If you had asked me even a few months ago what my educational philosophy was, I wouldn’t have had a clue.
But things have changed, and I am now a more enlightened individual after reading Cathy Duffy’s 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum (well, mine was a secondhand version of 100 Top Picks, but I’m sure the additional picks haven’t substantially changed the content).
My educational philosophy, quite simply, would be taken from my own homeschool experience – from my mom, who is (in my unbiased opinion) the best teacher-for-life I have ever known.
“I want you to have a general knowledge of how things work,” she would say, “and for the things you don’t know, you should at least know how to look them up.”
NOTE: This was in the dark ages before the Internet had taken off. I’m revealing a little of my age – horrors!
Of course, it’s every generation’s prerogative (and presumption) to consider how they would do things differently from their parents. In my case, though, I hope to do many things the same way.
One of those things is passing on my mom’s educational philosophy, especially in today’s culture where one can become ultra-specialized in one area and miss out on a thousand others. Or conversely, to know a smattering of info on a particular topic and think that makes us qualified experts.
Definition and benefits of an educational philosophy
Cathy Duffy describes an educational philosophy (or a philosophy of education, whichever you prefer) as a summary of a multi-step process. Ask yourself a range of questions, including:
- What do you think is most important for your children to learn? (Write down a list of goals and prioritize them.)
- How do you think learning should happen? (Here she goes into learning styles.)
- How do you want to teach or “run your school”?
At the end of it, you come up with a paragraph or two explaining your philosophy. I’ll just make up an example:
“I’d like my children to love learning and explore life with a clearly defined worldview. They should be excellent thinkers, communicators, and citizens. In all these things, they should remember they serve a God who loves them, who is for them, and who has called them His children.”
One nice takeaway from an educational philosophy like this is that it allows you to step back and remember the big picture behind homeschooling – not agonize over the itty-bitty details.
In fact, as Cathy points out, a big-picture educational philosophy can actually help you solve the itty-bitty details. For example, it may reveal why your child loathes algebra.
Does their learning style vary from yours, so you need to adapt your curriculum choices? Or do you need to change the way you run your school? That is, maybe cut back on their English classes (where they’re already ahead) and play math games? This strategy worked for me almost every time!
Other ways an educational philosophy can benefit:
- Compels you to articulate your goals and beliefs about teaching.
- Gives your children insight into your reasons behind home education.
- Provides a road map for your homeschool career.
Looking back over my homeschool journey, I really appreciate my mom’s decision to educate me at home. She may not have used the words “educational philosophy,” but her approach created in me a lifelong love of learning.
Do you have an educational philosophy? If so, what are the most important components for you?