Let me just start this off by saying, wow. What a journey it has been these past two years.
I began homeschooling in my junior year of high school with the Ron Paul Curriculum. My classes were great for the most part, and I was just struggling with getting into the swing of things. I had teachers like Tom Woods (my favorite!) and Gary North (we will get to him later). After completing all of my classes for junior year, I decided to re-enroll and finish my senior year with the RPC too. This is where things get interesting.
In my first year, I took notice of how Gary North talked to students; especially in comparison to how other instructors regarded students. (For anyone who does not know, the instructors do not grade your schoolwork, and all communications are through online forums. The forums are probably about 95% student moderated, and all posts are visible to all members.) Although I enjoyed his courses, I was met with animosity whenever I asked a clarification question, and I was not the only one. Since I was so new to the curriculum, I mostly just kept my head down when I saw North making an effort to belittle students.
The way he spoke was not with authority, but rather, arrogance. Students as young as freshmen were subjected to public embarrassment and humiliation on the public forums; and each and every question asked was answered with another question: “do other students feel the same?”. If other students would confirm that they agree, he would again ask more questions to avoid fixing his mistakes. Under no circumstances would North accept advice or requests from the students.
Within 6 months of being in the curriculum I had seen an encounter between North and another student that actually upset me so much I contacted the support email for the RPC. North was far beyond disrespectful towards the student, and was clearly aiming for public humiliation in an attempt to deter him/her from asking North to fix his course mistakes. It was my understanding at this point in time that Ron Paul was the founder of the curriculum (hence the name) and it was my honest intent to have Gary North spoken to about his demeanor. Instead, I discovered that Gary North is the founder, and that it is his curriculum. He also puts out a great deal of the courses himself. Ron Paul’s only involvements are his name and his photo on the front page (which is extremely misleading). I was basically told to deal with it. (And suddenly the relentless displays of power and rudeness all made sense.)
In my two years with the RPC, I have not once seen Dr. North directly answer a student’s question, or offer to fix any of his mistakes with the coursework. It did not take very much observation to gather that Gary North sits on a horse so high he has to shout down upon middle and high school children. I was however taken aback by his most recent actions.
(Disclaimer: I am not here to justify my actions; I was not as polite as I could have been. Two years of being disrespected and talked down to in a curriculum I helped pay for myself is atrocious. Students deserve to be respected just as much as instructors do. If I wanted to continue the treatment I received in public school, I never would have left in the first place. When I first began with the RPC, I was extremely polite and kind with North. That behavior lasted up until the past few months.)
This is the final conversation that broke my patience and kindness:
STUDENT 1: Hi I have just started Business and am greatly enjoying it. Thanks Mr. North for the wonderful course. I have a few questions about the lessons and assignments however.
In Lesson 12 below the videos, you state this: For the next lesson, make a list of three things: “How will I add value that is worth paying for in 2030?”. What exactly are you trying to say? How will I make people want to pay me for something that robots can’t do? If you could clarify this I would appreciate it so I can do the assignment with a clear vision for what I have to do.
Then in Lesson 18, I feel that you are telling us to make a goal list for our life but I can’t quite tell. Is there something I missed that tells us straightforwardly that we should?
Finally in Lesson 19, you tell us: For tomorrow’s lesson, you will be required to write an essay on the program you selected, and why. Then in Lesson 20, you say: No writing assignment. What are we meant to do? If you didn’t contradict yourself it would help a lot.
Thanks for everything. I really appreciate this course and am trying to get the most out of it as I want to start a business myself.
STUDENT 1 (after no response): What I am trying to ask is if you could clearly write out the essays and assignments you want us to do on each lesson. Thanks again for the wonderful course!
GARY NORTH: Are others confused?
If so, suggest new instructions.
STUDENT 1: Would you just be able to answer my question? I would greatly appreciate that instead of you just making your own question for other students. Thanks.
GARY NORTH: There is an old rule: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
I think you are needlessly confused. If I change the wording, others will be needlessly confused.
I want to see if others are confused.
