Teaching the Scientific Method and the Sciences

Now that officials say it is critical that people “follow the science,” we should reflect a moment on what that might mean. Does it mean to rely on the authority of doctors and scientists to give us the truth, or does it mean to respect the process of the scientific method?

What is the Scientific Method?

This method must include making an observation, making an inquiry, stating an hypothesis, forming a testable prediction, testing the hypothesis, then using the results to verify the hypothesis. Failing verification, a new testable hypothesis must be put forward and each of the steps repeated until adequate verification is achieved. Finally, publishing the results and having the results peer reviewed must follow. The scientific method proved itself more reliable over the centuries in finding the truth than reliance on authority.

The Many Legs On a Fly

Aristotle is sometimes called the Father of the Scientific Method. He was not. Aristotle made many contributions to knowledge, but he did insist that flies have four legs. On that authority natural history texts reported four legs on a fly for a thousand years. Aristotle said it. It was true. Much of the darkness in the Dark Ages came from such  authority determined truth. Aristotle was a central authority for the Church, but a poor father for the scientific method. He might more honestly be called the father of the observational method. Observation is the critical first step in the scientific method.

The intervention of Church authority into natural science locked knowledge in place for a millennium. The mistakes of flies’ legs would have been resolved instantly if any form of scientific investigation was possible. It was not and scientific investigation stopped in the West until the 14th Century. Even then, it was tainted with heresy and accusations of wizardry.

Through the Ptolemaic Dynasty and the Roman Empire, the Islamic scholars continued to expand upon Greek science and mathematics. Abu Ali al-Hasan ibn al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham, known as Alhazan was born in the 10th Century and made the next major contribution to the scientific method. Alhazan developed a robust experimental method for deciding what worked and what did not. He began with the knowledge of the Greeks like Euclid and Archimedes. He enhanced this learning experimentally to develop complex systems and many inventions.  The Mongols eventually stopped the advance of Islamic learning. Most of the ancient knowledge was lost soon enough and the Islamic world became engrossed in mathematical puzzles. Beautiful architecture resulted, but the Islamic experimental techniques and the Greek observational approach only slowly leaked into Europe over the next centuries.

scientific method
L0005471 Medallion portrait of Roger Bacon
Credit: Wellcome Library, London.

 The Franciscan monk, Roger Bacon, benefited in the 13th Century from both the Classical observational methods and experimental techniques developed in Islamic schools. Roger Bacon introduced the next component of scientific method, empiricism. Empiricism is the idea that knowledge comes primarily from the senses. Roger Bacon developed a model of experimental science based on his study of optics. His techniques were used by others to extend experimental science to include new medicines and health care of the body. Most of the steps of the scientific method were in place at this point.

scientific method
“Francis Bacon, Viscount St. Alban,

Missing still was some method to verify a testable hypothesis. Francis Bacon developed and popularized inductive reasoning. This is often known as bottom up reasoning where details are synthesized to form a general conclusion. Induction combined observations with experimental results to come to a conclusion.

scientific method
Descartes: Portrait

Rene Descartes took another path with top down analysis using general facts and deriving specific details from them. Most people are very familiar with the science of deduction from Sherlock Holmes. Crime fiction where detectives use observed facts to solve crimes is very satisfying; however, Sherlock does not purely demonstrate deduction. He used a sophisticated combination of induction and deduction to solve crimes. In this, he is more like Sir Isaac Newton.

scientific method
“Isaac Newton” by paukrus

Isaac Newton practiced this “Holmsian” synthesis of inductive and deductive reasoning. He is the father of the scientific method. He moved systematically from induction to deduction and back in his proofs. He also left clear experimental records that set the standard for documentation of experiments to the present.

scientific method
“Quantum Computer Interior” by IBM Research

Cloud computing and quantum computing mark the next step in scientific proof. These technologies allow many hypotheses to be tested at once, sometimes in parallel. This parallel and iterative investigation allows an accelerated proof of an hypothesis or of many hypotheses. The development of the COVID-19 vaccines in months, rather than years, is a demonstration of these new methods in action. It is probably still the traditional scientific method, but the quantity of data and the complexity of the proofs make it difficult to verify. These advances, particularly in genetics, biochemistry, quantum mechanics, and astrophysics are believed by some to be something new in scientific inquiry and proof. A new method.

Computing logic is beyond our concern here. Teaching logical analysis and the scientific method to young people is more critical than ever. With these skills, they can rationally examine the world around them.

How to Teach the Scientific Method at Home

The best method for teaching the scientific method in the homeschool, whether or not the family is using a curriculum package, is to create a Perpetual Science Fair. This is a simple. The student keeps accurate records of observations in notes during regular classes. These observations become material for the fun part of science. Experiments. Experimentation is the opportunity to learn the basic reasoning involved in the scientific method. The Perpetual Science Fair should proceed logically.

The student should:

  1. Make observations about something in the current lesson. Use inductive reasoning to come up with a hypothesis that seems to answer the question.
  2. Think about how to test the hypothesis using an “if – then” sentence.
  3. Design the experiment to test the hypothesis by deciding what to measure and how often to take measurements.
  4. Create two groups in the experiment. One group as a control group where conditions will be maintained as close as possible to the original configuration. The second group is the experiment has variables to be modified to examine the accuracy of the hypothesis.
  5. Set up the experiment to control all the variables except the one being tested.
  6. Make the planned measurements and record the qualitative, descriptive data, (color, health, and happiness, usually presented in paragraphs or tables), and quantitative data (numerical data, like height, weight, and number of items that showed a change, analyzed with statistics and presented in graphs in a notebook.) Date all observations.
  7. Analyze the data showing the differences between the control data and experimental data.
  8. Use deductive reasoning to decide whether the results support or reject the original hypothesis. Research whether your findings are supported by others. The Internet is a good source for peer information.
  9. Report the results, explaining the original ideas and how the experiments were conducted, then describe the conclusions.

Unexpected Benefits from this Approach

The process of the Perpetual Science Fair in the homeschool can teach more than simply the scientific method in the hard sciences like biology, chemistry, geology, and physics.

