Post-Apocalyptic Education: Homeschooling when TSHTF

by M.D. Creekmore on May 6, 2013 · 50 comments

This is a guest post by Humbly ~ Zee and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.

How to choose the best home school curriculum

There are many reasons for deciding to educate your children at home. While I adore discussing reasons to home school, education philosophies, or different curriculum currently available today, the following is specifically about prepping to educate yourself or someone else after a SHTF scenario. Please feel free to add your comments and suggestions, in the hopes that this can become a repository of info on a subject I don’t see mentioned much. ~ Zee

There is a famous quote by John Adams that perfectly sets the stage for any discussion of post-apocalyptic education:

“I must study politics and war, that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy, natural history and naval architecture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, tapestry, and porcelain.”

While the beginning prepper is obsessed with food, medical, and ammo collection (and rightly so!) there will eventually be a point when you might consider the education needs of you and those around you. If the ‘event’ you are experiencing is short-term, having sufficient materials on hand can help you keep your kids on their educational track. If you are looking at a longer term situation, the means to educate becomes a great way to increase your chances of survival by keeping the mind sharp, building morale by reminding ourselves of the good and beautiful in humanity, and at the very least decreasing boredom. In the worst case scenario it becomes even more important: a way to ensure that we as a people do not lose our history. Even if you don’t have any children, you would do well to consider continuing your own education, or even bartering your ability to teach those around you.

Looking online at home school materials is likely to overwhelm the most seasoned home school veteran! My favorite catalog is the size of the Los Angeles phone book; both in heft and in thinness of paper filled with tiny print (and that is no exaggeration I promise you!). Don’t despair! You really can teach your children and yourself at home with just a few resources. While in today’s world I opt for materials that are fun and match the learning styles of my 3 children, if TSHTF I will need to streamline my bookshelf. After all, I will be counting on them to help with daily survival… while our current plan involves building self-sufficiency skills, there will likely be a shift in our learning priorities.

So, put on your thinking caps, grab a pencil and paper, and let’s go!

A word about books…

Even though my oldest is only in 9th grade, I choose to search out college texts (‘101’ level) to put on the shelf. If I can read the book, then I can teach him what he needs to know. College books are plentiful and, honestly, many of the freshman and non-majors texts are written on a jr. high reading level. Check the trash cans at the university on book buy back days, I find lots of great textbooks that are barely opened sitting on the ground. To stay in business text book manufacturers and schools are in collusion to have the students buy the latest editions, even though sometimes the only difference between editions is the cover art. When the bookstores no longer buy the older editions you can benefit. Thrift shops are great too: I recently picked up a new Norton’s Anthology ($65) for $2. Be sure to check for distracting underlining and highlighting inside. I can tape up a ripped spine, but an annoying doodle can ruin my day.

Reading, Writing, and ‘Rithmatic

There is a reason the old rhyme elevates these three subjects. The mastery of hearing ideas and gathering info, using logic to understand and calculate a response, and effectively communicating that response has been the basis of education since the Ancients. If these subjects were taught well today, even at the expense of ‘health’ and ‘social studies’, our country would perhaps be in a different place altogether. Ahem. Anyway, a few basic reference books can help us begin to appropriate these skills for our own.

Reading and Literature

While the novels on my shelf come and go, there are a few literature reference books that I keep on hand to ensure that I can give my children a good taste of the world’s literature. First of all, though I love original unabridged texts, my children aren’t so eager to read Mesopotamian poetry that I need to spend lots of money and waste valuable shelf space storing it. In these situations anthologies are invaluable! Norton’s Anthologies are the classic standby, and you can get them for Western Lit, British Lit, etc.

I also have a few guides that help us get through the books:

If you have the means to charge electronic devices, you can download thousands of free books to your computer or e-reader. We have more than paid for the price of a Kindle with our free books. Since I prefer to hold a ‘real’ book, I also source most classics at the thrift store for under a $1. We do have a few great novels hanging around too; you are never too old to visit the Secret Garden when you are cross, and there is nothing like traveling with Sam and Frodo when you are feeling small.

I will add here a word about history. I do have a thrift-store sourced History textbook (Spielgovel is the standard beginning college text) but I also really believe in learning history through the works, both fiction and non-fiction, written at the time. The text book gives us the background info, while the literature puts the meat on the bones.

