(The following is excerpted from my new book, POOR, CHEATED LITTLE JOHNNY, to be released soon!)
Let’s start with the most essential, basic idea, the foundation of education. That would be the answer to the question: “Why do it?”
Why do parents go through the vast expense (I’ve heard $300,000 per child in the U.S. today) to educate their children? Why invest tens of thousands of hours in a child’s education? Why take years (and more thousands of dollars) to teach teachers how to teach? Why invest billions of dollars to open schools? Or, from another angle, why invest the incredible amount of hours and commitment to homeschool a child.
Please note, in this chapter I’m not going to discuss methods of education. For a few pages, let’s agree to undercut that entire discussion with the more basic question I’ve asked above. In later chapters, we’ll definitely discuss the approaches available to educate a child, workable and not. Before dissecting how we can or should educate our young, let’s make sure we want to educate them and that if we do wish to, we know why.
Historically, there are many examples of great men and women who accomplished remarkable things and who had little or no formal education. From Mark Twain to Shakespeare, military leaders to political adventurists, inventors, doctors, lawyers and Indian Chiefs, many of our greatest and most venerated men and women had almost nothing of schooling to back their efforts. So why do school?
Obviously, not everyone is a Shakespeare. Abe Lincoln learned about politics and the law while interning for a local lawyer, as he could not afford a better education. And while he did okay, we’re not all of us Abe Lincoln. Matter of fact, none of us are Abe Lincoln.
What marks a Lincoln, a Shakespeare, a Twain or an Edison for greatness is their remarkable personal drive. It is unique. Few people are as driven as these men, and without that drive, some sort of formalized and structured educative experience is going to be necessary in this complicated world. Those marked for greatness by their unique drive provide themselves with an education. They are not “uneducated”, as the fools who like to attack the idea that Shakespeare wrote his plays like to suggest. They are simply “unschooled”. And right here, right now, let’s make the correct and sane differentiation needed for this discussion. “Schooling” is not “education”, and “education” is not “schooling”, though they may sometimes conjoin. They are absolutely not the same thing.
Schooling is spending time in school, being regimented and disciplined and tested in the way that we all think of as “school”.
Education is the acquiring of information and the development of it into skills, concepts, ideas of use.
“Schooling” and “education” are simply not the same thing, folks. Never were, and never will be. The fact that, on occasion, “education” can happen in a “schooling” environment speaks more to the rare and remarkable teacher or student, than the system that we call “school”. Education that takes place in school is manufactured by individuals and occurs in spite of the system. We will be covering this idea in great detail soon.
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!