To begin, I’m going to make a bold statement that I hope catches your attention. Then, I’m going to explain how I’ve come to that conclusion in the rest of this article. Here it is:
If you’re a home-schooling family that is using a curriculum that keeps your children chained to the modern educational system, you need to stop and think about what you’re doing. You’re getting ripped off by any homeschool publisher that’s encouraging you to maintain a K-12 educational model at home and, in the end, you’re going to have nothing to show for the time, energy and money you’re spending.
I know that’s a bold statement to make, but I intend to explain it to you.
Parents raising children in this generation are enslaved. They are enslaved to an idea that was never practiced in human history and was never taught by God. That idea is compulsory education.
Compulsory education requires that every child spend 5 hours per day, 180 days per year in “school”. That is the requirement enforced by the government. No one can identify the goal of that education. Since no goal can be identified, the objectives, or middle steps that must be taken to achieve that goal cannot be known. Since no objectives can be known, the method, schedule and daily tasks that would allow students to achieve those objectives cannot be known. Everyone is in school, but no one knows what to do.
The public schools, where most of this compulsory education is administered, are required to serve every child that shows up at the front door, the majority of which are completely unfit for schooling. Parents have almost no responsibility for their children’s lives and children have no responsibility other than to “go to school”. Buses pick them up before the sun rises and drop them off at the end of the day. The schools cannot pursue any real academic goals, so they water down the curriculum to the minimum required for functional literacy by the time the children reach adulthood and are no longer the schools’ business.
The educational publishing companies, seeking the business of the giant, free-spending public schools, cater their entire business to those public schools. The subjects and textbooks of the past are no longer in print because there’s no money to be made printing them. The majority of teachers are, themselves, products of these schools and know nothing outside of that modern system.
The private schools are unable to do anything but follow the public schools’ lead. They attempt to offer the same curriculum as the public schools, without the funding of the public schools. Consequently, private schools must pay their administrators and teachers less than public schools can, which leaves them with lower quality faculty and high turnover, meaning that not only the teachers, but the teaching and grading varies wildly one year to the next. Private school turns out to be a terrible deal: parents get to pay thousands of dollars per student, per year, to obtain an education that is offered by the public school down the road for “free”. Private schools then move into one of four directions:
- They attempt to retain public school quality facilities and faculty by offering a showy and expensive education to wealthy families. They put jackets and ties on boys; replace common school sports (football, baseball) with foreign ones (rugby, lacrosse); take the boys on trips; and all other sorts of distractions that make the price appear justified. If you ignore all the bells and whistles and look into the actual curriculum, you’ll find nothing more than a public school program.
- They admit students who don’t really belong to their original target community that they may find more tuition-paying students. Catholic schools admit non-Catholics; Boys’ schools begin admitting girls. The financial survival of the school is the only goal that remains.
- They admit low-income students that allow schools to receive government funding for various subsidy programs. These subsidy programs come with strings attached, eventually costing the school to forfeit it’s freedom to promote a particular religion or moral code, but really, there is no religion or moral code being promoted.
- They attempt to create some alternative to the public school program, such as offering what is called a “classical education”, that is not classical (or even historical) at all, to attract tuition-paying parents who are willing to believe that something different will be better. They follow the example of Starbucks which, by re-branding and renaming common things, leads people to think they’re actually enjoying something better. Dorothy Sayers is the leader of this crowd, as she decided to borrow words from real medieval Catholic education and use them to rename ideas of modern psychology. Whereas the Trivium was, in history, a series of arts that must be mastered, it is now used to artificially name three “stages of learning” within the modern school system. A teacher discussing a book in a “classical school” now claims to be using the “Socratic Method”, when teachers in public schools are doing the same thing but calling it “class discussion”. “High school English” is renamed “The Great Books”, but it’s still just kids reading selections of books in English. “High school Math” is renamed “the Quadrivium”, not the real Quadrivium, but the same stuff being studied anywhere else: Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Pre-Calculus. As at Starbucks, where a small coffee is renamed “tall”, there’s no improvement, just distractions to keep eyes off the same aimless K-12 program and make some different people some money. This can all be easily shown to be shameless nonsense.
All four of these options among private schools disguise the reality that all of the children in them are still on the same compulsory education program as the public schools offer: a 12+ year, minimum standard education in all of the modern subject areas. We can prove this by looking to the end, where the students from all of the different schools funnel into the same colleges with no apparent advantage being seen in any of the options. When they all get to college, students from free public schools are sitting next to students who attended $40,000 per year private schools. They are all in the same boat.
