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

 

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

Local Education Authority (The School Board)

Every state requires parents to send their children to public school with two exceptions, private schools and homeschools. Private schools are regulated by the same state political entities as the public schools. State regulations vary, but most regulate private schools like public schools. The difference comes as private schools provide their own local authority under state law.

The state sets guidelines for registration and certification.1 Requirements for teacher certification and length of school day and school year are set. Curriculum must be approved and meet state minimums. Records must be kept and things like attendance reported to the state. Health and safety certifications of teachers and staff from the state adhere to the qualification for all educators in the state. Textbooks and testing may have to be approved, depending on the state. Parents engage the private school and authority is transferred by the state for that child to the private school.

Homeschools fall under special statutes within each state. This is also summarized in the private school document referred to above. Because no mechanism exists for transferring education authority to the parent-teacher, the homeschool child remains under the same Local Education Authority (LEA) as the public schools. Homeschools must meet fewer state standards than other private schools, but the ultimate authority lies in the LEA. Usually, parents deal with the district employees who work for the superintendent who represents the LEA.

When parents withdraw children from public education, it is a political act, not necessarily for the parent, but always for the district. The parent may not recognize the political impact, but the district does. The public school loses revenue and loses influence. The elected school board and the district superintendent retain primary educational authority over the child. The district assures that the family adheres to all state and federal laws. If a family naively breaks a rule, the district can and will call the sheriff or social services.

Consequently parents should never just file the declaration of withdrawal and happily run off with their children and Charlotte Mason2 to pursue learning. Even though most districts have a light touch with homeschoolers, the parents should do two things to assure they do not run afoul of the LEA or any district employees accidentally.

First, the prospective homeschool parent should identify the various people in the local district, but especially the Superintendent and the Board Members. This information is often hard to find. Call the local school to get the times of the next public meeting. Attend. Attend online if the COVID rules are still in force. Take notes. Be on the lookout for policies, or changes in policies, that will affect your homeschool.

Second, the parent should learn the day jobs, resumes, and public statements of members. School boards set policy and make decisions for a public school district. Since no elected homeschool parent sits on a school board, it is fair to assume that all the members on the LEA are politically opposed to what the homeschool parent is doing. School Boards are both rule-making and enforcement groups, just like the County Commissioners and the City Council. Decisions in school board meetings affect the community. Much local regulation in your area comes from school politicians. School boards are the most powerful local government. They have huge budgets. Small does not matter. COVID teaches that local power over individuals can be devastating. Who could name a County Public Health Administrator in 2019?

school board
“screened” by new 1lluminati

Public education is a very powerful political force in every state. Education in Colorado is 34% of the entire state budget. Many millions of dollars are dispensed from the state government through the unpaid school boards. The education budget is much larger than the municipal budgets in most districts. The elected school board members are among the most influential politicians in the state. They also strive to be low-key. Bottom of the ballot. Nothing to see here.

Parents should follow the money. Paid School Board Members receive modest compensation. Often they make less than custodians at any school. They hold other jobs. The parent should know who pays specific district school board members. Many have income associated with education. No district allows board members to be district employees, but many are teachers’ union employees or consultants on education policy. They are democratically elected by the voters in the district. Like most judges, LEA members are non-partisan elected officials who serve 2, 4, or 6 year terms with staggered elections so that no more than a third are up for election. No single election could change the ideology inside any existing board.

As a governing body a school board strives to administer by consensus, keeping individual disagreements and perspectives private, backing the actions of the superintendent. This sort of democratically elected administrative and rule making body used to be called a soviet, but fashion is off that term. Under any name, this is the democratic organization most vulnerable to authoritarian influence. Anyone who tried to get changes through the PTA, or in a parent-teacher meeting, will understand that the voter-parent has very little influence and is included only to provide consensus. Board Members receive orientation when elected. Usually this orientation comes from the National School Boards Association, where the majority of members in any district belong. In the NSBA words the mission is to provide leadership.

The NSBA is a lobbying organization that educates the 19,000 individual elected LEA members. National policy runs downhill to all the 12,000 school districts in the country. The Department of Education and State Secretaries of Education listen to the NSBA. Local members join to have influence over state and federal policy.

Homeschools stand in opposition to this massive political machine. Because homeschools are legally self-funded, they are also a drain on the machine resources. The justification for taxation and appropriation to fund this multi-billion dollar industry comes from “butts in seats.” The LEA cannot stop a homeschool parent who abides by state law, but it might like to.

