Getting Started Homeschooling Post 3- What do you really believe about school and learning?

This is my third post in a series about getting started with homeschooling. I have discussed the why of your homeschooling decision in post one and some various methods of homeschooling in post two. In this post, I’ll be looking at some philosophies of education that may shape your choice of homeschooling methods.

This post really goes hand in hand with the last one, and some of what I consider methods and philosophies may overlap. For example, unschooling is really a philosophy of education because it has to do with how you believe children learn best, but I mentioned it in the last post about methods because it is also a way to homeschool.

Homeschool philosophy

Your philosophy of education really has to do with how you believe children learn best and how that affects your style or method of teaching.

Many traditional philosophies of education view the student as a passive learner while the teacher is the active one who imparts knowledge. This is why workbooks, textbooks, and lectures feature prominently as traditional methods of education. The teacher presents the information in a carefully scripted way, and the student hears the information and regurgitates it on worksheets and tests.

The classical education philosophy suggests that children learn by training of the mind. This philosophy proposes that children move through three basic levels of learning called the “trivium.” This philosophy focuses on different methods during the different stages of learning. For example, the first stage is absorption of the facts, so lots of memorization methods would be used.

Many homeschoolers subscribe to a Charlotte Mason philosophy of education. Charlotte Mason lived in England in the early 1900s. She wrote about a “gentle” philosophy of education where children are allowed to learn and discover things in a natural way during their early years. Charlotte Mason’s philosophy was “Education is and atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” Proponents of this philosophy read good, classic, “living” books and use methods such as narration, copywork, picture study, and nature study to teach in a a gentle and natural way. You can read about Charlotte Mason, read her original six volumes in modern English, and get a free Charlotte Mason curriculum guide at Ambleside online.

A book called A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille proposes a philosophy of education that is a combination of several ideas from the classical and Charlotte Mason philosophy. DeMille presents stages of learning: Core Phase, Love of Learning Phase, Scholar Phase, and Mentor Phase. He emphasizes that you can educate only one person- yourself. The job of the teacher/mentor is to inspire, encourage, and direct learning. The student’s job is to learn. This philosophy promotes student- directed learning; reading and learning from the classics; and learning from able mentors. There is a strong emphasis on patriotism in this philosophy and on training strong, American leaders.

I have only skimmed the surface here, but these are some of the prominent philosophies of education that homeschoolers are drawing from today. Again ,the first and foremost question goes back to your focus. Why are you homeschooling? This will affect your choice of methods and your educational philosophy.

Personally, my philosophy of education is very much a Charlotte Mason philosophy. I believe children should be active learners and should be introduced to learning very gradually as they are ready. I also agree with much of the Thomas Jefferson Education philosophy. I believe in using good, classic literature and in students taking the initiative to learn where their interest lies. This goes along with our “why” focus of having the goal to reach our children’s hearts for the Lord, to develop family unity, and to prepare each child to be what God would have him be.

Wow! Now that I am through with all the heavy stuff, my next post will move into a more practical aspect of homeschooling- Where do you find your support?

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