The process can also demonstrate the questionable use of scientific method in the soft sciences. Soft sciences are those disciplines that refer to themselves as science like Sociology, Psychology, and Environmentalism, but lack a strong empirical foundation. Trying to build experiments in these subjects can demonstrate the problems with providing testable hypotheses and replicating experiments. Much of the peer-reviewed proof in these fields comes from statistical analysis and data science, so a growing familiarity with the protean nature of data is a benefit.

Pursuing this approach in other classes can demonstrate that the scientific method has no value in non-scientific inquiry in fields like Politics, Statistics, Communications and Marketing. Political experts often use “science” as a slight-of-hand distraction to hide the flawed results of their findings. They say to trust them because, like Firesign Theatre, they “have a degree in Science.”

Over time, the student can learn to apply the scientific method in scientific subjects, and learn how the method cannot work in non-scientific subjects. “Trust but verify” to  avoid tom-foolery.

scientific method
“You are Here” by tomswift46

 

Math is Hard

Math is hard. This is half lie, half confession, and half true. This is no mathematical statement. Everything new is hard. Math for children, for young students, and for students approaching adulthood should come organically with life. Math for adults should be the necessary skill for the task at hand. Math for the homeschool teacher will be hard too. Parents should not just hand the math off to some online guru. The teacher should grasp anything the homeschooler masters.

math is hard
“Lionel takes interest in Discrete Mathematics”  by  zdw

Math is hard in itself.

Math is a group of languages. Math languages are logical, artificial languages and not natural languages. Artificial and unnatural, math describes only some things in the world. Different cultures needed to describe different things. Romans did not need a zero. Astronomers in Mesopotamia did. “Zero not only represents nothing but it also represents the starting point of anything” said Brahmagupta.

The most confusing part of math is the incoherent relationship among various approaches that describe the same phenomenon, or solve the same problem. Take addition and multiplication. Romans added with cross-hatches. It served the empire well for centuries. Multiplication enhanced addition in Babylon where the merchants had large and complex calculations pre-solved on clay tablets. Just because each method solves the same problem does not require them to remain logically coherent. Common arithmetic is incoherent across the logical boundaries. This is why each type of math starts by learning rules. Addition and multiplication, for example, have logical gaps. After all, is not 3+3+3 the same as 3×3 ?

math is hard
“Algebraic numbers glow dust”  by  Jonathan Lidbeck

Many math jokes come from the illogical boundaries. Most people have heard the old riddle: “Three people check into a hotel. The clerk tells them that the bill for their stay is $30, so each person pays the clerk $10. The clerk puts the money in the cash register.”

“Later that night, the clerk realizes that she made a mistake and should have only charged the three guests $25. She takes five one dollar bills from the register and tells the assistant to return the money to the guests.”

“On the way to the rooms, the assistant realizes that she cannot split the money evenly among the three people. As the guests don’t know that they were charged the incorrect amounts for their rooms, she decides to simply give them each $1 and pocket the extra $2 as a tip. Each guest gets $1 back, so each paid $9 for their room, ($9 X 3 equals $27). The bellhop kept $2, and $27 + $2 = $29.”

“But the guests originally handed over $30. What happened to the missing dollar?”

The answer is that there is no “missing dollar.” It is an informal fallacy caused by jumping from addition to multiplication at the wrong time and breaking the logical boundary. The different math languages, addition and multiplication,were not developed at the same time by the same people. They have different rules for consistency.

Addition was first used extensively by the Chinese almost 6,000 years ago, so it is safe to say the Chinese invented addition.1 The ancient Babylonians were probably the first culture to create multiplication tables, more than 4,000 years ago.2

Multiplication was a way for merchants to do complex additions quickly by looking at the multiplication calculations on clay tablets, multiplication tables. Today most people get to the same result either by addition or multiplication; however, each method has firm rules. These rules were violated in the joke, so the result seems to reveal a magical dollar. The method of calculating the total is simply flawed. In the end there is still $25 in the register, $3 returned by the desk clerk, and $2 appropriated by the assistant. 25+3+2=30. Right? Addition. Begin there, end there.

Math is not all just fun. Math has natural uses as a tool. Most tasks can use math. This is just common sense. All jobs involve math. Any person that handles money should instantly see through the problem above and solve it by saying in the end that there is still $25 in the register, $3 with the guests, and $2 with the assistant. $30.

The target is math fluency.

How, then, do you teach math in the homeschool. What sequence should math be taught? What if the homeschool teacher is not a math nerd? Schools usually teach math from simple calculation to increasing complexity.  The assumption that the ability to solve more complex problems comes with each math is pretty good, but it need not be the rule at your school. Nothing says that geometry should not come when the student is ready for carpentry, or precision drawing. The homeschool should teach appropriate math when an immediate utility can be seen by the student. Math does not have to be a bleak and dreary time of the day. In the homeschool math can arrive as it becomes organically necessary. Walk, talk, read, write, learn numbers and then counting. Gradually. Then adding things together. Then taking things away. Then dividing things and multiplying them. Eventually, the Mandelbrot sets.

Older students can master household math. Cooking is great to begin the task of learning fractions. At this time various units of measure can also be introduced.

Household accounting with budgets and banking introduces decimals and set theory as soon as the child can learn about money. Mortgages and interest can introduce more complex math through ideas like compound interest.

Geometry is good for crafts and projects, carpentry and landscaping. Any good carpenter must understand angles and lengths. Every math involves memorizing rules. Euclid is difficult for some because all the rules are learned at once and an understanding of each application is not introduced as an example. Memorization is nowhere more important than geometry. Once the rules are mastered, all future woodworking projects are understood, can be planned, designed and completed.

math is hard
“n(n+1)”  by  Jan Tik

Every science class is an opportunity for another set of advanced math tools. Each of the sciences requires understanding specific advanced mathematical languages. Trigonometry is vital in the earth sciences and in video games. Something as simple as planning the drainage in the back yard is a trigonometric opportunity.

Chemistry allows an understanding of all the middle and advanced mathematical languages, and so on.