Writing

If you can’t think clearly, you can’t communicate clearly. For the Apocalyptic Homeschooler, logic will be learned hands on by daily building and planning. I intend to have the children write in journals every day as well as keep detailed records for the family. A few handbooks will help us keep our skills sharp:

  • Dictionary: Please don’t get a modern one! You can find a nice, huge, old one in your thrift store for pennies. (I bought a 3 volume one for $3!) Same goes for a thesaurus.
  • The ABC’s and all Their Tricks by Margaret Bishop (an almost too detailed spelling rules book)
  • Rod and Staff English Handbook (very, very detailed; for grammar nerds)
  • Writing Aids by Marcia Somerville (any basic high school writing hand book will do here)

Any Writing Reference book from a college trash can (I love free!)

Honestly, I want them to communicate well but at the end of the world diagramming gerunds will not be a high priority.

Mathematics

Math is important not only because you might need to measure something (with no app!) but because it helps order the mind. I am not great at math, so I have found wonderful success by using texts written to college aged remedial students. My son with learning disabilities prefers these texts to the public high school ones, as they are not inundated with flashy colors and distracting pc photo shots. The one we use can be found very cheaply on line, if you get an older edition:

Basic College Mathematics by Lial

This book covers basic counting up to introductory algebra. Be sure to use the ISBN to find the matching answer book for your text.

I currently have thrift-store sourced texts for Algebra 1 and 2 and Geometry, but I will pick up others as each book explains things a little differently. Remember, grab that solutions book by searching online via the ISBN. It really helps!

*There are also great DVDs available for math instruction; again, the older editions can be found online relatively cheaply. If internet is available the Khan academy site is amazing (and free). Anticipating internet will not be available, I chose to have DVDs on the shelf that take us through Algebra 2 (we use the DVDs from Houghton Mifflin for the Aufmann, Barker, Lockwood math books, as the teacher Dana Mosely is very gifted. His ‘Chalkdust’ curriculum is very expensive, but the HM DVD’s are the same at under $50 a pop when found used online. A person who is reasonably good at math would not need these; my daughter does not use them, but I do.)

Other Subjects

Science, Geography, History… My kids jokingly refer to these as ‘after lunch’ subjects. Ideally one learns about these things first hand; Geography when the kids ask about something in the news, science when planting or butchering, etc. A few basic items make this possible:

A globe or atlas

World History by Spielgovel (addressed above under Reading)

Visual Timeline book (DK and National Geographic put out great ones).

We also enjoy a narrative history series called A History of… by Susan Wise Bauer. She has also written a child’s series, The Story of the World.

If you like filling in blank maps, you might like a book like Uncle Josh’s Outline Map Book.

For Science, your choice of texts would include books you probably already have in your prepper library. Plant ID books, Medical guides, books on trapping, gardening, star and constellation guides and animal husbandry all fall under the natural sciences.

For higher education I chose to stock 3 basic books for reference;

Conceptual Physical Science, Conceptual Chemistry, and Conceptual Physics.

These books are written for the non-major, so difficult concepts are presented in easy-to-understand language. Older editions can be found in the $10 range. Really, any college text will be fun to read through, as long as you remember to get those ‘101’ type texts.

Modern biology books focus a great deal on molecular biology. I chose to hold for a non-major’s type book to have on my shelf for that reason. I’m still on the hunt!

Electives

If you don’t have great reference books, get them now and throw them on your coffee table. You will be surprised how much they add to your life right now! You can find these cheaply at thrift stores, often in perfect condition. We love the Story of Architecture by Glancy, the Story of Philosophy by Magee, and the Story of Painting by Sister Wendy. We also have a guitar and a few songbooks on hand, as well as a fun book on making instruments from odds and ends.

Faith

Last but not least! Whatever your religion, you are teaching that to your children and those around you by example. My example is not always what I want it to be, so I like to augment with great books about the virtues I want my family to acquire (Bennett’s Book of Virtues is wonderful for a nightly read-aloud for any age). If your faith is expressed through music, art, candles, or whatever, make sure you have the supplies for that on hand. We are Orthodox Christians, so I have a Bible, some commentaries and a Bible Atlas, writings from the church fathers, lives of the Saints for inspiration, and so on. I also have the materials to hold a service in my home (service books, supplies for communion bread (we call it prosfora) and etc. Those aren’t necessary, of course, but since we practice our faith every day with tangible routines and etc., being able to maintain that routine will be an extra anchor in tough times.

