. It’s a fail-proof way to write a good story about yourself because it leads you through questions and it organizes answers in a conventional, well-written resume format. A resume is probably the most important document of adult life. Yet we spend no time teaching children how to convey their life by way of stories worthy of resumes.

Here’s a link to a post that features one of my favorite people to quote: Herminia Ibarra. She is a business school professor who bounces from one top institution to another building her career just like she tells us to build our careers – by telling good stories to be better at connecting with people.

This whole post maybe belongs on my career blog. Because increasingly I am finding that education and career are the same thing – they are the quest for an interesting life that places you in a valued role in society. This changes throughout life, but kids, athletes, parents, retirees, everyone has this goal.

So why do I have two different blogs? This tortures me. And then, Ali posted this comment, asking me why I even have two blogs, because he reads both and they seem very interrelated.

I am so grateful to Ali for making me realize that this was not my own private question, that I am linking to his site, Pig + Tiger, as a thank you. And who knows? Maybe one of you will want to remodel your kitchen in Texas and want t0 talk about homeschooling at the same time, and then you will hire him and the world will be one big blogosphere.

Yesterday I posted on my career blog about how I made my son teach himself how to be a salesperson so he’d have a backup in case cello doesn’t work out. That’s probably an unschooling post. And today’s post is, actually, about why talking about careers is talking about education. So why is this not on the career blog?

I wanted to tell you that the Gradient Puzzle (pictured) is what I feel about homeschooling — like I’m putting pieces together with no idea of what I’m aiming for. But actually, there is so much data to show what education should aim for and how it should unfold, that probably managing one’s career is more difficult because we have much less research to give us a scientific basis of what to aim for.

So the truth is that I don’t know why I still have two blogs. Is advice for careers so different than advice for education? What do you think?

Note: My editor is out of town today. So I had Melissa edit. Melissa says: “This is totally stupid. This post should just be on the big blog.” Melissa is calling it the big blog, because she says if I start calling it the big blog, and not the career blog, I’ll be more likely to merge the two blogs.


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35 replies
  1. Sarah M
    Sarah M says:

    I read and enjoy both and have thought the same thing as to why you write two, BUT…I don’t see the career people reading the education blog, just the education people reading both. If I was a single 20 or 30something that didn’t have a family, I wouldn’t care about the state of the education system, I’d just want career advice.

    I think they overlap for homeschoolers, and maybe the Venn Diagram of both intersecting would have a tiny sliver on the left that says, “education”, a very large middle section for both, but maybe a 30-50% side for the “career”. I say keep the two blogs separate for the 20 and 30 somethings who aren’t concerned with homeschooling…they’ll come back in 5-10 years.

  2. Alexa
    Alexa says:

    To state the obvious, the reason for two blogs is that the people who know and love you read both and don’t even consider them two different blogs, but the people who are just getting to know you need to start in a niche of either education or career until they realize they can’t live without your particular brand of crack no matter what you call it.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      This is such a helpful comment, and it’s not totally obvious to me at all. It’s hard to see things clearly when I’m so close to everything.


  3. Jennifa
    Jennifa says:

    For awhile I stopped reading the big blog, but have come back recently as it got more interesting.

    They are very similar, but I like the homeschool guest posts and they may not fit on career blog. And rants about Sheryl Sandberg probably garner more activity in a career blog.

    So while very similar there seems reasons to keep them separate, mostly for people still figuring out the bigger picture of the world and don’t realize we are all in all of this together. Maybe.

  4. Sara Beth
    Sara Beth says:

    Why should you not have 2 blogs? The oddity is you keep publishing stuff that overlaps. Your kids education and their future careers. You seem like you used to be more into careers now more into homeschooling. I read the hirsch pasek baby book and thought it was pretty lame. I also don’t agree that kids who do well in school won’t succeed. Most do. That’s not the same as changing the world or having successful interpersonal relationships. And when’s the last time she was in a school? They’re entirely against facts now. That’s why the math is AWFUL and people mock common core. They think they can teach critical thinking in K. what’s missing in schools is any semblance of breaks or independence. Passions are extinguished. Not utiliZed in individualized ways.

