The following is excerpted from my book, Poor Cheated Little Johnny, chapter 25; Homework vs. Effective Programming of Time and Effort. You can find out a lot more about the book at:
Schools think that your student has nothing but time. They believe that your student’s time really is their time, that it belongs to them. What’s more, they also believe that the student’s parent’s time belongs to them, too. They believe that the student’s teacher is also the parent’s boss. They must believe these things! How else can one explain their bold-faced assignment of daily homework?
We’ve discussed this in some detail earlier. Being a student is the young person’s “job”. They have their regular hours, just as you and I do for our jobs, especially when we work for others. But then, horror of horrors, homework! Poor Little Johnny spends six hours in school only to discover that he will be working for three more hours at home, on yet more math or whatever.
What’s more, since poor Johnny is struggling with math, poor mommy and daddy are expected to drop everything and help poor Johnny with the homework that’s been assigned. And what’s more – this sort of homework is assigned every single school day. During such “important” events as…um…science fair…well, mommy and daddy will probably be the ones making most of Johnny’s science project anyway, so I hope you had no plans for the next two weeks. Let’s see if you can pass science, mommy.
And woe to Little Johnny should he protest having homework! “What was that? Johnny, you had other plans? You were going to find out more about chess, and practice guitar, and play baseball with your friends? But no! So sorry, Johnny. We know you’re young, but, well, work is work… We teachers must demonstrate to the parents and our administrators how hard working we really are, so we have to assign you homework. What, Little Johnny? Homework just demonstrates how hard working we can make you? Ha-ha, Little Johnny, you’re a funny boy. A funny, clever boy, aren’t you, Little Johnny? Let’s see how smart you really are, Little Johnny. Can you spell “d-e-t-e-n-t-i-o-n?’ Now, those hundred math problems are due tomorrow. Report cards are next week! Better get cracking.”
As mentioned earlier, you would never allow a boss paying you by the hour to force you to do work at home every night, three hours a night, certainly not without additional perks coming your way. If such extra work was to be mandated by your employer as a condition of keeping your job, you’d likely quit. And that is precisely what students do in regards to school, BY THE MILLIONS.
This is not hypothetical. This is exactly how it is.
We want Little Johnny to learn. Being young should largely be about discovering the world and one’s self. The more of the student’s life that is beyond his control or volition, the more his actions become simply a form of slavery and not educative.
Slaves don’t like their masters.
Slaves don’t want to work, because they accrue no benefit from their effort. They long for an escape. Some slaves find an escape and move on to greener pastures. Some simply drown and never recover from slavery, living in one form or another of that condition for the rest of their lives.
What do you see in your child’s future? What would you like to see?
You should not see a slave. You should not wish to see your child preparing for a life in which they are forever bound to do as others tell him or her because “that’s how it is”.
A “goer-alonger” never leads.
A slave rarely contributes much of substance to their own life or to others. And do not kid yourself about this – homework is almost always a form of enforced labor. Homework is “busy-work”, and an indication of failure on the part of a school, teacher or educational system, even if the blame for the need for extra work is deflected to the student.
If a school can’t get Little Johnny through the requirements in their allotted and ample time, it should be fired. You would fire an employee who could not get their work done each work day. Why retain such teachers and administrators?
Your child’s future should first and foremost be his or hers. The student’s life and future belong to the student and not to the school. The student’s present belongs to the student, too, or at least it should.
Accordingly, considering a child’s future, one should ideally see it as an extension of the present. In the present, your child should be learning “required” subjects within reason. They should also have time and opportunity to explore their own interests. They should have time to develop skills that they wish to develop. They should be able to find out about all the varieties of krill, if that is their passion. They should have time to memorize every song from every musical ever written (as I did), or to master Photoshop in order to create works of art out of digital photos, or to learn about and do WHATEVER THE STUDENT IS INTERESTED IN!
Using one’s own time as one sees fit, particularly to develop one’s life and future, should be the student’s life today and tomorrow, and to quote poor, abused Shakespeare, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
(More to follow next week!)
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!