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De-Program Mom
by: Kerry Beck

As we travel to book shows, I am encouraged to see how many families are homeschooling their children. Most of you are looking for the best curriculum or program for your children to provide them a better education than the public school. What SURPRISES ME is that most moms are taking the public school and recreating it at home. You use similar type lessons and want to be sure that your child has accomplished the same thing that the public school student will do during that grade level. I would think that homeschoolers would want something better than the education from public school. Isn’t that the reason you pulled them from school in the first place? I believe that you have the wisdom and the ability to go far beyond the public schools and provide a quality education for your child. Now, you’re saying, “Sounds good, but I don’t know how to do it. All I know is the public school system because that is how I was taught.” Give me a few minutes and I will explain.

Many of you walk into a booth and ask if X curriculum is appropriate for X grade. You are more worried about the guidelines of the government than what you know is best for your child. Yes, you do know what is best for your child. For example, most parents can tell when their child is ready to read and can then find a program that will help them teach phonics to their child. You don’t need a list of government objectives for kindergarten, first grade and second grade to teach reading. You don’t even need a list of objectives for tenth, eleventh or twelfth grades. I would like to encourage you to get off the “conveyor belt” of the public school and start providing your child a real education. According to Oliver DeMille, public schools are like factories. They put your child on a conveyor belt (grades 1-12) and dump the same information, at the same time, with the same testing of your child as they do for every other child. I know because I taught in the public schools for six years. It’s the same year after year. I could pull out last year’s lesson plans and many times copy them for the current year. Pretty sad, considering I had a new bunch of kids with different abilities and needs each year.

John Taylor Gatto tells us in Underground History of American Education about the Gary Plan of the early twentieth century. Schools in Gary, Indiana began to require “movement of students from room to room on a regular basis so that all building spaces were in constant use. Bells would ring and . . . children would shift out of their seats and lurch toward yet another class. In this way children could be exposed to many non-academic socialization experiences and much scientifically engineered physical activity, it would be a bonus value from the same investment, a curriculum apart from so-called basic subjects.” Doesn’t that sound like a factory? The Gary plan was noted for its economical features, “rigorously scheduling a student body twice as large as before into the same space and time”, earning the informal name, “platoon school”. You can quickly see that government education as we know it today began as an economic ploy to mass-produce students who spent time in a “factory school”. School officials were not interested in giving children an education. They were merely interested in moving kids through the requirements of school. These factory schools prepared children to work in a job. Graduates of public school were merely followers, not leaders.

A few other comments worth noting of public schools and its founders’ goals

We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.
Woodrow Wilson speech to businessmen before the First World War

The chief end was to “impose on the young the ideal of subordination”.
Benjamin Kidd, British evolutionist 1918

“’Survival of the fittest is nature’s way of producing beauty,’” said Rockefeller Sr. As a principal stockholder in U.S. Steel, he approved of school experiments in Gary, Indiana, to dumb down curriculum, seek more effective means of mind control.”
Rockefeller Foundation

…emphasis be shifted away from history to something safer called “social studies;” the thrust was away from any careful consideration of the past so that attention might be focused on the future.
Interim NEA report 1917

I was so saddened when I read these quotes because I learned that our modern education system was set up to rob our children of a true education. Government schools were founded to provide industry plenty of factory workers, office workers, and even professionals who could not think. Let’s face it many professionals are simply followers doing a “professional” job, whether it is medical, business, education or other professions. They know what to think and when to think, but they do not know “how” to think.

I give you this background about our modern education so you can see that schools really are a factory designed to teach your children subordination. When you follow the government’s education objectives, you “may” be training your children in the ways of modern American education to be a follower, not a leader. What I have found is when I homeschool by following each grade’s curriculum, I train my children to do the MINIMUM amount of learning. This tends to squelch their desire to love learning. They learn to do what someone else (mom) tells them to do, instead of developing ownership of their own education. They follow instead of lead in their studies.

Personally, I am trying to find the best way to develop a desire to learn and foster leadership in our homeschool Now, I am not saying that I do this perfectly. I am learning how to “think outside the modern education box” just like you. One thing I try to do is make decisions in our homeschool because they are best for my cildren, not because the government says so. There are subject areas that Steve & I desire for our kids to learn and I search for the best program, activity or curriculum to teach these areas. When I plan for our homeschool, I try to choose activities, books, curriculum because “Steve & I” think it is the best for that child, not because it is a grade requirement in the public schools. I don’t make decisions based on the fact that every other child in our state learns a specific topic at that particular age. What I’d like to do is encourage you as you finish this spring to make decisions about your homeschool because YOU think it is what is best for your family. Try not to worry about what all the other kids at that grade level are doing. Grade levels are designed to move kids through a school and through pre-planned curriculum. Grade levels tend to use textbooks (artificial books) instead of real, living books. Grade levels teach children to separate school from the rest of their lives. Grade levels encourage the minimum amount of learning. Grade levels develop followers instead of leaders. Grade levels produce workers for jobs, not thinkers for leadership positions. Do you want your child to be a follower or a leader? Are you training your children to love learning or do the minimum required?

More than anything else, choose your homeschool activities, books and curriculum because you think it is best for your children. Take some time to investigate what you are using in your homeschool to be sure it meets the needs of your children. Don’t choose curriculum because your child needs to have American History in 8th grade, or World Geography in 6th grade or Chemistry in 11th grade. Choose your child’s studies because your choice will give your child a great education where he or she will learn to critically think about the subject area.

Before I close, I want you to know that I am not trying to overwhelm you with a new approach to education. I hope you will take some time this spring to really think about what you are doing in your homeschool. Try to look at what qualities you are developing in your child through your homeschooling experiences. If you are simply doing certain subject because all other kids do that or because you want your child to be prepared for a job or you want your child to be able to get into college, please rethink your reasoning. Jobs and college can be good, but they should not be the main reason you are homeschooling. You see if you are thinking this way you are probably a product of the modern education system. That’s exactly the type of person Woodrow Wilson and JD Rockefeller wanted to produce with our school system. They have been highly successful in producing young men & women who can not think, but can get a job. Is your homeschool merely for getting a job, or is it to offer an education that will prepare your child for anything in the future? Will your homeschool just prepare your children for a job or will your homeschol prepare your children “how” to think critically in all situations in life?

Be prepared to finish strong this spring. De-program yourself by thinking outside the public school-grade level box. Rethink why you use the books you do. Consider your goals for each of your children before you attend a homeschool conference this summer. When you are traveling through those many booths at conferences, remember to buy books that are best for your children and your goals!

If you are wondering how to de-program yourself and homeschool without following the government’s curricula, I plan to write some more articles in the next few newsletters with specifics to encourage you. In the meantime, you may want to read A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First Century, by Oliver Van DeMille. If you have not read this book, you need to NOW ! You can read my review of this excellent book that changed the way I homeschool. Click Here

For those of you who have already read Thomas Jefferson Education, but are wondering how to do it, there are several CD’s and pamphlets with specific application. You can find a list HERE

© Kerry Beck, 2007

You may reprint the above article as long as you don’t make any changes and you include the following bio with the article.


Kerry Beck is a homeschool mom and wife! She is the author of Raising Leaders, Not Followers, which encourages parents to train their children to be leaders who lead wisely. She would like to give you a free report about Leadership Education in Homeschool Curriculum


Of course you can Buy Now! (only 19.95 – A Thomas Jefferson Education paperback)



Christian Homeschool Curriculum