Helpful Homeschooling Resources

  • Powerful Minds

    Objectivist Glenn Woiceshyn, with degrees in Engineering Science and Mechanical Engineering, became alarmed with the quality of education his (then) nine-year-old son was receiving, and began to homeschool him with two other fifth graders.

    He was dissatisfied with the basic materials available to him, and began to create his own, which are now available to other homeschoolers. They can be seen at his website.

    Strong Brains

    Andrew Layman, Objectivist from Microsoft, has designed a website with about 500 books covering the essentials of an education in the arts and sciences.
    The books are listed by topic (Sciences, Technologies, Arts) and by sequence from the most basic to the more specialized, and are of special interest to homeschooling parents and others interested in educating themselves or their children.


  • Schools of Interest to Objectivists

    VanDamme Academy

    Lisa VanDamme, former homeschooler and founder/Director of the VanDamme Academy of Laguna Hills, California, has published on educational matters in the Objective Standard and Capitalism Magazine, and has lectured at the Ayn Rand Institute.

    Montessori Schools

    The "Montessori Method" has been praised by Ayn Rand as epistemologically superior, and has been shown in many studies to live up to that praise. Maria Montessori, the first woman to graduate from an Italian medical school, originally designed her internationally famous program for youngsters between about three and six.

    There is a "caveat" here, however; Montessori considered her achievement to be a "gift to the children of the world," and did not protect the integrity of the method or the materials by copyright or patents. As a result, anyone without any training whatsoever can fraudulantly label his or her establishment as a "Montessori school."

    It is therefore very important when considering a Montessori school for a child to determine whether the teachers have been certified by a recognized Montessori organization such as the American Montessori Association, the International Montessori Association, etc.


  • Examining all ideas relevant to creating an America fulfilling the unkept promises of the Enlightenment. Focuses on current events, critical facts, and principles.
  • Auxilliary to Brushfires of Freedom.
  • Esthetic and cultural commentary auxiliary to Brushfires of Freedom and The New Enlightenment.
  • Companion website to blog "Brushfires of Freedom". In-depth analyses of global topics and trends as they impact the USA, philosophical issues of critical importance to matters such as the War with Islam, and the internal cultural rot of America. Publishes 4 - 6 times a year for new material. Some authors are not Objectivists, but all provide very valuable materials.
  • Eleanor offers materials concerning current events from all over the world, with her own unique take on these materials.
  • (Cubed). Focuses on principles and facts behind the present collapse of American education, particularly in the K - 12 range, and presents what might be and ought to be in schools, from an Objectivist orientation.

November 2007

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Emailing the President, Senators, Representatives

Some Mo' Florida Gators National Championships

  • Tough 2007 for Ohio State University
  • Basketball 2007 and 2006!!!!!!!!!!!

    GO GATORS!!!!!!!!!!
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« 1: Has American Education Become a "Fixer-Upper"? | Main | 3: The Role of the Reformation »

April 07, 2007



Cubed - I am so happy to see your new blog. So far - I love it! lol.

I look forward to reading more.


Thank you, Monica! I'm hoping to "peel back the onion layers" to demonstrate how it was that we got ourselves into this mess - and what it will take to get us out.

You know that I think that homeschooling is one of the paths back into the educational light.


Excellent blog!

I agree that the ed courses are a total waste of time... I went through one of those degrees and learned exactly nothing. When I started teaching (in private vo-tech) I learned techniques from an older teacher.

But I don't think the intelligence of the teacher is primary. Those 1910 Kansas students, after all, were often taught by senior students; at best the teachers had completed 12th grade. Discipline, authority, enthusiasm, good books and good curriculum matter far more than even the subject-matter knowledge of the teacher.


Hi, Polistra,

Like you, many teachers who went through the mill found that the courses in Teachers' College were a waste of time; this assessment by them is an indicator in its own right of an intelligent person who can see past the poor quality of the course work, to say nothing of the fact that it is all but useless.

So many people we would like to see teaching our children have either chosen another way to earn a living, or have taken serious cuts in pay to be able to do quality work.

