Monday, July 30, 2012

Computer as the Teacher

I am Vincent Cate, one of Henry's brothers.   I live in Anguilla, a small island in the Caribbean.   The private school here is asking me for nearly 3 times as much money for next year as I paid last year.  I have decided it is time to start homeschooling.

There is no private school for 7th to 12th grades in Anguilla.   A number of parents send their children to the next island at great cost and extra time for the children.   If I can get computers to do most of the teaching I may be able to start a school and get some paying students and make some extra money.   I am wondering if computers can do most of the education for junior high and high school age students, so that one teacher might have 10 or 20 students even when they are at different ages.   My plan is to start with just my two older boys (ages 9 and 11 in Sept) for the fall.   After this, if I think I can handle another 10 kids, and if I can get a school license, then maybe expand in January.

I am a Libertarian atheist.  I don't want a religious education for my kids, nor one that makes it seem like big government is a good thing.

The Calvert School seems very good but when I spoke with them they seemed to strongly believe that humans have to do the teaching, not computers.  I think they are wrong and that computers can be very good teachers and are the future of teaching.

I have been impressed with or had recommended to me the following computer based education.  We are already at the point that students learn much faster with many of these than sitting in a normal class with 10 or 20 other students listening to a teacher.   The software and online videos will keep getting better.
It seems that K12 provides a good general education where the computer does most of the teaching.   My current thinking is that K12 will be our main source  with the others above as extras.   I am looking for any feedback anyone can give.   Does my plan seem reasonable?   Are the above sources ok for a Libertarian atheist?  Are there others you can recommend?


Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Once people learn to read (possible before they can speak) and compute (basic Algebra, possible by age 9), they can learn on their own. The Nobel-laureate economist James Buchanan attributed his success to his education in a one-room schoolhouse. The teacher could not present lessons to all grades simultaneously, so she piled each student's books on his desk and turned him loose. Or her.

Curriculum is more important than the method of delivery. I recommend Dover paperbacks for Math and Science.

Good luck.

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Teaching Textbooks for mathematics! This is a CD on computer course, not an internet course, though. It goes through pre-calc and every answer is explained in detail including all test answers. Depending on which grade level you are getting, it will automatically grade a student's work. I don't do that, though, and I just have the child write his answers in a plain 50 cent notebook so we can save the textbook/workbook that comes with it for the next student.

No religion of any sort mentioned in Teaching Textbooks. Hope that helps and all the best to you!

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

PS you can check out sample lessons for each grade level/ order here

PPS Nope, not compensated by TT at all. I just love their stuff.

Brendan said...

The power of the homeschool is not the content, the curriculum will change based on the needs and interests of the individual student.

What you have listed here are basically content providers. This will build knowledge.

If you believe an educated person must also be able to evaluate, discern, and learn to love learning then you can't abdicate your role in the learning process to computers.

Let computers do what they do well and humans do what humans do well.

Vincent Cate said...

I do expect that there will be adult supervision and help. I am just hoping that it is only 10% or even 5% of the time that each child needs help. If it is such a small percentage then one adult can handle 10 or 20 kids even when they are at several different grade levels. Then a small private school becomes reasonable.

Jean said...

IIRC Excellence in Writing is fairly evangelical in tone . It is very popular with the Christian homeschoolers. I personally would not recommend it anyway-but Peace Hill Press' writing curriculum,which I would recommend, doesn't yet go high enough for you. If you can get The Well-trained Mind and read it, do that before you decide. :-)

Janine Cate said...

Jean, I'm surprised by your comment. I was introduced to IEW by an atheist homeschooler who loved it. I can't recall anything religious mentioned in any of the lessons I've used.

Jean said...

Well, I guess I'm wrong then! :) Sorry. I've never used it myself, just looked at it and heard A. Pudewa speak some.

Char said...

Khan Academy is not just for college level learning. It starts with basic arithmetic and goes up from there. We used it last year for my 6th grade son. You can set goals for the student by linking to videos and exercises. The teacher is able to see how much time was spent on videos and exercises. The student must gain a certain amount of mastery of the subject before that subject is completed. I think it would be worth a second look.

Jessica said...


I really think you are doing a great job. Homeschooling is probably the best kind of teaching for students who are unable to go to school. It is important for you to understand a child's course of interest. Give computer knowledge in a way that student's get involved and you can allot them exercises linked with videos.In this way, you can really understand well a students weaknesses and work on it them.

majellamom said...

I second the Teaching Textbooks - they are awesome, and require almost no effort from me (just keeping an eye on grades, and answering the occasional question from my daughter) IEW is also awesome, but I assume you are looking at the on-line courses? If you are doing it at home, it is a good amount of work for the parent - but fun, too. Andrew Pudewa is a Catholic convert, but the materials (other than Bible-based writing, which obviously, you wouldn't be interested in) are not religious in nature. Some of the student samples in the TWSS (Teaching Writing Structure and Style seminar for teachers) do have religious stuff in them, but that comes from the individual student(s), and is not part of the curriculum as a whole.

home for school said...

We should not be too dependent on computer, however computer has help change our life better