My dd12 is starting to question and 'analyze' what she is reading instead of taking it at face value, which is what we wanted for her.  I've noticed steady progress in the organization of her thoughts as she answers written questions.  - S.B.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

Here you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the Connect The Thoughts™ educational program. If you have questions that are not answered here, you may send your questions directly to our founder: click here .

 
Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)
80060

Long Term Planning

Janet asks all the right and hard questions. Here's the latest:

"Ok, I'm a long term planner. What happens next if my boys start the lower school courses at age 9 and finish at age 16? or 15? or even 14?"

ANSWER:

The Lower School Curriculum is not intended to go any longer than two years, whether the student completes the Lower School materials or not. Lower School materials are principally preparatory for Upper School , though they do educate, and intensely so. If someone were to do ALL of the curriculum (which NO ONE has yet done, by the way), they would do Lower School from say age 9-10. WHEN THEIR READING SKILLS ARRIVED AT A POINT WHERE THEY WERE ABLE TO READ AND EXECUTE UPPER SCHOOL MATERIALS, they would IMMEDIATELY move up, but probably not much before age 11, as these are largely based on University-level materials.

The key is LITERACY. When a student is sufficiently literate, we'd like him to move into Upper School, and quickly. TO THIS END, I WILL CREATE A LITERACY TEST FOR UPPER SCHOOL AND PLACE IT ON THE CTT SITE THIS WEEK. (We used to have one, but when we moved over to the new site, it was mysteriously lost. Ah, computers...)

To use our free Lower School Reading Test, composed of sample lessons from the level, to determine if this level is correct for your student, click here.

To look at Lower School courses, free samples of each course, and free videos explaining every part of Lower School, click here.

To look at our Lower School Semester I buindle, the least-expensive way to get started, click here.

Upper School cannot (and probably should not) be done in its entirety any faster than 4 years. This would include completing at least the following, currently:

  • ALL BASICS COURSES, INCLUDING US HOW TO DO RESEARCH
  • US HISTORY I-XI
  • US SCIENCE I-VIII
  • CREATIVE WRITING I-V (MINIMALLY!)
  • YOUR AMBITIONS AND PLANS, and MANNERS
  • AS MANY CURRENT EVENTS (WORLD PROBLEMS) COURSES AS POSSIBLE

Ideally, however, the student would also do a Writing Master's Course, as these go a very long way towards providing a salable skill. These are very involved and take time, I would think AT LEAST 1 year per course, unless the student is very dedicated. I used to teach at U.S.C., in their professional writers program, and these Master's Courses are FAR more complete and involved than that program. They have the intention of helping create a PROFESSIONAL writer.

To look at the free Upper School reading test, composed of lessons from this level, to determine if Upper School is the right level for your student, click here.

To look at Upper School courses, free samples of each course, and free videos explaining each part of Upper School, click here.

To look at our Upper School Creative Writing Prrogram, click here.

Also, I'm a big fan of students doing arts electives. As you know, we offer acting, animation, and music. The acting programs will take a student 2 semesters, currently. Music, however, is probably a good 2 years, animation, as long as three. I'll be adding to these course line-ups this year.

So, what's the answer? Well let's break the question into parts.

PART ONE: HOW LONG WILL UPPER SCHOOL TAKE?

Upper School, given the student should be studying math, history, science, basics courses, creative writing, electives, and doing some sort of P.E. should take AT LEAST 4 years. My son (VERY bright and diligent) is on his 5th year, is 16 years old, and will complete sometime this year. He will have studied Upper School nearly 6 years. That said, his essays and creative writings are frighteningly brilliant. His vocabulary is intimidating to most adults, and his general subject of conversation incomprehensible to anyone without a very good background in many areas. Me personally, I believe if a student does their studies honestly, vigorously, and diligently, without any "glibness", but with the intent to truly and actually learn, Upper School is AT LEAST 4 years, more likely 5-6. Then again, it replaces High School and Middle School (or Junior High)...and provides an education FAR more complete and intensive than schools offer, as a rule. Connect The Thoughts is intended to REPLACE completely "school", with home school that will actually challenge, educate, and work.

PART TWO: WHAT NEXT?

So, your student finishes Upper School at age 16. Or he/she is a wunderkind and completes at 15 (unlikely, but then, it's a big world.) Where to? Let me offer you an OPINION. This is ONLY my OPINION, it is not any more than an opinion. It's based on having taught and lectured at many universities and colleges and schools, and having taught for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and for private schools for over 10 years. AGAIN, THE FOLLOWING IS OPINION .

I generally don't like schools. What they are today and how they function (and this includes almost all school, including private schools) reminds me either of prison, or mass baby sitting. I don't like the fact that schools are forced to shy away from certain subjects which are not "PC", such as religion, politics, social behavior, etc.

I only went through High School, myself, in Los Angeles. I never went to college, not for one day. By the time I finished High School, I was working professionally as a writer-director-performer, and had won an Emmy Award. All the teaching I've done (and we're talking MANY thousands of hours of classroom time) has happened because I invested massive amounts of time and effort to master something that I LOVED...theatre. I decided at a very early age that writing was the thing I most wanted to do, and that writing theatre in particular was for me. I studied HARD, particularly from age 11, and on my own. I read about 3 plays a DAY, for 10 years, no joke. (I read very quickly.) I directed over 5 productions a year and ran my own theatre company from age 14. I started teaching acting workshops at age 15. All true, if a bit bizarre. (Fortunately, I had no one around telling me it couldn't be done.)

