Published here with permission from The MOORE REPORT INTERNATIONAL - May/June 2001

The Moore Foundation, Box 1, Camas, WA 98607

Without Research Education is often Child Abuse

by Dr. Raymond Moore

The main question we hear these days is no longer "How about socialization?" But "What's wrong with 'canned' curricula?" Perhaps the question should be "What's right about 'canned' curricula?" Does it motivate children to love learning, does it nurture creativity and does it build wisdom instead of just a knowledge of facts?

Canned curricula refers, of course, to curriculum publishers who push rote education with stacks of books for each grade in spite of children's individual differences in interests, aptitudes, abilities and readiness. Replicable research offers answers, yet remarkably few homeschool parents have any idea of the damage they invite without it. When many ignore or discredit research because it interferes with business, it is time for those who know better to speak out.

To alert unknowing parents and help them avoid the danger of failure, discouragement and burnout to their children, we need to make very clear the results of taking the "easy" way to just buy a stack of textbooks and workbooks. We invite objective criticism. We have learned much from authors and researchers like Ruth Beechick, William Bennett, James Dobson, Boob Moon, Jon Wartes, and thirty-five or more university scholars ranging from Columbia and Maryland to Arizona State, who asked us to share authorship of their textbooks. God has been good.

The main research dilemma we have faced in 30 years was a book, Will Early Education Ruin Your Child [WEERYC]. In the first place, we have never said that early education ruins your child. We advise educating from birth -- with the right kind of education. We offer guidance, backed by authorities, on the brain, cognition, vision, hearing, etc. And we suggest scientifically-sound age limits.

WEERYC's chief author admitted that the "Moores' teaching on the philosophy of delayed education challenged" his "personal position that a child should be taught to read with a good phonics system as young as reasonable possible, starting by at least four or five years of age." He admitted that he "didn't really know why he held this position." He said that his "company was selling a reading-intensive kindergarten program for tens of thousands of young children each year."

"Since the Moores' books quoted from extensive scientific research which appeared to prove the irreparable and psychological damage could result when a child was allowed to read and study at a young age," he felt "that they could not continue to sell these products if indeed they might be harmful to children. Therefore he "determined that it was absolutely necessary" for him "to verify Dr. Moore's research against early reading."

Yet rather than attempt to verify the research, he employed a researcher whose integrity was in question to try to discredit our research. With little thought of context, he cited only two studies out of hundreds we reported. Yet in both cases, our interpretations were confirmed by study authors, including The American Optometric Association. It was in no way a "scientific" analysis. He and/or the lead author loaded the book with half-truths and innuendo that had no relation to the issue and complex, insupportable data that some leading researchers considered less than honest, if not fraudulent.

When a new executive replaced WEERYC's author, without a word of protest from us, he apologized for the book and on advice of his lawyer, decided to destroy all remaining copies. Sound studies favoring early schooling simply don't exist! Meanwhile our Reader's Digest Press book, Better Late Than Early, and our university textbook, School Can Wait, with 756 sources, remain unchallenged. We have Offered $1000 per study for any replicable findings that support early schooling. Yet we've had no takers.

We speak in concern and hope for families that succumb to the pressure of high-powered curriculum salesmen whose conventional programs, made for mass-education classrooms, require all children in a given grade at a certain age to use approximately the same books, regardless of their varying interests, aptitudes, abilities and readiness that may be several grades apart.

Unnecessary devotion to such conventional tactics without sound research is an especially dangerous path for boys who lag behind girls a year or two in maturity. They strait-jacket bright, but immature, unready, boys by placing them in special education. Thirteen high school boys are caged for every girl, many unnecessarily, simply because of indifference to their generic immaturity. When I was teaching in a public school and watched the young children, I often thought how much they needed to grow up in a warm, responsive home instead of at the mercy of their peers and school pressures before they were ready.

After reading our books, all based on research, we have many parents write or tell us what a relief it is to really understand how children learn best. Unfortunately, some families start out with a "canned curriculum" and learn the hard way what is not appropriate for their children. We dearly wish that we could reach everyone with the message of research on early childhood, so we could prevent these problems. Examine reputable research carefully; experiment with it! And know what it means to be "free" of stress -- for both you and your children.