This is the fourth article in a series answering hard questions dealing with homeschooling.
In article one, we made a brief list of major concerns and objections one might encounter to homeschooling. Let’s take up the fourth point on that list now.
– Some children may be seriously “behind”, as adjudicated by “experts”.
There are two key words to this issue that must be well-defined for us to have this discussion. The words are “behind” and “expert”.
The word “behind” here (or its amusing mate, “remedial”) is a comparative term, and we’ll cover it in a moment. The term “expert”, on the other hand, is intended to be accepted as an absolute. Teachers want you to believe that they are “experts”. They want you to accept that they exist in a condition of intellectual excellence, and through a process experienced over time, that your student shall benefit by exposure to them. Their supposed expertise lies in their supposed knowledge of supposed educational processes and results, and in a supposedly profound understanding of their students, including your child.
We’ve covered this before in other articles. Teachers have almost no expertise. They have degrees in education, and generally not in the areas in which they teach, at least through High School. They are not specialists in math, science, or any other subject that your child must study. (If this was not the case, then colleges would not force students to go through yet another year of “General Education” before being allowed to work on their major. Colleges know what other schools will not admit, that the education provided most students by institutionalized education is almost entirely inadequate. So why all those enforced years trapped in a classroom, to achieve an inadequate result? Ask the “experts”.)
Teachers are supposed experts in “education”. Their “expertise” draws its alleged power from the trained teacher’s understanding and use of educational “tools”, the tools that they were taught to use by their college instructors, and which the teacher was exposed to when he was himself a student. These unfortunate “tools” they use all have their basis in critique, a critical approach to educating a child. They include testing, grading, grade levels, the use of age-oriented classrooms, teacher evaluations of the student, and the like. Every one of these tools has proven itself to be a miserable and destructive fraud over the past century, and the result of their use peppers our civilization with the unemployable, the insecure, and the undereducated. These tools represent a teacher’s only trained area of “expertise”. Anything else a teacher may know how to do is derived from their own experience. Many teachers never move past these tools, and see the teaching of children only as a difficult but fairly lucrative job.
That it is difficult to teach a child using these critique-based tools, I have no doubt.
There are other “experts” who determine whether or not your child is “behind”. Let’s talk about them in relation to this idea of “falling behind”.
When a school teacher says that a child is “behind”, what they mean is that the child is behind whatever point of progress he should be at on a select “curve”. Each year, either a school board or, in the case of a private school, a dean and associates, determines exactly how much curricula, and which curricula is to be learned by each student in each grade. This is determined to be required study, the minimum, the “curve” of what is to be learned. Then, individual teachers determine for their classroom how they will break up that material so many pages per so many weeks, so that requirements can be met. If, during a semester, a student fails to keep up with this standard (so many pages, such-and-such test results, so many reports, per class per day per month per week etc), the student, according to the teacher, school board and what have you, is judged to be “behind”.
But scheduled “standards” are entirely arbitrary. They are often based around text books, generally expected to be done one per school year or semester, in such subjects as math and science. The teacher and school board have often abdicated responsibility for scheduling how much work will be done and when – turning these key decisions over to a book publisher. The publisher has employed an “expert” teacher or two to author the book. (We’ve already covered that sort of “expert”.) That teacher/writer could be active, but he could just as easily have been retired for ten years. Not only may the teacher/writer-of-textbooks be “behind the curve” in terms of his own subject and its current aspects, but he may not have seen an actual living, breathing student for quite a while.
A textbook writer bases his textbook and scheduling on some arbitrary idea of what a person in the “tenth week of fourth grade” should have learned. (This applies to every semester of a child’s schooling, and is only an example.) Sometimes, the idea of what should be expected in way of progress is the teacher/writers. Sometimes, it’s someone else’s idea which has been imposed upon the textbook. Regardless, such scheduling of student progress is a complete fiction based around the misguided concept of some imaginary “norm”, some “average” student who follows some nicely drawn graph that exists in the tortured and pedantic mind of some idiot “educator” or writer.
Let’s be straight on this nonsense. There are no “average students”, regardless of how many “C” grades teachers and schools dish out. There can be no “average curve” that students should follow to gauge progress. Every student is unique. Every student has strengths and weaknesses as a student. Every student is motivated (or not) by how their own interests and skills align with what they are being “taught” (or not).
WHO establishes what “behind” really means? The answer in most cases is: no one that you know or will ever meet. And no one who will ever know or meet your child.
The standard set for any subject in any semester or school year for almost any subject has not one single thing to do with YOUR child. Often, these standards have little or nothing to do with classrooms, teachers and even school districts which find themselves under the control of national standards and local “school boards” who know less than nothing about education. This isn’t open to debate – look at the results!
By the way, it often works the other way around, but to equally disastrous results. School boards sometimes decide that they will determine what will be studied and when and how, and book publishers comply with the school board’s demands. This sort of thing in the hands of a truly idiot school board, as we see currently in the state of Texas, results in history and science books intended to inculcate a skewed belief system rather than to educate. Since book publishers exist for the sole purpose of making money, they comply. After all – they’re publishers, not educators.
So the experts have told you that your child is behind. They’ve even explained “behind WHAT”. They’ve spouted official sounding phrases about percentages and bell curves and whatever nonsense.
Is your child behind? No, he or she is not.
No child CAN be “left behind”, though the school may well be demonstrating its inadequacy in saying that a child has been. After all, if a student has fallen “behind” some imagined standard – whose fault would that be? How about the people you trusted and paid to teach your child, the very people who established what should be learned and when? Give the “F” to the teacher, the school, the school district, the school board, the textbook writers and publishers, and the rest of the “professional” education industry. They failed your child.
Anyway, your child cannot be either behind or ahead of the only standard that ultimately matters- his own development.
It is also sadly insisted upon by educators that a child should be “held back” in school, if he gets “too far ahead” in class in a subject for which he has affection or aptitude. (Should such a child should study on his own? Oh yes, please, yes, he’ll learn far more and faster that way, without the restrictions of 40 classmates who must all “keep up”. Homeschool is the answer, again.) The unfortunately gifted student may be held back from moving into more advanced studies by a teacher or school with bizarre, nonsensical and rigid restrictions.
Only one factor should determine the proper rate of learning for an individual child. That would be THE INDIVIDUAL CHILD, and really, no one else, I’m afraid. And his parents, his family, those who know and love and live with and watch the student, will be the next best people to make such as assessment. The worst people to determine if a child is “behind”? Teachers, schools, “experts”.
So you are afraid to homeschool because you just have no idea how you’ll catch your student up. You’ve been frightened into believing how “behind he is”? Buck up, mom and dad, your sweet child is not behind. He can’t even BE behind! But he (and you) can be controlled, you can be made afraid, if you buy into the degrading garbage that teachers and schools dish out along these lines. Accept their P.R., that they and only they are “expert” enough to help your child, and pay, pay, pay, and put up with mountains of homework (good for the student and, um, I guess, for you, too), and be good and do as your told, and maybe someday, your child can be “normal”.
Want to fear something truly worthy of fear? Fear the experts and what they can do to your child. Fear the stigmatization that goes with their evaluations and report cards. Fear that your child will start to believe the ugly myth that he is behind, that he’s slow, that he’s not gifted.
And then stop being afraid, reject the experts and their evaluations for the manipulative twaddle that it is, and start homeschooling. On your way out the door, as you leave and take your child, your vote and your wallet with you…you can show the school another kind of behind.
Steven has created a homeschool curriculum for ages 5-adult. It has been used by over 20,000 students to improve their homeschool experience. Take a look!
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!