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Uncover Your Own 'Philosophy of Education'

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, July 11, 2008

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 9 No 55 July 11, 2008
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2008 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!
If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!




Notes from Heather
-- Educational Philosophies
Helpful Tip
-- Chores with Online Rewards
Winning Website
-- Paper Plate Education
Reader Question
-- Pressure About College
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

"Whether you're aware of it or not, you have an educational philo-
sophy -- an idea of what comprises a 'good' education. And it's
that idea that you bring to the table when you start homeschooling
your children." -- Chris and Ellyn Davis, HomeschoolMarketplace.com


Common Educational Philosophies

I consider Chris Davis (founder of Elijah Company) to be one of the
most important mentors of my early personal philosophy of education.

This week there is a new article posted on their site that I found
VERY interesting! In it they introduce 4 common schools of thought.


"There are four educational philosophies influencing home schooling
today. Think of these philosophies as the underlying assumptions
about what comprises an education and what knowledge should be
covered in order for a person to be considered 'educated'. All of
the common teaching approaches available to home educators contain
elements of these four educational philosophies, but each teaching
approach favors a different educational philosophy.

The first educational philosophy is ESSENTIALISM. Essentialism
assumes that there is a core body of knowledge that must be
mastered in order for a person to be considered 'educated'. It
focuses on the 'essentials' and is subject oriented. Essentialism
could be summed up in this phrase: 'Information is the key to a
good education.'

PERENNIALISM is more 'idea' oriented, and considers education to
consist of becoming acquainted with the great writing and thinking
throughout history. To perennialists, 'understanding is the key
to a good education.'

PROGRESSIVISM seeks to make education practical and applicable to
the needs of students and society. It assumes that making know-
ledge and skills meaningful are the keys to a good education.

EXISTENTIALISM stresses 'authenticity' -- the commitment to find-
ing true being. To the existentialist, discovering one's own
meaning and purpose in life is the key to a good education."


Read the rest of this great article and answer some interactive
questions to help zero in on your own 'philosophy of education'!

Here is the link to read:



Advertising Opportunities

We have openings for sponsorship ads in our Homeschooler's Note-
book newsletter in the coming months. If you have a book, product
or service that you know would be of interest to homeschooling
families, just email marketing@stretcher.com to ask about our
affordable rates!

(Please put "HS Notebook Sponsorship" in the subject line and please
also copy me in on your email - heather@familyclassroom.net - so that
I can follow up and make sure your email was received.)


Do you have comments to share? Please do!
Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

Chores with Online Rewards!

"I stumbled upon this website and I think it is the answer to my
prayers! I have been trying to figure out the *perfect*
chore/task/manners/schedule chart and found it all on one site.
Handipoints is a game you play with your children to teach
responsible habits. Parents create printable chore charts and
set-up an allowance program online (it has healthy habits like
bathing, brushing teeth, etc. and sports, taking care of pets,
being nice to people and family members, along with chores around
the house.) Kids earn points to use to dress up their 'Cool Cats'
and play games in HandiLand. It is basically a virtual chore
chart (that is also printable) where your child(ren) can create a
pet, earn points to redeem from their parents, earn virtual stamps
and play games -- all for good behavior and completing their tasks.

Visit their website at http://www.handipoints.com/friends/ to
learn more and to sign-up for free."

-- Stacy in Michigan


Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Winning Website


Paper Plate Education

"Paper Plate Education is an initiative to reduce complex notions
to simple paper plate explanations. This website promotes
innovative hands-on activities that you can experience across a
range of interests, at varying degrees of complexity, and at a
low price -- all with common paper plates."



(((Hugs))) to my online Scrabble buddy, Jodi W. in Iowa, for
suggesting this great website! :-)

Last Issue's Reader Question

"We have a soon to be 13 year old son, and he is struggling with
'when he grows up'. Many people -- church family, immediate family,
friends, etc. are constantly bombarding him/us about his future
plans. Most are saying things like, 'when he goes to college', or
'he'll need this to get into college'. They are saying, 'he needs
to be prepared for college', but what about real life? I feel like
life skills are, in a way, more important. My son isn't sure that
college is what God has planned for him. He has even asked us
about the military. My husband did not attend college, and I only
attended for one year. We are not in a position to insist that he
must attend college. My husband never really had a desire, and
ended up as a career employee with the United States Postal Service
at age 23. Most young people today can't say that they will retire
from the job they got at age 23! I initially wanted to work for a
year before attending college, but was pretty much forced to go. I
didn't want to be there, and got into some bad situations including
academic probation. We just keep reassuring our son that if God's
purpose for him is to attend college, go into the military, or start
in the workforce, He will make it clear. Does anyone else share
these feelings, or has anyone experienced the same thing? How have
you answered the questions people have? Any 'wise counsel' would
be appreciated!" -- Kellie in NY

Our Readers' Responses

"Kellie, I have a 14-year-old son who will very likely not go to
college, and we are fully supportive of his decision. You are
very wise to counsel him into seeking God's will, which may or may
not win the approval others. You are wise also to place a higher
priority on life skills.