One group of students, however, that is not mentioned above are those whose parents elect to keep them from attending any of the schools mentioned above, and provide their education at home. Normally, these parents claim that they desire to home school for one or more of the following reasons:
- they want their children raised in an environment where their faith and morals are promoted
- they believe they can lead their children a higher academic achievements than the local schools can
- they cannot afford to send their children to a good private school
- they believe that children should be taught by their parents as a principle
- they don’t want to be away from their children
The state, in almost all places, allows parents to “home school”. Rules vary from place to place with regard to what is required of these students, but there is one important fact: these children are still being directed by the compulsory education system. They are not in a school, but everything they do is done with reference to that K-12 compulsory school idea.
For example, students who are home-schooled, though they vary in age, will still refer to their level of study as “first grade”, “third grade”, “ninth grade”, and so on, though they are neither in any such grade, nor required to think of education in such terms. Despite being free from the compulsory education system, publishers and parents continue to remain in it for only one reason: they remain committed to the goal of compulsory education.
Yet there is no goal, no real academic goal. If we ask the parents what the goal is, they cannot tell you. If they do attempt to state what the goal of their home schooling is, they will say something like, “to raise our children to be saints”, or “to know, love and serve God”, or “to be good fathers and businessmen”, or “to be good leaders in the next generation”, and so on. Yet none of these goals requires of them, or even recommends to them, any adherence to the modern K-12 school model. What they say and what they are doing are not related in any way. Really, they are doing the same thing the public and private schools are doing…at home.
The problem, however, is that they are doing so in even worse conditions than the schools are. Yes, it may be true that the neighborhood drug dealer’s children are not with them every day. It may be true that their faith is not criticized and mocked by teachers. It may be true that the stated academic goals are loftier than those in the local schools. Yet, we find that most of these home schooling families quickly crash and burn or slowly settle for the same standards as the schools they are sacrificing to keep their children from. Then, when all is said and done, we find their children applying for admission to the same colleges that all of the public and private school students do–with no better results.
What is the point of all of this?
How many Christian families are being exhausted by this idea of home-schooling, only to end up in the same place as all the other families who have done no such thing? How many Catholic home schools actually produce students that are any more “saintly” than other schools? How many marriages are strained, if not broken, by the stress of home-schooling?
What is the point of all this? If we’re not going to actually come out from this modern compulsory education system and provide our children with something that is really better–and I mean objectively and demonstrably BETTER–why bother going through all of this hassle?
If you’re a home-schooling family that is using a curriculum that keeps your children chained to this modern educational system, you need to stop and think about what you’re doing. You’re being duped by any homeschool publisher that’s encouraging you to maintain the same K-12 educational model at home, because that model is simply allowing them to make more money off of you. You’re getting ripped off and, in the end, you’re going to have nothing to show for the time, energy and money you’re spending.
Why you should NOT used a grade level program at home
First, if you are willing and able to home-school your children, you need to realize that you, and they, are completely free from the K-12 school model. Just think about it:
- your home school has, in most cases, one teacher
- your home school has a number of students of different ages
- your home school has a number of students of different abilities
- you must serve all of these different students together
- your school is not limited to 180 days of study
- you are responsible to lead your children to mastery of the subjects that are necessary for their lives
- you are not going to give your children grades at the end of the year
- your home school is completely different from any K-12 school
Now, if these things are true, why would you think to serve them with a grade-level system that is designed for a different set of circumstances? It makes absolutely no sense and, worse, you will not be able to succeed using that system because it assumes:
- the school has many teachers
- the school has specialists serving different subject areas
- the school sorts students into groups by age and ability
- each group of students, all of the same age and ability, are served by a different teacher
- different subjects are often served to different groups of students by different teachers
- the school has only 180 days of school per year
- the school is not responsible for leading students to mastery, but to deliver a minimum course of study
- the school is going to give grades to each student, in each subject, at the end of the year
K-12 school materials are designed to serve this set of circumstances–not yours! If you attempt to offer your children this educational program, you will defeat the point of home-schooling. Your stress and lack of success in homeschooling is likely caused by this unreasonable study plan. Your home school is not a grade-level school.
What Should You Do?
First, you should make the most of your freedom. You have no obligation to follow the K-12 school model, which has only existed since the 19th century. You can enjoy a much happier and more effective school plan with your children if you will get out of that way of thinking about education. It does not apply to you—you’re educating your own children at home!
Second, start with your goals. You have real goals, don’t you? Start with those goals and let them direct you in what you should study with your children and how you should study it. It does not matter what K-12 programs are doing because that makes no sense in a home school environment.