A good home study course would begin with the foundational math from the basic arithmetic, fractions, percentages to equations, functions and graphs. The full homeschool course would include relative fluency with algebra, geometry, trigonometry, through differentiation, integration and vectors. In the end it should have included complex numbers and matrices. All this can be had from the thousands of sites on the Internet or through any number of very fine homeschool math packages.

The logical calculus is not taught early enough in the US. Typically, public school requirements for math studies may not even include the courses of study above, but if they do, they usually end with precalculus. Homeschool teachers should set the goal beyond this to be competitive with schools that provide most of the technical staffing in the us. The classes usually labeled AP Calculus.

math is hard
“Calculus”  by  Encel

If you begin to teach math at home, a good target is functional mastery of the fundamentals tested in the college placement exams for better schools. The sequence of learning and the context for teaching do not matter. The checklist of material students need to pass the college placement tests are, according to Derek Owens:3

  • The problems that Calculus solves, introduction to derivatives, finding rates of change from graphs, from equations, and from data, Numerical derivatives, Introduction to Integrals, Approximating integrals from graphs, from equations and from data, the Trapezoid Rule
  • A graphical approach to limits, Describing function behavior with limits, Asymptotes, Rational Functions, Polynomial end behavior, The Limit Theorems, Evaluating limits, Continuity, The Intermediate Value Theorem
  • A graphical look at derivatives, Difference Quotients, the Derived Function, Notation, Numerical calculations of derivatives, Tangents and Linear Approximation, Differentiability and Continuity, the Chain Rule, the Product Rule, the Quotient Rule, Leibniz’ Proofs, Derivatives of Trig Functions, Implicit Differentation, Derivatives of Inverse Functions, Derivatives of Inverse Trig Functions
  • The Extreme Value Theorem, Rolle’s Theorem and the Mean Value Theorem, First and Second Derivatives, Concavity and Inflection Points, Graphs and Curve Sketching, The Calculus of Motion, Max-Min problems, Related Rates, Practice
  • Antiderivatives, Integrals, Infinitesimals, Riemann Sums, Definite Integrals, The Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, Properties of Definite Integrals, Numerical Methods, Integration by Substitution, Average Value
  • Derivatives of exponential functions, Derivatives of logarithmic functions, Derivatives and integrals of base b exponents, Integrals with variable limits, Logarithmic Differentiation, Integrals of trig functions, Intro to Differential Equations, Examples and applications, Slope Fields, Euler’s Identity
  • The area of a plane region, The Calculus of Motion, Real world applications, Integrating to find volumes, Plane Slicing, Solids of Revolution, Cylindrical Shells

    Cover these areas before matriculation and the periodic achievement tests required for your homeschool will not trouble you or your student. Most homeschool parents are not fluent themselves in the components of pre-calculus and calculus. Look for getting help on any bullet in the list that seems a mystery. This is essential for getting the better technical jobs or getting into the better programs at university.

    Fluency in higher mathematics is not critical for learning computer science, but helps.

    math is hard
    “Amazing Grungy Fractal Tree Photoshop Pattern 8”  by  webtreats

    Computer literacy should begin early with some computer language suited for young programmers. For example, Scratch is a free programming language for kids. It was developed by MIT’s Lifelong Kindergarten Lab. Blockly is Googles’ offering. Many languages like these can begin in kindergarten. Once the hook is set, more complex projects can be developed in Python, a free programming language every adult with a computer should and probably does not know. This really opens up the project world of companies like Adafruit. This is the world of Maker science and technology. Projects like this can alleviate the relative tedium of learning abstract math.

    The goal is math facility.

    The little human should be able to use math tools at every juncture of life. Not everyone will find a vocation that uses discrete math or calculus, but it is not a door that the homeschool should shut on young minds. It is easy to teach. Everything can be taught online. Everything can be taught from the myriad Goodwill books on math. Remember, something invented in the 17th Century is just as accurate in an earlier edition of the textbook.

    math is hard
    “physics”  by  Hash Milhan

    Using math should be as natural as reading and writing. One student may never master geometry but discover a passion for statistical analysis and the logical calculus. She may not grow to be a civil engineer, but a computer programmer instead.

    Exposure to and a grasp of the basics in all the fundamental mathematics is critical for success in modern technical society. Math exercises memory, logical application, and problem solving. Sure, math is hard, but every new thing in life is hard. The homeschool teacher must make math as organic to the day as any other lesson. If you have a math wizard, you may find that by the time he or she graduates, you have learned enough discrete math to untangle algorithms yourself.

    1https://www.reference.com/

    2 https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/may/17/ask-a-grown-up-who-invented-times-tables

    3 This list derives from a course developed by Derek Owens who graduated from Duke University in 1988 with a degree in mechanical engineering and physics. He taught physics, honors physics, AP Physics, and AP computer science at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, GA from 1988-2000.

    Parents Should Teach Children to Read

    Children must be taught. The child will crawl by itself, but must be guided to not lick the electric outlet. He or she will walk, but must learn to not dash into traffic. Nothing a child is taught is more important than reading. Reading exposes them to other people’s thoughts beyond their immediate contacts. Reading shepherds the child into an expanding world. As the child is exposed to other people’s ideas, he or she will distinguish one from another, true from false, fantastical from actual, and eventually develop a mature ability to think. Parents should teach children to read. No other parental responsibility is more important.

    Contemporary public schools are not interested in teaching students to discover their innate freedom of thought, of speech, or of communication. Public schools teach reading but focus on developing normative students. They treat all exceptions as special needs projects. Socrates could not teach in any public school today for the same reason he was jailed in Athens. Athenian authorities wanted children to become good citizens first and good soldiers second. Socrates taught students to question the lessons and offered the students a method of inquiry. Nothing has changed in the oldest case study in education. Socrates’ heresy is still heresy. No Socrates would be hired at an American public school. He would still be a corrupter of youth.

    The education of the young can serve the prevailing ideology or it can serve the individual. Athens had one opinion and Socrates another. Today the state prefers one and many families the other. This remains an unequal contest because the state, specifically the education establishment, has legal authority over children, and therefore does not care much what families think about individual learning.