My thoughts and observations about college are that:

1) It isn't worth the time or money it takes to get a degree,
unless he plans to go into a field which requires it;

2) Most people who attend college change careers and don't use
most of what they got in college;

3) Young people don't need to start their adult life with the
huge amount of the debt that they will incur by going to college;

4) It is very difficult to find a college that will uphold the
values you have tried to instill in your children, so college
might do him more harm than good;

5) It's never too late to go to college; if he decides later that
he needs or wants some college courses, the option will always be
open to him. He doesn't have to decide by the time he's 18.

It might help to be ready with some answers when people bring it
up. If he tells them he's considering the military, that might
be enough. He could also point out that serving in the military
can earn him some college credit, and qualify him for a free
college education afterward. We have taught our children to say
that they are waiting for God to reveal His plan for their lives.
People rarely argue with that, even if they are unbelievers.

I have a Master's Degree. If I had it to do over again, I would
not go to college." -- Mary Beth


"First of all I'd like to encourage you with the fact that your
son was given to YOU and YOUR HUSBAND, no one else, and you are
the ones that will be given insight concerning your child. :-)
College can be a very important step in a child's life, or a
devastating one, as you know firsthand, and I am convinced that
it is NOT for everyone. That is a decision that will need to be
prayerfully made by your son, with your prayerfully given counsel.
No one else need be involved but God, your son, and you, his

As far as responding graciously to others, a good friend of mine
gave me some excellent advice once: Just because someone asks
you a question, doesn't mean that you have to give them a thorough
answer or any answer at all! She was so right! Most people, when
asked a pointed question, say about your son's future, think they
have to lay out their answer (and their plans) completely in order
to satisfy the one who asked the question.

In other words we think we have to defend ourselves and our actions.

When my children were younger, and we were just starting out home-
schooling, many people would ask, 'Are you going to homeschool all
the way -- and how?', meaning through high school and how could I
possibly achieve that?! I learned early on not to enter into
discussions that would result in debates or flat-out arguments,
so I would respond as lovingly as I could, 'Well, my husband and
I have decided that we homeschool only one year at a time; if we
make it to the high school years, then there are plenty of
resources available to homeschoolers for that time in our child's
life that we will be able to access, but for now our focus is
doing what we need to do to give our children success THIS year.'
This was a general answer, but sufficient enough to let someone
know that my husband I were being responsible.

Now that we have entered the high school stage of homeschooling,
my answer, if asked, is, 'Anything you find available to public
or private schools is also available to homeschoolers. We have
sports teams, extra-curricular clubs, scholarship options, SAT
testing, etc.

What many well-intentioned people try to do with parents is
'call them to account', but the simple truth is that we do not
have to answer to them. If a person is really pushy, say like
a family member, then I answer their question with an honest
answer. If I can see that they're concerned about our curriculum
choices, I tell them a little something about what we are using --
but not in a way that is like defending myself. I share in a
way that promotes the positives. I am honest about the negatives,
like hardly ever having time to myself! I had a relative that
asked me how I could handle being with kids 24/7, never getting
a break. I honestly answered, 'You know, it isn't always easy --
I get tired just like the next person, but my eye is on the goal
and on Jesus Who gives me strength, and compared to the rest of
my life, this is a considerably short amount of time to spend
with my kids'. And then I told her if she ever wanted to bless
me by babysitting one Saturday, she could feel free! Her response
was great. 'I agree with you, Nicci -- I wish I had had more time
with my kids'. What started out as a negative, ended in a posi-
tive. I was able to then start a conversation about how her
relationship with her children is now and ministry came out of it!

*I* was not the mastermind in all this. When I began getting
questions, I was just as frustrated and overwhelmed as the next
person! Simply put, I prayed. The Bible says in James 1:5, 'But
if any of you lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to
all liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.'
Whenever I do not know what to do in any area of my life, which
is quite often, I ask God for wisdom. He knows how to handle
things way better than us, amen? Chin up girl!" -- Nicci


"We have been dealing with much of the same for the past few
years. Our oldest son is approaching his 18th birthday (next
month! YIKES!) but has one year of high school remaining.

For an answer - we smile broadly and say 'We are waiting for God
to reveal His plans for (son) and are very sure He will have (son)
and us ready for whatever they may be.'

Waiting on the Lord is difficult for many people to understand.
Even Christians at times seem to think *we* should have it
planned out and mapped out and that college is an absolute for
every child. I strongly disagree. God has a different calling
for every person and I trust fully that God will show us the steps
we need - and provide enough strength, the grace and all other
provision - to take those steps according to His time table if we
are diligent in prayer and obedient to His call.

My son is almost 18 and praying very much that God will open the
door for military service or make clear what other plans He has
for him. God is faithful and is showing us, one step at a time,
where to go and what to do. I know he will do the same for your
son!" -- Deb in NH


"Kellie -- I talk with our kids (11 year old daughter and 9 year
old son) about when they're grown up, and I mention college but
it's only one possible path. Their dad has several degrees but
I attended different community colleges sporadically. Neither
of my sisters has a degree but each makes plenty from a financial
standpoint and is VERY happy with the work they do. My one brother-
in-law has no degree and works in the oil industry (plenty of
funding), and the other brother-in-law got his BS after serving
in the Army.