Odds and Ends

Come September, watch those back to school sales and stock up! Don’t forget lots of lined paper, printer paper for drawing, and pens /pencils. Do buy the World’s Quietest Pencil Sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies. You will write me back and thank me, I promise! (We have 4!). Get more lined paper. Grab colored pencils, too, and paper clips. A metal ruler, good scissors, and extra erasers will come in handy. We also use quite a few index cards, but that is an extra. Did I say grab more lined notebook paper? Now double that amount! Folders or binders are cheap in September as well.

Interestingly enough, I have found great supplies at the thrift store. Boxes of outdated printer paper (great for art!), cartons of paper clips, drafting tools, and even a giant industrial paper cutter were all added to my stash for pennies on the dollar. I have been gifted with an old set of encyclopedias, and I am carefully considering wether they are worth the storage space. When I was young I loved looking though them, and much of the information in them is still valid. The out of date material may be of interest to remember a world that once was.

Conclusion

I truly believe that it is possible to pursue higher education at home. It takes a great perseverance and patience, but the reward is so great that I consider it the best return on an investment that I have ever received. In a post-apocalyptic world home schooling will be a difficult necessity. I believe with a little preparation it can be done not only inexpensively, but thoroughly and well.

I am sure there are a few things that I have forgotten, and a few things that I might have downplayed that you think are important. I welcome your thoughts and anticipate a great discussion.

This is an entry in our nonfiction writing contest – This contest will end on June 29 2013  – prizes include:

50 comments

Kelekona May 6, 2013 at 9:58 am

I would say that old encyclopedias are worth buying, and worth the space if they’re part of the main lair. Good entertainment if nothing else, but might hold decent information as well. If you wrap them in craft paper and tape well enough, you could probably make a good end table without destroying the books. (Treat with a neutralizer if you want them to last forever.) Or you might find a non load bearing wall where the encyclopedias can sit inside a cavity and be insulation.

There should probably be a separate survival binder for lessons that are most practical while working on a farm. How to measure a flagpole by its shadow and other measuring / navigational geometry. How to count and memorize easily. (We might remember how to make paper and write things down, but keeping things in one’s head is a tragically lost art.) I remember the late 1980′s girl scout handbook or badge guide had a lot of science in it, even if you use it as a list of stuff you should print out.

If you can pick up a copy of a book similar to “The Way Things Work” by David MaCaulay for cheap, I recommend grabbing it. Anything that could help the children how to get us back into water-powered mills and similar inventions quickly. Guides to make animated toys and books about the inventions of Davinci would also work.

Zee May 6, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Ooh, tell me about a ‘neutralizer’ for book storage!
We love the David Macaulay books and have quite a few. His illustrations make things clear to my non-mechanical mind. :)

Kelekona May 6, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Sorry Zee, this is something I heard about from the scrapbooking industry. http://www.webyfl.com/bookkeeperdeacidificationspray-preserveyournewspapers.aspx

I was exaggerating when I said forever, and was speaking more about de-acidifying the wrapping paper. A lot of what I say is more of a prompt to look stuff up rather than believing my memory. http://www.loc.gov/preservation/resources/care/deterioratebrochure.html

Zee May 6, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Thanks so much for giving me a little rabbit trail to run down :) I love to find out new stuff!

george May 6, 2013 at 5:27 pm

I was a voracious reader when I was a kid , loved science fiction and some of the classics, we also had a set of world books and encyclopdia brittanica and I would spend lots of time just leafing through them and reading what ever looked interesting. I am great at trivia games and have never been beaten at trivial pursuit. I also do well on those trivia games at bars with the controller on your table and you get more points for the faster you answer the question. So guess my final point is encyclopedias are really good for broad knowledge on lots of subjects.

Ghost May 6, 2013 at 10:47 am

Really well written coverage of the subject. Although many of us here are past the age of having “Little Ones”, we do have Grandkids to be concerned about.

The whole Marxist/Obama culture is centered on destruction of our families, as these are the building blocks of a Christian country where Government is not God. Proof of this can be seen in statements of one of MSNBC’s reporter who recently made the claim that , ” Your kids do no belong to the parents, but to the community” . (Right?)

As Proverbs 14:26 says, “He who fears (holds in reverence) The Lord has a secure fortress, and to his children it will be a refuge”.

Stand firm for the sake of your kids, and to the Glory of Christ.

JP in MT May 6, 2013 at 10:56 am

Although we have no children at home, and the ones that are near a starting to close out their basic education, we still have a section of our “prep books” on basic education.

