Hard Questions About Homeschooling (Part Six) – “I CAN’T CONTROL MY KID!!” – Part II

This is an extension of the fifth article in a series answering hard questions dealing with homeschooling. We’re dealing with this question:

– Some children may be a handful for the family to “handle”.

In the last article, we discussed the fact that every child is different, and that difference is GOOD and necessary. This truth served us in the last article. Here’s another truth about difficult children.

Truth # 2 – It’s dangerous to try to manipulate human behavior. It is dangerous for the child and dangerous for society.

So your child is a handful. He’s “difficult”, and you wish he were more “like everyone else”.

I’d be curious to know who that “everyone else” is, given that we are each unique. There is no “normal”. Normal does not exist. It never has existed. There was no “good old day” where “normal” was, well, the “norm”. Normal is a fiction, and when a doctor, a teacher, a psychiatrist or anyone else tries to sell you either on the idea that there “is a normal, and you or your child aren’t it”, or worse, they try to sell you on some drug or methodology for your child that will make him “tractable” and “normal” – grab your child and run for the hills.

It’s interesting to watch “professionals” and “experts” in various fields strive to create a “normal humanity”. Besides being foolish and impossible, it’s an intensely destructive goal. The history books are nothing but the exploits of extraordinary (as opposed to “ordinary” people, both good and bad. It is the extraordinary scientist or politician, the extraordinary soldier or religionist, the extraordinary writer or composer who changes the human world of experience forever. “Extra-ordinary” means “more than ordinary”. Not normal – MORE than normal. That is precisely how one is forced to describe a Bach, a Shakespeare, an Einstein or a Buddha. If such people had (if such a thing were even possible) been forced into being “normal”, along with their tens of thousands of extraordinary peers, our world would be quite grim, indeed. And we as a race would have ceased to exist.

What would we lose, should “normal” be institutionalized and required – as educators and certain other disciplines are fighting tooth and nail to accomplish? We lose extra-ordinary. We lose the bright idea, the brilliant novel, the song that sings its way down the halls of time. We lose the insightful investigation of the universe, both the physical and the inner. We lose the impassioned seeking and enlightened triumph of religion. We lose the cure for cancer and the dream of planets far away that might someday be ours. We lose the future when we lose “extraordinary”, and demand “normal”.

“Really, all that”, some of you are mumbling. Yes. Really. All that, and more. Because the truth is, without further invention and inspiration, our purpose as a species is negated. We exist, each and every one of us, to provide the strong shoulders for the next generation to not only stand on, but to leap into the universe from, both hands stretched and reaching. We lose the ability to solve problems and to question, and we lose whatever mandate we had to survive.

In insisting on any kind of “normal”, we reduce mankind to the only “normal” that might be available – the lowest common denominator. We reduce the future to the same lowest common denominator for both individuals and the race. In doing so, we guarantee our extinction, and much deserved I’m afraid it shall be.

How do educators go after “normal”. They do it through a carefully designed program calculated to dehumanize and devalue the individual. In a classroom of 40, where one has less than an hour to teach some math fact or other, the individual, the student who thinks for himself, who “acts out” and asks questions, is a threat. Yes, I used the word “threat”, which is precisely how many teachers view students, though they will NEVER admit to it in public.

Imagine yourself a teacher. (I’m truly sorry to have to do this to you, and I do realize it is insulting. Please, just stay with me a bit longer and I promise I’ll NEVER AGAIN ask to to imagine such a horrible thing.) You have a classroom with 35 students or so. The state has mandated that they all get through “Algebra II”, this year, and you’re running out of time. And Poor Little Johnny in the corner keeps “acting up”. He announces that he does not like math much, does not like algebra at all, hates YOU, and he asks way too many questions. Little Johnny is seen to be composing a symphony at his desk, on his “air piano” – because Little Johnny is secretly a composer, and his understanding of actual math far transcends yours, Ms. or Mr. Teacher – music is all about math. But you have a job! A job you are well paid for (in spite of the “promo” teachers relentlessly spout that they are underpaid, one of the great lies of the 20th century). So Little Johnny must be CONTROLLED! He must be confined to Algebra, or drugged (assessed with some made up nonsense like “ADHD” and chemically “balanced” so as to be, um, “normal”).

