The Failure of the Critical Approach to Education – Part Two

Again, for emphasis, the sane response to being stuck inside a box (read “schoolroom”) with a bunch of strangers (read “fellow students”) forced to work in ways you hate and that you know are worthless (read “study”) in order to accomplish a goal you have no interest in and which seems to have nothing to do with your life (read “testing” and “getting good grades”) would be to want to get the H*** out of there!  This is also a good description of prison life, by the way.

If it were you going through all of this and not your children, as an adult you would never tolerate it, not for a day and certainly not for a week, and you know it.  (Unless that was your job for some reason, the more pity you.)

Children only tolerate schooling as it is because they have no power and no choice. Or maybe they have friends in school and some sort of social life that makes it tolerable.  With few exceptions, children do not tolerate school because it’s valuable as an educational experience.  It is nothing of the sort.

Children who are energetic, bright, and who have unique interests are not and never were a bad thing except to “overwhelmed” teachers with forty students every hour, and to inundated schools trying to service hundreds or thousands of parents and students.
Students with unique life interests and vitality are not really wanted by most modern educational systems.  Schools can’t handle the extraordinary student.

Institutions handle numbers, not individuals.

Their methods and curricula are designed to service the average, or to keep all students at the level of the lowest common denominator, so “no child is left behind”.  In other words, it’s to a schools advantage not only to dumb down materials and studies, but to dumb down students as well.  (And the longer the student takes to learn anything at all, the longer the school gets paid.)

The extraordinary student (read “every student”) requires some time and attention from others in order to successfully receive an education.  He won’t get that in a school.

Every student is an individual. Every student, without exception, has unique skills, ideas and needs which should be addressed and satisfied by their education. Every student works best at his or her own unique pace, studying in a way that challenges him to think and grow and evaluate for himself as an individual. This fact is one of the thrusts behind the meteoric growth of homeschooling worldwide.

You as a parent see your child.  You know. You see a unique and deserving individual who should be valued.  Your son or daughter’s uniqueness should be cherished instead of being “made to fit in”.  Your child’s “differentness” should be developed and not controlled!

The parent knows.

A rational look at education pinpoints the need for the student to receive information which the student is then allowed to evaluate. The student does not need to be told what is important to the student.  Instead, the student needs an opportunity to use information in order to determine for himself the information’s value to his plans, dreams, and life.

Allowing the student to evaluate information for himself, the information is truly made to be the possession of the student, and its value is appreciated by the student (or useless info is dismissed).  In this way we help build self-confident and self-possessed adults who can actually think for themselves, analyze info and use it to alter the world around them in ways that they see fit.

Wow!  That sounds suspiciously like our goals for an end result in education.

What is in fact important to each of us is what we each decide is important, period.  Pre-digesting the info to be taught and labeling it for the student’s “edification” is nearly as foolish and destructive as labeling the student himself.

How can the student use that information? Let the student decide!

In providing “info”, let the teacher happily and willingly proclaim “let the buyer beware”.  All information provided in a school should be open to question, discussion and doubt (as if that ever happens).  Let the student prove the validity of info through a use of his or her own creativity, intelligence, diligence, experience and curiosity.  These are key traits in any successful adult and should be encouraged and supported as a part of the educational process.  Currently, they often are not only discouraged, but are frequently brutally attacked by a system that does not only disrespects individualism, but which seems to fear it deeply.

The sort of educational approach that encourages these desirable traits, the traits needed in a successful adult, is nearly impossible in a classroom where individual brightness and creativity must be crushed in favor of the overall “progress” of the group.

Students in the classroom who don’t quite fit, who are too fast or slow or different, must be squeezed into the pace and shape of their fellow “numbers”. Or those students must be isolated with others of their ilk, other “trouble makers” and “problems”.  That’s how schools survive, and that’s how students fail.

Students aren’t numbers.  They are sons and daughters, friends, teammates and classmates, brothers and sisters, and the only hope we have of a decent future.  Shouldn’t we gift them with appropriate respect, rather than treat them like some sort of chattel, some annoying property to be browbeaten and bored and babysat and anesthetized so as to be as tractable as possible?

Would you agree to be treated in such a degrading manner?   Shouldn’t we treat our children in accordance to the Golden Rule – as we ourselves would wish to be treated and as we hope our children will learn to treat others?

If for no other reason than our own self-survival for those who need further convincing, since we’re going to need these young people desperately in the years to come, evaluation of students must end.

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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