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Chapter 7 Alabama Seminar

By Michael Pearl



Woman 1:  Mike answers questions regarding everything from getting respect from teenagers to nursing. Then he and Debi get caught up discussing homeschooling from life instead of books.

Michael Pearl:  Do you have any question you would like to ask? Just say it good and loud so they can pick you up with the tape and the camera. Stand up and ask your question.

Woman 2: What if you have a 15-year-old that speaks to you just a little bit disrespectfully? What would you do if you kind of knew it as a parent?

Michael:  She says what if you have a 15-year-old that speaks to you just a little bit disrespectfully. The reason the 15-year-old speaks to you disrespectfully is because he doesn't respect you. The reason he doesn't respect you is because you haven't demanded respect. The fact you said he speaks, progressive tense, he's done it more than once, he does it again, means that he has developed a habit, a pattern. All he needs to start respecting you is for you to demand it.

The way you demand it is when he speaks to you disrespectfully, whatever it is that it's about, for instance, if you say to him clean up your room, and he gives you some retort that's not respectful. You say to him, "I don't appreciate the way you talk to me, so after you clean up your room, I want you to go outside and rake all the leaves up also."

He says, "We never rake leaves!" You say, "I know that, but you're going to rake them this time because you spoke to me disrespectfully." If he's still disrespectful, say, "Okay, not only are you going to rake leaves, but you're also going to trim hedges." "We don't have any hedges!" "I know. You're going to trim the neighbor's hedges."

Just let him know that you're dynamite. You're quiet, cool, composed dynamite sitting there ready to explode into and endless chain of work and responsibility if he doesn't talk to you right. I guarantee you when he starts hurting, he'll start talking to you right because he'll know you're worthy to be respected. You're Big Mama.

Woman 3:  At what age do you, maybe for Debi, wean your children? I have five children and I weaned all the other ones early. I’m getting into that crying for me to nurse all the time. What do you when that starts?

Michael:  I never weaned them. [laughter]

Debi Pearl:  In our community, as the child eats, the more they eat, the less they nurse. I didn't try to wean my children until they were over two years old. By then, they were eating so much. My little boys, of course, were very large and so they were eating a whole lot. They weaned sooner than the girls did. A child that is slightly insecure or maybe cutting teeth or a little bit sickly, they'll want to nurse more. In our community, sometimes a mother will nurse all the way through her pregnancy and end up nursing two of them at a time. It doesn't seem to be any problem.

Michael:  Everybody is equipped that way. [laughter]

Michael:  All right, another question

Woman 4:  How do you take care of younger ones while trying to homeschool older ones?

Michael:  We've got the homeschool expert here. Stand right there so they can see you. Just like that [laughs] and still talk on the mic. The question was she has homeschool kids and a couple small ones that play in the playroom while she's trying to teach the other ones and the small ones keep fussing and fighting. She wants to know how to manage those small children while she's teaching the others.

Debi: I'm just going to give you an example of what happened this week. This week I am keeping a nine-year-old that was in an accident. He's got a cast from here down. It sticks out like that. And so, I need to homeschool him because he's away.

I was keeping three other children that were two, five, and seven. I needed to homeschool them for their mother because she was occupied doing something. I set the two-year-old counting money. She had nickels, pennies, quarters, and then I thought, "Well, I'll just put all of them counting money." They all had about $100 worth of change on my kitchen table. We separated pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and before it's all over, the oldest child, who is a public school child that's in the cast, he didn't know what a nickel was. Didn't even know what a nickel was. The homeschooled—

Michael:  There's nothing that cheap in Dallas.

Debi:  The homeschooled child, seven or eight, I can't remember how old he is. Anyway, he was counting money like you couldn't believe. But anyway, before the day was over, all of the older children understood what multiplication meant. They had the quarters lined up where they could quickly count out $100 straight in a line with quarters and dimes. That is far better than books. People get so separated from life by working in books. I've homeschooled now for about 23 years. The longer I homeschool, the more I realize how useless books are when it comes to teaching a child math and language skills.

The way I teach math and have always taught math is by using something to count. Take, for instance, the way you taught—

Michael:  When the boys would go with me to auctions—we make all the auctions—when they were 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 years old and older. We'd buy . . . always looking for wire, like house wiring. Half a roll, a piece of a roll to use or cable or extension cords, whatever. A lot of time we'd see a roll of wire there and it would be 15 loops of it and, say, two feet across. We would figure out the diameter times pi, and how many loops there was, and multiply it by that—pi being 3.14—if it was two feet across and we knew it was about six and a half feet around, and if there's ten rolls, then it was about 65 feet.

