(This is a continuation of the article. Parts Two and Three can be found at:
Homeschool Under Siege)
How to prepare your student to succeed in the 21st century?
First off, we’ll need to define “success”. That’s a tough one. We each of us have our own idea of what “success” is. Let’s take one further step back. Let’s remember that it’s the STUDENT’S success in life that we’re interested in. So the only definition that should matter where success is concerned would be the STUDENT’S definition of success. What does the student want to do? Where would he like to go in life, what would he like to accomplish? In the end, if he can survive and do the things he dreams of, that would have to be considered success. If he can do better than just survive, if he can prosper in his chosen mode of living, and help others to do so as well, then it might be said that such a person was a great success indeed.
With the idea in mind that each student will have their own dream life and work, it should quickly become apparent in considering our approach, that COLLEGE IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. College is a necessity the way society is currently set up, for certain professions. Lawyers, medical professionals, most scientists and engineers should go to college. There are a few other professions where college may be indicated, but surprisingly few. Now for those of you who insist on sending your kids to college no matter what, I understand. For decades, we’ve been sold a bill on college and its importance. I would point out to you the very rapidly growing and vocal group of people with degrees WHO CANNOT FIND WORK IN THE AREA IN WHICH THEY PREPARED, and spent not only fruitless years of their life, but often tens of thousands of dollars. The numbers are going up very quickly now, and in an undeniable trend. In a recent poll, college students stated overwhelmingly that they felt that their chances for success were LESS than those of previous generations. Please note that this is the first time in known history where this has been the case.
College was never a guarantee of success. No less then the greatest comic playwright in history, Moliere, got a degree in law. Did he ever practice law? No, to his father’s chagrin. Instead, he wrote plays that are performed with glee today, 300 years later. College is not the answer for most people. But for a while, it certainly seemed that those who went to college had the best chance of succeeding in certain professions. Today, this is increasingly less and less the case. The students themselves have told us so, as have employment numbers. Rather, expertise, real experience and understanding of an area, is a better guarantee of employment.
I have my own personal “success story” along these lines. I produced and wrote promotion for several of my own plays (plays I authored) in my late teens and early 20s. After doing so for a while, a gentleman who had done some art work for my promo asked if I wanted to write publicity professionally. He took me to meet the head of a large ad firm in Los Angeles. This maven of promo, “Charles”, and I spoke a while. He then gave me an assignment, expecting it to take me a few weeks, to see what I could do. I went to the lobby of his large establishment and did the job in an hour. I then returned to his office, to his confused bemusement, and handed him the work. He read it, stared at me, and asked if I’d wait a moment which I gracefully agreed to do. He then stepped from his office – and fired his entire writing staff on the spot. He stepped back in, stared at me a moment and asked if I’d like a job as the senior, and as it turned out, only copywriter in his firm. Being mildly interested, and impressed with the money I could make at a tender age, I accepted the job. The point being that I did not have the requisite degree in journalism I had been told many times that one needed back then to do this sort of work. I did not have a single day of college under my belt. What I had was experience and expertise.
So, what to do? Well, if your student longs to serve in a profession for which one MUST have a degree, then you should certainly prep your student to go to college. Of course, without a real, broad and deep education received during the student’s pre-college years, the college experience is not going to be a good one for the student. Because frankly, colleges don’t do General Ed well. Why should they? They assume that you received your general education during that decade plus of schooling that the student endured before arriving at the university level. And of course, colleges are just big schools, subject to all the failings that schools are subject to. You can take it or leave it, folks, but I’d never send a person to college who intended to be an artist of any kind. Art is a deeply personal expression, and school don’t do “personal” or “individual” very well. Very few great artists in history went to college, though there are exceptions. And those exceptions were doubtless self-driven and largely self-trained.
College has its uses in the 21st century, but they just aren’t the uses colleges were put to in the 20th century, when colleges only had a modest success record anyway.
(Part Five follows.)
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!