Guest Aaron Michael Morales

Educating Children

27 posts in this topic

Fellow parents:

I have a serious dilemma on my hands. As a father, I am extremely concerned with the state of modern education, specifically as outlined in Miss Rand's essay "The Comprachicos," in which she explains the current methods of public education and how its sole purpose seems to be the creation of collectivist pupils. However, I have yet to find any place where she outlines specific alternatives to the public education system. It is obvious she is a fan of Montessori schools for pre-schoolers--or at least she can stomach them. It is also apparent that she is an advocate for homeschooling. The dilemma for me is that I do not have the financial wherewithall to homeschool my child. She must attend public schools. Thankfully, she is very much an individual, much to the dismay of her peers who are hell-bent on making her feel inferior because of her interest and success in academics. She does not fit into any one crowd, and for that I am thankful and quite proud. However, I am curious whether or not any literature exists that provides specfic alternatives to public education, or tips for parents who, like me, must send their children to public schools. Thusfar, I have striven to provide the type of upbringing which allows for exploration of the self, and the seeking of knowledge. I have done my best to instill an appreciation for rationality and greatness. Of course, in the era of Myspace and countless other venues where my daughter can become increasingly more exposed to outside influences, I maintain a deep concern for her wellbeing and her ability to maintain strength and persistence in the presence of the "group mentality" that will only become stronger as she ages. Can anyone point me to any literature that addresses these issues? Anything would help. Thank you in advance for your time.

Aaron

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The dilemma for me is that I do not have the financial wherewithall to homeschool my child. She must attend public schools... However, I am curious whether or not any literature exists that provides specfic alternatives to public education, or tips for parents who, like me, must send their children to public schools.

If you have no choice, then there is no alternative. If you use a private school you are taxed for the public one anyway.

One possibility is to live somewhere with inexpensive, lousy public schools so you can afford a private one. Another is to move to a town with above average public education, but you still have the usual political correctness, environmentalism, etc. to contend with.

You will probably 'home shcool' supplementally by following closely what your daughter is learning and discussing it and better approaches outside the normal school day.

... Can anyone point me to any literature that addresses these issues? Anything would help. Thank you in advance for your time.

Be sure to read the material at the Van Damme Academy, whether you can use the school or not. It shows what is possible and provides a standard of comparison with anything else, including for what you are able to do at home "on the side".

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Can anyone point me to any literature that addresses these issues?

In addition to the Van Damme Academy already suggested, I suggest reviewing the Robinson curriculum in detail.

I consider supplemental home schooling a requirement if there is no alternative to public schools. Remember that access to public libraries, libraries of many post-secondary institutions, museums, and persons working in specialized fields are avaiable to your daughter regardless of whether she attends a public or private school. Interesting ways to occupy her time (not necessarily in areas she has already declared an interest in) are frequently inexpensive and push to the fore independent, critical thinking and self-reliance. I can certainly give examples, but am limiting the length of my post at present.

The depth of discussion and explanation of concepts not covered in school will change over time and depend on a combination of factors, including your own grasp of the materials and ability to teach, whether your child already exhibits the proclivity to being self-taught, and the level of internal analysis of her own comprehending and evaluating abilities she is capable of as she grows. Although it is claimed otherwise, I do not see that the curricula of most public school systems (here or around the world) have become significantly more complex (the curricula I've compared have actually become more simple and expectations for what children must understand by a certain age have actually decreased) over the years. I therefore also suggest reviewing the curricula of years past to have a better idea of age-appropriate curricula rather than looking at those in public schools today if you are measuring where your child is, comparatively, for her age group.

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Thank you for your replies. I'm curious, is there nothing Ayn Rand wrote about solutions to this problem, as it applies to parents, other than to point out the nature of modern education and the larger-scale implications on society?

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Thank you for your replies. I'm curious, is there nothing Ayn Rand wrote about solutions to this problem, as it applies to parents, other than to point out the nature of modern education and the larger-scale implications on society?

Not that I know of.

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Is the problem you are asking about the lack of "specfic alternatives to public education, or tips for parents who, like me, must send their children to public schools."? Ayn Rand did not give parenting advice, except indirectly as you have already pointed out. How can the problem which I think you are asking about be addressed in a wholesale manner?

