The post A MATH PROBLEM appeared first on Cloud 9 Learning.

]]>*By Sharon Hillestad*

I started my career as an educator in 1966 with 22 third graders in a Wisconsin public school. Modern math was a new way to teach math. I just had to follow the teacher’s guide and do what it said. It was “teacher proof.” All my students were to do the same lesson at the same time.

I offered to teach two chapters a day from the math textbook to students who wanted more math. It was double work and five third graders who loved math jumped at the chance. The rest of the students thought one lesson a day was plenty.

Then there was Julie who not only did double math lessons, but also did every extra credit problem in the back of the textbook. She was in a group by herself.

**Testing at the end of that school year revealed that the fast motivated students, even Julie, knew very little more math than the regular students.** Shouldn’t students who get through the entire Modern Math textbook know more than those who did a little over half the lessons? I became suspicious of those textbooks.

**As Foundational Math Instruction disappears from Grade School, Students able to do Advanced Math disappear from High School.**

I only taught in that school district for two years. However, eight years later I spoke to a teacher who had been teaching in that district for nearly ten years. **In 1968 this math teacher taught five classes of advanced math students. By 1977 he had only one advanced class.** This high school math teacher had to teach basic math skills to students who had gone through Modern Math lessons during grade school. His morale was as low as his students’ math scores.

Several years later I met an outstanding math teacher by the name of Stan Hartzler. His high school students had won awards. His other claim to fame was that he researched the history of math textbooks. **His study included examining copies of textbooks dating from the time of Thomas Jefferson to the time of Ronald Regan**.

We could expect that the textbooks would change somewhat during those decades 1800 to 1980, but who would suspect that **textbooks would gradually make teaching and learning math more difficult.**

**This was done by teaching math concepts and skills out of sequence and by not mastering foundational math skills.** This was happening even when I was in grade school. In 1953, my 4th grade teacher skipped around in the arithmetic textbook. She knew what skills needed to be taught first. Experienced teachers taught around the textbooks, adjusting the lessons as needed. Novice teachers, such as myself, adjusted to the textbooks and followed the teacher guides to the letter.

In the 1960s, with the advent of modern math, arithmetic skills (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals and percents) took a big hit. The Teacher’s Guide did not include practicing the addition facts or multiplication facts in third grade. But I sure spent a lot of time teaching “sets and subsets.” The students had pages of “greater than and less than.” These symbols were a big deal in third grade and not even mentioned in fourth grade. I have never seen them used in life. I didn’t know then that math textbooks couldn’t be trusted.

**I taught useless math concepts instead of teaching basic arithmetic skills.** Stan discovered that these changes first occurred in the 1920s. This was just after compulsory education to age 16 became the law throughout the US. **It appeared to Stan that the textbooks were written to limit the number of students who would eventually master advanced math.**

Stan did not sit on his discovery that math was purposely being made hard to learn. He presented these findings to the American Mathematics Society and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. These people regulated the math curriculum and the training of math teachers.

The rationale of the math instruction regulators was that there are jobs in society that need to be done, but that no one really wants to do. **It is easier to find workers for less desirable jobs if there are large numbers of people who are convinced that they are not capable or qualified to do the more desirable jobs.**

After one of his presentations, a professor approached Stan Hartzler and said, “We don’t want too much of a good thing Stan. Can you imagine what kind of a job we would have if everyone was as good at math as you and me?”

**Math curriculum was designed to be understood by the upper 5 to 10 percent of the class.** Elitism created and is still creating an expanding working lower class of Americans.

That cleared up the mystery of the math textbooks when I was a public-school teacher. It also explains the convoluted math homework that I’m dealing with now as a private tutor. Multiplication and division “strategies” make learning these concepts difficult and hateful. I am helping students drill “rounding numbers” and “estimating answers.” Students are being taught to guess.

What should I tell the 8-year-old boy when he asks, “Why is multiplication so hard to learn?”

