Half-truths in Homeschooling
There are a
number of part or half truths that are around today and how many people
believe them without even checking to see if they are true absolutely amazes
me. While I recognize that half truths can be hard to combat I do not
understand why so many people accept anything they are told or see in print,
especially if it is on the internet.
is no exception. The number of myths and half truths seem to grow every year
and everyone knows someone who knew some one who……
Here are a
few of them:
matter what you teach. Children will learn more than they
have at school. It is true that children generally learn more than they would
at school, but most of us want more than that. It certainly matters what you
teach. To be able to function as an adult you need certain basic skills. A lack
of these may mean you can not get a job or the job will be menial. The more
knowledge and skills you have the better you will be able to cope with life as
an adult and the larger range of jobs are open to you. Knowledge also helps you
recognize half-truths—and our society is full of them.
need to teach reading. Children will eventually pick it up
or catch on. It is true 1% of very bright children do pick up reading very
early and by themselves. They find learning in any form easy. The other 99%
don’t, and even the brightest child needs to learn the mechanics. It is also
true that some children take a long time to learn to read. These children need
a lot of repetition at each stage and constant work. Left to themselves they
will never learn, as the number of children who attend school and leave at year
12 without being able to read proves. Words are made up of sounds in the same
way music is made up of notes. No-one suggests that the majority of people pick
up playing the piano without learning the notes. Our daughter, Cindy, can play
by ear and if she can’t find the music it can sometimes be of benefit. However
we made sure that she can also read music. If the training of child is
neglected in any area, whether it be reading or other subjects, there will be
great gaps in a child’s knowledge.
teach what you like. It doesn’t matter. It is
true that almost anything fits the guidelines and outcomes. They were written
so that no-one would fail. However it is not true that you can teach what you
like or follow any method you like and get good results. Certain specific
knowledge is needed as an adult e.g. you can not be an electrician or engineer
without a high level of maths. Learning needs to be sequential and logical.
teach all your children together with topic based material.
If you had two children, close together in abilities, perhaps you could,
providing you could find the necessary research material. If the children are
not at the same level some of the children will miss out. Everyone has at least
one child that answers for a younger child, so the younger child misses out.
Making sure each child works at their own level using this method is very time
intensive and hard. If there is a great difference between the top and the
bottom level someone will miss out—either it will go over the head of the
younger child or the older child will not work to capacity. There are American
curriculums availablethat do this but the parents never last long—they burn
out—and some of them repeat themselves every five or so years so the children
are replicating knowledge and missing out on other topics. Learning must be
logical, sequential and age appropriate.
choose a variety of books from a variety of countries and children will learn.
Of course children will learn, but they will not have a good education. Each
country has books written to meet the specific needs of that country. They may cover
different topics or cover similar topics in a different order. This makes
swapping books between Australia and other countries hard. Simply because
another homeschooler or a homeschooling magazine tells you that a book is good
does not make it so.
choose books for their own children. It is true
that mothers do know their children, but most do not know the books. Mothers
and I work well together because, with insights from the mother on the
character of the child, I can tailor the book to the child.
You can walk
into a book shop and pick up any book and providing all the books are the same
grade they will work well at home. Firstly, the number on the
book often doesn’t correspond to the grade of the book. Secondly, the books
available in bookshops, even educational ones, are very limited. It is no
secret that I consider Excel and D K books to be of a very low standard. Many
of the books I sell you will no longer find in a bookshop. Thirdly, since there
are no set standards, the level of each book may vary dramatically. Fourthly,
not all books work well together or follow a logical, sequential progress.
It is not
important to teach Social Studies. Doing a few projects is not
enough. What are now known as the “core subjects” were once known as
Why? It was
because they were studied in a disciplined and logical way and it required
discipline to follow through. Without a logical, ten or twelve year progress
there will be great gaps in a child’s knowledge. For example, the geography of Australia has not been taught consistently over the last twenty to thirty years. I hadn’t
realized how many gaps there were in many younger adults –under 35’s— knowledge
until I asked about forty mothers, for my own information, where the Great
Dividing Range ran. Of those 40 mothers only about two could tell me
accurately. Knowledge of history and geography are basic to our understanding
of our world, our political systems and our life today. For example, how can
you intelligently contribution to a discussion on the number of migrants Australia should be allowing each year unless you understand the geography of Australia. Since 2/3 of Australia is arid or semi-arid and will support little or no population the
number of migrants that Australia can accommodate is limited.
learn about science by watching nature videos. Videos and
films are certainly great tools but they can be no substitute for sequential
learning. Without it there will be too many gaps. Already we are seeing the
result of teaching little but environmental science in our schools. There is a
growth in greenies but a lack of understanding of the basics of physics,
chemistry or electricity.
should be fun. Not everything in life is fun and if we teach
children that it is then we are doing them a great disservice. Many things
require a lot of work and some things are dead boring. (Washing clothes each
day or cleaning toilets, for example, or picking up after people who are quite
capable of picking up after themselves.)
You can be
what ever you want to be. No you can’t. Some jobs require a
natural talent—art—and some require more intelligence. We are not all the same
and we do not all have the same gifts, but we can all achieve. Some occupations
will require a far higher level of education and knowledge. The level of a job
does not always denote its importance. Remember, the most important people in
your community are still those who pick up and process your rubbish or your
If you want
your child to be a doctor or a scientist you had better teach them self
instructionally and sequentially from the start with top quality material.
is a source of great knowledge. It is true the internet
contains a lot of information. It is even true that there is a certain amount
of accurate knowledge available on the internet, depending on the topic you are
researching. However, since anyone can give their opinion on any subject, what
is written on the internet might be a fallacy not a fact. (Try looking up the
flat earth society, for example. Their arguments sound very scientific, but it
doesn’t make the world flat.) Information on the internet is not necessarily
true and children need to be taught to check what that they find from other
sources i.e. books.
natural it must be healthy. This is a major falsehood. Weeds
are natural. Heroin is a plant derivative and therefore natural, but it is not
healthy. Some natural products taken in small quantities can be very helpful
e.g. digitalis, but in large quantities may be a poison. Most books that deal
with health issues deal in generalities and anecdotes rather than specifics. It
is best to consult a trusted doctor who knows about allergies and who also
deals in natural products and make sure you have the correct information for your
If you want
vegetables that are healthy, grow your own. You can then pick them fresh. Fresh
food in supermarkets is not really fresh. It has to be picked and shipped.