Moreover, public education continues a movement. The people who run for this political office at the local level, and serve on the cheap, see themselves as good people. They continue a great tradition in public education. As Frederick Taylor Gates said, “In our dream, we have limitless resources, and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hand.” Gates’ dream of 1913 is the public school reality of 2021. Homeschool families are not yielding themselves with perfect docility. Homeschools are suspect.

Homeschool parents want to teach their children the basics away from dangerous and ideological environments, but this is not how the district administration will see it. Many LEA members see the homeschool as pulling away from all the good things that public education brings to society.

school board
Texas Cotton Family Then

This is not the 20th Century and the last of the ignorant rural folk faded long ago with the cotton sack into old pictures. Now most families work in offices and stores. People no longer need to be condescended to, if ever they did. In 2021 every person who has a smart phone or access to the internet has more information and educational opportunity available than the most educated elite in 1913. Automation and information changed everything. The cotton fields of LBJ’s Texas are mechanized. Everything changed and got better except the public school system and it’s archaic political skeleton.

school board
Texas Cotton Family Now

Homeschooling is the future as surely as the smartphone replaced dial-tone. Homeschooling serves the people destined for something greater than the local district has in mind for them. The incubator is here today where literate adults mature, where children emerge from the home prepared to become lawyers or preachers, politicians or statesmen. How can we know this? We know because homeschool creates excellence when it is focused on the individual talents and needs of individual children, run by the people who know them best and care for them most. Nothing stops that.

school board homeschool
“College of DuPage Engineering Club Hosts STEM Learning Event for Homeschoolers 2018

1“State Regulation of Private Schools” by The Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement, Office of Non-Public Education https://www2.ed.gov/admins/comm/choice/regprivschl/regprivschl.pdf 

2The Gentle Art of Learning https://charlottemason.com/ 

Online Technical Training and Certification for Homeschoolers

Technical certification is one path for homeschool graduates. Technical certification and training leads to employment in specific fields and for specific companies. Technical certification helps while applying to some tech companies, but vitally, to any other companies that use that specific technology in their business.

Technical workers and contractors have upgraded skills this way for decades. These certifications are not all math. Many technical jobs like project management or product technical support involve soft skills and human interaction more than discrete math.

Technical Certification

The Silicon Valley giants are great places to look for online free technical training and reasonably priced certification. They need skilled manpower that the local schools cannot provide. Oracle, Cisco, and Google stand as our examples, but many more companies have free training and certification for prospective employees.

Oracle

Twenty years ago Larry Ellison, the founder and CEO of Oracle, floated the idea of providing a quality private school for employees’ children as a benefit, like health care or stock options. While all the employees loved it, the California teacher’s unions and Bay Area politicians did not. Human Resources finally scuttled the idea after examining the legal complications of tying children to the parent’s terms of employment. The idea morphed into technical training programs for teachers, web development contests for students, and on-line courses in India. An internal training program emerged for employees, customers, consultants, and educators. When the company began to offer these classes outside the company, it became Oracle University.

Oracle Corporate Headquarters
“Consult the Oracle” by  jurvetson 

Oracle University offers The Oracle Learning Explorer program for free with entry-level training courses and accreditation for Oracle’s entire product portfolio. The model has always been to provide free on-line training and relatively expensive certifications. The cost of certification discourages the casual test-taker and provides valuable evidence of competence to an employer. The certified professional can work at Oracle, but more importantly, can work for any of the tens of thousands of companies that use Oracle technology.

https://education.oracle.com/learning-explorer

Cisco

Cisco is a networking company with an interest in both hardware and software development, sales, and configuration. Cisco offers many interesting courses through The Cisco Networking Academy. Students can learn the fundamentals of networking, the Internet of Things (IoT), Cybersecurity, and programming in Python, C, and C++. Most introductory courses are free and online. Some that require an installed network are only offered through institutions and the costs depend on those institutions. A handy search tool will give you an extensive list of places near you. Some are high schools. Some are colleges. Some are prisons. Prisons.

https://www.netacad.com/

Cisco Systems Headquarters
“Cisco Systems Corporate HQ” by gtmcknight

Google

Google is the best known Silicon Valley big tech company because their search engine has become the generic term for searching the Internet. “Just Google it” is the equivalent of “Let me grab a Kleenex”. Google had the same problem as the other tech firms in finding quality employees and keeping the existing employees trained in the protean technologies of the Internet, telecommunications, and software development. They developed materials to allow people around the world to learn the technology and gain competence in Google-specific tech. Their cloud certifications are particularly valuable. Other training supports development of apps on the Android phones and software for AI devices.

