Update: Visit catholicrobinson.com
Almost everything in the Robinson Curriculum are online and free. Why do we need to buy the Robinson Curriculum CDs in his website? Can’t we just use his recommendations on the required hours and put our own book list? This is the question raised to me by Catholic readers who think Dr. Robinson makes sense but hesitant to take the plunge for a variety of reasons.
Mrs. Treasures writes:
You are right about how it seems doable to just use the “idea of self-teaching” to our own book list and to adopt the simplistic schedule that Dr. Robinson used.
The self-teaching concept is the norm in the Ivy League universities and colleges with high standards and also for graduate and doctoral studies. It is not an idea that Dr. Robinson has some sort of “intellectual property” rights. Dr. Robinson’s breakthrough is how he was able to line up the books to gradually advance the reading levels of the children and at the same time be a complete high school curriculum.
He removed the “fluff” of modern works and focused on the classics where much of the development of our civilization took place. He focused on authors whose works have rich vocabularies and superb writing styles that are not common in these times. With his background, he knows how to develop a child’s mind to be a scientist – that you can never be an authentic one unless you know “math”. He also knew that you need to write often to be good at it.
Over the years, like all of us, he made tweaks in his home education. He tailor fitted it according to the needs of his family and the circumstances he was faced with. However, the Robinson curriculum is about how he was able to use “self-teaching”, a philosophy he grew out from being a CALTECH professor, a scientist, with a wife who just died, 6 children to homeschool, and a farm to manage. He just had to simplify things and stick to the basics -the 3R’s.
The Robinson curriculum has a set of CDs. For me, the heart of his curriculum is not in the books but in his Course of Study. The Course of Study, must be read first and foremost, if you wish to embark on the Robinson Curriculum. If you don’t, along the way you will find yourself deviating a lot to the point where you get things complicated again. We are guilty of that. We make things complicated for our children just because there is a plethora of wonderful curriculum out there.
The Course of Study is about Dr. Robinson’s lessons learned – an encouragement, a guide, an indirect explanation of why those books are in his line up, why he used Saxon Math, his tips, how it evolved and how it (RC) is enough to get that complete high school education. Without reading it, you won’t ever feel confident of the books he is recommending. You will find yourself offering “this book” and “that book” as a trial and error to your children.
I have to admit, I just read it one time and re-read it again another time. Then, I embarked on that road. I never looked back at it because I knew ” that” (self-teaching) all along. I just did not have the courage to do “self-teaching”. The Course of Study gave me that courage and what happened to his 6 children were great. For that reason, I do not regret paying him $200 because with those CDs are a wealth of resources.
Somewhere along the way, you will be stuck because some of the children may not be responding to your expectations. It is easy to blame it on RC so it is good to get back at the Course of Study to bring you back on track. What would you do if your child says “this book is boring”, would you believe it right away? Or your children will say “old books? I like the glossy colored ones.”
The Course of Study will give you confidence to allow your child to “self-teach” and to know what is your role in the process. Can you leave them in a room to do things by themselves? His answer is no. He had to do this with the help of “no tv, no sugar, no computer use until Calculus” policy in his house and a strict respect for everyone in the room and to their father, who is the authority in their homeschool education. How many of us can do that? All of these things will make sense once you read his Course of Study.
Like everyone, I want to support our Catholic Homeschool curriculum providers. I want to use their curriculum. For this reason, I plan to use the RC curriculum to advance the reading levels of my kids and when I feel them ready, I shoot high level Catholic materials they can study. While they are doing that, I am on a quest to discover if the book list of our Catholic homeschool providers will result to the same using the self-study method.
After checking out the books in the Catholic homeschool list, my research confirms that these books in the Catholic syllabus are indeed excellent materials that will lead you where you want to go – a good solid Catholic education using the Ignatian way, the scholastic way, the Great books way, the Charlotte Mason way, living books way, the classical way etc. Each curriculum is living up to its philosophy.
Whether I can use their book line up to “self-study” is another question to ponder. All of the books by Catholic homeschool providers are excellent content-wise. No questions ask. I can see the loyalty to our Catholic faith. But, many of them use the spoon-feeding approach - “This is the story, these are the facts, everything is laid out for you, enjoy it.” How will you handle books that are “over your heads”? It is for this reason that I am thinking of giving them the actual works of our Early Fathers (St. Augustine, St. Thomas, ST. Basil, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Ambrose etc) and the Bible, or resources that our priests actually study in theology. Aren’t their works full of wisdom and justify why the Catholic Church roots can be traced back to the apostolic Church? When can our children begin to study that? We all know how difficult it is to understand Summa Theologica etc at the high school level. What must we do so our children can read the works of our early fathers and and make connections before they finish high school? They need the confidence to read great books. They need to have the skills to make connections. They need the discipline to study on their own and know that they are accountable for their education. Through RC, we teach them at an early age that books can be used to teach yourself and that they must be accountable for what they will be learning now and in the future. But, it is just one way … there are many other ways to get there.
Robinson just lacks “packaging” of his curriculum but it is a breakthrough (to have courage to allow our children to self-discover and let the books teach them). THE CD is like a valuable resource. Robinson actually weeded them out for us except he is not Catholic thus, we think twice. As Catholics, we have another purpose and it is not just a solid academic preparation.
But for now my goal is to follow RC’s book list as core with the premise that our child has only “x amount of time” to finish his studies before college. Aside from the core, do I need to add more? My answer is yes. I want them to study our Faith with the same intensity. So I added another 1 hour. It is now the 4 R’s(Religion, wRiting, math and aRithmetic, Reading). The older ones are encouraged to do 2 hours. Thus, I do it in parallel. On the left side is the academic side – RC takes care of that so I am assured to duplicate his success with his kids. On the right side is the study of our Catholic Faith. The other subjects will take care of itself after they learn the discipline of “self-study”.