More about the Misery of National Education Standards

Monday, November 15th, 2010

(another excerpt from my book on education, Poor Cheated Little Johnny)

What can be done about this foolishness?  What tools can be used that will counteract the anti-personal approach to education so ingrained in the system, the approach based on “standards”?

Let’s start by knowing the enemy, as Sun Tzu suggested in The Art of War.

What is a “standard”?  It is a level or quality of something that we aspire toward.  By definition, it is supposed to be “the best”, “the most” or “the maximum” that a thing can be.  “Setting the standard” used to mean establishing the high point of an activity, the level to which all aspire and only one or a few achieve.

The meaning of “setting standards”, like the meanings of so many other words, has been ruthlessly twisted by those with the power to do so.

Today “standards” are the opposite of what they once so proudly were.  Today, standards are the minimum, the least that one can do and remain within an acceptable range.  This is certainly the case for what the United States Education Industry calls “standards”.  The only way that no child gets “left behind” is to set the bar, the standards, so low that any child can step over the bar without so much as a by your leave.

And so a civilization steps quietly into the trash can of history.

We’ve already looked at who sets standards for us today, and why they do as they do.  Let’s use “setting standards” the way it used to be for a few minutes.  Let’s assume that we will establish for the student a high-water mark to aspire to in life and in their studies.

Who is qualified to establish your student’s standards?

Well, certainly one crucial person who must have a hand in setting the standards for your student is your student.  Since they are a “project in development”, and at the same time the “project supervisor” as it were, the person who must see to it in the end that the project is completed, the student must be able to determine his own goals.  Educational “goals” are actual educational standards.

Next, you as the student’s parent or guardian are going to have some say as to the standards to be set.  You will certainly help determine what may and may not be looked at or studied.  You will determine how much support the student’s education receives, that is certainly true.

The teacher/tutor/whoever that is working with the student, and who will hopefully find themselves on intimate terms with the materials studied and with the student’s skills and needs, will also have a say in the standards to be set.

And who should not have a say in your student’s educational standards?  Pretty much everyone else.

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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