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Is the problem you are asking about the lack of "specfic alternatives to public education, or tips for parents who, like me, must send their children to public schools."? Ayn Rand did not give parenting advice, except indirectly as you have already pointed out. How can the problem which I think you are asking about be addressed in a wholesale manner?

That's precisely what I was trying to determine, in addition to seeking out resources: whether or not she gave any advice or opinion in addition to pointing out the flaws in contemporary education. But now that question has been answered. I'm the type of person who is generally not simply satisfied with pointing out problems, or having them pointed out. I like to consider an array of possibilities for solutions, which is why I asked about other literature, resources, and whether or not Ayn Rand had ever addressed this in any lectures, essays, etc.

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Wow. Sophia. Strongbrain is exactly the type of resource I was hoping to find by starting this thread. Thank you so much!

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I also want to strongly recommend Dr. Peikoff's wonderful Philosophy of Education course (here) outlining the principles later implemented at the VanDamme Academy.

For advice on specific issues, there is an e-mail list for Objectivist parents you might be interested in. Here's a description from the last CyberNet:

The RATIONAL PARENTING LIST is a moderated e-mail list for anyone interested in child-rearing. For a free trial membership, e-mail SUSAN CRAWFORD at RPList@aol.com.

Recently there were posts on Montessori apparatus as toys, cultivating healthy food habits, building a robot, children with religious friends, nonsense-proofing, posting member pictures online, socialization and Montessori schools, new baby announcements, the movie "Bridge to Terabithia," and having direction after college.

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I also want to strongly recommend Dr. Peikoff's wonderful Philosophy of Education course (here) outlining the principles later implemented at the VanDamme Academy.

For advice on specific issues, there is an e-mail list for Objectivist parents you might be interested in. Here's a description from the last CyberNet:

The RATIONAL PARENTING LIST is a moderated e-mail list for anyone interested in child-rearing. For a free trial membership, e-mail SUSAN CRAWFORD at RPList@aol.com.

Recently there were posts on Montessori apparatus as toys, cultivating healthy food habits, building a robot, children with religious friends, nonsense-proofing, posting member pictures online, socialization and Montessori schools, new baby announcements, the movie "Bridge to Terabithia," and having direction after college.

Thanks for this Betsy.

I wish the Bookstore would transition all the audio-tape books to CDs or digital downloads. Since I got a new car, we don't have any way to read tapes in my home.

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All of these resources are wonderful. Thanks to all who responded.

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Have you considered sending your daughter to a Magnet school? I have done very little research on this type of institution, but from what I've heard, Magnet schools are 1) public [which, I infer, means you'll pay nothing in addition to the tax dollars you already pay] and 2) specialized [they are based heavily on math/science/engineering, or fine arts, etc. and accept only the most accomplished]. I once knew a guy who was an excellent math teacher, but was not the type of person who could control a typcially rowdy class of high schoolers one often encounters in public schools. He opted to teach at a Magnet school so that his efforts would not be wasted on academic slackers. I don't know how old your daughter is, but this could be a solution for her sometime in her life.

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Could I expand on Aaron Michael Morales' original post to ask some questions about formal schooling. By 'formal' I mean a structured and objectively tested education whether it is home schooling, private schools or public schools. A child is eager to learn new things without parental inducement, but if the child's fun includes an attempt to acquire a foreign/second language or mathematics without specific textbooks or curricular guides, how does one go about undoing any poor learning methods that later hamper the child and puts the child at a serious disadvantage at a later time? It is easy enough to test for gaps or errors - taking the example of advanced unschooled literacy - so that one is able to test for alphabetic literacy and all associated taxonomic or categorization skills, but it is more difficult to test for poor learning method. I think a child who is bored in a school is more likely to start engaging in incorrect methods than a homeschooled one. But, the child who is able to self-reflect on his own learning may correct his own learning method without parental involvement regardless of the school setting.

Assuming the child is not correcting his own learning method, I can only think of two ways that test for poor learning method in self-acquired knowledge 1) in the case of language, testing for syllogistic and other formal reasoning which takes the fun out of self-guided learning to turn it into another formal test and 2) related project work in the formal school setting that incorporates comprehensive test of the self-acquired knowledge, which is still supporting the child in learning during fun-seeking.

