What is a homeschooling philosophy?
I have too many grand ideas. I start reading blogs, books, articles, etc., that tell me how to best implement some system or method into my homeschool that is guaranteed to be the best- it’ll raise my kids’ attention span, keep them engaged, raise their scores, get them motivated to learn, etc. One of the problems I have found with many of these resources is they tell the how but leave out the why. The ‘why’ for many is because ‘that’s what we do’. Or the ‘that’s what we’ve always done.’ Or something similar. It could even be that they want to do the opposite of what’s been done.
But why? Our personal philosophy matters much when we think about what system or methods we want to include in our lives, whether for education or just in general. It’s much like when we choose our church. We choose, and continue to attend, a specific church for certain reasons. A lot of the time it is the same as how we choose how to educate: It’s what has always been done. Or it’s what we are used to.
Now this post isn’t about our religious beliefs, although a philosophy, like it or not, does have its roots in our spiritual beliefs. I am not advocating one religion over another- nor am I really pushing for one educational philosophy over another. I do have my own personal philosophy that I will share in another post; but I’m not going to push that.
What is a philosophy? It is derived from two Greek words: ‘philo’ and ‘sophos’ or ‘sophia.’ Philo means love; sophos means wise (sophia means wisdom). Philosophy is therefore the love of wisdom. This should lead one to want to know what wisdom means. To be wise means “
One key point in the area of wisdom is knowing what is true or right. In order to know this, we have to be able to understand what is ‘true.’ I will assume that my readers are aware of different views when it comes to truth but will point out two views here. Some believe that truth is subjective; it is what we make it. My truth can differ from your truth, and yet still be truth. Others believe that there are absolutes that are true regardless if one or many believe in them or not.
Without going too far into all of that right now but still pointing how our philosophy affects our methods in homeschooling, think about how you view a child’s capabilities to grow. You have beliefs about how development works that you understand to be ‘true.’ For instance, if you believe that children develop at rather predictable stages, you can be fairly sure that around one year old, a child will be learning to walk. This has been covered by many pediatricians over the years with parents. If a child is not walking by say two years of age, both parents and doctors will have concern that the child is not developing properly.
The same goes with educating children. If one believes that children’s minds are like buckets able to be filled with vast amounts of information, then the method one applies to teach the child will be with facts and memorizing. If however one believes that children are made in the image of God and with the same faculties as adults, albeit not fully developed, then the method for teaching will be quite different.
Perhaps I’ve not done enough in this post to really explain how our philosophies affect the teaching in our homeschool but I do hope to continue this as a short series on different philosophies. Please stay with me as I present these in subsequent posts.
In the meantime, here are some books I’ve found to be of interest in the area of educational philosophy*:
- Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition by Karen Glass
- Walking with God in the Classroom by Harro Van Brummelen
- A Biblical Psychology of Learning by Ruth Beechick
- An Essay Towards a Philosophy of Education by Charlotte Mason
- Parents and Children by Charlotte Mason
- How Children Learn by John Holt
- In Defense of a Liberal Education by Fareed Zakaria
*You’ll notice some of these are geared toward teaching in a classroom or school setting. I believe that the philosophies behind teaching should be the same whether in a one-on-one setting or a group. I do not necessarily agree with the authors’ point of view in these books but they are good to help understand how and why we teach the way we do, as well as the outcome. I do whole-heartedly agree with Charlotte Mason’s and Karen Glass’s books.
What are some books or resources you can suggest that have influenced your homeschooling and/or educational philosophy?