The problem: the boy’s parents are paying me to help him master the homework. The truth is that the curriculum/homework has been designed to keep this student from getting good at math. Not doing the homework may cause him to fail 4th grade. Not being properly taught arithmetic will make it harder for him to support himself, to be successful, maybe even to be happy.

What should I tell him and his parents? What would you tell them?

Sharon Hillestad, Educator

January 2023

Whiteboard from a recent tutoring session. To solve the problem 362 times 47, my student was taught to break the numbers apart in the manner shown on the right. He kept getting the wrong so I demonstrated the “old” way for him on the left.

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]]>The post Dear Reluctant Homeschooler appeared first on Cloud 9 Learning.

]]>*By Sharon Hillestad*

I was in your situation about 40 years ago when I made a life changing decision that I would educate my own three children. I did full-time homeschool for only six years. But I have been a consultant for homeschooling families for over four decades. I deliver assessment testing, recommend curriculum and sometimes even assist parents by providing instruction.

Online school through a school district is not technically a homeschool. The public school district is responsible and it is in control. If you wish to take over the responsibility and control, and you follow a few legal requirements—now you have a homeschool.

Call your local school district and request information on how to register your student as a homeschooler. You can also just google the name of your school district and the word homeschool. In my district, the first thing that comes up is the homeschool department for our district where parents can get the exact information on how to register.

In Pinellas County, parents are required to have a third-party evaluation to verify academic progress once a year. Then a report is sent to the school district. Prior to the pandemic, public schools often allowed homeschool students to participate in sports or band and even take some classes. Hopefully things will get back to normal soon.

I know several families who receive guidance and curriculum from established private schools or tutoring services.This is a paid for service. Since the umbrella school assumes some responsibility for the student, they usually request monthly or even weekly reports. If your student is registered with an umbrella school, you do not need to inform the school district or send in yearly reports. Umbrella schools are great for parents who need that additional support.

Many families register with their school district and determine their child’s program for themselves. They determine the best curriculum to meet the particular needs of their student. Major and minor religions all have curriculum created for homeschoolers. This curriculum is usually better, in my opinion, than what the public school teachers have to work with.

Whether your child is enrolled in an online district virtual school, an umbrella school or directly with the school district as a homeschooler, they can benefit from homeschool classes that are provided. In our area, one homeschool co-op offers art classes, science classes and classes in many other areas once a week. This allows kids to socialize and parents to benefit from the expertise of professionals at a much reduced cost. In Washington state, these types of activities are offered to homeschool families at no cost.

When I and hundreds of other families were homeschooling forty years ago, we had few sources of support or curriculum. However, we did have John Holt, educator and author. He wrote **Growing Without Schooling**, a newsletter that was sent to homeschoolers all over the United States. Families sent letters to John Holt describing their adventures in home education. These newsletters are a rich source of information that is still meaningful for today’s Homeschoolers. Just google Growing Without Schooling and download the letters.

There is an online group, **BLUE COLLAR HOMESCHOOLERS**, where parents can communicate with other parents. These parents are not enamored with getting their students into college. They want practical curriculum and real-life skills. It is a very useful resource if you have a student who wants to become a skillful mechanic, plumber, electrician or to be able to fix computers or work with animals and plants. One of the success stories was of a young woman who built her own “little house” in the backyard. She did it all: carpentry, electrical and plumbing. Parents freely share their frustrations as well as their triumphs. Over 1000 people have participated in the conversation.

My style of homeschool bordered on Unschooling. Unschooling as an approach means you pretty much leave it up to the student to determine what he wants to learn. I did not leave it up to chance that my children would become good readers, however. In fact, that’s why I pulled them out of public school in the first place. Phonics lessons as needed, Winston Grammar (a fantastic way to teach parts of speech) and writing weekly letters to their grandparents took care of language arts. We spent a lot of time in the library and I became an expert at reading books aloud. Arithmetic workbooks were not optional either, but everything else was.

Children studying at home spend one to three hours a day on academics. So what do they do the rest of the time? It really depends on your resources, your time, and your priotities. There are homeschoolers living in RVs, apartments, on farms, and in mansions. Some parents have a lot of support from their extended families. But I know homeschool families headed by single mothers, and in one case, by a guardian grandfather going it alone.

