Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Homeschool Wars

Educational methods are not eternal truths. There is no "one great education model" to be used with all students.  The mentality that there is one,  is one of the problems I see with public schools--it's a one-size-fits all model. The interesting thing is--I see a lot of the same mentality among homeschooling families.

One homeschooling mom wrote that she hesitated to define or label their homeschooling style because many homeschooling families end up worshiping their educational philosophy over actual education.  The more I've browsed homeschooling blogs and websites on the internet the more I see it is true. 

All of these philosophies basically boil down to a single person's ideas about education.  And they are great ideas.  But why should I believe that someone I've never met--and oftentimes isn't even alive anymore knew exactly what my child would need to become educated or what I would need to be able to help him on that journey?  That sounds just like how disconnected my child is from the state or federal education boards. 

I've done a decent amount of research on educational philosophies and so far believe that my ideal doesn't fall anywhere far enough inside one of these camps to even hint that my philosophy is modeled after theirs.  Though I do think they have many great ideas between the lot of them.

In no particular order here is an non-exhaustive list of some of the common homeschooling philosophies and some parts of the philosophies that I like and would see as a good fit in my children's education. 

Waldorf--Children benefit from the stability and predictability of the following of rhythms and recognition of seasons.
    --Being out in nature is good for children.

Montessori--Children often have high intellectual capacity from young ages.
     --Children should learn to take care of themselves and their belongings.

Thomas Jefferson (Leadership) Education--Every field of study has it's "classics" and to become educated in a field best you should use the classics.

Charlotte Mason--Young children should have short lessons (about 20-30 minutes).
   --Books should not be boring.

Classical Education--All areas of study are explored three times--in it's basic facts as a young child, with more understanding of why as an older child, and finally as young adults learning application of ideas.  Each stage building upon what was learned as a younger child. 

Unit Study--Reading, writing, science, and math can be combined in meaningful ways focused around interesting topics.
     --- Education can easily include learners of different ages and abilities.

Literature-based--Good literature gives great jumping-off points for further study.

Unschooling--Children should be encouraged to find their own interests and given the opportunity to pursue them freely.
     --Children learn a lot even we are not "teaching" them. 

Of course it's important to remember that as much as any ideas may appeal to my tastes, I have to remember that it is actually my child who's tastes I should be deeply concerned with.  As all children are different I expect tastes and aptitudes may be different with each of my children.  So although it would be nice to join a "club" of homeschooling purists in some philosophy or another--I think once again I will simply avoid labels, reserve the right to think for myself, and probably have less friends because of it.  But of course the goal shouldn't be friends for myself--it should be about great education for my children. . . right?

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