Close the Schools in 5 years, Part VIII – Families Prepare For The First Year Closures (Part II)

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

We’re discussing the “forces” which must be controlled or harnessed in order to homeschool successfully. Those forces are:

– The parent (or homeschool teachers) ability to learn and teach.

– Changing logistics and legalities.

– The student’s needs, wants, interests and skills.

There are others, but these will do to start this discussion. Let’s start with the first one.

– The parent (or homeschool teachers) ability to learn and teach.

Clearly, some parents learn more easily than others. Some are “born” students or teachers, others are not. It is true that a teacher who can’t learn will be limited in what they can teach. So the parent’s own literacy, willingness to learn, and motivation to improve their own knowledge base may be important to successful homeschooling of their children.

However, the importance of each parent’s ability to teach is minimized somewhat in a homeschool group. This is so because the responsibility for teaching will be spread out among the group. Each parent involved in teaching the students (perhaps three times a week, say, for half a day of homeschooling) could and should lean on their own unique expertise. So a parent great at sports might be the “P.E.” parent (homeschool teacher, whatever). In this way, they really don’t need to learn much. Another parent who is, say, an accountant, is going to more easily teach math, consumer economics, etc. Hobbies can play in here, too – expertise is expertise.

Of course, just knowing how to do a thing is no guarantee of being successful at teaching it. There are great examples of this in sports. Great players in baseball and basketball often become very poor coaches. Why? They assume that every player should be able to do what they were able to do in their playing days. There are good reasons some players are considered “great”, they possess superior understanding and skill.

A great mathematician may not teach math well at all. A great actor often makes a lousy acting teacher. Conversely, in baseball there are many examples of players who were less than good, but who became wonderful coaches. Knowing a subject well is not a guarantee of being able to teach it. Teaching well is an art unto itself. That said, even if you are a fine teacher (a rare breed indeed), if you do NOT know much about a subject, you’re going to find it nearly impossible to teach. (The very problem school teachers without proficiency in a certain subject run into when assigned to teach that subject. It happens often, folks. Teachers often study the textbook just a chapter ahead of their students.)

Accordingly, a teacher’s likelihood of failure is also minimized by a self-contained curricula that provides plenty of help to the teacher and student. I have my own answer to this problem, one I’ve spent over 12,000 hours to date creating, and it’s Steps, the homeschool curricula I’ve authored for students ages 5-adult. We do not provide math (I recommend some programs, there are many), or grammar. It does provide a river of courses a student could do from the very start of their school years, up to (and including in some cases) college. These courses negate the need for the homeschool teacher to know anything about a subject, due to the way they are constructed. The course and the student directly interact, the course largely does the “teaching”, and the homeschool parent is asked to more-or-less “supervise” rather than “teach.” I invite you to take a look at www.stepsed.com, where the entire program is explained in detail.

Regardless of how it’s accomplished, the homeschool teacher must find a way to understand the subject being taught well enough to at least assist the student as needed, and must develop a methodology that successfully teaches. Left undone, homeschooling (or schooling of any sort) can only fail. The student isn’t going to trust a teacher who does not either know the subject being taught, or at least knows where in the materials studied to find the right answers to questions and is able to send the student there at need. Once the teacher (in any environment) loses the trust, faith or respect of the student, you’re in for a lot of unproductive school days. This is a large part of the history and truth of public schooling today.

Trust in education is a force. It must be developed in the student to succeed as a teacher. It must be developed within a teacher so that the teacher knows they CAN teach with success, and handle the needs of teaching. There are “born teachers”, surely, but for most teachers, this sort of trust develops over time and with experience.

Equally, knowledge in education is a force. A teacher must KNOW how to teach, what to teach, and ideally know both things well. This is as true for homeschooling parents as it is for school teachers. What to teach should, I believe, largely be determined by an initial, core series of studies that expose the student to a broad range of experiences and ideas, What is studied should then be progressively focused down as the student demonstrates specific interests and skills that require dedicated time to develop. How to teach is covered in detail in our Parent/Teacher program and in the book, Poor Cheated Little Johnny. In short, one successfully develops methodology to teach only by disdaining the “critical” and teacher-based approach to teaching. Getting rid of tests, grades, report cards, homework, teacher and student evaluations, classrooms, grading curves, and all the rest of destructive nonsense that destroys students en masse is the start. Approaching the specific needs of each child as determined by the child’s efforts and interests is another step.

– Changing logistics and legalities.

First, logistics. Without some sort of reasonable organization, education or “school” of any kind rapidly can degrade into chaos. Organization, order is a force one will need as an ally to successfully school children. That said, schools have made it their stock and trade to regiment, schedule AND CONTROL. Control of a student tends to minimize the student’s reach into the world, his creative expression, and even his interest. I’m asking that youi carefully differentiate between “control” and “organization”.

A degree of flexibility is available to homeschoolers that cannot be provided the mass nu7mber of students in any school. This flexibility includes movable schedules, movable study locations, internships, and a remarkable ability to focus the work being done almost entirely on the student’s expressed skills and interests. Freedom, in this case, is a force, one of the key forces that make homeschooling easily preferable to schooling.

But too much freedom becomes anarchy. I’m not in any way proposing anarchy in education. There needs to be a balance struck between freedom and organization which does place responsibility for progress squarely on the student, but allows him to study what and when and how he gets the best results. This balance should be actively sought for by homeschool groups, teachers and students. And it should be understood that any such balance achieved will be temporary. You’ll be constantly adjusting the balance between the student’s responsibilities and freedoms toward ever-better results for the student. This is a huge part of the “art” of teaching, one that teachers in schools never even get to explore.