Can anyone share their experience(s) in diagnosing learning problems or thinking errors in self-taught children before they have established an incorrect way of encoding and understanding so that it does not becomes the child's self-instruction method? Would socialization with a similar-minded child be a contributing, neutral or detracting factor? Does one really remove the fun and child's curiosity by turning an indirect facilitation of the child's own self-instructional capabilities into a directly facilitated one?

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A child is eager to learn new things without parental inducement, but if the child's fun includes an attempt to acquire a foreign/second language or mathematics without specific textbooks or curricular guides, how does one go about undoing any poor learning methods that later hamper the child and puts the child at a serious disadvantage at a later time?

Considering the sorry state of epistemology in general and educational theories in particular, I think a child is much more likely to develop disabling learning methods from formal education than from self-education.

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Considering the sorry state of epistemology in general and educational theories in particular, I think a child is much more likely to develop disabling learning methods from formal education than from self-education.

I'll be more specific: a child formally and properly educated compared to a self-teaching one. I agree with you regarding your statement above when referring to most formal education today, including (unfortunately) some formal home-schooled education. Thanks for pointing my omission out, Betsy.

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Considering the sorry state of epistemology in general and educational theories in particular, I think a child is much more likely to develop disabling learning methods from formal education than from self-education.

I'll be more specific: a child formally and properly educated compared to a self-teaching one.

I think the self-taught child has the advantage because he has better motivation.

The self-taught child is learning what he wants to know in order to achieve his own goals. Thus his learning is purposeful and value-driven. It is also self-generated and not tied to placating or impressing others.

I know whereof I speak because I have successfully learned both ways. I was in the top 1% of my class at a time and in a school where the education was very close to the ideal described by Dr. Peikoff in his education lectures. At the same time, I was also constantly going on "curiosity binges" -- intensely studying whatever subject engaged my interest for a period of time. By the time I graduated college, only about 20% of my knowledge came from formal schooling and the rest came from self-education even though I spent four times more in class and doing homework than I did studying on my own.

Most important, I learned how to learn on my own -- something I have continued to do long after my formal schooling ended.

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The self-taught child is learning what he wants to know in order to achieve his own goals. Thus his learning is purposeful and value-driven. It is also self-generated and not tied to placating or impressing others.

I know whereof I speak because I have successfully learned both ways. I was in the top 1% of my class at a time and in a school where the education was very close to the ideal described by Dr. Peikoff in his education lectures. At the same time, I was also constantly going on "curiosity binges" -- intensely studying whatever subject engaged my interest for a period of time. By the time I graduated college, only about 20% of my knowledge came from formal schooling and the rest came from self-education even though I spent four times more in class and doing homework than I did studying on my own.

Most important, I learned how to learn on my own -- something I have continued to do long after my formal schooling ended.

Well, I guessed you'd be at the very minimum in the top 3%. I agree with your assessment of the role of teaching oneself in one's life generally, but my question concerns just a particular group of children who do (as should be the norm) teach themselves.

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The self-taught child is learning what he wants to know in order to achieve his own goals. Thus his learning is purposeful and value-driven. It is also self-generated and not tied to placating or impressing others.

I agree with your assessment of the role of teaching oneself in one's life generally, but my question concerns just a particular group of children who do (as should be the norm) teach themselves.

I think what I wrote, above, about the motivation of a self-taught child applies to all of them. Because of that, they are all learning for the best reasons in the best way possible.

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I've been worried about my future children's education. That is, until I visited the History at Our House website! This is exactly what my wife and I've been looking for, especially from a VanDamme Academy professor! We'd love it if Lisa vanDamme would start franchising her school. Until that happens, purchasing programs such as History at Our House so that we may create our own little VanDamme academy is the best we could hope for.

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I've been worried about my future children's education. That is, until I visited the History at Our House website! This is exactly what my wife and I've been looking for, especially from a VanDamme Academy professor! We'd love it if Lisa vanDamme would start franchising her school. Until that happens, purchasing programs such as History at Our House so that we may create our own little VanDamme academy is the best we could hope for.

There are more and more resources on the internet for homeschooling parents including several accredited distance-learning schools with virtual classrooms. It's a whole new world of possibilities for modern parents.

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This is a really good topic for someone like me. I have some huge responsibilities coming my way:

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