With the recent federal legislation, I find myself involved in more and more conversations regarding “getting started” with homeschooling (or home education). But first, let me dispel an untruth about this process.
“If I look into homeschooling at all, that means I’m committed to it, right?”
NO! It took our family two years to make the jump to home-education. But here is why I think the time is now to begin exploring:
- Even if Texas bucks the system and gets away with not complying with the federal “threat” on bathrooms, know that more and more dangers are coming. Being ready never hurts!
- You may discover compelling reasons to home educate once you start down the path of inquiry. I know I did.
Back to my many conversations regarding home education and where to begin. While discussing with a couple of friends recently, including my friend over at Family Style Schooling, we discovered a bottom line of getting started with home education. (She’s good at boiling things down.) The answer to this question will easily help you make the first leap into “What do I want my homeschool to look like?” While this is the first question most people start to ask as they consider homeschool styles, curriculum, classroom setup, etc., that isn’t actually the first question to ask.
Here is what I want you to consider:
What is the purpose of education?
Think on that for a moment, and then scroll down…
Here are few different answers you might find given today.
Jonathan Cohen, cofounder and president of the National School Climate Center. “… the purpose of education is to support children in developing the skills, the knowledge, and the dispositions that will allow them to be responsible, contributing members of their community—their democratically-informed community. Meaning, to be a good friend, to be a good mate, to be able to work, and to contribute to the well-being of the community.” Not only should children learn civic knowledge—how the electoral college works, the history of political parties, and so on—but they also need to master civic skills, which include respecting others, working collaboratively, acting in a way that is fair and just, and being an active participant in the life of the community.
Summarized: Children need to learn to participate in society they way we want them to participate. Who do you think is deciding what exactly fair and just mean?
In agreement with what you might find going on in schools today, deMarrais and LeCompte (1995) outlined four major purposes of schooling that include:
- intellectual purposes such as the development of mathematical and reading skills;
- political purposes such as the assimilation of immigrants;
- economic purposes such as job preparation; and
- social purposes such as the development of social and moral responsibility.
Summarized: Learn what we want them to learn for the good of the society we want to develop.
Another educational goal today is to raise children to be able to participate in the global economy. If that isn’t vague, I don’t what what is.
Interestingly, mass production education came about around the time of the Industrial age. We didn’t need thinkers. We needed doers. So we made them. The system created doers that would do what they were taught to do. While we no longer train people solely to work in Industrial Revolution-type jobs, they are still being taught to go through college, choose a specialty, and learn how to contribute to society in a specific area.
What I discovered about myself and have discovered about others is that we come home from the school system and do exactly what we know. We create the environment of the school programming in our home. After all, we no longer have the bad influences of others, governmental interference, and carpool lines. But our student sits at a computer for hours or works in books for hours so that the day resembles education at school. The items have their places no doubt, but they seem to have taken over the place of everything else too.
I believe that it’s only when you discover what education was truly meant to be that you are free to choose your home-education path. Now, you may decide you don’t agree, and that is ok. But don’t go blindly into home-education without considering both sides of the coin.
A COMPLETE PARADIGM SHIFT ON THE DEFINITION OF EDUCATION
Andrew Kern states this: EDUCATION is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue by nourishing the soul on truth, goodness, and beauty. It should be distinguished from training (for a career), which is of eternal value but is not the same thing as education.
Summarized: Don’t get education and career training mixed up please! Get an education first!
Here is where the road divides (yes, I know you are singing Michael W. Smith right now). Do you want your child to do school work to go to college and get a job, or do you want your child to have a nourished soul full of truth, goodness, and beauty?
All children will not grow up to be a rocket scientist or a president, but all children can be nourished with truth, goodness, and beauty. They can be well-educated. In our family, all things come from God and reflect back to God, and that includes truth, goodness, and beauty. Knowing and valuing these things means knowing and valuing God more and more.
(Disclaimer: Don’t judge a general purpose without looking under the cover. “to transmit culture” may be wonderful if your family is transmitting a culture of following Jesus and a love of learning.)
Once you decide the path you choose, you are free to decide what you want your home education to look like.
Do you want to go…
Classical (that’s me!)
Online course by course selection
Join a co-op
Join a program/community
Homeschool Hybrid (2 day a week program teaching core subjects)
Hodge podge mix of all of the above
I wish I had begun this journey knowing what I would eventually come to believe the true definition of education is (I’m with Andrew on this one). I’m forever grateful for the recommendation of Classical Education that was made to me, but that may not be for every family. But every family can nourish their children with truth, goodness, and beauty. You don’t even have to homeschool to do that. It just gives you more time.
I must add that there are so many inspiring definitions of education out there to absorb into your mind, heart, and soul. Too many to begin to list here. I think I’ll compile myself a list!
There are a million other questions you can ask about home-education, and I’d LOVE to hear them – but I suggest you begin with this one!
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Here are some great books about education!
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