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Old 12-09-2012, 08:47 PM   #1
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A Booklist that alleges to be a complete curriculum

I was doing some research for an article I wrote for Teleread and came across this:

http://www.robinsoncurriculum.com/view/rc/booklevel.htm

It's a booklist for an apparently well-regarded homeschool curriculum that has an intriguing premise: it's supposed to be completely self-teaching. The program consists of following an add-on math program, writing a one-page essay every day on a topic of their choosing which the parents correct, and for the rest of it, simply reading the books on the above list, in order, until you are done. The CDs you purchase with the program contain TIFF image files of every page of every book, which you can print for your children as required so they can do the reading. All the parent has to do is spend about 15 minutes a day correcting the essay and printing off so you have reading material (the program's creator does not recommend computers until they reach high school) and that's it.

The program's founder apparently developed the program after the death of his wife, when he had to run his business and his household while homeschooling six children. He claims his children had excellent results and high scholastic achievement doing little more than read this list of books in order and write one page a day (plus the math).

Overlooking for a moment the issue of whether this is actually an effective teaching methodology, I did turn up the complete book list linked to above in a brief Google Search, and to be honest, I was underwhelmed. Most of the history comes from the fiction of Henty, Alger and pulp series from the olden days, and there is almost no poetry or drama to speak of. I liked the gimmick of the graded reading list where each book gets progressively more challenging as you move on up, but I think what you gain in that organizational structure, you lose in failing to place history in any sort of chronological or topical narrative.

I'd like to see more actual history that wasn't fiction-based, more art, drama, poetry, philosophy and so on, and some science (that doesn't kick in until high school here). And I think the list is very boy-heavy too and may not be as suitable for girls.

Most of these books are freely available on-line. If all you have to do is read them in order, I'm not sure why you need to pay this guy for his CDs. I'd love to see someone put together a graded, sequential list like this with links to Project Gutenberg. You could homeschool using only your Kindle
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:59 PM   #2
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At least some of them are probably available right here at MR I would guess.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:59 PM   #3
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If all they aspire to is English colonialism it's probably fine.

Granted I think the reading list throughout my school days was atrocious as well on that front.
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:32 PM   #4
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At least there's a book on nuclear war survival skills in the science textbooks...
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:48 AM   #5
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Isn't it unwise to believe that parents are capable of correcting an essay? One might have thought that people here at MR would have above-average literary skills, but looking at the posts here, some of the grammar and spelling is pretty atrocious.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:45 AM   #6
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Isn't it unwise to believe that parents are capable of correcting an essay?
Valid concern I would think.
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Old 12-10-2012, 05:29 AM   #7
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Isn't it unwise to believe that parents are capable of correcting an essay? One might have thought that people here at MR would have above-average literary skills, but looking at the posts here, some of the grammar and spelling is pretty atrocious.
Sorri 'bout that maytee, it ein't eezy when English is the tongue foreign.
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Old 12-10-2012, 06:11 AM   #8
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Isn't it unwise to believe that parents are capable of correcting an essay?
Maybe you are right with your concerns here but I personally think that nevertheless it is very very useful that the kids are forced to write one side-long essay each day.
They will learn a lot about the right spelling and grammar subconciously and effortlessly simply by reading.
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:29 AM   #9
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They will learn a lot about the right spelling and grammar subconciously and effortlessly simply by reading.
I never did, at least for spelling. I'm a voracious reader, but because I was taught to read concept groups, I don't really "see" individual words.

What has improved my spelling is spell check in the various word processors I use.
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:56 AM   #10
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I was home-schooled, but for my parents it was a bit more complex than just reading a list of books. This might have worked for them, but then again my mother used to be a teacher in a public school, so she'd be qualified to correct any essays.
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:33 PM   #11
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It looks like a good list for parents who want to brainwash their kids and prepare them to be useful citizens of 1890.
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Old 12-10-2012, 04:11 PM   #12
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Sorri 'bout that maytee, it ein't eezy when English is the tongue foreign.

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Old 12-10-2012, 06:07 PM   #13
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Cool Shhhh......

For goodness sake, don't let the UK education politicos hear about this, they'll immediately make it compulsory in all schools - except private ones, of course, and possibly academies, until the evil "public" (i.e. the ones open to everyone else ... also classified as "state") schools have had it tested on their long-suffering teachers and pupils .
This sounds like just the sort of thing that would appeal to anyone without any experience of teaching, no experience of non-fee paying establishments, and looking for an opportunity to cut budgets even more ......
Good grief .........
Frankly though, this sounds like another terrible amateur mish-mash of theory, hearsay and anecdote paraded as the answer to the perfect education, and not one I'd want to inflict on any child.
The parents concerned may feel they've done something marvellous, and perhaps they have, in their particular circumstances - but to offer it as a blueprint for other parents ?
That's without going into the merits, or otherwise, of whether home-education is a sound idea for more than a handful of cases anyway.
As mentioned, this regime depends primarily on the parents ability and education - and that they aren't tempted by the possibilities of indocrtination.
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:00 AM   #14
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Sorri 'bout that maytee, it ein't eezy when English is the tongue foreign.

Actually, I think that you have to be pretty good at English to write it that badly.
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:57 AM   #15
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Isn't it unwise to believe that parents are capable of correcting an essay? One might have thought that people here at MR would have above-average literary skills, but looking at the posts here, some of the grammar and spelling is pretty atrocious.
My apologies, I'm a french canadian! My bad!
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