In part 2 of Special Snowflake Syndrome and Other Good Questions, Matthew answers the question, "But what about academics?"
Learning to read in the abstract, without intrinsic motivation, is difficult; it takes several years to get most students to do it in traditional school environments. In fact, deep and substantial learning of anything absent of such motivation is, perhaps, impossible. But kids are motivated to have fun, connect, and explore, and meaningfully engaging virtually any activity requires, at some point anyway, literacy, so our students learn to read directly from the material from which they want to get information. Some learn because they are fanatical about Minecraft and need to communicate with other players and understand instructions. Some learn because they want to text with their family and friends on their smartphone. Others learn because reading is a gateway to story as well as enormous amounts of information, and they want it. Either way, kids are usually able to accomplish basic literacy if adults simply provide a text-rich environment, stay out the way, and answer questions and provide requested assistance in a straightforward manner.