(Continued from Part I. If you haven’t read that, please do. This is excerpted from the new book, “Poor Cheated Little Johnny”.)
How to fix this problem? What should we do?
First, let’s agree to respect the student at least as much as we ourselves would like to be respected. It’s that nastily persistent Golden Rule popping up again, and being applied to (gasp) our children!
Let’s stop burdening the student’s every waking hour with tasks assigned him, and beyond his authority or control.
Down with homework.
Put homework to the quick and unmercifully painful death that it deserves. If you are homeschooling, set a schedule for “required” school work that terminates at a given time of the day and baring a few “time-sensitive” assignments, that’s it. End school work at the end of the school day. Allow the student freedom to explore, try new things, get excited or reject endeavors as he sees fit, to follow through on his own interests and to develop into a master of those things that truly win his attention and effort.
If your student is in school, meet with the teacher and administrator. Explain to them that you will not accept any homework assignments for your child, that six hours of school per day is enough. They’ll kick you and your kid out of their school and you’ll be homeschooling starting tomorrow, most likely. Congratulations! Not to place too fine a point on it, but you and your student will be far better off.
If you are afraid of “bucking the system”, take a good hard look at your children. No, I mean it. Stop whatever you’re doing right now, because it is in no way more important than the well-being of your children. Spend one day – a whole day – just looking at them, listening to them, asking them questions about what thrills them and what they hate. It will be one of the most important days of both your child’s and your life. You will discover (if you are presently unaware) that each “student” is really a young person in a small body. Like most people, they will have dreams and interests and skills, as well as likes and dislikes. Being young and in a developing body, he will need your support and help, even your protection, to be able to follow up on the things that are important to him.
Do this little “exercise” and then see if you still think it’s okay for homework and school to rob your child of his dreams, interests and skills in favor of another hundred math problems.
The answer to the problem of how to program a student’s time is to return autonomy to the student, as much as possible.
That little person is living his life, not yours or the teacher’s or some imagined average life concocted by some educational “expert” somewhere who decided (without ever talking to an actual, live child) what every student should study, and when and how.
Time is a powerful thing. Control over someone else’s time and efforts will degrade them to some extent. I know this sounds extraordinary and harsh, but none the less it is so.
Motion is also powerful. The right to express one’s freedom and will by being allowed to move about as one chooses is an essential human freedom. School already enforces a motionless state on the child. He must sit and stare at a book or screen or whatever, and keep staring, and figure it out, and stay in their seat, and raise his hand if he has to go to the bathroom because he is not even free to do that without permission. Horrifying. Would you happily suffer such conditions as an adult?
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!