Recently, I came across some research done in 1885 in Germany. Scientists found that most people forget 40% of what they learned within 20 minutes and 75% was gone by the end of the week. Once you come across some data you don’t want to forget, briefly repeat what you learned once a day for a week. Then do it once a week for a month. There is a good chance you will never forget that datum. This is a tip you can use whether you are teaching your student how to sound out words or how to do algebra. It is something worth knowing.

Homeschooling at its best is when students are learning something worth knowing. Children who are not bored, scared, or sick of school become adults who do not resist learning new things, such as learning how to best educate their own children.

Good Luck!

Yours in Education,

Sharon Hillestad

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]]>The post Bruce Silton, Math Educator appeared first on Cloud 9 Learning.

]]>*By Sharon Hillestad*

Excellent math tutors are rare. It’s my guess that for every 25 reading tutors such as myself, there is one math tutor who knows his subject and doesn’t have to totally rely on the math curriculum. The ratio may even be higher than that. It is even more rare to have a professional artist who is also a professional math tutor.

Bruce Silton is such a person, tutoring students in all subjects for the past twenty years at Clearwater Academy International in Clearwater, Florida. Bruce learns while he teaches his students because he is always thinking, “How can this lesson be simplified so that the student will really understand and use the concept?”

For example, when tutoring math, Bruce asks himself, “How accomplished in mathematics does this individual student have to be?”

His answer is: “How much math will he need to reach his personal mountaintop?”

Bruce defines math literacy in the following way: “The minimum level of ‘math literacy’ consists in the individual’s ability to comprehend, read, write, and apply mathematics competently in his handling of our present culture (and the ever-approaching future) to a degree at least equal to the goals he has set for his lifetime.”

He has discovered new and effective ways to teach math while delivering over 22,000 tutoring sessions, at least 16,000 of which were devoted to helping students having trouble with math. Fortunately, he is enthusiastic about sharing his “tricks of the trade” with other tutors and classroom teachers. To do this, he has written the following papers and books: The Other Side of Math, The Fraction Solution, Fraction Fundamentals, Number Fundamentals, The Future of Numbers, and Literacy, Mathematics, And Creativity.

I took notes while I studied his math materials. Here is a valuable tip for tutors called “The Theory of Problem Creation”. Problem Creation is done this way:

Each time a student masters (not squeaks by, but masters!) a new topic in arithmetic, pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, pre-calculus, or calculus, and before he continues on to the next topic in his textbook, tell him to:

1) Invent or make up math problems of his very own directly on the topic just mastered.

2) Then have him solve his just-created problems using the exact same solution procedure learned from his textbook.

3) Finally. the student must check his answers for accuracy.

4) Have him continue to create, solve and check his own problems on that topic until he can do so easily and without referring back to his textbook.

A student who follows this procedure will increase his ability to use that topic far above the limits of his textbook. He will have taken the first necessary steps to move up and out of the box defined by his textbook and rise into a new realm: math creativity. (Note: Bruce Silton’s “Theory of Problem Creation” is the first step of six-step program, the Other Side of Math, designed to elevate the entire field of mathematics and produce math geniuses in quantity.)

Bruce Silton can be reached using the contact page of his math educator’s website, www.MathCreativity.com or his artist/designer’s website: www.BruceSilton.com

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]]>The post Ethics in Mathematics Education appeared first on Cloud 9 Learning.

]]>*By Sharon Hillestad*

Before he was employed by John Saxon to develop a series of elementary math textbooks, Stan Hartzel wrote a white paper titled * An Ethical Question in Mathematics Education*. He gave it to me in 1986 when he spoke at one of the educational conferences I hosted in Minnesota.

By the time I met him in 1986, Stan Hartzel had already made presentations to the leaders of the two major organizations of math teachers: the **National Council of Teachers of Mathematics****(NCTM)** and the **Mathematical Association of America****(MAA)**.