    American public education uses a mutable progressive ideology. Mutable because it changes gradually over time and with the goals of educators, but without losing focus. Ideology because the ideas of the curriculum interlock to create a self-referential reality. The result is designed to limit freedom of thought. A population emerges that is limited in its ability to discriminate good ideas from bad, or truth from partial truth.

    Public educators understand that learning to read does not create a free mind. The process of teaching reading can itself be a vehicle used to bind the thoughts of children, like ancient Chinese women had their feet bound.1 The resulting chattels walked gracefully for the teacher, but could not wander off. Functional literacy may be the right skills for a good student or a good citizen, but not for a person destined to wander away from the institution.

    Compulsory education law demands that parents hand over children to state authority and indoctrination. Even homeschools do not escape this authority. Homeschools must submit to state regulations and local supervision. Home schooled students must be tested in the core educational ideas of the local public school. Local school boards, social services, and the police are on hand to enforce this authority.

    Much damage has been done. America is no longer the most literate country on Earth. The normal American operates the government and most business. The labor force is just functional. This is by design. Liberty always irritated the leadership. Industrialists did not approve of free thinking workers any more than planters wanted literate slaves. Business still does not want literate employees in call centers and box stores. Normative behavior and politically correct thought are the ideal for workers and citizens. The two ideas grew together in the United States and both work toward a common goal: a compliant functionally literate worker. Grandpa Johnny Couldn’t Read and his kids came of age listening to creole pidgin hip-hop. Millennial children coming of age live in a world of images and surfaces a few inches from their faces. The most reasoned statement they see is a meme. Normal people in all three generations have become disinterested and docile. The 2020 emergency demonstrated how docile.

    Ironically, the dual track education system, one for the leaders (private) and one for the workers (public), that solved the initial problem of too many literate workers was damaged by the health emergency. Many people came awake and are now questioning whether the compulsory public education that set the standards for good workers and good citizens is still helpful in their lives. Something can be done immediately to push back against this indoctrination. Parents should teach children to read.

    Parents must see the harm in letting public school teach the child to read and choosing the texts. Public education aims for minimum proficiency. It aims for functional literacy. It aims to instill specific ideas about the world. Control of the narrative must not be allowed from the first reading lesson.

    Parents should derail the process by teaching children to read before and during their public education to counter-balance the indoctrination. The child has no chance of meeting a teacher in school who is interested in their reading skill and their freedom of thought. Parents should get quality material in front of the child as soon as possible. Middle school or high school is not too late to read a little Thomas Paine or Murray Rothbard. The more children who think independently, the fewer Prussian adults the state can march off into the permanent military underclass staffing Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, or Ukraine.

    Parents should teach children to read as early as possible. In or out of public school, the parents should expose the child to non-ideological, traditional texts. Every step closer to emancipation is a win. The family that takes this path will have a fight to the last school day with authorities who want supremacy over the child, but there is a fighting chance if the free thinking child is in the family’s corner.

    1J. S. Mill, On Liberty

    Teaching Basic Skills Without a Safety Net

    Children must learn the basic skills of reading, writing and numbers. Augustine said, “Legere et scribere et numerare discitur.” These skills temper thought and create the platform for curiosity. Learning to read, write, and perform basic arithmetic is critical especially before exposure to public school institutionalization.

    Public education discourages the formation of reasoned and discriminating thought in students. Public education discourages unapproved curiosity. Parents must teach the basics because no one knows what strangers will teach at public school, or what strange curriculum they follow. Teaching the basics before encounters with public school “stranger danger” helps parents maintain standards for  learning.

    This is not weird. Students learned the basics at home before compulsory education. In America that meant the people, rich or poor, arrived at school having mastered the basics of reading, rudimentary writing, and basic arithmetic. The wealthy provided a nanny or governess for instruction, but most families used parents. Most rural American people learned to read from the Bible or maybe Mother Goose. Literate families commonly read aloud from the Bible or the newspaper in the evening before television or social media. Children learned to do letters by imitation, and to count, usually with mom during the day, or perhaps in the evening with dad. Teaching children was a family engagement with priority over competing activities.

    Reading

    One needs a book to legere (read). Any book, Kindle, or tablet, that can be read will work. Children need books after learning to speak, so the brain can associate sounds to the marks on the page.

    Not all reading methods are equal. Some popular methods in the past worked poorly. For example, the generation tortured by “See Dick run. See Jane. See Jane run,” ran away in 1965. Many were only functionally literate and spent a lifetime being misled and confused. A generation of educators and politicians were inspired by answering the question why Johnny can’t read.

    It continues with new ways for teaching reading. New methods arrive with every masters thesis at every teacher’s college. When educators invent something usually it is to sell to the state or online. The Internet is packed with better ways to teach reading and much of it comes from this education mill. Many of these techniques try to solve the problem of teaching many students with one teacher. Nothing is better than one-on-one attention and repetition. Parents who sit with the child and read should ignore this noise.

    Some proven methods work well. Phonics helped many Baby Boomers learn to read better than Dick, Jane or sight-sound. Phonics still works. It adds another hook for associating the words in baby’s mouth to the marks on the page. The Charlotte Mason Method served hundreds of thousands of homeschool families for most of a century. It works. The key is in regular reading to the child, eventually transitioning into the child reading to you. Patience, persistence, and attention always works.

    Writing

    Teaching scribere (writing) is not difficult. Learning to write should run parallel with learning to read.

    Young children can draw things that they read with the parent. A narration of things that they draw can follow. Students can be nudged into good habits of clear thinking and of rational action in the process.

    Copying what was read, and eventually copying what was thought, connects thinking, saying, writing, and reading, back to thinking again. Learning to write is not complicated or mysterious. Learning to read is practice. Learning to write is training.

    Writing well is difficult. Writing clearly, writing with some grace to improve the thought is difficult. Most adult writers spend a lifetime running that loop from thought to the page. They all began with “Hello world,” a teacher who primed the pump. Learning to write is not difficult.

    Mathematics

    We get to numerare (numbers) at last. Math is hard. It is okay to find it hard. It is not okay to neglect it. Most parents today have problems with math. Parents should begin by teaching numbers and then teaching the math in daily use. Shopping, budgets, and cooking all provide opportunities for teaching math.