Grow with Google
Grow with Google

Recently Google introduced Grow with Google, a free training platform that covers training in Google core technologies, but also many other avenues of employment. It still offers certification in Android Development, but also in IT Support, Data Analytics, Project Management, and UX Design. All the training is free, but preparation for and testing for certification is pricey. One interesting feature of the Grow With Google page is in the “Free Training” link on the web page. Because Google knows more than your mother about you, clicking on it will find “free training in your area.” You can search some other area, but it will default to where your computer or tablet sits currently. The “Working From Home” link has a wealth of tools and training for educators, students, and workers who work remotely.

 https://grow.google/

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math for Students

Avoiding that horrible acronym STEM for a moment, the Internet offers unlimited opportunities to learn about science and technology, to master engineering skills, and to learn every sort of math. The technical certifications from the companies above are preparing for a career. Before that step, many free sites can teach younger students the basic skills to qualify for technical certification. One very fine and very free resource is the Open Learning Initiative.

open learning initiative free homeschool resources
“Open Learning Initiative: using learning science to iteratively improve course design” by giulia.forsythe

The Open Learning Initiative (http://oli.cmu.edu/independent-learner-courses/) has free courses on the “independent learner’s track.” For the family who are homeschooling online, this is a very good resource for introductory courses, but not just technical subjects. The homeschooler can take intro to Chinese too.

Another great free resource is the Khan Academy. It is more like K-12, but not tied as tightly to the public schools.

The Khan Academy (https://www.khanacademy.org/) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free, quality education to everyone everywhere. It was designed to augment schools, but as a homeschool you can get access to teacher and student resources. The curriculum is very good. They offer hundreds of topics in video for math and science training online.

Other Technical Jobs with Certification

wind turbine trade schools
“Turbine Tower No 25 undergoing final testing” by Paul Anderson

Many careers require training and technical certification. Homeschool graduates find that the employers in these careers usually care little or nothing about public school transcripts. These technical certification are usually associated with trade schools and community colleges. None of these are available online. It is hard to imagine becoming a Medical Assistant or Phlebotomist at home, so this type of technical certification moves beyond the scope of this article.

If you are interested in any of these technical certifications, explore your local schools. Most programs are reasonably priced and come with financial aid, that is, government backed loans. Be sure to ask for a list of graduates who currently work in the field who you can call for references. Not all trade schools are equal. But you can choose to study in many interesting and well-paid careers.

  • Wind Turbine Technician.
  • Phlebotomist.
  • Massage Therapist.
  • Landscaper and Groundskeeper.
  • Medical Assistant.
  • Cosmetologist.
  • Nail Technician.
  • Dental Assistant.
  • Ophthalmic Medical Technician.
  • Medical Records Technician.
  • Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse.

Final Warning About Big Tech

Not all tech companies offer anything useful to the home school. Some popular names are toxic.

not a technical training platform
“Yah baby how you feeling now? A farmer holding a pitchfork and his sinister spinster daughter, house, American Gothic, skulls frame, Halloween, Microsoft, Bear Creek, Redmond, Washington, USA” by Wonderlane

Microsoft

Microsoft has a training environment like other tech companies, but it is focused primarily on “educators.”

The Microsoft offerings for educators are deeply imbued with Critical Race Theory. In the words of one Ken Shelton/ Microsoft class:

Anti-racism journey for educators with students”

By: IIRP, LLB, Ken Shelton, US2, and Microsoft

Date published: 2/11/2021

“Educators must be courageous and confident in their journey to fully participate in dismantling racism in their learning environments. The intention of this learning path is to deeply question power, privilege, and fragility to interrupt teaching practices that marginalize, isolate, and exclude BIPOC students whole-learners in the classroom. The courses in this learning path are intended to be taken in order and were written with United States K-12 educators in mind. Others may also find them helpful.”

Not all free training is good for you. You might find the MS site useful in building your case for getting your children away from United States educators. Other than that Microsoft appears to offer nothing useful, technical or otherwise.

Homeschooling Off-the-Grid

No government wants people living off the grid. No jurisdiction in The United States allows families to live completely off the grid. Doubly so if you have children. The Back to the Earth movement of the 1960s and 1970s caused a legal reaction in most rural jurisdictions. Local governments implemented anti-hippie regulations in zoning, water rights, sewage, electrical connection, and children. State and federal authorities provided enforcement when necessary.

Off-Grid Homeschooling

Families who want to live and school off the grid must first reduce the digital fingerprint. Familiarity with local regulations and local precedent is critical information before putting up a dry cabin, installing septic or electric services, and especially before off-grid homeschooling.

Some families living off-grid continue to send the children to public school just to avoid the inevitable accusations of child endangerment or abuse. This works only poorly. Local education authorities monitor children in public schools to identify off the grid home behaviors. A casual comment like, “We have an outhouse at home,” can trigger a social services investigation or even a sheriff’s visit.