He spoke to leaders in those two organizations about how math had been made more difficult for students. He demonstrated this by showing textbook after textbook after 1923 with revisions that made learning math more difficult.

This evidence did not cause either organization to make any changes or recommendations. In fact he was told more than once not to rock the boat.

**“Stan, we don’t want too much of a good thing now, do we? Can you imagine what kind of jobs you and I would have if everyone in the US was as good at math as you and me?”** Stan told me that this was the type of comment he heard following his presentations.

The most active leaders in mathematics education in the US were in agreement that **math education should be regulated**. This was easily done by training the teachers and approving which textbooks they could use in public classrooms. Teachers were encouraged to teach for the top five students in each class. It was too bad for the rest of the class.

For background, the **National Council of Mathematics Teachers** was formed in 1920. By 1923, all states had passed laws that made schooling compulsory to age 16. Thus began the dumbing down of standard math textbooks.**The rationale was that now schools would be getting students who couldn’t handle learning higher math**. This included the vast number of immigrants, minorities, and girls.

The thinking was that there are a large number of jobs that need to be done in our society which no one really wants to do. Finding workers for those jobs was perceived as easier if large numbers of people are convinced that they are not capable or qualified to do the more desirable jobs.

Fast forward to the early 1970s when researchers identified a large sample of U.S. 13-year-olds who were exceptionally talented in math—landing in the top 1 percent of mathematical reasoning scores on SAT tests. Forty years later, those “wunderkinder” are now midcareer and have accomplished even more than expected, according to a recent follow-up survey. Researchers at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College published the update in the December 2014 issue of *Psychological Science*, writing: “For both males and females, mathematical precocity early in life predicts later creative contributions and leadership in critical occupational roles.”

Today, more and more of those undesirable jobs are being replaced by artificial intelligence, AI, leaving the multitudes of citizens who are poorly educated in math with fewer and fewer options.

The solution is education. Parents and teachers need to be aware of the situation and find and use materials that do result in a high level of math literacy.

Robert J. Toftness, a veteran educator from California, also did extensive research of math textbooks after observing the frustration students had about math. Alteration to math education began in 1923, but it was intensified in the mid-1960s. **Basic instruction in arithmetic was gradually removed from math textbooks**.

R.J. Toftness wrote a book that introduces a simple way to understand the subject. *Unlock The Mystery To Math and Discover Why You Failed in Math*. This book introduces a simple way to understand the subject and get a student winning again.

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]]>The post Reading War Meets Math War appeared first on Cloud 9 Learning.

]]>*By Sharon Hillestad*

On September 12, 1986, a friend, Karin Mesa, and I organized an **Educational Extravaganza**. The event was open to parents and teachers interested in gaining more knowledge about reading and math instruction.

The event took place in Minnesota. We invited several authors of phonics programs as well as Marian Hines and Stan Hartzel.

Marian Hines was a retired school teacher and the president of **Reading Reform Foundation**. She was knowledgeable about the history of reading instruction. (This is a subject that I have written about on this blog and will soon be publishing a book about.)

Stan Hartzel had a PHD in Mathematics Education and at the time was the senior editor of a series of elementary math textbooks published by John Saxon.

Before meeting Stan Hartzel, I did not know that math instruction shared a similar history to reading instruction.

Stan researched ** 144 elementary math textbooks starting from the time** of Thomas Jefferson up to modern times. Then he wrote his thesis for his doctorate in math education. He documented that math textbooks had been altered in each revision after 1923. They did not get better and better. No, they got worse and worse.

The result of these changes made it **more difficult to learn math. As a result, only a limited number of people would develop higher math skills.**

Many of my own students over the past many decades have expressed that math was hard for them and that they were not smart enough to do math well. I felt the same way when I was in elementary and highschool.