Yes, when you are hungry and scared, it’s hard to think of reading and math. But as in the quote above, we hope to get past that. As I look at our history of westward migration, you see that the progression of community went from survival, to a community church, to a community school.

TG May 6, 2013 at 12:25 pm

I agree with Kelakona on the way things work, and any books like that. Kids are naturally curios creatures and I dont know how many times a day my kids will ask how/why.
Another thing you can do for your kids is make learning fun and interesting. If they enjoy learning they will seek out knowledge on their own.
Let your kids see you learning. If they see you still in the process of learning, even if it is self education, they will be more likely to want to keep learning as well.
Check free cycle for stuff. I have gotten so much stuff that way. Also if you homeschool, you can get an educators card from barnes and noble for a 20% discount. There are other places as well that do discounts you just have to ask around.
The author is right, how ever much paper you have on hand is not enough. I would add constructionpaper, drawing pads, composition notebooks (which you can find as cheap as 25 cents around school time), and of course more lined paper.
Art kits are great to have on hand and can easily be stored away. Crayons crayons and more crayons for the younger kids. Alos small dry erase boards are cheap and work great for daily use for things you dont need to keep.
There are a ton of free resources online, some have free pdf file books, some have free worksheets, a lot of meuseums, aquariums, and other such places will have a free resource page on their website. I print out a lot of stuff and store it in a large 3 ring binder (ok several of them) for futer use.

Encourager May 8, 2013 at 2:03 pm

I had a ‘teacher’s card’ for Staples, Office Max and Office Depot when I home schooled. I just had to pick a name for my home school to get the card. You got a discount on top of sale prices.

JeffintheWest May 6, 2013 at 1:01 pm

If you’re looking for the best encyclopedia set ever printed, see if you can find a copy of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica. A lot of small town libraries still have them and the people in charge try occasionally to get rid of them since they are so obviously outdated.

So why are they STILL considered the best set ever printed? Because they actually include detailed information in their articles — want to know how to smoke meat? Look up the article in the 1911. Want to know how to make a flywheel and what it can do for you? Look it up in the 1911. Some of the biology, physics and even chemistry articles are a bit dated, true, but the ones that are there will at least tell you about the basics behind modern sciences. Likewise, some of the history articles might be considered out of date now (or at least politically incorrect), but then again since history is an interpretation of incompletely known information, they actually provide a counter-interpretation to modern historical thought. In other words, use the subjective articles with some thought, but the other articles are really an excellent “how to” collection on some skills that might REALLY come in handy in a complete collapse (blacksmithing, horse care, farming techniques, primitive internal combustion engines, etc, etc.).

One final thought — you can never have too many books. They can make great insulation in addition to serving as a huge resource, and they even help block out radiation. Book shelves full of paperbacks in your basement will substantively reduce the effects of gamma radiation in the event a nuclear detonation or accident occurs in your vicinity. If you have an enclave especially, you should give some thought to finding out where the local public and university libraries (if any are) — they are a resource beyond price in a SHTF collapse scenario, and would be well worth a visit with a working truck in the event the wheels come off in a big way. Even if events don’t go that badly, a good library is worth it’s weight in gold; even if we’re “only” in a depression.

Zee May 6, 2013 at 1:20 pm

I love the tip about the 1911 encyclopedias, thank you! That is exactly the sort of book I loved reading through when I was a kid, and what my kids would love reading now.

JeffintheWest May 6, 2013 at 3:16 pm

You’re welcome. A couple of other points — the articles in the 1911 were written by the absolute masters in their respective fields, and second, while you might think if the 1911 is good, the 1912 must be better, you’ll find out that it’s not — they cut many of the articles to the bone for the 1912, editing out much of the “how to” and underlying principles in favor of a shorter edition that they could still charge as much for.

I was very fortunate that my University had a copy of the 1911 — because the history department absolutely insisted on it. But I have found them in such diverse places as the town library in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, and likewise in one in New Mexico, though I would hope any major university would have one. I think you might be able to order one from an organization called ABE books (American Book Exchange) where I often find out of print or hard to find books — though I’ll bet it’s expensive as heck….

Bam Bam May 6, 2013 at 4:28 pm

There’s a set of 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica on Ebay. The bidding is at $31 with one day and six hours left.

JeffintheWest May 6, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Grab ‘em if you can — the going rate on ABE (I looked it up) is $950 for the complete set.

