An Educational Philosophy that Works
I’m struck by the commitment and courage of homeschooling moms. I’m even more in awe when I discover that so many of you (us) have large families (four or more children).
My conversations with various moms on Monday night made me think of this blog and I’d like to share a few observations here.
In our attempts to find a philosophy of education that works for our families, we can feel batted around by the strong gusts of the latest curricula, the current trends in home education, the program that solved whatever schooling bugaboo over which we agonized.
Usually no family has just one principle by which it functions and most of the time, we operate by a collection of tidbits (math books recommended by Mary, a writing program discovered by a google search, philosophy expressed in that one good homeschooling book we happened upon in the library, personal hunches, comments made by our husbands, anxieties fostered by in-laws, and so on).
Somewhere in that mix are the feelings, needs and opinions of our children, failed ideals, nursing babies, pregnancy hormones, memories of school, a very messy house and a need for a hot long shower.
What happens when a home education curricula or business person shows up to give input to a group of moms living these eclectic, demanding homeschool lifestyles?
Two things: inspiration and guilt.
We attend homeschool meetings to
- be inspired to try again,
- find a way to connect to our original vision,
- reconnect to our kids,
- internalize some ideal we like but don’t know how to apply, and so on.
On the flip side, though, it is easy to believe that what is presented is perfectly true, works all the time, should be easy, and is preferred to what we are already doing. That little dance leads to guilt (Why haven’t I done it right yet? or Why can’t I figure out how to do what looks like it should be easy to do?).
I’m reminded again of the One Thing Principle. Take it one thing at a time. Pick something you’d like to try and give that one thing a chance to work, to be successful. Then be the judge of it. If it works, celebrate. If it doesn’t, dump it without guilt, without feeling that your family is failing.
One other principle is: If it’s working, don’t fix it.
Sometimes we hear about a “better method” and race off to it thinking that while what we were doing was okay, this new process must be better because some home education “expert” says so or my best friend loves it. Add in uncertainty and boredom and we may dump something that is perfectly suited to our kids and family life and find ourselves instead, floundering.
Our families will not be perfect testaments to any curricula because families are living, breathing organisms. Curricula is not. Each year will present us with challenges and opportunities that require new solutions. One year tea times and copywork may be the key to joy at home. Another year, they’ve become stale or the toddlers won’t let you eat and drink or a husband is sick and needs attention.
Freedom. Freedom to try things, to discard them, to cycle through them, to find your own homeschooling voice.
In all things, I hope that Brave Writer is a place where a table is spread so that you may pick and choose what leads you and your children into joyful language arts and writing.