I taught the boys how to very quickly figure in their head how many feet was in that roll, and then how much is a 250-foot roll, which sells for about $38 for 12-2 with ground. So what percentage of a 250-foot roll is that? That's ratios, decimals, and fractions. What percentage of that $38 is that? Say this is worth $9 on the market, then we're willing to bid up to $4. We're not going to pay any more than that. They learned math with me at auctions while kids were sitting in school bored to death.

Later Gabriel, by the time he got about 16, was working in construction. The men would cut their rafters by getting up there and holding a rafter up, hold it so high and put a mark at the bottom for the bird's mouth and then take a level and make a straight line at the top for their contact with the ridge, then crawl down and cut it, cut two of them, put them up there. If they like it, they'd cut all of them to match.

He said, "Isn't there a faster way?" I said, "Yeah. It's in this book right here called Builders, Tools, and Math. I said, "Figure it out." He said, "You show me." I said, "I don't know. It's in this book, though. Figure it out." Well, he sat down and he opened the book. He worked on it one evening.

He went back to the job, and he said, "Now that's not the way to do it. Let me tell you." "You don't know anything, boy." "Yeah, I do too, let me tell you. You get this calculator out." He said, "You need to cut it 13' 2" long, and you need a 23½-degree cut right there, and the bird's mouth needs . . . " "You don't know what you're talking about."

After about four or five weeks of that, they cut one and tried it. "How did you do that?" "Right here, see," and he showed them how to do it. I still don't know how to do it, but he does. He can stand on the ground and figure out the cuts. You know how you take hip jacks and valley jacks, and you have to cut those different links to make them be on a 16-inch center or a two-foot center? Well, he knows how to do all that now. He can do it with a square. He can do it with a calculator. He just learned that on his own. That's homeschooling. We've had homeschoolers at ten or twelve years old far smarter than people that are graduating high school.

Debi:  I had a young adult come to my house and say, "I can't do any math at all. I've gone through books, but I just avoid situations where I have to handle math." To where they wouldn't even cooperate, like, when a women's group would get together and they would play games or keep score or anything like that. She was just socially stand-offish because she could not do math and couldn't read well either.

Michael:  Couldn't even keep a one-through-ten score.

Debi:  So I sat her down and said, "Okay, I am the clerk, and you are buying a piece of gum, and you give me a dollar bill. I'm going to cheat you, and you've got to figure out which time because you're going to be buying chewing gum from me every day, or Coca-Cola. Every day it's going to be different." I would play a game with her. I would have change, and she would pretend like she was handing me a dollar bill. I would count out the change backwards with her. It's 17 cents. We've got 18, 19, 20, now you get a dime. You know, pulling her through like that. I would do it over and over and over again. And she would, "Oh, how will I ever learn?" I said, "Well, you'll be real good in fractions because you know fractions real well already." She said, "I don't know what fractions are at all."

I said, "Well, don't you know a half a pie?" "Oh, yeah, I know what a half a pie is." "Well, do you know a fourth?" "Oh, yeah, I know what a fourth of a pie . . . " "Well, do you know what an eighth of a pie . . . ?" "I know what an eighth of a pie is." "So if you have two full pies and three pieces left that's cut in eighths, then you've got two and three eighths."

She goes, "Is that what that is?" She was a smart woman, but because she'd been taught in books, it just never registered.

In homeschooling, that's where you start. You start in the kitchen. You start on the job. And when you have little ones, they start right there with you. We have a couple in our church, and they decided to teach their son to read by signs.

Michael:  By road signs.

Debi:  By road signs, and anytime they would go anywhere, from the time he could talk, they made him read signs. By the time he was like three, he could read all the signs down Interstate 40, everything. You know that's the Cracker Barrel and that's this, and he could read all the signs. He never had to learn the normal way. He reads on an adult level now at about nine years old. He can read anything he wants to, and he goes through all of my books to see what he wants to read about herbs, medicine, or anything like that. The way they taught him math is the daddy had a $1,000 dollars in a big barrel, dollar bills, $5 bills, $10 bills, and change. He told the boy he said, "You're going to count this money every night, until you can count it right.

That boy counted that money for months. Every night you knew what to expect if you went to their house. He was sitting at the kitchen table counting money, and then he would have to add up his dollar bills. Okay, dollar bills . . . I have 127 dollar bills, and I have 15 fives, and he would have to add it all up, and try to figure out how much he had. He is a mathematician on top. That's homeschooling.

Michael:  Yeah, I remember the mother and she was raised Amish, and didn't have a very high education. I think eighth grade, which I think is about equal to fifth or six grade public schooling. When her boy got to about six years old or so, she came to Deb distressed, and she said, "He's old enough, I'm going to have to send him to school or something. I'm just not smart enough to homeschool him." Deb said, "I understand he reads." "Yeah, he reads. I just don't know what to do to teach him." She said, "I understand he can do some math." "Yeah, his daddy taught him to do some math. I just don't know what to do, and I don't know what books to use or anything." Deb said, "Look, he's already two or three years ahead of his age group, what are you worrying about teaching him for?" Well, he’s staying ahead of his peers and he's still not in school.