I’d grab them myself, but I am not “allowed” to use E-bay since I refused to give them my personal information. They claimed I was selling stuff or might sell stuff or could eventually want to sell stuff (or something) and therefore they needed the info, this despite the fact that I’ve never sold a damn thing on there (which I told them), and then they decided to be unreasonable about it, so I told them to go screw themselves.

j.r. guerra in s. tx. May 6, 2013 at 1:19 pm

The ‘Boy Mechanic’ is a great series of books as well. Some of the series is available for FREE on-line and can be printed or copied to a document.

The VITA Technology Handbook has quite a variety of information as well. Designed for Lo-Tech or No-Tech societies, it is also worth studying. Here is an on-line link to it.

http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNAAS277.pdf

Zee May 6, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Woah! We live off grid, and utilize lo-tech/no-tech as much as possible on a daily basis. This handbook is awesome!!!

Lake Lili May 6, 2013 at 1:20 pm

I have been homeschooling Monkey now for 3 years. It is a joy and a pleasure – but I am getting grey fast. Curriculum is always a challenge and trying to ensure that the material fit your faith, politics and values can as be trying and time consuming as ensuring that the material is actually covered. As resident of that great nation north of you all, I constantly struggle to find materials that cover our culture, history, and geography. It can be as simple as a math book that only teaches temperature in Fahrenheit (we measure in degrees Celcius) or does equations in money that don’t resemble what we use (not a loonie or toonie in sight!), even our spelling can be different… in some ways it is excellent preparation for the times after the SHTF as the need to adapt what is available to the current situation is already ingrained. But Humbly~Zee is correct in needing to make HS materials a priority. Dollar stores can also be great sources of teaching materials, paper, pencils (and sharpeners and erasers), note books, chalk, and a myriad of other small items. Stationary suppliers like Staples also sell teaching materials. Libraries and church bazzars also have book sales and nothing beats a good garage sale. Thanks H~Z for the suggestion about college level books. Also look for books related to apprenticeships.

Zee May 6, 2013 at 1:23 pm

That is a great tip about apprenticeship books. We have one on woodworking since my son is interested in that area, but one one small engine repair (and the like) would be great to have on hand,

Encourager May 8, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Lake Lili, grey hair and denim are essential for home schooling…just sayin’ 8^D

Lauri no e May 6, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Very good article.

akaGaGa May 6, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Excellent article. I would add that there are a host of reasons to homeschool right now, but the most important to my mind is to prevent our kids from being brainwashed. For example:

- California has a bill going through that would mandate allowing boys into the girls bathrooms and vice-versa – as well as into locker rooms
http://christiannews.net/2013/04/18/california-bathroom-bill-mandating-schools-to-allow-boys-in-girls-restrooms-approved-by-assembly/

- A class of middle school girls were forced to ask classmates for a “lesbian kiss”
http://christiannews.net/2013/04/20/middle-school-girls-forced-to-ask-classmates-for-lesbian-kiss-during-anti-bullying-presentation/

- A science experiment gone awry resulted in the 16yo student being expelled, arrested and charged as an adult with felony weapons charges. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/may/02/florida-science-experiment-charges

- A high school class was required to argue that Jews are evil and the students are loyal Nazis. http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/School-apology-Think-like-a-Nazi-task-vs-Jews-4428669.php

The “education” in public schools is not what us older folks remember, and definitely not what I’d want my kids learning.

In case you missed the announcement, Ron Paul recently established a curriculum for homeschoolers, or any others of us that value liberty. Not only are the first 6 years free, the program features free-market economics and the basics of Western Civilization and Western liberty — how it was won, how it is being lost, and how it will be restored. Even though I graduated high school in 1972, these are all the things I had to learn after I graduated – and what an eye-opening process it was.

Check out Ron Paul’s program here:

http://www.ronpaulcurriculum.com/

Ghost May 6, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Ms. GaGa,
I can remember when the worst trouble a kid could get into in school was chewing gum.

Our Kids, Families, Faith, and Nation are under a cultural attack with the sole goal of replacing all of it with, dare I say, something evil.

Sounds like you’re doing a great job!

Mari May 7, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Sickening ain’t it? Education sure did change after the ’60′s. Thanks for that Ron Paul link. I gotta check that out.

Zee May 7, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Thanks for the Ron Paul link; I have sent it to a few friends (who are big supporters) and plan to check it out myself later today.

