Sales of Home Education Tools on the Radio

Every morning when my alarm goes off, and whenever I’m in the car, I listen to Chicago radio. It’s a lifetime habit I can’t break, even though I left Illinois several years ago.

Chicago radio is overloaded with ads. Some of them are played over and over, so they must be successful. I assume whatever’s being advertised on Chicago radio is something that’s probably popular with a lot of people, since a big city usually has a good cross-section of the population.

Lately I’m hearing a lot of radio ads for a DVD series that teaches children to do math. If you knew nothing about public education today, you might wonder why advertisers think there’s a market for such a thing. But as the public schools continue their downward trajectory, more parents are seeing a need for math help for their kids. A DVD is something they can put in front of their children without getting too involved themselves, or so they hope.

Technology is slowly changing the face of education. Today’s kids have access to so much educational material on DVDs and the Internet, via tablets and laptops. More and more parents are realizing that their children can have a good education at home, without the distractions of the classroom, or the dangers.

Think I’m exaggerating about that last part? I wish I was, but it scares me to think about how easily and quickly I came up with these stories from just this month:

Teacher with child porn on FBI Most-Wanted List

Iowa teacher admits to sex with four of her students.

Utah teacher charged with raping student.

Illinois teacher pleads guilty to sex with student.

California teacher pleas “no contest” to sex with 14-year-old student.

Maryland teacher arrested with child porn.

California special-ed teacher fired for running porn sites on school computer.

Two married female NY teachers investigated for “inappropriate relationships” with student athletes.

Florida teacher’s assistant charged with aggravated child abuse.

NY teacher fired for kissing student, exchanging 1400 texts.

Texas teacher fired for molestation denies it, saying she doesn’t even like touching black children on the hand.

OK, that’s enough or I’ll lose my lunch. I find it especially depressing that most of the perpetrator teachers listed above are women. Ugh. Bottom line: today’s schools are definitely dangerous places for children.





Faith in Institutions vs. Self-Reliance

One of the best predictors of homeschool success is whether or not you have faith in institutions*.

Most people do. They figure schools know what’s best for kids, medical personnel know what’s best for people, and government knows what’s best for everyone.

It’s easy to say that “I don’t feel that way!” But think about it. Do you figure if homeschooling doesn’t work out, you can always send your kids back to school? When the doctor’s prescription not only doesn’t help your child but makes him worse, do you immediately go back for a different prescription instead of educating yourself on the problem first? And when your government tells you it will handle its enormous debt, do you figure it knows what it’s doing and go back to your day? Because these are all signs of reliance on institutions.

Most of the homeschoolers I’ve known over the years have shared a distrust of institutions. Their school experience was not the highlight of their childhood and may have even been a catalyst for homeschooling their children. They take what their doctors say with a grain of salt and start doing their own research on their (and their loved ones’) health situations, which is why many of them are into homeopathy, follow certain ways of eating ranging from paleo to vegan, and often don’t want their children to be vaccinated. And they respond to their government’s casual reassurances about its financial future by stocking up on food, weapons and, if they have the money, gold.

I see this conflict between those who believe in institutions and those who don’t a lot lately, especially among homeschoolers. I hear from moms who are frustrated because those who run the homeschool co-op their kids attend aren’t being fair, or aren’t offering convenient-enough times or places for co-op classes. Sometimes there’s panic in their tone, and I don’t understand it. I went into homeschooling figuring I was going to have to do it myself, and proceeded accordingly. But these parents don’t see it that way. That tells me that they have too much faith in institutions, and I have to wonder about their commitment to homeschooling their children. I hope they won’t do like some and put their kids back in school, until something happens there that they don’t like and they pull them back out again to homeschool them. That’s not really fair to the child. Kids need consistency, and they’ll find that in the home if their parents are able to provide it.

From what I’ve seen, parents who instinctively distrust institutions are better suited to long-term homeschooling. There’s a self-reliance there that’s lacking in those who trust so-called experts more than their own God-given common sense.

*I’m using the term “institutions” as a catch-all that includes organizations, bureaucracies, teams and organized groups.

Preparing Our Kids for a Challenging Future, Part 3: Why Your Child Needs to Fail

If we want to prepare our kids for the new economy, we must let them learn to fail.

Fail? Failing means getting an F. Why would we want our kids to learn to fail?

Our own public school experiences taught us that failing was bad. That’s unfortunate, because the best inventions in the world have come about because of failure. Thomas Edison (the inventor with a record 1,093 patents to his name) once said:

“I recall that after we had conducted thousands of experiments on a certain project without solving the problem, one of my associates, after we had conducted the crowning experiment and it had proved a failure, expressed discouragement and disgust over our having failed ‘to find out anything.’ I cheerily assured him that we had learned something. For we had learned for a certainty that the thing couldn’t be done that way, and that we would have to try some other way. We sometimes learn a lot from our failures if we have put into the effort the best thought and work we are capable of.”

Our world desperately needs innovators to help us solve our problems, yet we coddle our children so they don’t have to feel the sting of failure. Today’s parents write school papers for their kids so they don’t flunk the class; they take over the building of their kids’ Pinewood Derby cars so they don’t lose the race. How can kids figure out what works if we don’t let them find out what doesn’t work first?

