Crimes in Education – Conclusion

Monday, December 27th, 2010

(The following is excerpted from my new book, POOR CHEATED LITTLE JOHNNY, available HERE.  Happy Holidays, everyone!)

I’m a big fan of hard work, but these are children that we’re talking about.  Their interests are largely being defined for the rest of their lives by their studies in youth.  Those interests are being severely limited and controlled by the extraordinary dominance we willingly hand over to schools and their bizarre requirements.  And yet in spite of this authoritarian dominance and the extraordinary support and cooperation that schools receive, a huge number of our children are severely undereducated, even after years of 8-10 hour days as students.

School can consume nearly all of the student’s time and attention, and a crippling amount of the parent’s as well.  That means that only those subjects approved of by the school and contained within its curriculum are going to be a part of that student’s life.  The student simply will not have time to look into his own interests, be they sports, arts, politics, religion, stamp collecting or whatever.  His attention is being demanded, focused, locked in, controlled and severely limited.

There’s no escape because schooling is constructed in such a manner as to be perpetual and self-sustaining. With that marvelous tool, homework, schools can make certain that school is the central truth in the student’s life both night and day.  Even when with family, friends, in worship or rehearsal – school is looming, demanding and threatening the student.

And if the child does fail to learn what the school has mandated?  Woe is me!  What follows are bad grades, stigmatization…and more homework.

Welcome to the treadmill we today call education.

Let’s call out homework for what it generally is – a control mechanism.

Homework has a place for the student who wants extra study.  But this should be self-motivated and self-assigned study.  Self-motivated study is study done out of personal interest and love.  That is precisely the sort of “homework” we should long for our children to want to do and to take on, on their own determinism.

Homework may be marginally useful for the remedial student, but not much because the same methodology used while the student is in school is attached to the student’s homework.  Remedial homework is the same dumbed-down curricula taught in the same dumbed-down way as work done while in school.  If Little Johnny could not learn in school using the required methodology, what on Earth makes anyone think it will go better at home after a long day at school, when Johnny is both tired and hungry and perhaps is desperate to do something – anything – other than school?  (Again, a definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.)

I think that the exception, homework I would personally find acceptable, is homework that is time-specific or time intensive. By time-specific, I mean assignments like “count the stars tonight”, for science.  That simply can’t be done in the afternoon at school.  By time-intensive, I’m thinking about such assignments as a student actor memorizing lines.  School time should not be taken up with such an assignment.  But being assigned “more of the same” as homework, such as more math, more history, more whatever is being taught in school, when it is work that can and should be done in school – that’s just wrong and abusive.

The average school year consists of about 180 days.  That’s a lot of days that the school is given to educate Poor, Little Johnny.  Many children add another 8-10 weeks of Summer School.  That can up school to about 225 days a year.  It is, quite frankly, enough time to lock the student away from his or her own interests.  To exacerbate the already far-too consuming control a school has over a child (given the other “tools” we’ve already described) with homework seems to me to be, frankly, evil.

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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