Given the decline in the quality of the coursework (the example of McGuffey's Readers is only one; there are so many others!), it is not difficult to believe that, since teaching was one of the few acceptable ways for a woman to work in the early 20th century, that it was a highly competitive situation where very intelligent women, who had done well in the more academically rigorous courses of the day, "rose to the top" of the selection process, and then insisted on their students doing as they had done.

I am a proponant of having teaching assistants drawn from the best of the students; I will cite at lease one study done in the '60s, and some other examples, where students who tutored younger students benefitted as much as their students did. In fact, the adult teacher who was paid to teach was called the "principal teacher." You have probably already guessed that this is the origin of the term "principal" (to whose office we have been sent on some occasions!), while the student assistants were ultimately elevated to the position of the classroom teacher that we see today.

I also understand that a highly motivated person - one who really enjoys seeing his or her students progress - need not be very far ahead of the students in knowledge; such is the case with many dedicated homeschoolers. Yet, because of their motivation, their students often achieve at higher levels that the government school students do. Unfortunately, it is not usual for the average government school teacher to be motivated out of what amounts to a sense of desperate dissatisfaction with what the kids are learning.

Most people "major" in subject matter that interests them the most, and when they get into the classroom, that interest and enthusiasm and dedication is infectious. We all know the story of Jaime Escalante, the Bolivian immigrant who took low-achieving, unmotivated Hispanic students in poor quality schools in East L.A. and pushed them, kicking and screaming at first, into passing the Advanced Placement exams in the calculus.

It was so unexpected that his students were accused by indredulous authorities of cheating, and forced to take the test again. They passed - again.

Escalante knew his subject well, and loved it; he was determined to see to it that his ignorant but intelligent students "got it." You can only imagine the lift that their self-confidence got from this proof of their ability to overcome serious obstacles and achieve at a level few could believe.

Our teachers have been brainwashed into the utterly absurd notion that they must "teach the child, not the subject."

Without a subject, there is nothing to "teach the child."

That very notion is one of my "buttons," and I will also be getting into that in the future!

I applaud the fact that you learned so much of value in your chosen subject from an older teacher - you follow in the steps of many others, including Benjamin Franklin, who started out as an apprentice.


Cubed - As an eyewitness to the decline, I must agree with the factual content the conclusions: everything is true.

Although the evidence seems to show that the blame should be laid at the feet of the education establishment, including the teacher training facilities. Although they must share in the blame, they were allowed, or even encouraged to go down this path but an outside sinister force that is determined to destroy America, to create ignorance, to erase national memory, to accustom the electorate to demagoguery, multiculturalism, and Fabian-style socialism, which ironically is moving toward corporatism. (See my blog entry: "The globalists' new feudalism'. (Note: Your blog settings don' allow comments with "html" code enhancements, or I would enclude the link.)

I read a few years ago that Fidel Castro and others had noticed the progression and made commentary. Ironic that the hardcore communist leader would notice, but his country was in a corporatised state before he "liberated" them.


For some reasons, my attempt at leaving a trackback isn't working. I provided a few thoughts on my own teacher training in response.

I also awarded you the thinking blogger award if you are interested:


As an additional reason to why education is not progressing, I think it's about the teaching styles of teachers. Others are still preserving the old ways even though they know that students these days are a lot different from previous generations.



"...the evidence seems to show that the blame should be laid at the feet of the education establishment, including the teacher training facilities. Although they must share in the blame, they were allowed, or even encouraged to go down this path..."

You bet - you and Thomas Sowell and a lot of other real giants believe this to be the case, and their beliefs are not based on some "conspiracy theory," but on the evidence.

That agenda, which I will talk about later, has been in the works almost from the moment of the birth of the government school system.

A massive and very impressive collection of documents "liberated" out of the U.S. Department of Education by whistle-blower Charlotte Iserbyt (during the Reagan administration when she was a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement) is just some of the evidence.

The decline of teacher qualifications is due far more to the education establishment, including the NEA, than it is to any perceived innate inability of teacher candidates to learn. The teachers were once students too, and as such, they have suffered under the system.

In my response to Polistra, above, I wanted to remind everyone of how "undertaught" we are by citing the example of one of my heros, Jaime Escalante, to show how much better we could all be doing if the system would permit it.

Escalante, as it should surprise no one, was not well received by the Establishment when his near drop-out Hispanic students in a low-achieving East L.A. school passed the Advanced Placement calculus exams.

