The Integral Philosophy Behind Homeschooling

May 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Home Schooling

There are many reasons as to why parents would choose to homeschool their children. These vary; from the religious connotations behind some subjects to the dislike of the methods and resources used in schools. Also, there is another class of parents who believe sincerely that they can give their kids a better education at home. All these differences still imply only one thing: Parents believe that the public school system and environment isn’t conducive to great education.

Thus, the idea of modern homeschooling was begun.

One thing we need to stress here is that homeschooling is an old concept: Alexander the Great was homeschooled by Aristotle! In fact, until the 1850s when the public school system was made compulsory, most parents homeschooled their kids! In the 1900s, public education became the norm, although private schools also started popping up. The public school system was modeled on the Prussian system in the 1800s.

However, the mid-sixties saw a change in this trend, which was started off with a bang by John Holt and his free-thinking books on education. When combined with other sources such as Ayn Rand’s libertarian philosophies, this caused quite an exodus as parents removed their kids from public schools and embraced homeschooling.

Some parents, following Rand, became libertarian and tried to be as free of the State as they possibly could. Others saw their chance to teach their kids according to the Classical Liberal training, which had previously been used by monks in monasteries to teach their disciples and had its roots in the Greek-origin Enlightenment ideals.

The roots behind this philosophy do not matter as such. What is important here is that a general set of ideas developed, which became the norm in homeschooling. One such thought is that the child is a naturally active learner, which came about from Aristotle. Aristotle’s book Metaphysics starts off with these words: ‘All men possess by nature the desire to know’. This is very true, and this ideal has thus been used to substantiate the homeschooling movement.

Basically, the homeschooling movement gives more freedom to kids under the idea that learning in the right environment with the right resources doesn’t have to be a forced process. In fact, homeschooling gives us the idea that learning is a proactive and enthusiastically embraced process that comes with exploring the world. Within homeschooling, there are different approaches which vary from this starting point.

Some are free-wheeling and believe that there ought to be no curriculum or even direction from the parent. In one approach, the natural curiosity and interest of the children will suffice to self-motivate them. All that needs to be provided are the right resources.
Other homeschooling approaches are more formal. Some, such as the School-At-Home method, simply substitutes the public school environment for the home environment, leaving all other factors such as curriculum and resources constant.

The Montessori method is a mix of both structured and unstructured, and works by guiding the students to learn at their own speed using the provided resources. The Montessori method is used for small kids, and consists of plenty of exercises which develop the sensory as well as motor functions of the body. Language learning is an integral part of this program. It emphasizes more on the teacher focusing on the student, and guiding the creativity process to motivate learning, rather than vice versa. External corrections in this method are eschewed for self-correction.

The main thought behind all these different homeschooling approaches is just one: to make the student the focal point of the learning process. This is something that is not done in public schools, where the resources used are poor, and the classes are teeming with students, such that one teacher cannot devote any amount of time to individual students. This, hence, is better achieved through homeschooling!