Stan and Marian met for the first time at our Minnesota conference. Although each was well aware of problems in their own field, t**hey were stunned to discover that reading and math instruction both started to degrade in 1923—after school became compulsory to age 16.**

At dinner after the conference, Marian and Stan, talked for hours and compared how literacy and math instruction had been changed. Here are some of the points they found in common in the instruction of the two subjects:

- Drilling basic skills in both subjects was discouraged because it would be “harmful”.
- Spending lots of time teaching minor functions and brushing over vital functions—this caused a dumbing down in both reading and math instruction.
- Not teaching either subject in a logical sequential manner causes students to think they cannot learn. This is how learning disabilities get established.

It was after this conference that Saxon added a phonics program to their math curriculum. Now they knew that all students weren’t being taught to read either.

Marian Hines left Minnesota in shock. She had discovered that there wasn’t just a literacy crisis. It was so much bigger.

**Stan Hartzel said that “if a foreign country wanted to destroy us, they could do it by destroying our math.”** But it didn’t take a foreign power. This was entirely an inside job.

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]]>The post The Story of How a WWII Hero Launched a War on Bad Math Instruction appeared first on Cloud 9 Learning.

]]>*By Sharon Hillestad*

John Saxon had been a scientist during the early days of our country’s space program. Upon his retirement in 1970, he taught algebra at a community college. He was surprised and appalled to find that his students did not know basic arithmetic. **They couldn’t add, subtract, multiply, divide, or calculate percentages and fractions with confidence**.

Math instruction with the usual “approved” textbooks had become such that it was impossible to successfully get all students proficient in the subject. The top five or ten percent may grasp the more advanced math concepts. The rest of the students…too bad.

Saxon created a curriculum which would teach these foundational math skills and reach all students. **It is called Algebra ½ because it is half arithmetic and half algebra**. This program presents the math concepts logically and with sufficient drill and review. **Students trained with the Saxon method outperformed others trained in the usual math curriculum**.

Eventually John Saxon borrowed $50,000 and published Algebra ½ himself. The textbook was hugely successful with private schools and homeschoolers. My sons learned math from Algebra ½. Now Saxon math textbooks are available from Kindergarten through Calculus.

John Saxon held three degrees in engineering and was a gifted teacher. He designed math books to be user-friendly and had proved that his program worked before he started selling it. That is not the case with most other textbooks sold to public schools.

**Instead, textbook publishers continue to use unproven fads and programs on children**. Saxon’s continuing and verified successes were ignored by established math education leaders. **There was a raging math war involving Saxon and The National Council of Mathematics Teachers (NCMT)**.

**It was the NCMT that got math textbooks “dumbed down” starting in 1923**. This happened after compulsory education to age 16 became law. It was a curiosity to me that my father, with his eighth grade education, had better math skills than his five children, all of whom graduated from highschool. No mystery—he had better training in math.

John Saxon died in 1996. He never agreed with the common belief that only certain people are genetically capable of learning mathematics.

**Read more about the math war at** **http://saxonmathwarrior.com/**

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]]>The post Here Is an Idea That Can Strengthen Your Family appeared first on Cloud 9 Learning.

]]>Tonight at the the dinner table, **read something out loud** to your family.

Tomorrow night, let another member read something.

A news story.

An inspirational verse from the Bible or elsewhere.

A poem.

A cereal box panel.

History.

Humor.

*Anything*.

**Each night a different family member can read a selection**.

Imagine the wide range of subjects your family will read in 365 days.

What a stimulating way to have your children develop good reading habits.

We have tens of millions of Illiterate adults in America.

We wouldn’t have one, if each of them had **been served reading as part of their nightly diet**.

It’s non-fattening, But enriching.

And it doesn’t cost A dime.

A message by United Technologies Corporation, Hartford CT, published in the Wall Street Journal sometime in the 80s

Families often feel overwhelmed, but **something can be done** about the hooked-on-electronics society we deal with everyday.

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]]>The post Anyone can be a Reading Teacher with Let’s Read appeared first on Cloud 9 Learning.

]]>*Written by Sharon Hillestad*

You may be a parent who wants to or has to, teach your own child how to read. **Thousands of parents have used Let’s Read: A Linguistic Approach and you can too**.