  5. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    I visited your originally titled Homeschool blog over four and a half years ago when I had no friggin’ clue what I was doing when I took my precocious Kindergartner out of a respectable private school because it wasn’t working. It helped me not feel like a freak because I found an online community of people that I had many things in common with.

    Before that, I had never heard of you nor your career blog. If you had lumped Homeschooling/Education in with the “big blog” would I have even found it? Who is to say? But, it’s the homeschool/education blog that has benefited me the most. I have followed the career blog because of the education side, and I do see how there could be similarities when you post career stuff for the education side, and homeschooling stuff on the career side. However, the commenting communities feel very different. On the career side everyone is a critic, and on this side people are generally helpful and provide good ideas.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      This is so true! I think the education comments section is a very tight community and we know each other much more. The career blog is relatively huge and it’s not as intimate. I do think we have conversations here that we could not have on the other blog. I think this is why I keep it — because I depend on these conversations to clarify my thinking and keep me sane as a homeschooler.

      Also, I would miss Jim Grey posting his own blog posts in the comments section. We are so accustomed to that here :)


  6. Joyce
    Joyce says:

    No, advice for careers are related to advice for education, but the audience for your career blog is different from your homeschooling blog. You said that people should specialize, so it’s good to have two blogs to show your stories about careers and homeschooling.

  7. Deidre
    Deidre says:

    They are interrelated.
    They do get different audiences and useful in getting new users. So value for you there, but there are other ways to market and interlink etc. Without having two blogs.
    All your topics (in my mind) fit into 3 buckets, albeit still interlinked: 1) Growth (kids, personal, upbringing, education, parenting, life purpose, relationships, knowledge, homeschooling… etc) and 2) Money making (how to, options, choices, career, promotions, networking etc) 3) Self-help – stress, worry, confidence, conflict… etc)

    Having said this, everyone likes the labels they’ve been programmed to receive like Education, Careers.

    Funny, when I coach businesses on growth strategies and try to distill actions to the essence, they will still ask: “So, does this fit into our HR Policy or Process Improvements?” I usually try to assign to one of the buckets, otherwise nothing will ever get done.

  8. Jim Grey
    Jim Grey says:

    I came here to tell you it is time to combine the blogs. But now I’m hedging.

    What I think is happening between your two blogs is that you are increasingly writing about the age that is dawning and how to live in it. You’ve done such a good job at identifying trends that point to the future and giving us all serious stuff to chew on about how to be ready when it arrives. And it’s arriving.

    Increasingly, you write posts where I can’t tell which blog they’re on unless I take time to look. (I read in Feedly with the other 175 blogs I follow.)

    I think the comments about homeschoolers finding your blog while looking for community, and the career readers not generally reading the education blog but the education readers reading both, are spot on and are why I’m backing off the advice I came here to give. Maybe the way you sort this out from now on is to put stuff only the education readers would care about here, and everything else on the careers blog. And your careers blog becomes a Life In This Modern Age blog masquerading as a careers blog.

    BTW: I have no intention of stopping miniblogging here, Penelope, but you know if you ever miss me that much you can come check out my blog too! All you have to do is click my name on any comment. I’m going to tease you by saying I’ll be posting wedding photos when we get them back from the photographer. I got married last Saturday and it was lovely! And after taking the last blogging class with you I have refocused the blog around “the intersection of photography and life” (but I didn’t actually use that tagline because it would be stealing) and I like how it’s turning out.

    • Tracy
      Tracy says:

      >“the intersection of photography and life” (but I didn’t actually use that tagline because it would be stealing)

      Just steal it- imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

    • Julia Aidar
      Julia Aidar says:

      Jim, I had just the same thought: Penelope is not writing specifically about education or careers at this point, it is all about modern life and every post is an insight on how to navigate it. But then, I usually do not follow the comments (also read on Feedly) and was not aware of the commenters’ community here in Education. It feels unfair to spoil someone else’s party. :)

    • Rayne of Terror
      Rayne of Terror says:

      Jim, I subscribe to your blog and I noticed your most recent title was very Penelope inspired.