Soggy Prepper May 6, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Excellent article!
For the last 5 years we have home schooled as well. Youngest DD is nearly 15, technically 9th grade and DS is 16 (experiences Down syndrome) so all rules are thrown out and created anew for him.
We pulled them out in the fourth grade, It has been the best decision ever.
We also get quite a few books and texts from thrift stores. I’ll have to check out some of those you mentioned.
With all that’s going on in schools now days, with the crummy curriculum, removal of God, teaching pro-gay and explicit sex education I don’t know why anyone would send their child to these institutions of government indoctrination.
Keep them home where they belong! You’ll also be amazed at how truly awesome your children are and you’ll get to know them so much more. Blessings!

DocJ May 6, 2013 at 4:12 pm

A reallly well written article. A FYI for all homeschoolers. You can go online to your own state department of education and print out the required frameworks for each grade level and for course frameworks for high school classes. There you can find looks of teaching ideas to help organize the home instruction. As more states are trying to “functionalize” academic skills into life skills, you will find lots of ideas of how to teach academics in the home and community. Also, you will see how a skill is expanded on from one grade level to another. I taught across 3 to 4 grade levels at the same time and was able to teach appropriately to each level. Probably, I raised the level a little higher than the state designed, but that was in the interest of my students (special needs). It is more important to learn in dept than to learn a lot of unrelated facts. Children need knowledge to attach new information to. The do not remember facts taught in isolation. So, hit those state education sites and get a copy of everything they offer. You may need to develop a homeschool for a whole neighborhood if things get bad enough.

Survivor May 6, 2013 at 8:08 pm

I gotta say Mr Adams nailed our problems right on the head..
“I must study politics and war, that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy, natural history and naval architecture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, tapestry, and porcelain.” Two generations of hard working, industrious people to be followed by a generation that wants to play.

R-Me May 6, 2013 at 8:28 pm

H-Z,
Thanks for the thought provoking article. Like many, we are past the children stage and no hopes of g’children. But I love to read and have boxes full of books in the shed. All mixes,, but only nursing-medical college level books.
The past week on my way to work, I pass a large bill board asking USC students to sell back their books,,, I hadnt thought about stopping in to see if the are selling any old editions for cheap ,,,, or even tossing them.
A part of nursing is patient education, so I think I would be a fair teacher! We have a small cabinet (3x3x18″) that I’ll fill w/stationary items and paper. I’ve already started keeping a journal, not daily, bet every week or so, I list the prep I’ve been working on and talk about the state of the world. You never know when a current event wil lead to SHTF.
I had a lot to write about N Korea.

Zee May 6, 2013 at 9:17 pm

You sparked an idea: I had not thought to check the nursing school for outdated texts! In our community the nursing school is separate from the rest of the school and I think their buy-back location is different too.

Sirius May 6, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Awesome article!

Just some thoughts to add to your educational library. These will be a little advanced for elementary school kids, but invaluable for later years and for the adults:

The AP Style Guide
The MLA Style Guide
The Elements of Style 4th Ed by Strunk and White
Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen
Connections by James Burke

The Connections episodes are available on YouTube. There’s a program available rather inexpensively called Flash Catch that allows you to record YouTube videos and save them to DVD. I have no financial interest in any of the above. I’m just a fan.

All of the books above I was able to download in PDF format before I wrote this response.

Additionally, parents might want to consider teaching their kids how to read and write cursive. I was appalled when I found out Kalifornia no longer teaches that in school. They only go as far as teaching the kids how to sign their names.

As far as school supplies are concerned, when I was a kid, I lived next to the high school. I would wander over the day after graduation and follow the custodian around while he was cleaning out the lockers. I never had to buy school supplies. I did this every year until I graduated. What I fouldnt use or didn’t need, I would give to my mom. She was a teacher.

If you live near a college or university, check out the off-campus discounttext book shop. Every one I’ve been to has a dollar rack where they unload the “outdated” editions.

Zee May 6, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Thanks for the guide recs, they look fantastic.
I love love love connections, and had forgotten all about it!
Thanks so much, I know what I’ll be doing tonight!

Sirius May 6, 2013 at 10:59 pm

Isn’t that an awesome series? Surprisingly, it was my college science prof. that introduced me to it. The printed book is as good as the series.