Just because the person who is inclined towards theoretical physics does better on tests than a prospective teacher does, is no excuse for the practice of subjecting any of our students - future physicist OR future teachers - to the kind of teaching that goes on today. As far as I'm concerned, it's a criminal act.

I'd be willing to bet a whole bunch that the SAT etc. scores of just about everyone in every field could be substantially elevated, with marked benefit to them and to the nation, if we were free to do so.

As with so much else, more on that later.


Thanks for the links; I'll try to get on to them ASAP. I'm not techi-inclined, so I'm not sure why the trackback isn't doing its thing, but I'm very interested in seeing what you've linked.

Thank you for the nomination! It's an honor!


I'm with you on the importance of both teaching and learning styles. Both derive from differences in cognitive style, which are largely biologically determined. I think that if we paid attention to them, it would make a real contribution.

Later I plan to rant on about that, as well as about some fundamental pedagogical changes that need to be introduced.

If the pedagogical changes were instituted, they would address the basic quality of learning (and motivation) in students of any and all cognitive styles, and addressing those differences would be putting a lovely, thick layer of icing on the cake.

Always On Watch

At the moment, I don't have neither time nor eyesight to make an in-depth comment. But I want to say that, thanks to my mother, I learned to read via McGuffey. And I learned to spell via Webster's Blue-Backed Speller. Little books which have served me well all my life!

Always On Watch

Well, I should have proofed before posting. Sheesh!

"I have neither time nor eyesight..."

Apologies to all.



Somehow, it doesn't surprise me that your mother taught you from McGuffey and the Blue-Backed Speller! It shows!

It's funny how the brain makes minor corrections - I never would have noticed your typo if you hadn't pointed it out; please just take care of your eyes, OK?


I also agree with Geri. Some teachers are just fulfilling the legacy of their parents who are also teachers. I think it's not necessary for them to burden the new generation with the concerns which they have with their family.



"Legacy" is a good analogy; as you suggest, the problems are being passed from one generation to the next, and reversing the trend will take a lot of very hard work. We have come to accept the status quo so completely that too many of us no longer even see that there is a problem.


I teach in Appalachian Ohio. My issue with homeschooling is that this is no solution for children with illiterate or semi-illiterate parents, or with parents who are so busy working to feed and shelter their families, that they don't have the time to educate their children. These kids need public schools the most, but they are served by some of the least effective schools. Their teachers illustrate one point in your article. They were poorly educated, went to the local university, which is filled with poorly educated professors, didn't learn higher level thinking skills, let alone anything about how to teach, then returned to teach at their former schools. And with our state's requirements for "highly qualified" teachers, creative, innovative, effective teachers are being replaced with highly papered, but poorly educated, incompetent teachers. It's tragic. But how do we turn things around?


Hi, Sabra,

Glad you dropped by! And I applaud your work in the Appalachians of Ohio; while I'm not familiar with that area, I used to live in the Appalachians of North Carolina, and as a specialist in medical conditions of children leading to learning difficulties, we ran into some horrendous problems there - mostly the poor quality of schools that you mention, as well as the problem of close consanguinous marriages, with all the genetic problems - physical and intellectual - related to that.

I agree wholeheartedly that an intense educational effort is the best way to minimize the problems of the area. I also agree that homeschooling isn't for everyone. My own daughter, who has her advanced degree in molecular cell biology, and is a Montessori child, is only gingerly stepping into that arena, very afraid that she just doesn't "have what it takes" to do the job well (she's doing fine so far, but her confidence is still dreadfully lacking!).

The problems you cite: ignorance, lack of confidence, and physical exhaustion, definitely stand in the way of such folks and homeschooling.

You ask, "How do we turn things around?"

Of course, we need better schools, the kinds we don't have now. It's a question of "division of labor" since, as you say, not everyone can homeschool.

A lot of us ask how we can get them, how we can turn things around, knowing full well that what we have now just isn't working, and that education in our country has gone to hell in a handbasket.

The reason we have to ask that question at all is because the courses in the history of education that are taught in our Teachers' Colleges follow the Horace Mann and William Torrey Harris Hegelian "Party Line." Teachers' college courses give a revisionist account, not an account of what really happened, and it supports the con-job done on us in the early to mid-1800s by Mann and Harris and their cohorts.

