The Caplan Family School is a perfect fit for young Caplans

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

Bryan Caplan interviews his two twin sons — who sound like they may in fact be clones of their father — about their two years of homeschooling in place of traditional middle school.

I don’t share their animosity toward art, music, and exercise, but I will say that their routine sounds like a perfect fit for them:

Their 5′s on the Advanced Placements tests in United States History, European History, Microeconomics, and Macroeconomics are only the beginning.

Earlier he shared his list of homeschooling textbooks:

7th Grade
For Algebra we used Practical Algebra: A Self-Teaching Guide.  This is probably the best math text I’ve ever seen: clear, thorough, and (to our eyes) literally infallible.

For Geometry, I couldn’t find a really good text, so we just used the geometry sections of the Kaplan SAT prep book and Kaplan SAT Math Level 1 prep book, plus miscellaneous others.

Our source for Algebra II was Practice Makes Perfect: Algebra II.  Pretty good, but quite a few errors.

For United States history, I assigned Nation of Nations, volumes 1 and 2.  It’s not thrilling, but was comprehensive, and low on annoying political remarks and outright economic illiteracy.  Here, and in many other cases, I saved a bundle of money by using old editions.  History really hasn’t changed much since 2007, after all.

Later, I bought virtually every A.P. U.S. History prep book for practice questions, as well as Barron’s excellent flash cards.

My students also took my labor economics class, using all the assigned texts.

8th Grade
For Trigonometry and statistics, we used the later chapters of Practice Makes Perfect: Algebra II.

For calculus, we used Quick Calculus: A Self-Teaching Guide.  This book is very well-written and easy to follow.  It’s also full of errors, but a public-minded Amazon reviewer posted a nearly-complete page of errata here.

If Caplan Family School were continuing, I would start a normal calculus textbook from page 1 now that we finished Quick Calculus.  The subject’s hard and deep enough it’s worth mastering the basics, then redoing it with all the bells and whistles.

Our primary source for European history was Carlton Hayes’ A Political and Social History of Modern Europe, volumes 1 and 2.  Few historians are more fun and funny.  Though his words are occasionally monstrous to modern ears, cut him some slack.  The guy moonlighted by saving tens of thousands of lives during World War II.

Since Hayes only goes up to 1924, I added Civilization in the West to get up to the present day.  But despite its massive size, this book’s coverage of the twentieth century was superficial, especially the post-war era.  My sons mainly learned about the twentieth century from random lectures, Wikipedia, and David Phillips’ awe-inspiring flash cards.  Best… flashcards… ever.

For micro and macroeconomics, we relied on Cowen and Tabarrok’s Modern Principles of Economics.  Using a text written by two guys within earshot may seem like nepotism, but my students privately called it their very favorite textbook: written with joy and packed with mind-expanding problems.

This year, my sons also took my public choice class, using all the assigned texts.

It’s definitely a plan by a geek for little geeks:

I’ll probably never get to cheer for my boys at a competitive sporting event, but this before all the world do I prefer.


  1. Bomag says:

    Dang! I”m doing it all wrong; I just let my home schooler watch porn and horror movies all day.

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