You’ll love Lies My Teacher Told Me. I knew it had to be an awesome book when I mentioned it to my history 101 prof. and she flipped out. I’m so glad that I was in my 30′s when I went back to school. Otherwise, her temper tantrum might have hurt my “widdle feewings”.

JeffintheWest May 7, 2013 at 1:20 pm

It’s sort of sad that the way we know a good book these days is if some mainstream “educator” slams it. The more hysterical they get, the better the book must be. I trust you responded in kind.

My brother once told a college professor (a raging communist in the early 80′s) that the best argument he could offer against the professor’s beliefs was the mere fact that he was allowed to express them. I always thought that was a great response.

Sirius May 7, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Jeff,

No. I didn’t respond in kind. I was in her sandbox and she controlled my grade. A screaming match wouldn’t have accomplished anything. Instead, I asked the class a question…

When I was a freshman in the 80′s the prof. was a sophomore. My college money ran out that year so I enlisted in the military. She however went on to get her masters and PhD in history, then got a job at the university I had returned to. Since we were the only people in the class who were not teenagers, I asked the class if any one had any waking memory of Ronald Regan as president. Half of them didn’t even know who he was.

She literally yelled at me to “shut up”. I “tsk tsk’d” her and told her in a patronizing voice that I didn’t think she was old.

Surprisingly, I still got an A in the class.

JeffintheWest May 7, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Ah, I didn’t know she was a screamer. I hate those.

Well, I certainly don’t blame you. When I was taking my Masters (in History), I was the oldest student in a class on World War II and our professor for that class was a Medieval history guy who was filling in and way out of his depth for the class. He clearly didn’t know much about World War II, and was scared of getting caught out. This one kid asked a perfectly reasonable question of the prof, but rather that simply saying “I don’t know,” the prof said; “Well, so-and-so has single-handedly disproven the theory that there is no such thing as a stupid question.” and then moved on. A week or two later several of us were sitting in the hall waiting for class to begin, and the kid walked up to me and asked me what I thought the proper course of action was regarding the fact that the professor had flat-out told us incorrect data about certain campaigns and battles during the war. I told him; “It’s his course. He’s the professor. He’s demanding we act as if we’re Freshmen in this class, and repeat back whatever he says by rote. If he says the Germans won World War II, then the Germans won World War II, and that’s what you put down on the test. And the minute this class is over, I for one, plan to destroy him on the final critique and take my copy of the final exam over to the Graduate Program office and ask them what gives.”

At the time, I was a Captain in the USAF and a Master Instructor at the Intelligence Officers School. Word of what I said must have gotten back to him somehow, because after that, he suddenly started being a real professor and actually reading ahead of us. He still taught the class as if we were Freshmen, but that was because he couldn’t teach it as a graduate class since he didn’t know anything about the subject, and couldn’t therefore give us the kind of experience the class should have been. My end-of-course critique focused more on the graduate office putting a guy who knew less than most of the students about a subject in as a graduate level instructor, as opposed to the instructor himself.

I actually think you handled the situation rather well.

Kelekona May 7, 2013 at 1:32 pm

I’m a Connections fan myself, though it’s half nostalgia. My dad had recorded them to VHS and wore them out as cheap company when you just want to tune in and zone out.

I think I had mentioned “The Trigger Effect” as of interest to much of this group.

That series should definitely either stay in pressings or go to consumer circulation.

I grabbed dad’s Connections companion book as well when I was ransacking the bookshelves on my way out.

JeffintheWest May 7, 2013 at 1:39 pm

“Connections” was one of the great all-time TV series. You know, back when TV occasionally had something besides reality shows on it.

You can also find the entire Connections series on YouTube.

Lake Lili May 7, 2013 at 3:26 pm

I remember watching Connections when it first played on TV and have to say that the first episode about getting to a farm, finding it occupied and having to fight for it, and the line “what in your urban life has ever prepared you for this” is what made me a prepper. I never wanted to be on the wrong side of the farmhouse door. We watch the series at least once a year. Monkey really enjoys it too. As for James Burke… well, when we played My Last Dinner and had to name the 12 people we would want at the table, he was always on my list.

TG May 7, 2013 at 2:25 pm

A lot of people, even in homeschooling circles ask about teaching cursive, and if it is even needed any more. To me it is surprising that a lot of parents say no, that typing is more important.
What I find really horrible is all the software out there that allows you to speak into a microphone and will ‘type’ for you. For some people I can see the need, but too many people will use it instead of actually learning to write.