    Young children can learn numbers along with reading and writing. Numbers, counting, putting together, taking away, that sort of thing. Later, the elements of household economy can be included. Children who can buy, sell, calculate, and keep a bank account are better prepared for modern life.

    Mathematics are languages, many languages, not just one. The key to all language is drill. Drill is hard and often dull, but not impossible. As general studies progress, the other languages can be added, Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus, Discrete Math, and maybe on to the harder things. The parent does not have to be a master. Math is slow to change and old math books still work. Beyond the overflow of textbooks at Goodwill, a number of free courses for various mathematics appear online. No skill better prepares the child for the future than math fluency.

    Legere et scribere et numerare discitur.”

    Grace Hooper, UNIVAC, programming
    The Admiral Inventing the Future with Grace_Hopper_and_UNIVAC 

    FREE Homeschooling on the Internet

    Homeschooling on the Internet requires no more infrastructure and expense than the cost of a smart phone or tablet, a computer, and a USP connection. Two critical components for parents wanting to minimize state control over the home school are VPN on your Internet connection to keep nosy people out of your family business, and the TOR browser for access to “pirate” websites like Z-Library and Sci-Hub.

    The VPN augments your broadband connection. If VPN is still a mystery, here is a recent article on both free and paid VPN. Brassword Publishing uses Nord VPN because “free” usually comes with a price in reduced privacy.  Hackers hack, so parents should do the research. https://www.techradar.com/vpn/best-free-vpn

     Nobody-is-Watching

    Nobody is Watching

    TOR claims you can “Browse Privately. Explore Freely,” and mostly that is true. https://www.torproject.org/ TOR Browser will not prevent all intrusion, but it makes detection of your traffic harder for state or other malicious hackers.

    Digital Homeschool

    Homeschool parents teach basics after walking, talking, potty-training, and family morality. Common sense says to teach reading by reading, writing by writing, and mathematics by doing math. The Internet provides millions of teaching resources for FREE.

    Digital Homeschool
    “The Replacement for Saturday Morning Cartoons” by Wesley Fryer

    Parents can even teach advanced subjects after the basics. Mastery comes from doing things, building knowledge, gaining experience, and mastering reasoning skills. Science uses reading, writing, and math in combination to master logic, reasoning, and the finer points of the scientific method. History uses reading and media to explore the past. What is the motivation for teaching basic skills? No real learning is possible without the basics.

    Basic Skills

    Christians after the Reformation stressed reading as the gate into the Bible. For hundreds of years families used that book alone to teach reading. Consequently, at the time of the American Revolution, the colonies were among the most literate population on Earth. This continued to be the American tradition. Abraham Lincoln’s mother taught him this way and for this reason. His interests broadened as he grew older, but his fundamental literacy was unquestioned.

    Writing can be mastered with a reflective journal and copy books to show that the material read was comprehended. The digital homeschool can use an e-book toolkit like Calibre to make digital journals and notebooks.

    Young children can learn math as part of household economics. Middle class people after the Reformation taught math to the family as part of the mercantile culture. Learning to make, to buy and to sell, is still a great way for children to master math in the home school. Because the Internet is born in math, limitless tools for mastering every form of math are available online.

    digital homeschool
    “Studying” by Kelly Hogaboom

    Deeper knowledge comes organically to a child from basic skills, depending on aptitude and interest. The dungeon of curriculum should not stop the young organic farmer from mastering the science and math of earth science and horticulture. Neither should it block the young historian from reading and reasoning through the mysteries of the past. Some children may move from crawling to walking to dancing and this should be okay. Maybe Tik-Tok is the right classroom for the young dancer.

    unschooling morning digital homeschool
    “An Unschooling Morning” by Kelly Hogaboom

    Young humans must be free to pursue interests to become expert. Advanced subjects, beyond the comfort zone of the parent, live on sites like MIT Open Courseware https://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm where all MIT courses are offered for FREE, but without certification. If the student can do differential calculus, no certification is needed. The  path for the child aimed at engineering can start with homeschooling on the Internet.

    Your First Trick

    First things first. Homeschooling on the Internet begins with digital copies of books. Put the title of any desired book into your search engine with “PDF” after the title. Not every book is available, but some university students never purchased textbooks in four years.

    Beyond the free search, those parents who want to teach the basics using the free Internet can start with Gutenberg, LibriVox, The Internet Archive, and Calibre.

    Digital Homeschool Public Domain
    SAIL INTO THE PUBLIC DOMAIN by Laure L. Russwurm

    Gutenberg

    Project Gutenberg is an online library of free eBooks.”

    https://www.gutenberg.org/

    The dream of Diderot and Voltaire was FREE information for the people. Project Gutenberg goes far toward fulfilling that dream.

    LibriVox

    https://librivox.org/

    “To make all books in the public domain available, narrated by real people and distributed for free, in audio format on the internet.”

    This is a free version of Audible. The readers are volunteers, so the quality is sometimes uneven, but the price is right. Much of the material is aimed directly at the homeschool. Look at the lists that homeschool parents made just for you. Consider reading your own favorite book into the collection.

    • “Librivox is a non-commercial, non-profit and ad-free project
    • Librivox donates its recordings to the public domain
    • Librivox is powered by volunteers
    • Librivox maintains a loose and open structure
    • Librivox welcomes all volunteers from across the globe, in all languages”
    Digital Homeschool Internet Archive
    Internet-Archive-Servers” by jblyberg

    Internet Archive

    The Internet Archive supplies millions of files for homeschooling on the Internet. Every conceivable form of digital product is freely available. Whereas, Gutenberg has books and Librivox has audio books, the Internet Archive also has movies, television programs, pictures, and software programs. In their words:

    “The Internet Archive began in 1996 by archiving the Internet itself, a medium that was just beginning to grow in use. Like newspapers, the content published on the web was ephemeral – but unlike newspapers, no one was saving it. Today we have 25+ years of web history accessible through the Wayback Machine  and we work with 750+ library and other partners through our Archive-It program to identify important web pages.”

