There are as many philosophies of
home education as there are families
who home educate, just as there are with
the varying approaches to home education.
A philosophy of home education, in very general terms, is a rational investigation of the truths and principles behind what your home education environment will pursue, in terms of attitude, conduct and knowledge.
Your philosophy of home education is an intensely personal thing, completely unique in each family. It is based on your beliefs in a number of areas, and only you can really define what those areas are, and how much they will influence what you do. These are views you deem to be of such significance that together they form a foundation for any approach to home education that you subsequently take.
Articles on the philosophies of local home educating families …
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Aspects of Philosophy
In very general terms, your philosophy may have its roots in some or all of the following (feel free to expand and adjust for yourself):
- Politics: what awareness of and regard for affairs of state and the exercising or seeking of power do you wish to develop in your child?
- Legacy: what view you do want your child to develop about where they’ve come from and what they’ll leave behind?
- Organisation: what structure of principles, ethics and limits do you want to develop in your child?
- World: what framework do you want your child to develop in order to understand the world/universe and their place in it?
- Education: what do you believe is the purpose of education? In what manner will your child best attain the knowledge, skills and wisdom that will equip them for life?
- Religion: what of your spiritual beliefs do you consider essential to your child’s development?
- Self: what do you want your child to understand about themselves and their abilities, capacities, etc.?
If you’re just starting out, reading the above list may well have caused your brain to go into a state of petrification, just because all that seems like an awful lot to think about. For many home educators, the need to formalise a philosophy never really looms large, and that’s fine.
In our situation, having a vague idea of what we were about and trying to achieve has helped us make some pretty big decisions over the years. When we were starting out, however, the only thing we really ‘knew’ was that we believed home education was the right course in life for our child. The intervening years have shown us that it’s helpful to think through at least some of the ideas listed above.
Factors of Influence
Knowing how these factors influence your decisions for your child is useful in a number of ways. This knowledge can help you:
- decide how to progress in your home education experience
- have ready answers for people who choose to express opinions in opposition to your decisions
- become more peaceful about what you’re doing
- become more focused on what you’re doing or the directions you’re taking
- sift through the myriad choices that sometimes threaten to overwhelm you
- save money by not purchasing resources which don’t fit your style
Having a general philosophy is a great idea, but don’t feel like you have to get it all sorted before you can start home educating your children.
Many of the concepts that will ultimately shape your direction are quite likely to evolve or come into clearer view in your own thinking as time goes by. My one caution would be to do your very best to ensure that the views you develop are mutually acceptable within your family unit. If you’re totally sold on the concept of natural learning but your partner has a rigid traditional approach, you’re only setting yourselves up for major disharmony, which won’t help anyone, especially the children.
Talk it through. Try things out, but do endeavour to progress purposefully and unified.
“Philosophy, when superficially studied, excites doubt;
when thoroughly explored, it dispels it.”
~ Francis Bacon, Sr.