STUDENT 2: Hi Paul (that’s your name right? 🙂 ),
It can get a little confusing, but here’s what I did:
1. I made my own opinion about how I think robots couldn’t replace us. You will write an essay on this for lesson 15 (I think), so that’s the purpose of the question. Here’s my essay: https://baroquemyriam.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/robots-and-jobs-employment-in-2030/
So, I believe what Dr. North wants is that we develop our opinions on the subject.
2. I believe Dr. North’s main purpose in posing all these questions, etc…is more than to have us make an actual list (although that’s really good) is to start thinking about this and make it part of our lives.
3. This last part is a bit confusing. I think Dr. North changed this since I did it because I had to write an essay on it, and then another the next week. (Here are my business essays: https://baroquemyriam.wordpress.com/school-essays/business/ )
So, I don’t know what you should do, other than just follow the instruction to the letter, or else write the essay anyway. 🙂
I hope this helps,
ME: Dr. North: Yes, this is confusing. You were being inconsistent with your work/essay requests. If you typically place all requirements above the videos in text, and then you request some things verbally but do not include them with the rest of the assignments it gets confusing.
(To student 1) Unfortunately, I suggest you get used to the absence of direct answers. Dr. North (from my experience) will only answer questions with questions, and call upon other students in the process. While this seems to be his attempt at forced student to student problem solving, it does not fix the root issue. For example, in this situation another student helped you decide what to do, but the clarity of Dr. North’s request has not been improved, only avoided. The symptoms of the issue (confusion) were remedied, however the issue itself (Dr. North’s clarity and consistency) has not been resolved.
STUDENT 3: I have found a few assignments confusing. Especially on Lesson 19 and 20. You mention out assignment for lesson 20 and in lesson 20 you say we have no assignment. The course is great though!
ME: Dr. North, now that we have established that it is in fact “broke”, and that this students confusion was not “needless”, are you planning on fixing these issues?
GARY NORTH: You fix them. Then get agreement from the others.
Then I will post your jointly agreed-on recommendation.
GARY NORTH: Fixed.
ME: Considering we all pay you good money for a quality education, I feel that you should be the one to fix your own mistakes. Do not volunteer for a position you will not completely fill. Take some responsibility and use the advice we have all provided here.
As per your request, I stated earlier that I believe all of the assignments and requirements should be in one place: above the videos in text. It seems that other students would want this too because the widespread confusion came entirely from your inconsistent tactics.
It is not the job of the students to clean up your messes, Dr. North. You asked if other students were confused in order to avoid fixing your issues. When it was confirmed that yes, other students were confused as well, you then dodged responsibility once again. This is seemingly consistent behavior on your behalf.
You had two options here. One: take the easy route, shift responsibility onto the students (customers) and lazily avoid fixing the problem. Or, two: take the constructive criticism that you specifically asked for, use it and learn how to be a better teacher from the whole experience. You chose option number one. That is on you, Dr. North. Not us.
(At this point, I was KICKED OUT of the curriculum. My subscription was cancelled mid-year. I was not the most polite student here, but I was also not wrong; I took it upon myself to speak to North like he has spoken to me and others. In a curriculum based on personal responsibility, you’d think that North would own up to his issues.)
GARY NORTH: Sorry, but I have not understood what the problem is.
If one person is confused, and I have no idea what the student is talking about, then I want confirmation from others.
I have understood none of the criticisms. So, a group solution is called for. If I fix what I do not know is the matter, I am like to make it worse.
There is a rule: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I do not want to break it for others by trying to fix it before I understand it.
Group knowledge is usually a good way to deal with an imperfection. Committees are not creative, but they are a good way to prevent or repair mistakes that affect a group.
Now, group, please spell out in detail what you think is wrong. I want (1) agreement on what is wrong; (2) a suggested solution.
I want to make sure that everyone agrees on the solution before I implement it.
GARY NORTH: I wish to respond to Camillie.
She writes: “Considering we all pay you good money for a quality education, I feel that you should be the one to fix your own mistakes. Do not volunteer for a position you will not completely fill. Take some responsibility and use the advice we have all provided here.”