We were told that our national survival depended on adopting the Prussian (i.e., the government-controlled) system of education, that without it, our society and our very nation would disintegrate.

What Horace Mann, descendant of the first (Puritan/Calvinist) society in America with tax-supported, government-controlled schools (inherited from the Reformation in 1527) and William Torrey Harris (follower of Germany's favorite philosopher Hegel, a devoted worshipper of state/government control over the people, and disparager of reason and the notion of individual rights) wanted was some means of gaining control over what our kids learned so that their own views could become the prevailing ones.

Each of these men had a vision of a Utopia that they wanted to impose on the rest of us, and to do that they had to accomplish two things: 1) they had to have a universal means of teaching the population, from an early age, that their vision was "good," and 2) they had to erase the "cultural memory" of what education had been like before their system could be permanently established.

The historical facts were that in pre-Revolutionary America, with the exception of a few scattered municipal systems in the New England Puritan colonies, the education system was entirely private. The Industrial Revolution was already underway when Washington crossed the Delaware, and as it grew, the value of being literate also grew.

The private system was very sensitive to the demand for literacy, and soon after the American Revolution, the most populous areas of the country already had a school attendance rate of over 90% (96% according to some). This figure was according to the first survey ever undertaken in the new United States.

The 90+% included the children of the poor; because of the competition (much maligned in the government systems of today, of course, since competition is precisely what they want to avoid) to provide services that even poor parents were willing to budget for, the children who were not in school were primarily those under seven years of age. Even for the poorest parents who could truly afford nothing, there were private very low-cost methods such as the "Lancasterean system" and the private associations that supported the totally free "Charity schools."

There was not a niche that was not filled by the private system, or a "customer (parental) demand" not met by some kind of private school; it was definitely not a "one size fits all system" - we had a richer variety of schooling then than we have had at any time since.

In order to convince parents (who were already very happy with what we had) of the "need" for a government-controlled system, the con-men first had to convince them that it was 1) "free," 2) there were a lot of kids running around loose and causing problems, 3) that they would grow up poor and would then have to resort to criminal behavior unless forced to go to the "free" government schools. Then they had to convince parents that without such a system, the very salvation of the nation was at risk from the masses of immigrants (mostly the Catholics fleeing the crop failures and civil strife from the tail-out of the Little Ice Age and compounded by the Year Without a Summer - that, BTW, was one of the driving forces of the push of the population to "Go West").

Ever since the Reformation, Catholics and Protestants have had their quibbles, and it was the flood of Catholics that Horace Mann wanted to "protect" the United States from.

Harris' greatest interest, on the other hand, was to establish in the minds of the American public that the government, not the individual, was top dog - precisely the view that gave energy to every totalitarian country in the world before or since.

Mann and Harris were not greatly separated either in goals or in time; Mann was active shortly before the Civil War, while Harris was active shortly afterwards - in fact, it was under Harris that the compulsory attendance laws got their big push, and marked the near demise of the private system, which found it difficult to compete with the "free" government system (it was also Harris' love of Hegel that soon led his student John Dewey to promote the Progressive system).

It was because of a massive PR campaign by both men that we have the schools we have today. They are government-controlled, they have compulsory attendance, and the curriculum is controlled by the teachers' unions via their influence on everything from funding to textbook content to teaching methods.

The goal is not academic excellence, it is the acceptance of an agenda. First, be sure that our kids' heads are empty of factual knowledge; convince classroom teachers that to instill knowledge is to threaten their "self-esteem." Then fill kids' heads with collectivist ideas that will lead them to accept their "proper" role as compliant followers of the agenda of the prevailing political powers of the day.

This - the inculcation of subservience and compliance of the population to the prevailing political agenda - has always been, and will always be, the goal behind the existence of government-controlled schools. Their agenda is to promote their own survival, not to educate your children so that they will be successful adults.

This is in direct conflict with what parents themselves indicate they want. When asked what they consider the most important thing for their kids to get in school is, parents of every socioeconomic level and every ethnicity respond overwhelmingly "academic excellence." This is even more valuable than "religion," which parents are apparently confident that they can teach at home or at their places of worship.