* Let’s Read *presents a simplified method of teaching reading based on the alphabet and centered around spelling patterns. It teaches the child one thing at a time starting with the names of the letters.

**Leonard Bloomfield (1887-1949) was one of the greatest linguists of our time**. He was an expert in the English language and a professor of linguistics at Yale in the 40s. He created the *Let’s Read* lessons based on firm scientific principles of the language so that he could teach his own children to read.

**Rather than teaching children to sound out words, in Let’s Read they are taught to spell them**. The sounds are learned because the students spell several words having the same pattern. For instance:

After the student is able to read and spell those words, the next list consists of: *can, Dan, fan, man, Nan, pan, ran, tan, an, ban, van.*

The student is shown how the word rat differs from *ran*; *pat* from *pan*; and *mat* from *man*. The student knows how to read these words before getting more words with the short A sound.

**Learning this way ensures that the student knows to read from left to right**. The student learns the consonant sounds and one vowel sound at a time. The language patterns become automatic. There are no phonics rules to learn. There are 245 lessons that get the students to look at the words. **There are no pictures and there is no guessing**.

This method makes it easy for a child to learn to read. It was never picked up by the large curriculum companies, maybe because the cost was so low–under $30.00 today. ** Let’s Read isn’t promoted in the colleges of education either**. Perhaps because

* Let’s Read* was first published by Wayne State University Press in Detroit, Michigan in 1961. A second edition became available in 2010. Five thousand words, as well as capitalization, sentence structure, and punctuation, are taught step-by-step. The last story is book-length and when the student can read that story fluently, they are done learning to read. They can now

To get started, you need to be sure that the student is ready to learn to read. Starting children in reading before they are physically or emotionally ready may create problems.

This is a simple assessment you can use to determine if a child is ready for Let’s Read.

**1. Can the child see a pin on the floor and pick it up?** This is to determine if his eyes are ready for reading.

**2. Is the child able to button up his own clothes?** This is to ensure he has the muscles and dexterity to learn how to print.

**3. Can the child recognize the letters of the alphabet?** Not just singing the ABCs, but actually recognizing and saying the names of all the letters, both capital and small.

**No words are taught until the student has total recognition of all the letters**. Ideally, they would also be able to print any three-letter word that is spelled to them. This ensures they know the difference between the letters b and d or the letters p and q. Children will have difficulty learning to read if they are confused about the letters.

If using * Let’s Read *as a remedial reading program for older students, be sure they know the alphabet perfectly. Many high school students make mistakes, even when they are told how to spell the words bed and bad.

**Now that you have read this article, you have more knowledge about teaching beginning reading than I did after four years of teacher’s college.**

Go figure.

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]]>The post The 100-Year War You Didn’t Know About —The Reading War appeared first on Cloud 9 Learning.

]]>“Sharon Hillestad and sons Matt and Hans. This image appeared in an article on homeschooling featuring the Hillestad family in the Glen Burnie, MD paper in 1980.”

*By Sharon Hillestad*

**I got into homeschooling because I wanted to ensure that my sons became literate and learned to love books.** As a classroom teacher in the 60s, I knew that there were always children, usually boys, who struggled to learn to read and never learned to enjoy reading.

My two brilliant boys seemed like prime candidates for the low reading group.

It would seem logical since I was degreed, licensed, and certified to teach elementary students, that I should be able to teach my own boys how to read. **But my degree did not make me any more able to teach reading than my neighbor who didn’t go to college at all.**

I had a lot to learn, so I read books and I went to seminars and conferences.

I discovered that I was in the middle of a “war” as were other teachers, parents, and students. A silent, insidious and damaging war we didn’t even know existed. It even had a name—**The Reading War**.

There has been a debate about the best way to teach the beginner reader. On one side were the “phonics first” advocates which were originally composed of teachers. On the other side were the “whole word” folks originally composed of college professors hired by the curriculum companies.

The debate had been going on at the collegiate level since about 1920, but did not become public until 1955 when Rudolph Flesch wrote *Why Johnny Can’t Read*.