    “As our web archive grew, so did our commitment to providing digital versions of other published works. Today our archive contains:

    “Anyone with a free account can upload media to the Internet Archive. We work with thousands of partners globally to save copies of their work into special collections.”

    Calibre

    https://calibre-ebook.com/

    Calibre is an e-book manager, a program that runs on your computer and allows better viewing of your digital material. Calibre also downloads current newspapers and magazines. An interesting feature is the ability to create and edit your e-books, so it can serve as an interesting digital writing tool for the homeschool.

    “Calibre is also completely free and open source and great for both casual users and computer experts”

    • “Save time on managing your e-book collection
    • Use it everywhere and with anything
    • Comprehensive e-book viewer
    • Download news/magazines from the web
    • Share and backup your library easily
    • Edit the books in your collection
    • Satisfy every e-book need and get support”

    Advanced homeschooling on the Internet can use more advanced scientific and scholarly materials from Z-Library and Sci-Hub. One person’s import-export is another person’s smuggling, so we recommend you follow the wisdom of Chinese students exploring Democracy articles on the Internet to use VPN and TOR for these links.

    Digital information is leaky and researchers from across the globe have been using Sci-Hub to get access to current information in their field without paying the exorbitant fees charged by academic publishers. A single paper on robotics or biology can cost hundreds of dollars, making it impossible for students and researchers in the third world to afford the information they need. The need found a solution.

    Z-Library

    https://z-lib.org/

    Z-Library file-sharing project for scholarly journal articles, academic and general-interest books. Z-Library says the project provides access to more than 6,754,720 books and 80,759,561 articles as of April 1, 2021”

    Sci – Hub

    https://sci-hub.st/

    Sci-Hub the first pirate website in the world to provide mass and public access to tens of millions of research papers”

    “A research paper is a special publication written by scientists to be read by other researchers. Papers are primary sources necessary for research – for example, they contain detailed description of new results and experiments.”

      Papers in Sci-Hub library:
    more than 85,483,811”

    Homeschooling on the Internet really means Homeschooling on the Internet.

    The Problem With Experts

    Compulsory public instruction confronts students every day. Who do we blame if this instruction fails to educate students in basic skills and useful knowledge? Not classroom educators. They present the lessons. Experts design the curriculum contents. These lessons support specific ideas and social goals. These ideas are not political, but politicians get ideas from somewhere. Educators deliver lessons to individual children. To qualify only two qualities are needed:

    1. Educators must stay on message
    2. Educators never publicly question the message

    Classroom educators understand that they are only a degree and an interview away from being corrections officers. Or clerks. Ordinary people choose teaching because it is a respectable profession. Some are selected, trained, given a teaching certificate and then inserted into the teaching profession. They have no control over what message the experts give them to teach.

    Many reject what they find in their first job. It is not quite what they expected. They are blocked from teaching. They leave. The rest settle into being educators. They leave content to the experts. They teach to the greater plan. They introduce new ideas. Instilling belief in ideas is critical.  But sometimes the content is wrong. Sometimes the experts are wrong.

    Accepting expert opinion is part of classroom discipline. If a fact fits into an internally consistent set of ideas, it must also be accepted without much examination. Ideas allow no reasoned questioning of  basic principles. Inconsistent facts are rejected and further examination is impossible. Rejecting a foundational idea by a teacher or student is not tolerated. A recent example of this is gender theory. Imagine that a student learns and believes that gender is a social construct and not a biological imperative. This idea becomes true for the individual. If someone insists that only some people have wombs, reality itself is challenged. The question challenges the idea that social constructs are more important than biology.  The question challenges the constructed reality. The challenge is a lie.  As Pilate said, “What is the truth.”

    Climate Ignorance

    Climate science, unlike gender as a social construct, is an accepted idea beyond realistic challenge. Thirty years of classroom materials supported environmentalism. Two generations of people learned from climate experts. Teachers taught environmentalism from a curriculum. But when did the school teachers become believers in climate science? They didn’t. Experts created the ideas and the curriculum. Educators just dispensed it. They probably were exposed to a certain amount of public information about the environment before college. They chose education careers. On graduation they were certified. They got jobs. About 1.3 million got jobs to face children every weekday. And they went to work. At work they were presented with the product they would teach to the children.

    Rachel Carson made little headway with the idea of global environmental crisis in Silent Spring. Al Gore pushed against the amorphous mass of enviro-sceptics with his book An Inconvenient Truth. He was widely ridiculed for “inventing the Internet” and for his belief in global warming (climate change). These ideas had no firm core of believers. Nevertheless, a generation of students all watched the movie at school and read the book.

    Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth
    Still Inconvenient

    Environmentalism needed two generations of students indoctrinated at school to really catch on. The idea also needed thirty years of public information support, NPR to the Ad Council, from dead birds in oil spills to unusual weather before convincing the mass public of climate crisis. Climate change is a foundational idea. It is the truth. Today any objection to climate science is wrong. “Climate deniers” are met with angry rebuffs and are often blacklisted from public events. The idea is entrenched. Reality is secure. Climate change is the truth.

    Total Belief

    The profession of educator is not the teaching of a century ago. This professionalism keeps them on message. An educator who deviates from the approved class material is removed or censured. This happens rarely because the classroom teachers, administrators, special needs instructors, coaches, principles, nurses, secretaries, and the teacher’s aides are mostly true believers.

    Roger Berkowitz by anokarina
    Roger Berkowitz by anokarina

     ““Leaders of these mass totalitarian movements do not need to believe in the truth of their lies and ideological clichés. The point of their fabrications is not to establish facts, but to create a coherent fictional reality.” —Roger Berkowitz” 

    Is it fair to call public education a totalitarian movement or environmentalism a coherent fictional reality? The experts speak with one voice across all subjects, so yes, totalitarian. What about our example curriculum, climate science? One Washington state science curriculum for hundreds of classes for educators called ClimeTime comes directly from the state. The prospectus is openly ideological.

    ClimeTime

    “All nine Educational Service Districts (ESDs) in Washington are launching programs for science teacher training around Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and climate science, thanks to grant money made available to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) by Governor Inslee. This group includes teacher professional development and instructional materials resources developed under this grant. “2

    The new offering for 2021 includes “A new virtual training, COVID and Climate Change helps teachers explore the relationships among climate change, COVID, and social injustice.” 3

    A visit to the ClimeTime web site shows at a glance that “climate science” in that reality is not science at all. It is social engineering. 