And this - the parental desire for academic excellence above all else - is what will protect us from unsuccessful educational schemes (such as the kind of schooling now taught by everything from communists to fundamentalist Muslims) from becoming the predominant ones; they don't lead to a successful adulthood for anyone's kids, not theirs, and not ours.

It is the Parents love and concern for their kids' best interests that is the best guardian against a totally irrational system of education such as Islam, communisim, some weird cult, fascism, etc.

Of course, none of this directly addresses your very important question either: "How do we turn things around?"

The short answer is, we turn things around first by recapturing our cultural memory from the revisionists. That's what interest me in doing the "history of education" series before trying to discuss other matters such as pedagogy etc.

We must recall that a private system served us far better then than the current system does - the system that is literally dismembering our culture, making us vulnerable to the threat of Islam, and causing us to forget the principles upon which we were founded.

Re: the principles on which our country was founded - how many of the kids in your class can define a "right," for example? Do they believe that a right is some sort of government permission slip that can be granted or taken away like pocket change by a thief? My guess is that few of them can, and that most of your colleagues couldn't do it either.

If that's so, then the con-men, especially Horace Mann and William Torrey Harris, have done their jobs well, and the "public" school systems haven't failed their creators, they have succeeded beyond their wildest expectations.

We need to shrug off the government system.

As one German fan of government controlled education said at an early meeting of the NEA (which was created by other fans of government-controlled schools to ensure their continued control), once a government gains control over education, it will never let go, so "shrugging" won't be easy.

So, to "turn things around," we have to regain our control over the education of our own kids; the only way to do this is to abandon the government system - literally withdraw our children from it.

I seriously doubt that this will ever happen. I think that most of the population has been so convinced that government schools have always been the way it is, and that they are the only hope for educating all children, that they can never be convinced to leave the system.

I think the best we can hope for is for little "educational refugia" to survive here and there around the country so that when people are sick and tired of the consequences of the collectivization of society, and/or when the system collapses under its own weight, we will have something to go to to start over again.

Only then will we be able to re-group in such a way that we parents, who are the only ones who have the best interests of our children at heart, not the government, will firmly retain for ourselves the control over what our kids are taught.

The reason that I am so much in favor of home schooling is that it is one of the few remaining such "refugia."

Even private schools, tempted by the "carrot" of "government accreditation," "grants" and the abundance of "qualified" teachers who are graduates of government controlled teachers' colleges and "certified" as "experts," are under strong pressure to comply with the government goal of producing a compliant, subservient, government-admiring and dependent population.

I get pretty darned chatty about this whole issue; it's one of my bigger "buttons." I hope you go on to read Number Seven of this series (Horace Mann, Snake Oil Salesman). It does some summing up of posts that follow this one on the history of education, and precedes some other history posts that you may find interesting and, I hope, helps connect some dots.

Horace Mann thought that the imposition of his Utopian vision on all of us would create a version of the "City on the Hill" of his ancestral Puritans. Instead, by bringing all of our children into a realm where competing ideas are culled out, it is leading to our destruction.

Remember the song in the movie "Camelot"? One phrase went, "Don't let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, that was known as "Camelot."

The United States is truly history's real, live "Camelot," and because of government-controlled education, it has already seem its "brief shining moment."

So it has always been. In antiquity, Sparta had a government school system. Athens, its contemporary, had a fully private system. Compare their legacies.

Before Islam was engraved in fundamentalist stone, it had a private system that took advantage of the Greek philosophers that had thriving academic institutions in the lands it conquered. The private schools were abolished under the heavy hand of fundamentalist Islamic government control, then replaced by "mosque schools" taught by clerics, and the so-called "Islamic Golden Age" disappeared.

When the works of Aristotle, salvaged by a few Muslim scholars who were at the tail end of the Islamic fundamentalist crack-down on academic freedom, made their way back into Europe, the Renaissance was born; between that time and the onset of the Reformation, the private schools grew and were thriving when the government, initially in Germany, but then in all of Europe, took over, leading to complaints by parents everywhere, even in the vaunted Belgian system of today.

There is only one way to turn things around, and that is to shrug off the system before it is made a criminal offense to do so (that was tried in Oregon around 1920, but later overturned).

We're running out of time.

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