      • Jim Grey
        Jim Grey says:

        Yeah, I’m working on writing better titles. Mine haven’t been very grabby. Penelope’s titles are grabby so I’m emulating them on my way to finding my own title voice.

    • Mark W.
      Mark W. says:

      This blog post and this comment make me think Penelope’s tag line could maybe use an update from ‘Advice at the intersection of work and life” to ‘Advice at the intersection of work, life, and education’.

  9. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    I like and read both blogs. But then, I work with kids, so of course I’m interested in education. Education is my career, and I want to be better at it, so for me the education posts are also career posts. As someone who reads both, it is a very small, barely-registering inconvenience to have to check two different places to read your posts when I want to read them all anyway.

    However, I think it would be different if I wasn’t an educator. Everyone has a career of some sort, so everyone is probably interested in career advice; not everyone is around kids a lot, so not everyone will be interested in hearing about educating kids.

    I wonder if it would be possible for you to do a reader poll of how many people are here only for the career posts, only for the education posts, or are here for both.

  10. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    Hi Penelope & readers. I’m a home-schooling mum from Down Under & I’ve been reading Pen’s blog for years now but never commented until today (INFJ ;) ). Penelope, I love your work & thank you for providing me with lots of interesting things to think about. And thank you to Jim Grey & YesMyKidsAreSocialized & other commentators for the same :)

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      This is so lovely, Jessica. It’s a strong vote for the community. I love that you’ve been reading the comments and you are thanking people. This makes me so happy. I hope you comment again!


  11. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    The commenters make a good case for keeping the two blogs distinct. So then I guess the question is how do you decide what to post where. If you treat them like products, the ‘big’ careers blog should have the posts for the majority & laggards, the newer education blog gets the posts for the innovators & early adopters.

    Then, when the posts on the education blog start appealing to the majority, well then maybe it is time to merge the two and start a brand new blog.

  12. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    It’s easier for me to make the case for two separate blogs – two separate communities for the reasons stated above in this comment section. I can see how it would be possible to integrate both blogs into one. However, I think it would be a lot of work. Also, I think you would have to change your writing to some degree in an attempt to reach both communities. I think it would constrain your writing and make it more difficult in some ways that isn’t readily apparent. When you have education and career advice that transcends both communities, I don’t see why you couldn’t post the same blog into both communities. What’s currently different between the two blogs is each has different categories (or tags) so that would be a way to distinguish them. I would think the integration of both blogs would eventually have to address the different categories into one unifying theme of education and career.

  13. INTJ Professor
    INTJ Professor says:

    Don’t merge the blogs. I check both every day, and Mailbag too. When there’s a new post on any of the three, that’s lovely. When there’s a new post on two of the three, that’s even better. I’m still waiting for the hat trick–I don’t think that there’s ever been three new posts. But I live in hope.

    That’s why you should have two blogs. And Mailbag.

  14. Victoria
    Victoria says:

    I don’t think you should merge the two blogs. If you did, it would be fine that your voice was on both. However, your guest writers on the education blog would REALLY stand out strangely on the career blog. I check both and mailbag.

  15. Mariana
    Mariana says:

    That is such a good question and the comment section is amazing, everybody is bringing really interesting points! I would say that the education blog is more mature now and maybe it is time to move on. There was this need of championing homeschooling that brought together the defensiveness of both blogger and followers. Do you think you still need this Penelope? It seems you grew out of it. Maybe your followers need it? Some do. And maybe it makes sense to keep it separate for the time being. But they will merge eventually, I believe.

  16. HomeschoolDad
    HomeschoolDad says:

    The power of homeschooling is that it alone allows the full integration of family, work, and children.

    School is one big fat wedge between us and our most precious assets.

  17. Emily
    Emily says:

    Yes! One blog! I’ve been telling you that forever too. I think that you will have an easier time writing posts too once you combine them because then you will have an extra special sweet spot. It’s OK to show your full self: someone who has had a big career and someone who went even further by questioning the institution of school. Who cares if some of the main blog people drop off because they don’t want to read about education?

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