Kelekona May 7, 2013 at 7:16 pm

TG, I would say penmanship is still important, but also teaching how to quickly take down information.

I haven’t worked so much with OS versions of voice recognition and handwriting software, but I do know that my most efficient input without proper keyboard posture is ballpoint and paper. This is without knowing any form of shorthand. (I bet modern computers would love for some sort of shorthand or shavian extension of palm alphabet.)

Michigan Mike May 7, 2013 at 9:22 am

Good post and well written. “widdle feewings” lol. There is more truth to that than meets the eye. Some say that progressive education–today’s philosophy of education–teaches kids not how to think but what to think. While true it’s not the whole story. Because they are not taught how to think kids are left to rely on the only thing left, their feelings. Wonder no more about the growing concern over offending people’s feelings. When the law changes from protecting people’s rights to protecting their feelings we are in deep trouble as a nation. Yes, education is the most critical need right now and will be after SHTF.

Mari May 7, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Good post! Lots of books at annual library sales. Library of Congress (on-line) is another good place.

Zee May 7, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Two more resources:
Being Logical; a guide to good thinking by DQ McInerny and
The Way Life Works by Hoagland and Dodson.

The first is a slim book on the basics of logic from a professor at Notre Dame. The second is a readable explanation of Biological principles. It is a secular book and therefore speaks only of Evolution (for those that base their science choices on that).

Kelekona May 7, 2013 at 1:24 pm

There is a fanfic story, Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. I was reading the My Little Pony fanfic written in the same vein. Both of those got really weird,

but the author of the HP story has a site where supposedly there are resources on how to think rationally. Beware of anti-religion sentiment;

I found the insulating layer of getting the lessons through fanfics to be a little intense. (There is also a Twilight version that I haven’t read.)

(Yes, I know my formatting is not how grammar works; web-readable conversation doesn’t always fit.)

Lantana May 7, 2013 at 3:06 pm

The Ron Paul site indicated that its curriculum won’t be rolled out until Sept. 2 2013, but recommended this site for anyone needing a curriculum sooner:

http://www.robinsoncurriculum.com/

The Robinsons were two scientists with a farm in Michigan who decided to homeschool their six kids. The mother gathered all the materials for their own curriculum and started teaching the kids.

Shortly thereafter, she took ill and died in 24 hours. The kids were 17 months to 12 years old. The dad took over and scaled the curriculum back to the three Rs; at 5th grade, the student was teaching themself from the curriculum.

Now the five oldest have doctorates; the youngest is still in college. The kids have now put together their k-12 curriculum on 22 CDs for $200 (certain Saxon math books are to be purchased separately).

Anyway, their story was fascinating. It also included an account of how the State of New Jersey tried to seize the children when the family was visiting one of the father’s colleagues.

TG May 7, 2013 at 4:12 pm
Bruce May 8, 2013 at 8:06 am

I’m 100% on board with the meat of this piece, just not so much with the premise. If you had an apocalyptic event, wouldn’t books – especially staples like dictionaries and such – be very easy to scavenge?

Zee May 8, 2013 at 11:46 am

It would depend on your circumstances, in my opinion. We live about 45 minutes from town by car, and an hour from the library. In an event like a pandemic shut-down it is unlikely we would venture to town, and between here and there is nothing but trees.

I am reminded of the book “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy. There is a moment when the main character finds a stash of gold, and barely notices it because what he needs is food. Without a crystal ball it is so hard to predict what one will need, and how to prepare for… well, whatever.

Encourager May 8, 2013 at 10:27 pm

I just placed an order with Half.com for the following:

1. The ABC’s and All Their Tricks by Bishop for $6.84 total with shipping
2. How to Be Invisible by JJ Luna for $5.97 total with shipping
3. Exploring the Way Life Works by Jauck, Dodson, Mahlon 75 cents plus $1.89 shipping
4.A Distant Eden by Tackitt for $8.49 total
5. The Pickled Pantry by Chesman for $7.48 total

Just love http://www.half.com !!!! My total for all books was only $31.42 :)

Knotthead May 11, 2013 at 8:00 am

I was quickly scanning replies to see if anyone else had mentioned the site Encourager just did, though it is now http://www.half.ebay.com/. They were bought out by Ebay years ago because they were seen as a threat. Fortunately the business model was retained. Items (media such as books, CDs, DVDs only) are listed at set prices rather than for auction. I’ve used it quite a bit and suggest you check it out.

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