Textbooks: Evidence of a Second-Rate Homeschool Education

The typical homeschool mom has been told this: “Beware of online education. Computers are bad!”

bradbury-451This is the sales pitch of homeschool curriculum producers that did not see what the Khan Academy would do to education. They do not know how to respond. They have “bet the farm” on Gutenberg, not video-based education. They are going to lose this bet.

So are the children of the mothers who stick with textbooks.

Homeschool moms are as blind to what makes for advanced education as are the members of the public school teachers’ union. They also use textbooks.

UPPER DIVISION UNIVERSITY COURSES
Here is what homeschool moms never do. They do not look at the reading lists of any upper-division college course in the social sciences and humanities. They would find that there are no textbooks. There are monographs. There are primary source documents. There are journal articles. There are classic modern books in the discipline. But there are no textbooks.

Why not? Because upper division courses are taught by senior professors, not low-paid assistant professors who are assigned the freshman courses. Textbooks are for freshmen, not upper division students. Upper division courses are designed for students who have gone through the grunt-work, “weed-them-out” freshman course. They are ready for serious work.

The same is true in high school. Textbooks are written for the lowest-common denominator students. They are written for students who are not expected to attend college. They are written, in short, for academic losers.

The sad fact is this: textbooks are used in Christian school curricula. The textbooks are imitations of public school textbooks. They are designed for slow-track classroom education, just as public school textbooks are.

Textbooks are deadly dull. Have you ever gone back to re-read a textbook from college? No. Why not? Because they were deadly dull. You knew it then. You know it now. Yet there are homeschool mothers who search in vain for interesting textbooks. The might as well search for a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

  • Textbooks are dumbed down. They have to be in order to sell enough copies to repay their publication costs. They must meet a mass audience to generate sales. Yet mothers all live in Lake Woebegone, where the kids are all above average.
  • A textbook is incredibly expensive to revise. The book must be re-typeset. This is why textbooks are several years old — or more.
  • A teacher can revise an online lesson in a few minutes. Videos are easy to revise.

An online course in English above fifth grade should include literature. These can be read online or printed out. Maybe a parent can buy a cheap used paperback edition on Amazon. The point is this: reading classic English and American literature is not textbook-based education. It is upper division college education.

There is a case for textbooks. Buy a used college textbook, or get one through inter-library loan for free. Buy a CLEP-cramming book. Have the student read both: one chapter a day for 30 days. Then have the student take a CLEP exam. He or she will probably pass. This way, the student will not have to take this course in college. The parents save $500 to $1,500. This means the student will get the Left-wing party line. But it will be cheap. Also, the student will not be subjected to 90 hours of college classroom indoctrination.

This strategy has nothing to do with buying and assigning dumbed-down high school textbooks.

The only textbooks used by the Ron Paul Curriculum are in the first years of arithmetic. The video lessons use Ray’s Arithmetic textbooks, which are over 130 years old. These are free to download. These are not dumbed down. They are far more rigorous intellectually than today’s “Dick and Jane” public school arithmetic textbooks are.

VIDEO-BASED EDUCATION
The videos are the key to education. They explain. A student can watch one several times if he gets confused. This is why Salman Khan adopted videos. It is why the best universities are putting classroom lectures online for free.

Homeschool mothers are told: “Don’t let your kids use computers!” Then they should not send their kids to the best universities.

Homeschool mothers were taught out of dumbed-down textbooks in dumbed-down classrooms, either tax-funded or private. They are mentally tied to teaching techniques that go back to ancient Egypt: a room full of youngsters taught by a bored lecturer who could not get a better-paying job higher in the priesthood. They are being scared to death by self-interested publishers of vaguely Christian textbooks designed for classrooms.

It’s all hogwash. It’s all based on marketing to the parents of lowest common denominator students.

The answer is video-based education coupled with primary sources: in history, literature, government, and economics.

If you use a textbook, make sure you use lots of other reading materials. Textbook-centered education is a technological corpse. Avoid it.

That’s why there are no textbooks in the Ron Paul Curriculum. It’s video-based.

Written by Gary North and published at Gary North ~ November 29, 2016.

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