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    Philosphy of Education

    Friday night a Homeschool Mom's group I am involved with had our monthly meeting with the topic being different homeschool philosophies. As I shared what I know about many phil. and listened to others it occured to me that many homeschool philosophies share the same root....classical education. {I thought it would be neat if there was a tee shirt or something with the slogan, Classical Education--The Original Educational Philosophy.}

    These Moms espoused that it was very important starting out to know what your philosophy is so you can use it as a guide in choosing and implementing curriculum. I agree to some extent BUT many of these Moms are first timers. For me starting out, I had a goal in mind for my kids and researched until I found a philosophy, or more truthfully, a mix of them, that fit what I wanted/needed at the time. I shared that ones phil. changes and morphs over time as the needs of the Mom and children change. I am now no where near where I was when we started out 9 yrs ago with Calvert School. I tried to emphasize that you need to be flexible about your phil. especially if you have a child who doesn't fit. There is one Mom there who is struggling because her last child doesn't fit what her phil. has always been for her older kids. She has expressed feeling consternation and a loss as to what to do about it. Be flexible. Be open to change.

    So what do you think? How importent is it right off the starting block to know what your philosophy is?
    The Homeschool Grads:
    J- 6/96
    S- 11/98

    Homeschooling:
    G- 4/04 (mild ASD/mild intellectual delay)
    D- 5/05
    F- 7/08 (my only girl)

    New Homeschooler:
    M- 9/16: JrK

    #2
    I'm with you, Enigma. I do believe it is important to know WHY you are homeschooling to determine if you have the tenacity to continue with it; but I think that unless you have a solid understanding of the history of education, one is likely to see their philosophy of education change as they acquire more information in the process of teaching. Also, though it always seemed like a classical education would be the best for our children, I couldn't really define what it was or why I thought that it would be the best. Quite honestly, some of the things that I thought were 'great' in the beginning, I now find foolish and a general waste of time.

    Kami

    Comment


      #3
      It is such an interesting thing to compare what you thought at the beginning of your homeschooling journey, and what you decide along the way. I think having an educational philosophy as a starting point is good to help you initially make decisions, and I see that as a seperate entity from our goals as a family.

      We have set goals in mind for our family that do not change, as they are based on our faith,, which does not change. Our philosophy of education is what we determine to be the best route to take to meet those goals. This too tends to be pretty static, because as our goals do not change, neither then does the route to achieving those goals change much. For example, if my goal is to drive from Georgia to North Carolina, there are choices of how to get there, but you are pretty much going to stick with the most direct route, unless you like constantly changing direction. Since our goals line up with our faith, we can easily see that classical education, with its pursuit of truth, goodness and beauty, is the most direct route to take, much as the Church is our most direct way to grow in faith.

      Lastly there are the nuts and bolts of the materials we select to enact this philosophy, which for us are the things that can really flux from one year to the next, or from one child to the next, much as the specofic prayers we say, or religious practices we do may change according to times and seasons of our lives.

      Therefore for us, our philosophy has never wavered much, but we have had a lot of trial and error of how to implement it!!!

      AMDG,
      Sarah
      2020-2021
      16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
      DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
      DS, 17
      DD, 15
      DD, 13
      DD, 11
      DD, 9
      DD, 7
      +DS+
      DS, 2

      Comment


        #4
        I read once (I don't remember where) that many people will try a phonics curriculum, try another, and another and finally one works. They found the BEST curriculum! But in reality, the child was simply ready to learn. The miracle of reading with that super-program may or may not be repeatable with the next child in line. If it does work consistantly, it is probably more because the parent now knows enough phonics to make most curricula work.

        I think that parents do need something before they start. I have seen moms who suddenly decide or need to homeschool and they almost drown in their first Rainbow Resource catalog. (Or they snatch the first program in each section and despise homeschooling.) I am not sure what they need is a philosophy per se. They need a vision or goals of what they are trying to accomplish. A philosophy can provide some of that. Either it will give a picture of what a school day (or at least the best school days) should look like or the result that they are setting out to acheive.

        The first problem, which I have struggled with mightily, is my ideal school day is at war with my intended results. I want children who loved the good and have the ability to think clearly about what they read and write and have the beginnings of deep wisdom and discernment. I want to be able to achieve this by reading aloud for hours, making Waldorf style learning notebooks, and spending the afternoons in productive crafts and discovery learning. Add that to the fact that my children have too much afternoon crying and clinging scheduled to make time for crafts and what you get is a mess. I know at some level that reading a lot of fun books and not repeating things ad nauseum will acheive nothing other than some trivia and shallow understanding. But I loathe workbooks. (Never mind that dd seems to have no issues with them.) Thus there is the problem that we have lost touch with reality. We have forgotten (as a culture) what the work is that is necessary to acheive certain ends. Either we vastly underestimate our children and are impressed by slight improvements on public school achievement. Or we aim high with students but fail to understand why the methods we like don't achieve those ends. I see this in a lot of people that try Charlotte Mason methods. They are attracted by the plan for what a school day would look like. But they excise most of the classical elements because they are unfamiliar and don't end up achieving what they had in mind. (Or they end up accepting the results they do achieve as the best possible.) I think this is what you are getting at Enigma. Most philosophies work insofar as they hold on to the classical core of what actually works. (Lots of Charlotte Mason followers don't seem to understand that when they cut Latin and French they can't expect "gentle" English grammar to work them same way.)

