n America, today is Independence Day. This is the day we celebrate our national freedom. For those of you who have looked over the Steps course on Independence Day, you know there are some 100 countries around the world that each celebrate Independence Days of their own, at different times of the year. While I do believe that a nation’s independence is worthy of celebration, I think we all could occasionally use a reminder about the intended nature of the relationship between government and the people it represents.
The best nations are those where individuals are important. Historically, per Will Durant (America’s greatest historian), it is almost always the individual who comes up with the next important idea, or discovery in science, or work of art. Our history as Human beings (at its best) is one of great individuals creating, and the “crowd” following in their footsteps and supporting the new. You’re doubtless reading this on your computer? Thank Thomas Alva Edison (or Tesla, according to some tellings), an American inventor who devised the light bulb and who figured out how to use electricity in a productive way. Thank the person or team of bright specialists who devised the circuitry, the mechanisms that make this possible. Yes, the Internet is supported by corporations, and computers are assembled by them. However, these things were not invented by corporations but rather by individuals.
A lot of modern life is collaboration, that is certainly true. But this is largely the case because the existence of civilization allows us each to specialize. You don’t use up hours per day to grow or collect your own food – others specialize in this so you don’t need to. You don’t sew your own clothes, either, most likely. Or build your own house. People specialize. And the people who build your house rarely grow their own food. The farmer no longer makes his own clothes as a rule. Specialization is the gift (and curse I suppose) of civilization.
The freedom to specialize gave us nearly every genius you can think of throughout history. A man who has to farm has no time to invent the light bulb, sound recording and movie, as Edison did. Bach wrote mountains of wondrous music, and Shakespeare authored over 20 theatrical masterpieces (out of his over 30 plays) because they were allowed by their civilizations three things: 1) The time, resources and energy to specialize; 2) access to other specialists who could help bring their creations to fruition, such as actors, musicians, people to build theaters or musical instruments, and; 3) the freedom to create. These qualities are absolutely necessary to the blossoming of genius in a nation, any nation. Again they are: 1) The wherewithal to specialize; 2) Access to other specialists, and 3) Freedom to create. This is not just a formula for genius, but also a formula for accomplishment of almost any sort.
What does this mean to you as a homeschooler? Everything. These three points are a virtual formula for the development of potential. This is one of the most important lessons of history.
Who does not wish for their children that they achieve their greatest potential? That they each provide mankind some sort of unique contribution? Wasn’t one of the most important reasons you started homeschooling your intention to provide your student the best possible chance to be everything they could be? This is the “game” that a free society should always play, isn’t it?
Matter of fact, the right to homeschool can easily be seen as an index of the degree of freedom a country allows. It can also be seen as an index of sanity for that nation. If a country wishes to survive in an ever-more-complex world, it certainly will need its geniuses! Countries which restrict homeschooling have made a decision – that their government knows better than the family or child what that child needs and what the child is capable of. But the government is just an edifice, a mass of people. It will never even know your child’s name, much less what he or she may be capable of.
Homeschoolers, unrestricted by the rules and agendas of schools and school systems, are free to discover themselves and to specialize in accord with their own interests and desires. The home and family organize or provide the needed resources. These include access to the works of needed specialists. (I hope to be one of the specialists your children use to develop their own potential!) The child (or adult) studies at will, free to do so, and doing so will eventually expose the student to those subjects of profound interest to them. These will be different for different people. Freedom allows the student to decide for him or herself what to invest themselves into, how to specialize. If history is at all correct, homeschool can and should be a breeding ground for maximum accomplishment.
If you are an American (as am I), today is an important day, far more important than barbecues and fireworks might indicate. Today is a day to reaffirm your personal and individual rights and freedoms, spelled out in the Constitution by the great men who had the ideas this country is based upon, and whose lead we are supposedly following. If you haven’t read the Constitution lately, you should. Many of the rights promised you there are under siege, or have been already abridged. Per the formula, freedom is the force which makes accomplishment possible. States may provide the environment where the individual can achieve. Such states are worth supporting and celebrating. But even when living is such a nation, it is critical to ever recall that governments and states exist to serve individuals, it is not the other way around. A nation, every nation absolutely relies on the individual to provide that country its purpose, life and a future.
For me personally, I recognize that it is freedom which has allowed the curriculum I’ve authored to come into existence. The formula for accomplishment given above applies. I’ve specialized (as an educator), had access to uncounted other specialists and their works (some thousands of years old), and had the freedom to create and offer my creations to you. Such freedom is beyond price! It is not created by a government, but it could (and should) be defended by one.
The right to homeschool is not a privilege granted by a government. The right to homeschool is a manifestation of the basic human right to educate one’s self or one’s children, of the basic human freedom to explore and discover, and of the essential human freedom to determine one’s own path in life.
Happy Independence Day!
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!