Third, realize that what you are doing at home was done in schoolhouses throughout all of human history. I am not saying that “homeschooling” was ever done in history–let’s make that clear. Schoolhouses, however, were local and small and resembled your home school much more than a modern K-12 school. Realize also that in the past, all of the textbooks and subjects were taught and studied by students who were NOT divided into modern grade levels. There is no 4th grade Math book from the 1700s! There are no “high school English” books from the middle ages. There was never any such thing and you are free to go back and use the same study materials that were used by the wisest men and saints throughout history because your children are not in a modern K-12 school!
Note: It is commonly said by home school publishers that “families have always home-schooled”, which is debatable, but what is obviously NOT true is that the families who did so would have used K-12 grade level study materials at home!
You probably do not understand this, but your children, once removed from the modern K-12 school model are free to enjoy so much more than modern students. You have to give them the opportunity to enjoy that and benefit from it. If you subject them to the modern school model–at home–you will lose all of the benefits available to you in home-schooling. Please trust me in this.
Enroll in the CLAA
Yes, I will be so bold as to tell you to enroll in the Classical Liberal Arts Academy. Why? Because you are home schooling and the CLAA allows you to give your children an education that makes sense for home-schooling families. We do not put your children into modern grade levels–because that makes no sense. We do not limit your children to modern school subjects–because that makes no sense. Your children are free to do so much more!
In the CLAA, we work to “research, restore, publish and teach the classical liberal arts”, that is, the curriculum that was used throughout history before the modern K-12 school model was ever created. We give your children the opportunity to study that is so much more beneficial for them than modern grade level programs. Your children are free to study year-round. Your children are free to study subjects like Catechism and the Bible and Latin and Greek and History and Mathematics in ways that modern schools cannot because of their need to end every class in June with grades. Your children don’t need to study selections of literature or parts of subjects because the school year ends–they can study the entire books and go through the most important ones many times until they are mastered.
In the CLAA, your children are free to seek Wisdom and enjoy their studies with none of the artificial modern limitations of K-12 schooling.
What About State Requirements?!
No student who enjoys the freedom and challenge of CLAA studies, in a home school that allows them to study without modern limitations, will have to worry about state requirements. This fear among home-schoolers is unfounded. We will help you think through your state’s requirements and deal with such things if/when they arise. Your children’s studies will exceed anything being done in modern schools and what your children learn watching saint movies will often give your children more knowledge of history than most modern students have. You need to learn to think of your family’s learning activities differently so that you can provide documentation of these things that you’re already doing. Again, we will help you do this.
Now, your children may struggle a bit on standardized tests because those tests are not tests of wisdom or true learning, but of one’s participation in the modern school system, which is not necessary for home school students. You may need to have your children take those tests, and your children may get some questions wrong, but it will not matter.
What About College?
Your children will have an advantage over all other students because they will be enjoying a course of studies that is above and beyond anything the schools have to offer. If you decide that college is a necessary step for a child, he will have an advantage over all other students applying for admission, because he has the kind of education that the colleges are actually wishing students would pursue. Harvard University says:
“A good high school education should do more than prepare you for the next level of education or for later employment—it should prepare you to take advantage of future learning opportunities of all kinds. You should gain particular skills and information, as well as a broad perspective on the world and its possibilities. By taking the most academically demanding courses you can find, you can improve both your chance of admission to a selective college and your performance during the first years of college.”
That’s not a modern K-12 education they’re talking about. What the CLAA offers, and what your home school can provide, is what they are recommending.
There’s More to Life than Money
Just as you must free yourself from the K-12 model of schooling, you must also free yourself from limited thoughts about college and career preparation. Don’t you know that, as Catholics, your children don’t need to “find careers” in the business world? If they grow to love religion and philosophy, they can choose a religious vocation and live happily ever after. In fact, the reason why there are so few men and women choosing religious life today is that they never experience the freedom and happiness of this kind of learning.
Some may say, “Some religious orders require a college degree!” Well, that’s not very wise of them and if that gets in the way, there are other religious communities that do not. CLAA students have already moved on from their studies to gain admission to Catholic seminaries and religious communities and, I can assure you, there are no troubles.
I invite you to learn more about and get started on a better plan for your children’s education. Your family can be happy and successful in home schooling if you will free yourself from the foolish way so many families think about it. You can enjoy being a wife and mother, learning every day with your children. You can teach your children your faith and practice it. If your family owns a business, you can raise a family that works together and studies together, as my family does. Homeschooling can be awesome, but it must be arranged reasonably.
The Classical Liberal Arts Academy is the only program that helps families to break free from the modern K-12 system and enjoy the benefits that they know home-schooling can and should make available. You do not need to settle for worldly standards, and there’s no excuse if you do.