You, Ms or Mr. Teacher, meet with the principal, whose job it is to keep the waters calm, and so he of course agrees that Little Johnny requires controlling. After all, your school is a part of that new government program that PAYS LOTS MORE MONEY to teachers and schools that are “high performers”. So – um, off with the heads of students who are “low performers”. The money must flow.

You insist Little Johnny be seen by the school Psychologist, who “evaluates” the boy. The Psychologist, an “expert” in “normal”, meets with mom and dad and shares the very sad news – “your son is just not normal. He has ADD. He has ADHD. He’s afraid of milk. He talks too much, except when he does not talk at all. He’s too tall, to creative, too Christian, too interested. Your son…” he says with gravitas…”is not NORMAL”.

You, knowing no better, believe this mountebank. And since it seems so important to be “normal”, per the teacher, the principal, and the quack, well – you just want what’s right for your son. (I REALLY understand the desire to do what is right and helpful for our children! Every parent understands that drive. But having a “normal” child is NOT best or right for a child, any child. If you do not understand that or believe it, you have not been reading or thinking carefully enough.)

You want what’s best for Little Johnny. (Substitute your own child’s name here, please.) So, you go into agreement with the “experts” – even though you know your own child far more profoundly or truly than these people ever could. Why agree? Well, they’re “experts”, aren’t they? So the Ritalin or whatever gets prescribed, and a child’s life and individuality takes a huge step toward being destroyed.

Yes, I said exactly what I said, and I have a nephew who is the walking, talking proof of it. So teachers and psychobabilists, don’t bother to write in to defend the harm you’ve done, I’ve witnessed it up close and personally both as a teacher and as a family man, for a long time. And parents, if you’re using such “solutions”, please meet with a qualified medical doctor and find out how to wean your child off, starting today. Restore the hope of the extraordinary to your child – the future starts there.

A child is not a dog. A child is not a pet of any kind, and does not need to be “controlled”. Kept safe, yes. Encouraged and inspired, certainly. Exposed to the world in ways that will interest and enliven him, one would hope.

Children should and must talk, and whenever they feel like it – not when the “teacher” says its okay, for two minutes between classes. Children must inquire and explore, and be encouraged to express their uniqueness. Schools are not able to encourage communication or unique views and skills, no time, and despite their claims, no interest. They are all of them built around the ideal of the “norm”. They are cookie-cutters, putting out identical, reduced human beings. That’s what schools do, and it’s pretty much all they can do, be they public or private schools. I’ve taught in both and saw this to be the absolute case. Grading, report cards, teacher or staff evaluations of the student, classrooms, grade levels, school rules, class schedules, testing and all the other tools teachers claim “expertise” in are each and every one carefully designed to degrade the individual, to stop them from thinking for themselves and to succumb to “authority” – the ultimate goal of the teacher and the school, unstated but nonetheless true.

When we stop the child from talking or asking questions, we stop up curiosity and creativity both. When we demand uniformity (or its outward show, school uniforms), we enforce in the child’s mind the idea that he must be like all others, look like them, act like them, think like them. Teachers LOVE this kind of conformity – it makes for such nice and quiet classrooms. But it is the death warrant for the civilization going that route. Down that road waits the edge of the world, and a very long and silent fall after the last step…
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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!