    Expert truths in the education industry are often ignorant and poorly informed. The idea that Earth Science is ClimeTime enforces the educators mission to indoctrinate children to accept ideas without question.

    To the outsider this information is barely intelligible. Ridiculous. Unbelievable. To the student teachers, this information is required to graduate. This blinding of the rational process trains the educator to never distinguish the right wrinkle cream from bad social policy. That’s the truth.

    2Washington Open Educational Resources Hub; https://www.oercommons.org/groups/climetime/4081/8036/?&__hub_id=1

     

    Why No Indians on the Enterprise?

    In “The Kumars at No. 42”, Patrick Stewart, the captain of the Starship Enterprise, is interviewed. The grandmother asks him bluntly, “Why didn’t you have any Indian characters on your show? A ship that big must have had a huge IT department!”

    Fair question. The tech industry would be inconceivable without men and women from India, even more in the United States than in Britain.

    The Education of Indian Technical Workers

    What began in the 1990s as a simple cost-for-quality swap at most US companies became a choice of quality by 2021. The best candidates for reliable on-shore and off-shore engineers, and high-quality technical staff come from India to staff major companies like Oracle, Microsoft, Google, Adobe, Facebook, Twitter, and Cisco.

    To be fair, engineers from China, Ireland, the UK and Russia also arrive, but the vast majority of technical staff come from the Indian subcontinent. Many transit other countries like France and Canada to make the H1B quota work, but they originate in Indian schools.

    Quality of training:
    The national education system in India is old fashioned at best. Maybe even backward. The images of ranked, uniformed students in front of chalkboards is still true. The education of Indian technical workers begins with the elementary system and secondary system. These schools run the gamut from traditional Catholic schools, and urban schools,  to government village schools. All operate with guidelines from the government. The emphasis is on basic skills like languages and mathematics. Everyone speaks at least two languages, their native dialect and English. Those who do well, advance to college or technical school. The village girl who took bowls of milk out to the fields for the cobras can be a test engineer at Oracle and work seamlessly alongside her more urban coworkers. Finding talent and then training the talented is the key to the system.

    Satya Nadella CEO of Microsoft
    Satya Nadella CEO of Microsoft

    At the top if the engineering food chain in India are the twenty-three regional India Institutes of Technology (I. I. T.). These schools rank easily with MIT or Stanford for difficulty and quality of graduates. The I. I. T. system formed in 1956 and incorporated a vestigial British university system with a Soviet inspired model for technological institutes. Pavlov, not Freud, as one engineer explained it.

    The students in these institutes often work through courses together. Living arrangements tend toward the informal and the communal. Students come together across the ancient ties of family, class, clan, religion and language. The union is not perfect, but it is superior to what society produced in 1956. Indian students cooperate across the boundaries of company, project and geography.

    Generalization is foolish when speaking of India, but for the education of Indian technical workers, especially engineering students, long hours in school, tutoring in the evening, and hours of homework at night are typical. Rote practice, drill, memorization with grueling competitive tests for advancement are common. The application of abstract learning to tangible collaborative projects is also common. Learning technology related directly to a specific job, in a specific industry, with a specific company in mind is often the rule.

    Sundar Pichai, Chief Executive Officer of Google Inc.
    Sundar Pichai, Chief Executive Officer of Google Inc.

    Ability to work together:
    While students are in school, collaborative living spills over into collaborative studying. This creates the habit of working together, a valuable asset later in the workplace.

    The budding software engineer at the Indian Institutes of Technology spends long hours and long years learning to be engineers with the emphasis on real-world application of that knowledge.

    Arvind Krishna CEO IBM
    On the Right: Arvind Krishna CEO IBM

    Ability to collaborate outside the company boundaries:
    The resulting engineers solicit help and give help to people through social networks, friends, relatives, colleagues and peers. While this does not nullify the corporate non-disclosure, it does add to the research capabilities and the effectiveness of individual employees.

    Learning the technology of a single company differentiates the education of Indian technical workers from others.   Technology learned in anticipation of joining a specific company is often sponsored by the tech giants in technical programs in Indian schools and universities. At the job interview the resulting focused knowledge of company culture and technology is compelling for most technical hiring managers.

    Adherence to process and standards:
    Strict adherence to processes and procedures requires definition of every detail of a task, the chain of tasks to a goal, and the goal itself. Processes methodologies, like Six Sigma, have taken root in many Indian companies. American software developers and IT professionals traditionally saw this approach as unimaginative, not creative, tedious factory work.

    American business managers saw the opposite. Businesses want people who deliver what the business wants, when it is needed, and at the lowest possible price. American programmers traditionally did not understand what is desirable about the Indian approach to technology. With more Indian leadership in firms, this is changing.

    Shantanu Narayen CEO Adobe
    Shantanu Narayen CEO Adobe

    Urge to color within the lines:
    The difference between computer science and software engineering is about who gets to draw the lines. The education of Indian technical workers removed the focus  from designing during the project to producing quality manufactured functions within the design. Data communications is a great example. Modems once required extensive configuration to connect two devices and to transfer data. The Internet arrives with all that connectivity in place. Coloring within the lines has been a good approach to achieve predictable performance.

    Padmasree Warrior U.S. CEO and chief development officer for Chinese electric autonomous vehicle startup NIO,
    Padmasree Warrior U.S. CEO and chief development officer for Chinese electric autonomous vehicle startup NIO,

    Reliable delivery:
    Coloring within the lines also contributes to reliability. The jobs in the software industry are normalizing just like the Victorian railroads. Originally, the hydraulic engineer needed to ride along on the steam-powered trains to assure the boiler functioned correctly. The railroad engineer became the driver long ago. Now the creative software developer is an industrial manufacturer. Pushing creativity to the inception of the process makes delivery of the design reliable.

