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  • The Textbook Approach to Home Education

    Filed at 2:09 pm under by dcobranchi

    Izzy Lyman linked to a new website—HomeSchoolerNetwork.com—so I thought I’d take a look. The site bills itself as, “packed with over 5,000 innovative lessons, activities, and inspirational articles to help you in your homeschooling life.” I immediately smelled a trap.

    The site contains suggested curricula for home schooled children of all ages. I checked out the “social studies” section. Four-year-olds are offered, “Ready to color pictures of objects that contribute to pollution with fill in the blank vocabulary words.” There’s an obsession with all things Native Americans, from reservations to canoes to animal-skin clothing. Six year olds are taught to “create their own flag.” There’s coloring pages of various black historical figures (but none of white figures.) There’s an article that tells pre-teens, “The passage of Title IX was supposed to guarantee equality for women in amateur sports, but . . . that has not been realized – either in the amateur or professional sporting worlds.” There’s a lesson plan on “Women and World War II,” but no lessons on the war itself. And, finally, there’s an article on how “one in four fathers” are forced to care for their preschool-age children while the mothers work, because of a lack of “quality” daycare.

    What’s not in this curriculum? The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and anything resembling political science or an integrated study of history. The “HomeSchooler Network” expects children to grasp history only as a series of unrelated concretes without any conceptual framework—beyond the notion that Native Americans and a handful of black leaders are very important, and not enough women play soccer.

    So who’s behind the “HomeSchooler Network”? Pearson PLC, one of the world’s largest textbook publishers. The Network’s “educational partners” include the National PTA, the National School Boards Foundation, the National Public School Public Relations Association, and other textbook publishers.

    As I said, I smelled a trap. The same textbook publishers behind the g-schools’ failed approach to “social studies”–I hate that term–are now trying to convince home educators that the same failed approach will work for them. This is almost as bad as cyber charters masquerading as home schools.

    UPDATE: My colleague Tom, who works for a medical publisher, offered these thoughts:

    In defense of book publishers (which I have to do,
    since I take their money), they don’t know how to deal with homeschoolers. If they can’t send a sales rep to a campus, they honestly have no clue what to do. Right now, sales reps go to campuses, get feedback from teachers, and give that feedback to acquisition editors, who sign authors who write what those teachers are looking for. Homeschooling parents are so individualized that it’s too costly to cater to each of them. So publishers slap the words “homeschoolers edition” on the cover of the texts homeschooling parents are trying to keep their kids aways from in the first place.

    8 Responses to “The Textbook Approach to Home Education”


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    August 24th, 2004
    at 2:26 pm

    Good detective work, Skip.


    Comment by
    Eric Holcombe
    August 24th, 2004
    at 4:11 pm

    Trust me. IAATM.

    “In School testing 2003 revenues were a little ahead of the previous year and we won more than $300m worth of new multi-year contracts which will boost sales from 2005, when the Federal Government’s No Child Left Behind accountability measures become mandatory.”

    This venture is all about tapping the growing homeschool “market”.


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    August 24th, 2004
    at 5:50 pm

    Eric,
    It may well indeed be AATM, but it has absolutely nothing to do with NCLB. After all, we’re exempt.


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    August 24th, 2004
    at 5:55 pm

    BTW, check out this Google search.


    Comment by
    darby
    August 24th, 2004
    at 7:00 pm

    Okay, I have to ask. What does IAATM stand for?


    Comment by
    Eric Holcombe
    August 24th, 2004
    at 7:56 pm

    Its All About The Money.

    Yeah, I was pointing out that they are in all the pockets. Pearson is big business – it doesn’t matter where the education dollars come from.


    Comment by
    Dave
    August 25th, 2004
    at 3:00 pm

    Somewhat OT, my daughter is enrolled in the local community college’s Biology class using a Pearson text. The topic of evolution is presented in such a dogmatic, unscientific manner, that regardless of your thoughts on the subject, should make you wonder what’s going on.


    Comment by
    Eric Holcombe
    August 25th, 2004
    at 3:57 pm

    Not that OT Dave. I noticed the lack of Christ in Christmas and the billion year old dinos in the sample stuff. I found that kind of funny since according to HSLDA – the world’s most powerful homeschool lobby – we homeschoolers are mostly right-wing religious fundamentalists.

    I’m not sure if that means Pearson didn’t cover all their marketing bases or they are basically regurgitating g-school stuff for homeschoolers.