“Sharon’s well-worn copy of Why Johnny Can’t Read.”

There is a lot to know about this situation, but suffice it to say that the colleges of education never acknowledged that there was any objection to the way the curriculum companies dictated instructional methods. Teachers simply used the Whole Word method (Dick and Jane) and later the Whole Language method WITH ALL THE LEVELED READERS (many leveled readers are required in whole language programs, driving the cost of this curriculum way up).

Teachers just got used to the fact that not every child would learn how to read even with years of schooling and reading instruction.

Fast Forward to 2020 and there are millions of adults who have spent years in school who are classified as functional illiterates. These people cannot read well enough to fill out job applications or follow written directions or signs. They will confide in me since I am a reading instructor. However, you may know such people and be unaware that they struggle with reading. They are experts in covering it up.

Although a small percentage of these people may have some exotic reason for not being able to read, most of them simply were not taught how written English works. The method used to teach children to read in most schools is simply not the best method and does not teach all children.

The truth is, all children can learn how to read, even many with organic disabilities. It takes some know-how, the right curriculum, and a lot of patience.

The post The 100-Year War You Didn’t Know About —The Reading War appeared first on Cloud 9 Learning.

]]>The post Homeschooling – From Borderline Illegal to Now COVID-19 Mandated. appeared first on Cloud 9 Learning.

]]>*Written by Sharon Hillestad*

**Who would have predicted that there could be a time when parents would be forced to homeschool their children** such as we are seeing in April 2020 with the COVID-19 quarantine.

That certainly never occurred to those of us homeschooling in the 70s and 80s when doing so meant you could be arrested or fined. Back then, social services even threatened to put the home educated children into foster homes. Many people thought dire consequences awaited those who did not spend six hours a day in school.

Those were exciting times. **We not only had to dodge the law, but we also had to jerry-rig the curriculum**. Fortunately, there were two major authorities, John Holt and Dr. Raymond Moore, who helped legitimize the movement.

**John Holt wrote 13 books about improving schools that were available in libraries in 1979**. I was reading one of those books when I discovered that he was an advocate for homeschooling parents. Later, in 1981, he authored Teach Your Own and in it, he reprinted my letter to him describing how I worked with the school district to remove my son from school. I also wrote about our first three days of homeschooling:

It was a great adjustment for me as I found myself being a “classroom teacher,” trying to implement the schedule and “get through” the subjects. By the third day, my son protested vigorously. I then decided that the schedule and the plans were mostly for the benefit of the administrators and probably had little bearing on what my son would eventually learn.

–Excerpt from my letter on page 87 of Teach Your Own by John Holt

So for the next six years, my son studied whatever and whenever he wanted to learn.

“John Holt was featured in the Hastings Gazette weekly paper in 1981 when he spoke to a group of homeschoolers at the Hillestad home.”

John Holt was my mentor. He unofficially appointed me as the contact person for homeschoolers in Minnesota. We were the one and only homeschooling family in Hastings, but there were at least 50 homeschooling families in the state.

Parents expressed various reasons for wanting to take their kids out of school. The major one was that they were dissatisfied with the education their children received. Interestingly enough, **I met a lot of teachers who were homeschooling their children**. I had been an elementary teacher as well before starting a family.

I couldn’t agree more with John Holt who stated, “Since compulsory school attendance laws force teachers to do police work and so prevent them from doing real teaching, it would be in their best interests, as well as those of parents and children, to have those laws repealed, or at least greatly modified.” This was written in 1981.

**Since then, teachers have lost even more control over curriculum, schedules, and testing**. The number of homeschooling families was close to two million even before the quarantine.

Now nearly all parents have total responsibility for their children’s education. Of course, the libraries are closed as are other educational establishments. But there is a plethora of curriculum online. There are teachers for hire via zoom and seasoned homeschoolers willing to help whether you are in this for the short run or if you decide to try it for a year or two.

In either case – welcome to the club. **Homeschoolers are everywhere**.

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