movement is expanding rapidly. No one knows how many home-schooled
children there are in the United States, but one U.S. government
estimate was 1.5 million as of 2008. Another organization puts it
million in 2010. This is a large market. It is growing. There
is no reason to think that it will shrink.
of parents to home school vary, state to state. It is still a battle,
but there is little possibility in the future that the United States
will ever impose what Europe has: a system of state-run schools
in which home schooling is illegal.
We see a growing
market. We also see information-delivery costs at zero: YouTube,
WordPress.com, Blogger.com, and PDFs. We would expect to see a large
number of videos and curriculum strategies on-line. But we don't.
As is true
of almost every
phenomenon, about 20% of the curriculum publishing companies
control about 80% of the market. The main ones are Accelerated Christian
Education, A Beka, and Bob Jones University. There are others: Alpha-Omega,
Rod and Staff. These are printed materials. They are expensive.
If you print your own, you can buy low-cost, high-quality materials.
By far the best for the money is the Robinson
Curriculum: $200, once, for the entire family. It is on CD-ROMs.
is the growing influence of the Khan
Academy. Salman Khan, a graduate of M.I.T. and the Harvard Business
School, teaches mathematics (K12), physics, chemistry, and
business, free of charge, using YouTube as the vehicle.
Think of what
Khan has done. He is a man with no experience in teaching for money
or in home schooling, yet he has launched by far the most promising
secular home school curriculum on earth. His nieces and nephews
told him that he is a good teacher. With that limited testimony,
he created the Khan Academy. He has self-confidence, courage, vision,
self-discipline, and a willingness to spend time for a larger cause.
is a generation of home-school mothers who began three decades ago,
and whose grandchildren are now being home schooled by their daughters.
With the new digital media, you might think that there would be
dozens of detailed, step-by-step curriculum programs for sale or
for free. Yet Dr. Arthur Robinson's was the first purely digital
curriculum. It is delivered on CD-ROMs. He created it because his
wife died unexpectedly, and he had to develop a self-taught curriculum.
He was running a sheep ranch, a biological research organization,
and was the publisher of the newsletter, Access to Energy. He had
no time to teach his six children using the labor-intensive, mother-run
So, two men
without experience have developed comprehensive programs. Why men?
The barrier to entry is not money. The monetary cost of creating
and delivering a digits-based program is basically free.
home school mothers lack self-confidence.
But why? They
have taught their own children. They have talked with other home
school mothers. There are lots of Websites and blogs on the topic.
Yet there is only one K-12 mother-created home school curriculum
on the Web that is free of charge or very cheap ($200 or less):
Old Fashioned Education
domain materials are out there. If necessary, a mother could let
Khan do the hard lifting in math and science. Yet there is no such
There are all
those women out there who could do this. They don't do this. They
are scared. They don't think their efforts in their own households
are ready for prime time.
One of my site's
members has begun a series of videos on teaching phonics by using
the famous McGuffey
Readers. She is using Google-owned Blogger. She is also using
Google-owned YouTube. Both are free. I think there is a real opportunity
I had approached
other mothers about doing exactly this. They all said it is necessary.
None of them agreed to do it. I offered money. I was rebuffed. They
all thought they were not qualified.
Here is what
is needed, K-6:
YouTube-based reading program
Here is a sample video that I did
based on actual literature, not boring stand-alone rules
It should be
a 4-hour daily course.
It should involve
writing a daily essay after the second grade.
can do this. In each area, there are specialists who are really
good at a subject. What is so difficult about all this? Why aren't
there dozens of these options available?