I also saw a piece on the evening news a few weeks ago that many
skilled professions are not getting enough young workers --
plumbers, HVAC, carpentry, etc. Many of these companies are able
to pay their employees well due to the shortage of workers and
the fact that many homeowners can no longer handle many of the
easiest problems themselves (or are unwilling to do so).

Many well-wishing people will push college, but it's certainly
not a necessity. I push more that my kids listen quietly and
consider the things they like to do -- and with or without college
God can find a way for them to be happy in their work." -- Jo B.


"Go online and search the words 'job interest survey'. There
are several free surveys (some from the military, some from
various post-high school learning centers). Fill out several and
see where your son's interests lie. Some surveys have a yes or
no answer while others have you rank your responses. The results
can tell you if you might want a career in the arts, working with
people, machines, animals, numbers, etc. Then he can start think-
ing about whether to go to college (2yr or 4yr), vocational,
military, etc." -- Loretta


"Kellie -- Some people are well meaning with their unasked for
advice. Some are just trying to undermine your choice to home-
school. I would suggest you just smile and take their suggestions
with a grain of salt, keeping what is helpful and ignoring what
isn't. As far as his choices for the future, I think you have
already given him some great advice. He is still quite young to
make that decision yet. I know of several people who have gone
to college, gotten into huge debt and then changed majors 2, 3 or
even 4 times before they graduated. One lady that comes to mind
went in for her freshman year determined that she wanted to go
into the singing business. By the second year she had decided she'
wanted to just be a music teacher; in the next year or so she
changed to child psychology. She graduated, but could not get a
job in that specific field, and is now working at a daycare center
-- something she could have done with no college at all! I highly
recommend for graduating teens to wait a year before starting
college. A year to work and save money; a year to think about what
they might want to do. Turning 18 does not set their lives in
stone. They have plenty of time to make the decisions that could
affect them for the rest of their lives." -- Martha H.


"I don't have any real advice for you except grow a thick skin
and keep the ear plugs handy. :-) I've been through it with all
with my girls. My first one went to college right off, ended up
on academic probation and quit school. Then she went to work and
*accidentally* found something she loves. She was given a chance
to take a CNA class for free, excelled in that and has now decided
she wants to get her nursing license. She did so well in the CNA
class that she has been invited to apply for a special program
that will pay for all her school expenses in return for working
with an under-served population for awhile after graduation.

My second daughter is a very talented dancer. She has trained with
some of the best in the ballet world. She doesn't want to go to
college and she's not terribly interested in high school -- unless
she can do it 'en pointe'! She has crunched 4 years of school into
3-ish, so this year (her senior year) she can study full-time and
focus on preparing for professional auditions in the spring.

My youngest daughter actually wants to go to college. But, much to
the dismay of the grandmother who thought there was finally someone
in the family who was going to do *real* school, she wants to study
equine sciences. Yep, going to school to hang out with horses
(which she's doing now, volunteering at the stable near our home).
Personally, I think it's great. We have one of the country's top
equine programs within an hour of our home. She wants to learn
more than she can learn as a volunteer, and college leading to
apprenticeship is the way to do it in that world. (Got the visual
of Gramma hanging her head and rolling her eyes?)

All that sums up to this: God knows what He plans for your kids.
Sometimes it's obvious at a young age; sometimes (more often than
not) it takes awhile for our kids to develop into and find His
direction. And He uses all the life experiences leading up to
where they belong to shape them and grow them. Let your kids
explore; let them follow where they feel God is leading. Sometimes
the road may bend and twist, but we don't carry the map. Trust
Him to lead. And don't stress about the people who want to push
their plan into your hands.

Good luck to you and your kids. Keep praying and keep searching
for His path." -- Laura


"It's wonderful that your 13 year old son is wanting God's purpose
and plan for his life. I imagine the folks already questioning
about college mean well, but college is not God's perfect plan
for everyone. Many young adults are so saddled with college debt
that they are forced to work when perhaps God is calling them to
ministry or missions. Anytime we want to follow the Lord, we will
encounter opposition even from those who love us. Pray for strength
for you and your son to stand firm in his decision to follow God
no matter where He leads him. Perhaps your son could tell the
curious people that he is seeking God's plan for his life and leave
it at that. After all, we sure can't please everyone, and pleasing
God is all that matters anyway." -- Christy L.

Answer our NEW Question

"I am looking for a non-traditional, perhaps living book, way to
teach my first grader science next year. Has anyone used any
Jean Henry Fabre books - 'A Nature Walk with Aunt Bessie', or
'Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding' - or does
anyone have any other suggestions for good spine books or other
ways to teach elementary science in a not-so-boring way? Thanks!"
-- Diana


Do you have input on these books and/or other ideas for Diana?

Please send your emails to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

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