Teaching A Global Perspective to Homeschoolers

The United Nations was formed in the late 1940s, shortly after the end of World War II. It’s essential purpose was to assist nations to co-exist in peace. Whether or not it has succeeded at this mission, it is and was a noble and necessary one. Whatever one thinks of the actual U.N. and how it’s done, it’s easy to see their mandate as a very important one. We are most certainly one world disunited, and that is a dangerous condition.

Local United Nations Associations have a “catchphrase” they use to promote awareness of what they call “global interdependence”. The phrase is “think globally – act locally”. What this means is that one should consider worldwide needs and then do something about them in one’s own neighborhood or nation. It is an important thought, especially to homeschoolers.

How do we become aware of other people, other lands, other ways of life? Awareness of others, their differences and similarities to one’s self, starts with exposure. Exposure happens best when one travels to other places. In lieu of travel, education is the next best thing. Unfortunately, most of the history taught to school children, at least in the U.S., is local in nature. Children are taught American history, but very little about world history. (Actually, given polls that demonstrate a shockingly small percentage of people know who George Washington was, even U.S. history is not being taught well.)

Well, no country is an island or exists in a vacuum. The history of the United States is very brief compared to the history of most other parts of the world. The U.S. in its current form exists as an extension of European history. Our country is just one part of the tides of history washing over the world today.

Education creates perspective. Education makes our place in the global scheme of things much clearer. An understanding of the world, its history and geography, changes one’s view of our relation with others. An example: whatever one thinks of the United States making war in Iraq, what we were doing was marching into the land where the oldest civilizations existed, the first cities and states. More wars have been fought over that land than can be easily imagined, and the United States is now a part of a very long river of history that flows from the fertile crescent, found in Iraq.

Homeschoolers are not limited to the state’s mandates on what to teach a child, when, or how. As homeschoolers, we are free to make certain that our children receive a broader understanding of the world, one that started long before 1776. Homeschoolers are free to investigate world geography, to locate relationships between lands tied together by waterways and land. We are free to understand world history, and to investigate its relevancy today. We are free to look as we see the need to look, to look at others and consider their lives, their culture, even their beliefs. A homeschooler is, in fact, as free to be exposed and to understand the world as his or her parents allow and support.

So the limits of understanding of the world that a homeschooling child will grow up with are determined by mom and dad. They must decide what is “appropriate” for Junior to learn. I would argue that, as the student moves toward adulthood, there is little about history, other lands and their interactions with our own that it would not be wise for a child to understand.

Like it or not, the world IS interdependent. Look at economics. A bank crash today in the U.S. influences economies worldwide in dire ways. Greece is today threatened with bankruptcy. If they go “belly up”, economies worldwide are threatened – which is why France and Germany recently stepped in to assist Greece. This was done to prevent a global economic crisis, not just a crisis in Greece. We are indeed interdependent, and a homeschooler can take the time and dedicate the resources to discover the mechanics of that interdependence in ways that schools rarely can or do.

Education is about survival. Survival is at education’s very core. There is little today more survival-oriented than a global understanding, and the will to find ways to do things locally to improve the global situation. Such would (and do) make wonderful homeschool studies and exercises!

There are numerous ways to approach teaching with a global perspective. Obviously, one might begin with the idea that world history should be the focus of history studies. I believe in following the timeline in teaching history, rather than jumping around in “units” – today the ancient history of some particular group, tomorrow something else 500 years later in history. I don’t think such studies help the student understand the actual flows and interplays of history. If a student “starts at the beginning” and works forward (over several years of study, without the “deadlines” schools often insist upon), he is likely to not only “learn” history, but understand it and be able to apply his understanding to today’s issues.

I always ask students to apply what happened in the past to their own judgment and intelligence. An example of how this can be done from my history curricula; Alexander the Great tended to do two things with defeated cities. he either made them allies and left their own people in charge, or he burned them to the ground. Both approaches have value and flaws from a military and human standpoint, so I ask the student which approach he or she would take, and why. I do this sort of thing when teaching any part of history.

I also often ask the student to apply lessons in history to today’s situations, and in current events studies to apply the lessons of history locally to solve global problems. For instance, the world has a “food” crisis today – around a billion people go to bed hungry each night. Students are asked to investigate poverty and hunger in their own country, and how it is addressed. They can then investigate how their country either creates world hunger or help alleviates it, and what organizations are active in solving this crisis. The student can then investigate such organizations to determine in what ways he may wish to contribute or get involved. These are a few ways a student can use studies to think locally, but act globally. This same approach can be used for any “current event” issue, as we have done in Steps. This approach challenges the student to understand the world we live in, how we got to be as we are, and to use his “smarts”, common sense and good heart to help solve our problems. Whether or not you have any interest in Steps, I hope you’ll at least consider the approach described.

As our children become adults, they will determine the shape of international relationships. Ignorance, bigotry and insulation will lead to a lack of understanding of the world and of others, and most likely conflict. An exaggerated patriotism enforced through education, a sense of national entitlement and “me first”, will inevitably lead to a combative nation. After all, a nation is no more than its people, their education, their understanding of the world and how they apply it. And THAT’S how important global perspective in education is.
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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 “Teaching A Global Perspective to Homeschoolers

  1. October 18, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Steven, you make an excellent point. I know it’s rather extreme, but that was one reason why we moved to south-east Asia. (I’m Malaysian-born.) We wanted the children to learn to be comfortable in other environments, as well as giving them experiences that they would treasure later on. (We’re not staying in this region.)

    Along the way, various things happened and now I’m homeschooling too. The kids are learning subjects they wouldn’t normally be exposed to, such as the Chinese ballet martial art called Wushu. They’re surrounded by people speaking Malay, Tamil, Mandarin, Hokkien and Cantonese and have also learnt recreational mah-jong! I wouldn’t trade all this for anything and I hope I’m doing something valuable to help them develop a wider global perspective.

  2. October 19, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Hi Kaz,

    Wonderful! Of course you are doing something of value, certainly for your children, and your children will communicate to others what they have learned, as well. Well done!

  3. January 24, 2012 at 2:58 am

    I am so glad that I stumbled across your website! I’m home-schooling my daughter through the K12 California Virtual Academy Public School Program. In her history course I see the use of fictional characters to bring the “story” to life. It makes history seem fictional, rather than raw and real.

    This was an absolutely wonderful read and I look forward to more! 🙂

  4. Ingrid Sojit
    August 13, 2012 at 8:45 am

    I am homeschooling a completely bilingual 10 yo girl in Buenos Aires, and would love to meet other families homeschooling a child of a similar age.

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