Thursday, July 29, 2010

My educational philosophy

I am about a quarter of the way through The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child, the book I selected to prepare to homeschool Suzi. In Chapter 3, it encourages parents to think about their educational philosophy. While the book says "there is no step number one," this seemed like a good official first step to me (I mean, aside from reading books and informally playing/reading/etc). So, briefly, here is my educational philosophy so far; I've written at length before about why I hold some of these views. Several of my points are similar to the ones in the book.

1) A child should develop the ability to solve a variety of problems in real-world situations. This involves real-life experience in using problem-solving skills and the ability to find information when needed, by visiting the library, searching the internet, or locating an expert. It has very little dependence on a memorized set of knowledge.
2) Children should have an education that caters to their strengths. If a child is obviously gifted in writing, and has a passion for it, the bulk of his energy should be put into that subject. Those subjects we love and excel in are usually the ones we develop as adults and use to do important, possibly world-changing things. Children should be as free as possible to pursue what they love, no matter their age.
3) At the same time, an education should give a child enough basic knowledge to succeed in a variety of occupations. A child may not love math, but a little of it is necessary for everyday life and certain career paths require even more. A well-rounded education is important.
4) A good education maintains a child's excitement for each new day and nurtures her natural desire to learn, think and create. Catering to a child's individual interests and learning style is key.
5) A child should have opportunities to interact with others and develop interpersonal skills--not only with peers, but with people of all different ages and backgrounds. In the real world, we must regularly interact with all kinds of different people. We learn the most from people who are different from us.
6) Children should be taught to question authority. Some of the greatest achievements in history were made because of this. A leader is not always right. Always, always question.

I may add more to it later, but I can already see these beliefs shaping how we will homeschool. My dream homeschooling situation would include lots of dialogue in the middle of living life and working through everyday situations. We will do what we love at our favorite time of the day. Some books and worksheets will be used (mostly later on of course; Suzi is three) to ensure all important material is covered. We'll probably do more learning side-by-side on the couch rather than sitting under the bright lights at the dining room table, because it's more relaxed that way. We will make an effort to attend group meetings and have playdates and go places regularly. And lastly, I will respect my children's uniqueness and ideas in a way that is not so prevalent in schools.

From what I've read so far in a variety of places, I've gathered that the cornerstone of homeschooling is simply sharing everyday life with our children. I already love doing that. The rest will follow!

Do you homeschool? What is your educational philosophy and how does it shape your day? I am fascinated by the possibilities!


Megan said...

You're philosophy looks good. I feel very much the same way. You have a very progressive, child-directed outlook on education. I also think that the way you want to homeschool will work very well for Suzi because she is already so independent. I agree that not much good is achieved through worksheets and that it is much better to give them what they call "authentic learning experiences". Which I feel like you already do with your girls. You'll do great! I'm glad you're so excited about it.

Megan said...

I've been thinking more about your philosophy of education. You're right that it is so important to taylor a child's education to his or her needs and interests. For instance, Suzi is artistic and loves making things so, you can use her interest in art to branch out to other subjects. Aiden on the other hand, would never sit still long enough to do an art project, but loves science, and so we introduce him to science topics of his interest (electricity... gravity..) and expand on them. Yay for homeschooling.

Kacie said...

I have thatbook! Got it on PBS. It's still on my to-read list but I've been starting torhink of my reasons and philosophies.