Who is “we”? Your parents pay. You do not. The Ron Paul Curriculum has a contract with legal adults. Minors are not legally allowed to make contracts.
She writes: “As per your request, I stated earlier that I believe all of the assignments and requirements should be in one place: above the videos in text. It seems that other students would want this too because the widespread confusion came entirely from your inconsistent tactics.”
If there are examples of this, let me know. I fixed the one example I was given. I said so. Then she posted her complaint.
She writes: “It is not the job of the students to clean up your messes, Dr. North. You asked if other students were confused in order to avoid fixing your issues. When it was confirmed that yes, other students were confused as well, you then dodged responsibility once again. This is seemingly consistent behavior on your behalf.”
She is disrespectful of authority.
She writes: “You had two options here. One: take the easy route, shift responsibility onto the students (customers) and lazily avoid fixing the problem. Or, two: take the constructive criticism that you specifically asked for, use it and learn how to be a better teacher from the whole experience. You chose option number one. That is on you, Dr. North. Not us.”
She was incorrect. I had a third option. I cancelled her parents’ subscription to this site. She is now locked out. She will remain locked out. Her parents will have to find a different curriculum for her. I will give her parents a full refund, of course. I have told her that they must contact me by email for an explanation. I will provide this by sending them her comments. They will see what tone she adopted.
There is a biblical principle: count the costs before you take action (Luke 14:28-30).
Be very careful when challenging someone in authority. He may have more options that you have thought about.
A word to the wise is sufficient.
Gary North was in violation of a contract between himself and my grandmother; that is why he offered a refund. (He was also wrong about the money, I did help pay for my own schooling.) What he failed to mention to the other students after kicking me out was the fact that he offered me my membership back ONLY IF I never posted on the forums, and if I agreed never to write about the Ron Paul Curriculum on my blog or elsewhere. He also took it upon himself to make a new username and password for me should I decide to come back. The username was Humble and the password was Self-Restraint2016. (He really loves public humiliation as we have already covered.) I chose to retain my right to free speech and share my experiences with others. My personal experience is the most important thing to me regarding the situation now, and the fact that he attempted to silence me makes me feel that I should be speaking out even more!
Besides his social behavior, I also began having issues with his economics and his business courses. Towards the end half of the courses (and throughout other courses as well), our assignments were solely written for the purpose of promoting the RPC. Each week, we were instructed to write a specific number of good things about the RPC. Believe it or not, for a 10 day session in business, North even had another teacher do special instruction lessons on how to buy a domain name and run a website. We were expected to pay around $100-$200 to buy a domain name, and pay to run our own website in promotion of the RPC. We were supposed to sign up as affiliates with the RPC and when we got another person to join he would pay us. This was explicitly stated, not implied; as a student I was nothing more than free advertising to Dr. North, and it became more and more clear every week. I had already been creating alternative assignments for myself because I was so uncomfortable with how I was being used when this assignment rolled around. (Many RPC-promotion assignments can be found in my Business 1 course category, but keep in mind I refused to do many.)
The RPC is not about you. It is not about your children or your family. It is about Gary North. He constantly assigns articles he wrote himself, requires us to watch his own speeches, etc. As unfortunate as it may be, Gary North is the only instructor in the RPC I would not recommend for anyone, under any circumstances. I loved every other instructor and never had a single issue with anyone else.
Gary North is an egotistical man of self-preservation and promotion. He has put himself on a pedestal so far above the rest of us that the education of your children is one of his last priorities with the Ron Paul Curriculum. If you want true education, I am sorry to say go elsewhere. The only other option I would recommend would be to get courses released by people other than North (ex: Personal Finance, Govt 1A & B, Algebra, Western Civ, Public Speaking, etc.)
Good luck homeschoolers, and do not be discouraged! Although this experience was nothing like I expected, I still learned a lot from it. I have no regrets. I wish you all the best in your curriculum hunts! I hope I was able to shed some light on the truth of the Ron Paul Curriculum for you.
If anyone has any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to comment!