It is my OPINION that a person knows what he wants to do at a very young age. I believe that some people follow up on their young dreams, and many do not, and for many reasons. One reason many people fail to go after their dream is THEY ARE STOPPED, often by well-meaning parents, friends, and relatives who "know best" what their child (or friend) ought to do with his/her life. But of course, only YOU know what YOU dream of and believe in and want to do. A person's dreams can be murdered at a very young age, with just one sour look from someone respected and beloved, when the child mentions casually "I want to paint", or "help people", or "be an astronaut".

Further, it is my OPINION that a child...and by this I mean nearly any and every child...has the capacity to DO EXACTLY AS THEY DREAM. Those of you home schooling bright children know what I mean! But even a child who is "challenged" (HATE that word and the silly idea behind it) WILL learn things he/she WANTS to learn, and I've found this to be a nearly inviolable law. The CAPACITY is there, and usually, at a young age.

SO WHAT, besides a sour look or misspoken word, STOPS A PERSON FROM LEARNING??? Let me tell you a quick story. I COULD NOT READ UNTIL 1ST GRADE. True. Why? NO ONE TAUGHT ME. My mother was busy raising two sons alone, and dependent upon the school system to handle us. They didn't. As a matter of fact, my kindergarten teacher SPOKE NO ENGLISH. My stepfather refused to believe this until he went to "open house" and met her. Not able to speak any Korean, they were unable to communicate.

Then, I lucked out. My first grade teacher, whose blessed name was Mrs. Schick, but she re-married and became Mrs. Miller, looked at me one day, and came up with an odd idea, one she ONLY DID WITH ME. She asked me to start reading through Webster's Dictionary from page one, with her. We did this every day (at lunch, etc...) NO PHONICS, NO ANYTHING but learning to identify the written word (combination of written squiggles) with the sound of the word, with the definition and meaning of the word. Page by page, word by word. I became better and faster at this as we went. Much faster. I was tested at the end of the school year, and they found that I was able to read over 1,000 words a minute with 100% comprehension. (Wish I'd learned to spell better, however...)

Mrs. Miller saved my life, simply by both challenging me, and providing me THE ACTUAL INFORMATION WITHOUT ADORNMENT I needed to learn, and then expecting me to master the materials. And YES, this was a GOOD result from my connection with a school...however her method was utterly NON standard, and she did this with no other student I knew of. Why me? Don't know. Someone was certainly looking out for me, though. END OF STORY.

So your student does all the Connect The Thoughts materials...many of which are University Level AND THEN SOME. He/she finishes at age 16. What to do? College? Well, MY OPINION, college/University is GREAT for having a social life, and is NECESSARY if you plan to do something which REQUIRES a degree, such as being a doctor or lawyer or, as my son has expressed some interest in...an "Astro-Botanist". (He is also a professional actor and a brilliant writer, however, so we shall see. His current hero is Carl Sagan, something that developed out of his studies.) But I can't imagine why anyone would go to college for any other reason. And a warning (one shared by my dear, departed wife, who had a Masters in music and voice from Texas University)...I believe that sending a student to a college or university to learn the arts is simply a mistake and deadly. Nearly every artist I know who has experienced any success simply started in their teens or earlier, and continued to create and study ON THEIR OWN OR WITH VERY TRUSTED INDIVIDUALS. I know MANY successful artists, and very few have degrees.

If college is the game, you will need to have your home school student take any state-required tests to graduate high school. These tests, structured for the public schools, are VERY EASY to a bright home school student, though I advise you make certain your student knows his/her math. You may also want to do the SAT tests, if you wish to place a student into a great university or college. But for myself, I discourage the idea generally of college. Besides, frankly, Connect The Thoughts is designed to teach most of the general educational requirements a student would do in college (and more), and at a much younger age. General Ed can cover the first year or two in college, before one is allowed to specialize. I say (my OPINION) start specializing YOUNG, when you know what you want to learn and do!

I BELIEVE that, by age 16, most people have formed a very real idea of what they want to do, and are READY TO GO AFTER IT. If it requires study (as my career did and does), they WILL study. But if they're in love with what they're planning to do, THEY WILL FIND WAYS TO LEARN ALL ABOUT IT, including real world experience. I did. Millions of others have.

Finally, we come to THE PURPOSE OF EDUCATION . Education is NOT a means unto itself! It is NOT a career, except for the professional teacher. It SHOULD be on-going for a life time, as there is no shortage of amazing things to learn, but now we're talking about EDUCATION, and not "SCHOOLING", which are two entirely separate things! The PURPOSE of education, it seems to me, should have a lot to do with preparing a child (or adult) to live a happy, successful, useful life. I think most parents would agree on this, and possibly many educators. Education can provide skills and insights which will serve the student throughout his/her life. Education should open the eyes and mind of the student to the wonders of life, and the uncountable options available at every moment. It should open the door to endless solutions to problems undreamed of at the time education was occurring, problems that will crop up in later years and resolve with cool and intelligent application of information and skills.

Our job as parents and educators includes (MY OPINION) the true and thorough preparation of our young TO LEAD, to make wise decisions based on good information and clear thought and clean hearts. In doing this, we best guarantee the survival of our young, our civilization, and our planet. Education should OPEN THE STUDENT'S AWARENESS to possibilities, and to THEIR OWN IDEAS AND BELIEFS, those deeply held truths unique to that unique person. It should demand of the student that he/she think and delve and comprehend and form opinions. It SHOULD NOT demand stock answers to stock questions, regurgitated neatly on cue. That IS schooling and at EVERY level and in nearly every institution, including universities.

I think we should educate, and listen to our children when THEY tell us "what next", based on the fact that they're awake, informed, and interested. And when they tell us "what next", we should do everything in our power to help them to their dream. THAT is my answer to the wonderful question Janet asked, by the way.

     Steven Horwich
     Connect The Thoughts

 
 


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