Review of the
Robinson Self-teaching Home School Curriculum

This is an excellent, complete K-12 curriculum for every home school. The only addition needed is Saxon math books. Saxon books are available to RC users at a 20% discount through the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, publisher of this curriculum. Everything else comes in the case of 22 CDs. The delivered price of $195 is astonishingly low.

Although the curriculum is usable on the computer screen, it is better for the student for the materials to be printed out with the printing software provided with the curriculum.

Use of this curriculum has expanded to about 60,000 children, largely through word-of-mouth recommendations from users because it produces such great results, even though parent involvement is minimal.

Developed by a scientist and his six children and their scientist friends and coworkers, the first beneficiaries of this curriculum were the Robinson children themselves. Two of these have finished college, three are in college, and one is still at home. The records of the two who have finished college, so far, are remarkable.

Both Zachary and Noah Robinson completed university BS degrees in chemistry in only two years and then went on to postgraduate school. Zachary then earned a MS degree in chemistry and a doctorate in veterinary medicine at Iowa State University. His younger brother Noah, completed a doctorate in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology in only three years. Both of these young men used solely the Robinson Curriculum for their home educations and both helped to develop it.

In this curriculum, mathematics is taught by a special self-teaching method developed for the curriculum. The method utilizes Saxon math books, but can be adapted to other math books if desired. Students begin self-taught math in the second year. This method is so effective, that students who follow it correctly often finish math through calculus between ages 14 and 16.

As the student learns sufficient math skills, science is introduced. Robinson curriculum science is based upon chemistry and physics books provided on the CDs. These books were developed for freshman students at Caltech and written by Caltech professors. Once the basics of chemistry and physics are mastered, the lesser sciences are easy.

Biology is not formally studied because modern biology is primarily just a special branch of chemistry. Some biology is covered in the chemistry book. Zachary and Noah, for example, obtained advanced placement in university biology by simply reading a biology book before the Advanced Placement exam. With a sound foundation in physics and chemistry, the biology was simple to master.

The math and science program, with its included special learning methods, is a very effective means of teaching analytical thinking skills. Students using this method are found to perform much better in many other mental activities.

An emphasis on thorough mastery of basic skills is the hallmark of this curriculum. The Robinson curriculum only requires about 4 to 5 hours per day of study. Those hours are packed with basic knowledge. The remaining hours of the day are free for less basic activities, hobbies, and recreation.

There is no “pretend” to this curriculum. Science is taught only when the students have the necessary basic math skills. Prior to that, the students carry out science-type activities in their recreational time.

Reading is taught by phonics, for which basic phonogram flash cards and appropriate beginning books are included. After that, the student reads a carefully designed progression of books throughout the 12 years. Each book introduces new vocabulary. Reading each book and using vocabulary flash cards keyed to that book teaches this vocabulary. The student also works special vocabulary exercises keyed to each book. The vocabulary system includes 6,400 words that should be actively used by all well-educated adults.

Again, there is no pretend teaching. Most students, even very brilliant ones, require the full 12 years to master reading, writing, vocabulary, and spelling of the English language. The Robinson curriculum provides a wealth of tools for this purpose in a carefully structured program. The learning of languages other than English is left for extracurricular time.

Most students can master English skills by reading and writing, which are heavily emphasized in this curriculum. They learn, by example, the skills of the great authors they are reading. Some students, however, need more.

For these students, the Robinson curriculum contains outstanding grammar and spelling books written exclusively for the curriculum by Dr. Jane Orient. Her grammar and spelling books are so good that students who do not need this special help may still enjoy reading them.

History is emphasized in the reading program, with special emphasis on the autobiographies of great historical figures. Other books, especially the works of G. A. Henty, augment these. All of G. A. Henty’s 99 remarkable historical novels are available on CD or in soft cover or hardcover versions as additions to the curriculum. These books and CDs have been published by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine.

As a Robinson student makes his way around the world as a vicarious participant in world historical events as seen through the eyes of those who made those events or the eyes of a Henty hero, he learns geography, social customs, and the ways of life of people throughout the world and throughout history. Learned in this way, the historical events and their settings become fixed in the student’s mind so that he remembers and benefits from them. This is far superior to the usual dry factual teaching methods.

The literature program in the Robinson curriculum is unequalled by any other curriculum source. It is based entirely upon reading and study of the best books in the English language. Even though this curriculum has been available for many years and does not have the luster of a “new” product, the readers of Practical Homeschooling magazine recently rated the Robinson curriculum First Place in literature for 2004.

Overly politically correct critics demand that some of the world’s greatest authors be censored because they express views or use terms that these critics oppose. The Robinson curriculum does not do this. For example, some critics demand that Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn be banned, even though this is considered to be the greatest novel ever written by an American. They claim it contains racist material. In fact, Huckleberry Finn is one of the most brilliant condemnations of racism ever written. The Robinson curriculum includes Huckleberry Finn.

In its study of history, too, the Robinson curriculum uses the best sources. Reading the autobiographies of U. S. Grant and W. T Sherman and the writings of President Lincoln on the Union side and the autobiographies of J. Davis and A. Stevens, the president and vice president of the confederacy on the Confederate side covers the American civil war. These men led the fighting of this war. Their writings are far superior to ordinary history books. Additional books about this conflict are also included.

Robinson students write every day, after the age of 10 years. Writing can be introduced earlier, but most students are not ready to routinely organize their thoughts in written words before age 10. Writing is preceded by exercises that teach printing and cursive writing skills. At age 10, the student writes one page each day and proceeds from there. The writing lessons are the only part of this program that is not self-taught. Parents must read the student’s writing each day and mark any errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

It is a well-established fact that children who learn to think and master the basic skills of reading, writing, and mathematics and science perform well in other undertakings such as art and music. Many great scientists, for example, have been excellent musicians.

A student who follows the Robinson curriculum is more thoughtful and more skilled in his extracurricular activities. All six of the Robinson children, for example, play the piano and two have gone on to become excellent organists, even though they initially showed no special music skills.

This curriculum emphasizes reading, writing, and arithmetic, and it also includes an outstanding education in science, literature, history, and the English language. It is being used successfully by tens of thousands of children.

Users of the curriculum are 99% complimentary and delighted with its results. The occasional exception usually involves a student or parent who does not actually follow the curriculum course of study.

The Robinson curriculum does have critics. These include primarily people who sell competing products and people with other educational philosophies who have never used the Robinson curriculum.

The home school market contains a great many fine products that are making the home school revolution in America possible. The Robinson curriculum is an outstanding example.

Art Robinson