Sign Out, Shut Down, Unplug 1

The issue in off-grid homeschooling is not the schooling. Homeschooling requires at least one child and an adult who can read and write in one language. The next step seems difficult because everybody is more or less institutionalized in the United States in 2021. No computer, smart phone, or the Internet is required to homeschool children. Leaving the compulsory education system is an act of nullification over compulsory education and the indoctrination attached to it. Unplugging from the network is the act of a sovereign individual. Government at every level hates this. The zoning inspector or public health administrator is not a harmless bureaucrat. 2020 taught that rights can be taken away by proclamation, even by your local health administrator. Do not allow the local zoning inspector to derail your homeschool.

The Spartan Path

Most children schooled at home in the past learned to read and write using books, pencil and paper, with the regular recitation of previous lessons. Parents can begin with just the materials at hand. Teaching children the basics, then leading them into more advanced subjects with those basics is simpler than teaching them to speak or to use the toilet. The simplest approaches to homeschool start with books, pencils, and paper, whether your family lives in a city apartment, in a small town, in a rural district, or in an RV.

Even those without any resources, the homeless or off-grid rural families can follow George Washington Carver. Born a slave he scrambled from opportunity to opportunity to get an education. Mr. Carver was literally unschooled.

He understood that basic learning is a survival skill. He learned to read and write with the Bible. This was bravery. Basic literacy was dangerous to the owners during slavery and could get an individual sold or killed. Learning still happened. Quietly. Off-grid homeschool is bravery too. Parents cannot be sold off, but confiscation of land, vehicles, tools, houses to be sold off by investigators is common in most states. Some states regard digging an outhouse as criminal.

off grid homeschool
Education is the Key to Unlock the Golden Door of Freedom

The Blended Model Path

Not everybody wants to be completely off-grid. Those who are moving some parts of life off-grid, who must work in the system, but want to substitute solar power or composting toilets and want to homeschool still can. The family can augment the public school curriculum with directed tutoring. This approach is common today among Indian technical workers who supplement the children’s public education with something like the education the parents received in India.

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” -Mark Twain 

Alternatively, parents can withdraw students at the compulsory minimum age. Work and homeschool can follow. Going to work was common as recently as the 1940s. In the 1950s most craftsmen and artisans still went to work with just the basic education. School can be the first step in a lifelong self-education. The Great Books Program of Mortimer Adler supplemented the learning of millions of blue collar families over the years before homeschooling was available.

Now that homeschooling is permitted, the homeschool path can start directly with a set of graded readers like McGuffey. A library card to a nearby physical library helps, but remains difficult in 2021 when most public libraries are still closed. Parents should contact the local librarian to see how access to the collection works. Haunting the used book stores and Goodwill stores for additional books on math, science, history, and other interesting topics also works inexpensively. Thousands of Adler’s Great Books live today in used book stores.

The Tutoring Path

Children of corporate workers and suburban professionals can be educated at home by the parents. This was once the choice only of the upper middle class. John Stuart Mill studied at his father’s desk as James Mill worked at home. This style homeschooling is more possible than ever with the COVID distance working making one or more parents available to run the homeschool.

Dog and Cat Off-Grid
Dog and Cat Off-Grid

Homeschooling offline seems radical in the digital culture, but people attempted it recently. The “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out” movement of the 1960s and 1970s put it’s heart in the right place, as much as mass movements have hearts. Drugs and deep media immersion derailed the the dropping out. Not much off-grid happened.

The government actively stamped out as many of the freak hippies as it could. Now it focuses on preventing them. Parents who want to walk on this path in 2021 must understand the triggers for the state. The joke in the 1990s was that the Internet was a trap for perverts and criminals to identify them to the police. It is now a trap for the nonconforming. To be avoided off-grid are social programs, especially financial, and medical programs that give the experts an excuse to classify parents as anti-social or even dangerous.

Homeschools must avoid being demonized, criminalized, and attacked by a bureaucracy that does not want any homeschooling, a state that will not tolerate off-grid activities, and bureaucrats that can use the homeschool as an excuse to confiscate property. Getting off the Internet is the first step off-grid. The autonomous individual should raise autonomous, thinking, reasoning children, and look out for both the bureaucrats who want to end it and the police who will profit from confiscation. Parents should not let a zoning inspector, a child protective worker, or a truant officer end the off-grid dream or disrupt your homeschool.

Children today can be literate. Even slaves learned to read.

But Quietly.

1Margaret Beetem 2021.

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