        Then there is the second issue that can be lost: that teaching is itself a craft. There are best practices, but good luck finding them in a sea of bad information. More than that, there is a level of art to this - being able to discern where our students are and how to present the material. And that really does come with practice. The people who seem to effortlessly follow a philosophy and produce results are likely to be well honed teaching craftsmen who know what to do with the bones of a curriculum to make it work. They use curricula and it doesn't use them. Unfortunately, unless you come in with years of teaching experience, curricula are going to use you in the beginning, even if you know they are not supposed to. But who wants to admit that their first child's education is going to be messy at best because WE don't know what we are doing? And that thought could scare beginners from trying. We want a system, a philosophy, that will save our oldest child from having to learn by experience that you have to forbear even with parents, who aren't perfectly skilled yet.

        So I suppose, more than a philosophy, parents need a vision for the end result (and that will be different for different families.) Then they need some clear thinking about what methods and practices will actually achieve those ends. And then we could use some good advice on the science of teaching and then practice and mentors to begin to hone the art. I suppose that this is what conferences and homeschool groups at their best can begin to achieve. Hardest for me has been the fact that I have to accept this as a growth process and know that I can't hope to give my first child the perfect education that I would like to. Even classroom teachers usually have regrets about that poor first class that absorbed their first efforts. Sometimes the hardest part is knowing that we have a great God that can work a less than perfect educational year (or five) to the eternal benefit of those that love him and are called for HIS purposes. I wish I could fast track my own growth as a teacher just as much as I wish I could make real profound learning fun. (And child training and discipline easy while we are at it!)

        Lena

        Comment


          #5
          Thanks for asking the question. I find I do some of my best thinking when I have to actually wrestle with questions that really get to the heart of these matters rather than focusing on techniques and minutia. That is why I appreciate this board!

          Comment


            #6
            This really is an excellent topic. I think that you do need to have an end in mind for your child that is in line with your family's beliefs and find a curriculum that will help you to achieve that end. But you don't necessarily have all the answers right at the beginning. It is a growth process. Let's say you think you have it all figured out, so you ignore new evidence that contradicts what you are doing. You could spend years hitting the same wall.
            Although I have different academic goals for each of my children (they range from gifted to severely developmentally and intellectually disabled), I need to choose curriculum materials that will lead each of them to the true, the good, and the beautiful at the level they will be able to most benefit. After studying different methods and philosophies, I gravitated toward those that were in line with my Faith and closest to what I had seen work with a couple of my older children. I realized that I wanted to teach them the way the Jesuits would have taught them using the Ratio Studiorum. But I couldn't find a Catholic curriculum provider that used these methods adequately. Even some of the ones that claimed to be classical were in fact more scholastic. Memoria Press is not Catholic, but it does use the same classical methods and has a Christian worldview. Thirteen years ago I might have overlooked them. I think this is a lot like our daily lives as moms. We need to have a plan but be willing to adapt that plan as more information becomes available.
            Blessings,
            Jude

            dd 16, ds 13, ds 10, ds 8, dd 6, ds 4, dd 14 mos.
            DD24
            DS21
            DS18
            DS16
            DD14
            DS11
            DD9

            Comment


              #7
              I really appreciate the question here and the responses. We are starting our fourth year and our school looks much different than it did at the beginning (Sonlight and Saxon math, oh my). At the beginning I asked a lot of questions, went to a lot of houses, looked at books on their shelves and tried to make the best choice from what I knew was available. It was all theoretical though and I had to get my hands in it and see what did and didn't work. Over time I've been able to hone in on what really fits with my vision as a teacher and the best fit for my kids. There are so many options and many of them you have to hear about as you go.

              Last spring I received the MP magalog in the mail, unsolicited, having never even heard of them before. In retrospect I think it was dropped straight from heaven! I can't describe the emotion of leafing through what looked like a perfect fit for us. It was pretty startling. I have since done my level best to spread the word about MP in my area and group. I am so grateful.

              So here we are, far from where we started but further down the road. We are all learning together and that's one of the most beautiful aspects of it all. I'm also so thankful for all the wisdom shared here. How I wish we could gather and chat face to face! Maybe I will have to get to the conference somehow next year!!
              Festina lentē,
              Jessica P

              2021-2022 • 12th year HSing • 10th year MP
              DS 12th • AP Latin online, DE Calculus & Physics, HLN - Headed to Hillsdale College next fall
              DD 10th • HLN, Latin online
              DD 7th • HLN & Home
              DS 4th • HLN & Home
              Me • Third Form for Adults, MPOA; teaching TFL and co-directing @

              Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School, est. 2016

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