4 comments for “Hard Questions About Homeschooling (Part Six) – “I CAN’T CONTROL MY KID!!” – Part II

  1. Dave Ragusa
    January 30, 2012 at 6:06 am

    This was an interesting piece. You make some very good points about the need to encourage creativity, and see all kids as potential treasures of knowledge. Where you fall short, however, is in realizing that classroom anarchy or narcissism,, where the individual is overvalued, and where children do not learn to focus on anything except what they need, is a root cause of a lot of our current problems in our kids. The self-esteem movement of the last 20 years has produced a large number of kids who see the whole universe in terms of “what I need or want.” Pity the poor teacher with 35 of these individuals, all of whom are calling for their own needs to be met before all others. I do think you made a good point about ADHD,. and ritalin. There is far too much of this kind of control being exerted in the schools, especially as it applies to boys. Your piece also seems to devalue the skill and wit it takes to successfully instruct a class of 35 or so kids in anything. The idea of public education was to ensure a basic level of knowledge for our kids, with the connected idea that each of them could go as far as their desire, and intelligence could take him or her. The development of genius and creativity which you treasure, and which I support, cannot develop in an environment devoid of some sort of order. For those parents who believe as you do, the home schooling idea is very sound. Unfortunately, many parents do not have the means or the skill to provide their children with the level of instruction they need. There will always be a role for the school. Total focus on the individual simply does not work in society, as it only leads to the total focus on self that marks our culture of the moment. You make some good points, but you need to give the schools and the teachers a little credit for attempting to educate kids, in an environment that often does not support education.

  2. January 30, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Hi Dave,

    Well, we’re going to disagree here, and I suspect that you either are a teacher, are married to a teacher, or wish you were a teacher. I will agree that modern culture CAN tend to produce people who are far too “me” oriented – such as our current crop of teachers and their unions. They accept money for producing execrable results – and they NEVER march or protest for children’s rights or for the elimination in our educational system of those barriers to effective education which they like to complain about in public forums like these – while accepting a paycheck for going along.

    Genius, by the way, has long and often developed in environments of not only disorder (or what might be considered disorder to some), but even in environments where great opposition is met. Look at lives such as Gandhi’s or Copernicus, and you’ll see this is true. “Order” is not a requirement for education or for progress.

    You assume that teachers have some magic specialty in educating a child that parents do not, as so many teachers like to assume. Teachers have degrees in education. This means they’ve been carefully trained to do the things and use the precise tools that have buried our educational system in FAILURE FOR DECADES. Things like testing, homework, the use of classrooms that destroy incentive and individuality, etc. No teacher knows a student better than his parents. Most teachers need a seating chart to recall 1/2 of their student’s NAMES, much less those student’s interests, strengths and needs. Almost ANY parent is going to handle the student better than almost ANY teacher, period, out of exposure and understanding of that child, and a respect for who the child is, and this is particularly true of people who take on the job of homeschooling their children. A homeschooling parent can do wonderful things schools simply cannot and will not do – such as tailor the educational schedule and curriculum and even which subjects will be studied around the student’s needs and strengths.

    And finally, I do not at all believe there will always be a role for schools, or at least public schools. I’ve authored a book I’m about to release about that very subject. There has not always been public education – that started in the 1860s in America. Sure, the stated intention for public schooling in the 1860s was to create a sort of educational bottom line that every child in America would reach. They still make that claim today. That “bottom” has carefully been moved down and limited and dumbed down, until today what public schools teach is dramatically less effective or valuable than what was taught 50 years ago, and it seems transparently calculated to make wage slaves, not thinkers and dreamers and do-ers and creators of the sort that make a country strong. Even their standardized tests bare out the fact of dimini9shing results. This to the point where the “average I.Q.” on the I’Q. test, intended to be at 100 where it was when the test was first written, is now beneath 90! “Modern education” has dropped the average I.Q. by over 10 points in the past 50 years! A disaster.

    Teachers have contributed mightily to this disaster, and are very much at fault as a group, as they play along. Even the exceptional, rare teacher who chooses to “work inside the system” is going to fail – the system sees to it. And to accept that paycheck for such lousy results – well, I see that as a crime. It’s a kind of fraud.

    So, as I said, we disagree on key points in your response. And as I said – I think you might be a teacher yourself?

  3. August 1, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    Thank you for this article, my son is currently in a preschool for children with Autism and I can already visualize him being stifled through the school system where we live, so this (and I will read the others in the series) helps me to view our options in a slightly different light.

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