How'd they do that? Playing, playing with money, playing with road signs, on the job. His daddy has this habit. He reads Reader's Digest, and they have those 20 words, you know what I’m talking about? Well, the daddy is also educating himself, and he's always memorizing those 20 words every month. When he's driving along in the truck with the boy, he says "What's a bovine?" and he tells the boy.

Well, the boy's learning these 20 words every month with his daddy. They just play games all the time with these words, as they drive along, and the kid has this broad vocabulary. The daddy hasn't had time to homeschool him yet. They just have fun when they're riding along in the truck. You get the ideal? Homeschooling is life. Not something you stop doing—stop life and then homeschool.

When a kid gets bored, you're not teaching him anything. If you can't keep it interesting then you're failing. Okay, another question.

Woman 5:  The biggest struggle I'm having right now with the chores is not necessarily outward rebellion, stopping, or whatever; it's much more subtle. It's constantly being distracted, and kind of dawdling and playing around with siblings and being silly and, Oh, I heard somebody at the door, checking the door, talking to me and asking me 60, 80 questions, and it just takes forever to get anything done. I try to put the motivation on him by saying, "Ok, you better not . . . at this point, we start doing this, and then when we're done, you start back with your chores, and if you never get to go outside and play and wash your dishes, well, then that's fine. But is there anything that I can do, to kind of help motivate, because this dawdling and this constantly trying to be distracted to avoid doing their work in a reasonable amount of time.

Michael:  You heard what she said. She said, "She has several children and they just dawdle and just waste time, don't ever get around to actually doing what they’re supposed to do, and don't do their work and don't do their chores and don't do their school work, whatever. Sounds to me like what she's saying is the house is structured in a disorganized way. We talked about that, that children need some structure, and they need some organization. It seems to me like what you have is not a people problem, either mother or children. What you’ve got is an organizational problem, which means that, you're going to have to restructure that situation. That may mean separating the kids, if you're doing some schooling.

It may mean isolating them from telephone or from visitors or from other events that are distracting. For instance, when I write, I retire to my office, and don't bother me. My wife doesn't bother me, and the kids don't bother me, unless it's an emergency. They know that that time is set aside for me to write, so leave me alone.

A call comes in and you have to talk to Mike. Well, you can't talk to him now. You can talk to him in three hours. I have to delegate time for certain things, and you'll need to do that for your children. You'll say, "This time is set aside for this purpose, and that's all we can do. Like you say, if you have four-hour play period, and their work or school chores don't get done in time, just let it eat up that play period, and if it eats the whole thing up, then fine. It's good to have incentive built in to what children are doing. For instance, if they get their job done early, they get off early. They get it done well and they get it done early, fine.

We had a mother write us and say that she was teaching her children some subject, and she told them, “If you get through with this early, you can go out and play." Was it play or some other chore they were doing outside?
Debi:  Working with the animals.

Michael:  Animals, they had animals there, a little farm-like place. So the kids were getting in there and doing their schooling in half the time. They were learning it better, because they weren't saying, "Okay, I have to sit here for three hours." They were thinking, "I have to learn this and get this done, and then I can go outside and play with the animals." They were getting through with their schoolwork by 9:00 in the morning. Then they were going out and working with the animals. Well, she told her next-door neighbor, who also homeschools about it. The next door neighbor says, "I'll tell you what, I have some science books you can put them through to finish out the rest of the morning."

Well, that's poor thinking, and that would destroy the children's incentive. So build in some kind of incentive to get this done, and build in an incentive to not dawdle. In other words, if you take longer, I'll add to your work. If you don't get this job done now, in 20 minutes, in 20 minutes I'm going to double it. Not only will you not play today, you'll not play tomorrow, and you're getting ready to eat up your whole week’s play time. Just make it painful to dawdle, and make it rewarding not to, and they'll get in there and manage their own time.

But if you just say, you've got to sit there for five hours, and be quiet, or sit there for five hours and do school, I'm going to sleep about four of those hours. It's going to bore me to death, and I can understand it would the children.


Woman 1:  As always we hope you are blessed by what you’ve heard today. Again, remember to check out our great weekly online specials.

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One comment on “Chapter 7 Alabama Seminar”

  1. I very much appreciate the emails which notify us of these seminar transcriptions. You are reinforcing our homeschooling tactics and strategies at the same time challenging us to expand our vision. Much appreciated!