Which subjects should be studied is a contentious issue. Exactly who should decide which subjects are to be studied by a student? For some bizarre reason, we have acceded power for this decision to the government and to educators who supposedly “know better” than we do what our children are interested in, or should be interested in.
I’m personally a fan of the idea found in classical “liberal” education, in which the student is exposed to many subjects. Please note that I said “exposed to”, not “forced to study”.
I believe strongly that we should allow students to experience the world and all of its many offerings – and then let the student tell us what they find of interest. I think that it’s great when a student experiences everything from fishing to oboe, physics to cooking, map-making to star-charting – and then decides for him or herself what sparks his or her interest.
The moment that Little Johnny says “THAT interests me” is the moment that his parents and teachers should step in. They should create as much of an opportunity as possible for Johnny to truly experience in depth the subject that has caught his attention.
I also do somewhat agree with those who strongly feel that a student should acquire a level of understanding in certain “key subjects” commensurate to the needs of our civilization. I personally think that a person who, for instance, has no knowledge of basic math, of government, or who is illiterate, who knows little or nothing about computers, science or art is to the extent of their lack of experience and knowledge handicapped.
But in the final analysis, and this may shock some of you – so what? No one does everything well.
Civilizations exist on the basis of specialization. I know many fine and successful artists who can’t balance their checkbook. They hire specialists, business managers, to do so – and hope that the people handling their money are honest and capable. But these artists do some things that few others can do. They are every bit as specialized as their business managers. The artist’s specialty is the communication of ideas and emotions at a level demanding appreciation and response. Now there’s a great specialization! So if an artist does not know a pulsar from a carburetor, who cares? There are astronomers and car mechanics that are equally specialized in their fields and who will pick up the pieces.
If a scientist knows nothing about football or home economics, who cares? So long as he find that cure for cancer, an accomplishment that can only be reached by a person blessed with focus and a kind of tunnel-vision – and one which will change life on our planet.
If a lawyer is unaware of science, of math, of art – but he can protect the innocent from prosecution, then personally I do not care what else he knows.
If I personally were to set the standards for what should be studied, your students would be doing a lot of creative writing, history, science, speech and acting, etc. And, well, um – no math. And no dissections in Biology. Baseball and Basketball – yes. Football, no. Soccer, maybe. Dance, assuredly, and voice. Fishing, heavens no! Learning to handle a gun – never.
I should not set the standards for your student, certainly not regarding the subjects to be studied. No one should decide what your student will study except the student him or herself, working closely with a teacher and family when necessary.
The correct standards for the subjects selected for study:
To be determined by the student as a natural part of a process of exposure to many, many subjects. Once determined, to be encouraged and fueled by parents and teachers until, when and if the student either cries out “enough”, or better, takes on the entirety of the task of mastering that subject out of devotion, love and ambition.
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!