Education is supposed to influence us.
And it does.
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. ~Mark Twain
Don’t confuse education with intelligence.
Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~John Dewey
Looking back, I realize that I was so isolated as a middle-class suburban white girl. When I went to college in downtown Atlanta, it was eye-opening. So many different people from different backgrounds. It helped me to grow and learn about the world.
When I became a teacher, I grew some more as I learned along with and about my students and fellow teachers.
When I became a mother, I wanted more than public and private schools could offer my children.
When we travel, we learn even more, expanding and shaping our views.
My Educational Influences
Most of what I learned in school is negative.
Of course, I learned to write and multiply, but mostly to bend the rules.
I learned to avoid punishment. I was scared of my teachers. I was scared of bad grades.
I had teachers who yelled, tied students to their seats, gave detention for silly things, shamed and ridiculed, refused to allow bathroom passes, threw chalk and erasers and koosh balls, flirted with students…and lots more.
I was a good student. I learned to be invisible. I made good grades.
I had few positive teacher influences. Mostly, I learned what not to do as a teacher.
University Teacher Training
I got a bachelor’s degree in English literature. Yeah, pretty useless in any job market. If I had it to do over, I would at least have gone with journalism. It’s like having a degree in reading.
I earned a master’s degree in education with a 14-month urban education program to get quick teacher certification. And a job.
The program was kinda a joke. Pedagogy and methodology classes. The professors were out of touch with real schools and classrooms. The assignments were irrelevant. Most of what I was taught wasn’t feasible in an actual classroom when I got teaching jobs.
The other dozen students or so in the program were idealists who thought they were going to change the world. Most went to get teaching jobs in wealthy suburban white schools and districts.
Teachers don’t have a lot of autonomy in their classrooms.
We were taught how to manage students with punitive coercion such as humiliation and threats.
Administrators cater to parents and the school board. It’s very political. There’s lots of standardized tests that don’t really mean much.
Students are just seen as numbers and not as living, breathing, changing, growing human beings.
A poignant quip:
Someone asks: “What do you teach?”
Teachers respond: “English.” or “Science.” or “Math.”
A wise teacher responds: “Students.”
Homeschooling opened up a lot of doors for me as I did my own research into the world of educational philosophy.
I had to slowly unlearn everything I had experienced and been taught as a student and teacher.
My Favorite Educational Philosophies
The Well-Trained Mind and Classical Education
The Well-Trained Mind was the first homeschooling book I ever bought. I don’t remember how I found it, probably in an online forum as a great place to begin.
And it was.
Part of the school dilemma results from an over-focus on testing results; home educators are free from that pressure, so you won’t have to decide between test prep and expository writing. ~Susan Wise Bauer
I began homeschooling in 2005. My eldest was almost 5 and I was pregnant with my second. Number three followed a year after number two.
I liked the classics outline and resource lists for each year. It appealed to the intellectual in me as I set about developing a classical education for my daughter.
I loved the foundation on literature and history and still do. We all learn Latin together.
We never focused so much on a lot of memorization and writing early. I don’t like all the rules and scripts in CC.
The Well-Trained Mind was a perfect jumping off point for me as a new homeschool mom and offered us a good transition from school ideas to homeschooling freedom.
I soon learned about Charlotte Mason after our first year of homeschooling.
It seems a softer side of classical education.
I love the idea of living books and nature study, art and music appreciation and history.
I’ve always felt these subjects are so important.
Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life. ~Charlotte Mason
Ambleside Online is a great resource but I needed more structure for our growing family.
We love notebooking.
We began to acquire an extensive home library.
When my son was born, I encouraged him with self-directed activity, hands-on learning, and collaborative play – from birth.
Montessori has five key areas of learning:
- practical life
Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed. ~Maria Montessori
I included my middle girls and son in all aspects of our lives and schooling. It’s amazing how autonomous kids can be if we let them.
Rearranging our school room and providing many opportunities for practical play with small real tools helped our household dynamics.
Rudolf Steiner and Waldorf Education
Waldorf education is independent and inclusive. It upholds the principles of freedom in education.
Waldorf or Rudolf Steiner education is based on an anthroposophical view and understanding of the human being of body, soul, and spirit.
I love the holistic ideals of Waldorf.
Art and music are so important to me and I love all the fun, natural materials in the Waldorf community that encourage learning this.
I love the focus on imagination.
We love nature and the outdoors.
It helped me become a gentler parent. We flow.
I learned how to incorporate ideas and lessons that worked for us.
I believe in playtime and lots of informal, natural learning – especially outside – until the child is about 7 or 8 years old.
We work in a nice flow with the seasons, taking breaks frequently to enjoy the weather or rest when we need it.
I think there are lots of benefits to many different educational philosophies.
I love that, as a homeschooler, I have the freedom to pick and choose this and that for my children to learn best as individuals and different stages – practical Montessori, imaginative Waldorf, nature-y artsy Charlotte Mason, Latin and history classical.
It takes courage to do things differently.