The Robinson Self-Teaching Curriculum

reviewed by Gillian van Werkhoven

I have recently received a copy of the "Robinson Self-Teaching Curriculum V1.0" by Dr Arthur Robinson and his family. The updated version, V2.0, has just been released. This brief review contains some "first impressions" of the curriculum.

This looks like a very promising program and I am looking forward to putting it into action in the new school year. It is, as the title suggests, a self-teaching program; the main parental input is when phonics is first taught to your child.

During the first year - starting generally around five or six years old, depending upon when your child is ready - phonics is taught, and when your child is reading, he starts on the books contained on the CD-ROMs. In version 0.1 there are about 130 books, which are numbered in order of recommended reading. Dr Robinson suggests printing out the books rather than reading from the computer screen. Most of the books are scanned from original copies and therefore have not been changed into "politically correct" language; some of the illustrations are very attractive too. For Math in the first year, the child is to learn by rote all the basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts by himself. This will prepare the child for Saxon Math 54.

Saxon Math 54 requires about two hours first thing in the morning for each lesson. At first, you may wish the child to do only a third of a lesson and increase it to the whole lesson as he is able. He works on his own from now on and is encouraged to work things out for himself with minimal help from his parents. In this year he also starts to write essays, beginning with only a paragraph or two. The main work of the parents is to check these essays and highlight any errors for the child to correct. After this, he reads from the prescribed books. The total school time recommended is about five hours per day (they also work on Saturdays too and don't take holidays, though time is taken for special activities during the year).

There are exams included for some of the books the children read, and after the first couple of years a single-page essay is required every day. Science is not taught as a subject until after Calculus is completed. Spelling and grammar are also not included as separate subjects - these are taught by means of essay writing and extensive reading.

Below is an outline of some of the material included in V2.0 of the Robinson Self-Teaching Curriculum. It covers grades 1 to 12 and contains an Original Source Library on 22 CD ROMs! The cost is $195 for the whole program.

- 1611 King James Bible - original edition

120,000 Page Library Resource:

- 1911 Encyclopedia Britannia (30,000 pages with special on-screen reading software for it's use)

- 1913 Noah Webster's Dictionary (400,000 word with on-screen reading software)

- 2,000 Historic Illustrations (incl. 1,000 detailed woodcuts of civil war events, and an 1872 travelogue for the USA)

- 6,000 Word Vocabulary Teacher

- Progress Exams Keyed to Books

- Outstanding Science Program

- Discounts on Saxon Math Books (the only additional materials required)

There are also printable flash cards for phonics and for the arithmetic that is required before Saxon 54. Penmanship practice pages are also included.

Vocabulary flash cards are useable in printed form or by means of an on-screen vocabulary exerciser that tracks the student's progress and adjusts his lessons to emphasise those words with which he is having the most difficulty. The flash card system is keyed to the books.

I am keen to order the updated version, as I think this is the most comprehensive program I have come across that also motivates the child to learn by himself. I hope this has helped those considering the purchase of this program.

System requirements for version 1.0 are a PC or Macintosh with 4-8 Mb memory. Details of the curriculum may be obtained from The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, Box 1279, Cave Junction, OR 97523 U.S.A.

Copyright © Family Matters 1997

Andrew and Gillian van Werkhoven live in Queensland, Australia. They have seven children.