    Nikesh Arora, CEO Palo Alto Networks
    Nikesh Arora, CEO Palo Alto Networks

    Desire to work:
    Finally, something traditionally American makes Indian technical workers competitive in the US. They want to work, to gain respect, and to succeed. They want the American Dream, the house, the car, the healthy family, the clean streets, and sometimes even the temperate weather. This may come from vivid memories of poverty. It may come from the absence of a social safety net for their families at home. It may come from family pride. It exists. The new technical immigrants not needed on the Starship Enterprise are needed now in Silicon Valley.  Sometimes they are the captain and assimilation is not required.

    Dealing with Local Education Authority (LEA)

    “When the child was a child,
    it had no opinion about anything,
    had no habits,
    it often sat cross-legged,
    took off running,
    had a cowlick in its hair,
    and made no faces when photographed.”

    Song of Childhood – Peter Handke

    The Local Education Authority

    Curriculum is the first place homeschool parents confront school authority.  Dealing with Local Education Authority (LEA) usually comes as an administrator representing the local system and a set of forms to file. The LEA has many names, but is usually the local school board. These are often elected politicians who create, implement and enforce local educational policy. The responsibility for curriculum and implementation entwines with many other levels of government, community, county, state, and even federal, but authority ultimately rests with this local government entity.

    The ideology behind the selections in curriculum and goals for administering the school social agenda is set higher at the state level. Most state boards of education set requirements for graduation, for example, and it is the LEA responsibility to assure that the local curriculum meets those standards. These requirements vary from region to region, but not significantly. The state and federal governments also influence curriculum through funding. Political parties and social movements also influence this funding to achieve social goals. Curriculum quickly becomes serious business, so the parents’ first interaction with the system must go well.

    child as a child homeschooled
    Hey There by E. Fleming

    The LEA allows parents to select the school type: public or private. The parent also may choose a neighborhood school or a charter school if these are available in the district. The process is bureaucratic and routine. Homeschool is a choice, but this choice takes the student away from the district. Homeschool takes the family off the menu. Different forms are required. Sometimes a brief interview. The parent must understand that choosing homeschooling changes nothing. The LEA is still in authority. Homeschool allows curriculum choices beyond the menu of public or private schools. It removes the student from the social agenda of administrators and teachers. It does not remove the child from potential social services contact or other local education laws.

    Getting Free Legal Advice

     Parents must prepare to leave the system. When dealing with Local Education Authority (LEA) and the school administrators, never treat them as allies or as resources for anything but their own paperwork. Declaring intent to homeschool usually only requires the parent to notify the school administrators, but an hour getting local legal background pays off. One good site for legal issues, and local regulations in 2021 is Findlaw.

      Findlaw.com/education.htmlFindlaw.com is a legal site with extensive free information on education law and the local implementation of that law. Lawyers with specific qualifications can also be contacted through the site if that becomes necessary.

    Administrators, teachers, and the administrative assistant across the counter are paid by the existing system.  They oppose your choice. Homeschool removes funding from the LEA budget by reducing headcount, so any cooperation is at best passive.

    decision done homeschooling
    Stoic by E. Fleming

    Dealing with Local Education Authority LEA Lesson Plans

    With the decision and the declaration done. The LEA often requires parents to answer questions about curriculum and lesson plans. The LEA has another box to check off. Plan to have an answer when asked about your home school plans. This may be a form the parent-teacher completes for the secretary at declaration, or periodically to the LEA.  Nothing complex. Nothing controversial. Be prepared before the meeting. What is your good curriculum? Whether you provide a religious or secular program replacing the public agenda, many canned programs are available. Most cost, but a quality free program can be designed by a parent willing to assemble materials. A good curriculum includes basic skills, life skills, social skills, and some form of preparation for future employment. Keep your answers short.

    Lesson Plans are not a mystery, and no, you do not need an education degree to follow one, to buy one, or to invent one. Lesson plans can be purchased as part of a home school curriculum, year by year, or simply purchased piecemeal. If you want guidelines, look at what is required to pass the General Equivalency Diploma (GED). A program pointed in that direction will pass any government inquiry.

    Ironically, most public schools do not rely on a curriculum to derive lessons themselves. The current fashion is to approach learning from what the student learns, not what the teacher teaches, so it is test driven. The lessons support testable standards. Even in those places where curriculum is discussed, no actual curriculum exists, just lessons supporting a methodology with a goal of achieving standards. Many public school graduates might have trouble passing the GED.

    Searching your state’s education web page for curriculum will probably provide you with something like “Essential Skills”. The list will probably include:

      • Self-Awareness,
      • Initiative/ Self-Direction,
      • Personal Responsibility,
      • Adaptability/ Flexibility,
      • Perverseness/ Resilience,
      • Critical Thinking/ Problem Solving,
      • Creativity/ Innovation,
      • Inquiry Analysis,
      • Informed Risk Taking. Collaboration/ Teamwork,
      • Communication, Global/ Cultural Awareness,
      • Civic Engagement,
      • Character.1

    The national agenda in America focuses on the social goals of inclusivity and equality of outcome, so a student might excel at school and never master the basics.In contrast, the Indian National Curriculum for Basic Education shows a different focus.

      • languages,
      • mathematics,
      • natural sciences,
      • social sciences,
      • technology,
      • commerce,
      • the arts, and
      • physical education

    The Indian agenda is also about inclusive social bonding, but it is contained under the traditional curriculum topics. A country with many languages, races, religions, and long-standing biases for caste and gender uses “language” skills to include people in the larger community. Indian policy focuses on useful basic skills. For example, good engineers bring national income from abroad.

    No national curriculum exists for the United States. The US Department of Education sets standards like No Child Left Behind and Common Core. Funding is predicated on these standards. These standards must be quantifiable to allocate funds, so they are set for achievement tests at every grade level.The homeschooling parent cannot duplicate the social ideology of public school. That is the bad news. The good news is if you teach the basic skills required for a General Equivalency Diploma (GED), math, language arts, social studies, and science, your child will graduate secondary school. If you also teach languages, more math, natural sciences, social sciences, technology, commerce, the arts, and physical education, your child will be competitive in the job market with someone from Mumbai.

     

    1The Colorado Department of Education internet site under “Colorado Essential Skills”