In school, kids are taught to avoid failure. But homeschooling parents can give their children the opportunity to fail, and the time to try again and figure out where they went wrong by letting them have real-life experiences where they learn to fail. If their bread fails to rise, they don’t get an F in baking. But they do see the difference in the loaves that result, and they learn to remember the yeast next time they bake bread.

Homeschooled kids also have all the time they need to figure out problems. If they’re getting hung up on a long division problem, they don’t get a red F on their paper, nor are they urged to finish up quickly because math class is almost over. Instead, they can take their time and keep trying to solve the problem until they come up with the correct answer. This gives them confidence in their ability to tackle a problem and stick with it until they solve it, and also teaches them that failure is merely part of the solution process.

Our world needs persistent problem-solvers. Homeschooling is the ideal training ground for them because it gives them the opportunity to learn that failure is something to learn from, not something to fear. It also helps them become confident problem-solvers as well as persistent ones. This is just more evidence that homeschooling is the very best way to prepare our children for a challenging future.

Next: Part 4, College is a Tool, Not a Goal

The Increasing Danger in Public Schools

I’ve written extensively about the many negatives of public schools: herd mentality, negative socialization, indoctrination, bullying, etc. As much as I see homeschooling as something positive in its own right, it’s also a great way to give your children a far better education than what they’ll get in a public school.

But I never dreamed that yet another reason would crop up, one that would make it imperative that people take their children out of the public education system: increasing numbers of these teachers are sexual predators.

And it’s hard to know which ones are the predators. For example, who would look at this young woman, an Iowa math teacher, and suspect that she sends nude photos of herself to students and performs sex acts on them?

Or this young man in Pennsylvania, another math teacher, who sent dirty texts and a thong to one of his students, promising her extra credit if she sent him a nude photo of herself AND it turned him on. How creepy is that?

While teachers preying on students is not unheard of, we’re seeing new reports of such teachers on a regular basis these days. The fact is that sexual predators are in schools all over this country, and until they’re caught in the act it’s almost impossible to know who they are. How do you know your child won’t be targeted by one? You can’t know….and you can’t guarantee your child’s safety in school. You can only guarantee your child’s safety by teaching your child at home.

Eek! Kids are Getting Fat and Dumb!

We must take away summer vacation because it’s making kids stupid and obese!

That’s the battle cry from Peter Orszag, who decrees in this article that:

Kids lose some of what they learned during the school year over the summer.

Kids get bigger over the summer.

Therefore, summer vacation is bad.

His recommendations?

Make the school year longer (a euphemism for getting rid of summer vacation).

Put low-income kids into six-week long summer school sessions.

Put low-income kids into summer reading programs.

At the end of the article, he suggests that one or more of his solutions be implemented via an act of Congress. Sigh.

This is so silly. America’s public schools are graduating increasing numbers of kids who can’t read or do math; when something isn’t working, why on earth would we want MORE of it?

As for kids getting bigger, it’s true that some parents let their kids sit inside and watch movies, play videogames and text their friends instead of sending them out to play for fresh air and exercise. A bad idea, for sure, but it’s not up to the government to take over those kids’ lives. Besides, there’s another reason some kids get larger over the summer. Remember when you were a kid starting back to school after summer vacation and you noticed that some of your classmates had grown noticeably bigger and taller? They’d had a growth spurt. That’s what kids do (unless they’re sickly); they grow. One has to wonder, do these do-gooders like Orszag even have kids?

Remarks coming from Orszag and his ilk these days aren’t really about kids’ well-being anyways; it’s about control, government control of our children. We need to shoot down their arguments, including their assumption that kids learn more during the school year and lose at least a third of what they learned over the summer.

Kids don’t lose what they’ve learned unless it was something they were forced to learn that they merely memorized and forgot once it was no longer needed (i.e. school). Here’s how we know this:

How many kids forget how to ride a bike?

How many kids forget the lyrics to their favorite songs?

How many kids forget how to play their favorite video games?

We learn what we’re interested in, what’s useful to us and what we find irresistible. Public education rarely offers such things to kids, Increasingly, today’s kids are faced with more indoctrination than instruction; the instruction they do get is apparently not working for a lot of kids. Masking these issues by blaming summer vacation is a cop-out

If the do-gooders really wanted to know what works for kids, they’d study homeschoolers. The success of homeschooling is well-documented. Homeschooling parents will tell them that their kids are learning all the time, even during summer vacation. And when homeschooled kids do forget something they learned (usually something their parents expected them to study, as opposed to something they wanted to learn), they pick it up again pretty quickly when they go back to their studies. But as long as they’re getting plenty of time and opportunity to learn at their own pace and to pursue their own interests in addition to the studies their parents require of them, they don’t lose much of what they’ve learned. (I know this from observing my own homeschooled four.)

But the do-gooders will never study homeschooling. Why? Because most homeschooling parents’ goals for their children are about learning, not control. And these days, sadly, our government seems primarily bent on control.