As to legalities, government and law are forces that all too often intrude into education. None the less, they can act as a controlling, negating, limiting force and must be understood and controlled. Each state and country has its own laws regarding homeschooling. (In Germany, homeschooling is illegal, as an example.) In most places, homeschooling is allowed for, but is often monitored by local schools and is restricted in various ways. Local school boards and teacher unions have seen to it that it is so, as they protect their lucrative jobs. They often claim they place restrictions on homeschooling to protect children from poor educational results or even abusive parents – but given the amount of violence and far worse test scores schools provide, they are entirely disingenuous when they do so.

You will need to come to grips with whatever laws and restrictions exist in your area. These will either be used to stop you, or you will find ways to use them to homeschool as you wish. But to ignore this “force” is to court disaster, I’m afraid. Some states will remove a child from his home simply because parents homeschooled. (Germany does this.) There are many Internet sites that explain these legalities. There are even lawyers who understand them and know how to work around or through them.

– The student’s needs, wants, interests and skills.

I maintain that there is no greater force to be harnessed toward successfully educating a child, than his own skills and interests. This has been covered in great detail. But I do want to stress that to ignore the student and his ambition is to court absolute failure in education. The idea of the “average student” – that all students should be treated in the same way with the same methods and curricula and requirements – is patently destructive. Use these ancient and failed ideas at your own peril.

And so, we prepare to homeschool. It is the first year schools will be closing, and your family lives in a school boundary where there will soon be no public school. You are about to start to homeschool. In this and other articles, we discussed certain things one might do to prepare.

1) Join or form a homeschool group, or prepare your home to homeschool your child.

2) Make sure you understand the legal and governmental requirements and restrictions involved in homeschooling, and can work around or through them.

3) Prepare a curricula or find one to serve your needs.

4) Organize, but remain flexible to the student’s needs as you do.

5) Prepare yourself to teach successfully.

Each of these steps are covered in detail in earlier articles and in this series of articles, as well as in our Parent/Teacher courses and my book, Poor Cheated Little Johnny. The important thing to realize is that some day, schools will close. The world will wake up to their utter failure, and be enraged. The above are the forces you will need to come to grips with and control, to succeed as you start homeschooling.

In the next article, we’ll walk through five years of public school closures as per my plan, and paint a picture of the changing world this will create.
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As you probably know, I am an advocate for homeschooling. It’s my belief that homeschooling potentially provides a student with a vastly superior education than schooling in any form. This is backed up by a lot of numbers and research. I’ve taught for public and private schools, at the University level, as a private instructor in thousands of workshops, and as a homeschool dad running a homeschool group. Homeschooling by far works best for most students- and most families.

But I understand that many parents do not believe they can effectively homeschool. They’ve been told that they “don’t have degrees,” and that they “aren’t qualified.” This is all nonsense, of course. You’re legally not required to have any kind of a degree to homeschool your kids anywhere in the U.S. A lot of people who have degrees and who call themselves “professional teachers” are simply awful, and even destructive at what they do. A lot of parents…hundreds that I know of…have homeschooled their kids right into universities and careers.

In a serious effort to make homeschooling easier to do, and more commonly successful in terms of education received, I’ve authored my own curriculum. It took some 15,000 hours to write, over more than a decade of work, and is intended to replace the need for schooling a student from age 5-Adult Continuing Education. The curriculum is called Steps (or “CTT”). It has been used by over 20,000 students worldwide over the past 10 years. Hundreds of “success stories” attest to how well CTT works.

CTT courses are written in a way that gradually allows the student to take over his own education. Each course itself largely does the teaching, relieving mom and dad of that duty unless they wish to use our daily lesson plans in various subjects as springboards for family discussion and discovery – as many families do, every day. The parent has the job of making certain the student is working and has what they need to study. (And you’ll need to find a good math program for homeschooling as we don’t provide one. There are many.)

Below are links to our site discussing each level of curriculum, and every subject at that level that we offer. (You can start any level at any time. We don’t have “semesters” that start at a certain time, and each course stands alone well.) You’ll find free videos describing how every subject and each level works. You’ll discover free samples of every course we offer. Our site offers many other services and surprises, including numerous free courses you can download and try out.

Starter is for ages 5-6, and for preliterate students of any age. It focuses on starting to develop literacy skills, while teaching about various subjects. Starter includes full two-year programs in Reading, History, Science, Creative Writing, and Living Your Life, courses that develop life and study skills for the youngest students. Every lesson plan at the Starter level works to develop literacy.

Elementary is for ages 7-8, and for students who are developing literacy. It includes two-year programs in Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing (which also teaches the parts of language at this level), and Living Your Life courses which develop life and study skills in preparation for more advanced studies to come.

Lower School (ages 9-10) offers two-year programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, P.E. Electives, and in various arts such as Animation, Music Theory, and Acting. At this level, students must read fairly well, and studies are progressively turned over to the student.

Upper School (ages 11-High School, and Adult Continuing Education) provides programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, Current Events, Literature Guides, P.E. Electives, and in arts such as Animation, Acting, Music Theory, and Music History.

For parents who wish to teach at home, but are intimidated at the thought, and for parents who just wish to improve the homeschool experience, we offer a ten course homeschool program for homeschool teachers, as well as several books about education and homeschooling today.

We want you and your children to win with homeschooling!

 

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