Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Homeschooling Approach

I have read about various different philosophies of schooling and education and I find a lot to like in many of them. Homeschooling for me is in large part about the freedom to choose my own path, rather than one already charted for me. Even so, it is good to have a framework to refer to and I have chosen to structure our homeschooling around what is known as the "classical" education philosophy. This makes sense to me because it is roughly how I was myself educated, in the Italian public school system.

I have read "The Well-Trained Mind" (TWTM), the working manual of the classical education at home, and refer to it often. I found it to be inspiring in many ways, but overall too rigid for my taste, so I do not plan to adhere to its recommendations to the letter.

As outlined in TWTM, I am imagining that if we decide to go the distance (i.e. if we do not go back to regular schools) our learning path will proceed through three cycles. TWTM calls them Grammar Stage, Logic Stage and Rhetoric Stage, the Trivium of classical education. An excellent discussion of this, which TWTM refers to itself, is the essay "The Lost Tools Of Learning" by Dorothy L. Sayers. I agree with the concept (again, this is not surprising given that I was raised with this system), but occasionally I find the terminology a little heavy, and I choose to refer to the learning stages as first, second and third cycle instead. This is just a matter of personal taste, though.

The spine of a classical education is the study of history, started from the very beginning - first grade, in the usual way of measuring school age.  This is probably the most obvious difference between the classical education approach and the mainstream. Other differences are more subtle at first and become more pronounced in higher grades.

I will discuss in some detail how I have structured our homeschooling in other posts - that is the whole point of the blog :) - but let me just say here in what ways we sway from the TWTM approach. In no particular order: we are a multilingual and multicultural family, so that needs to worked out into our curriculum; we aim for a secular education, whereas TWTM proposes a Christian education; I am a scientist and so is my husband, so science and mathematics are definitely important to us, and I will probably end up devising my own approach in these areas; I rely on modern technology a bit more than TWTM would consider acceptable, while still trying not to let my kids spend to much time on front of a screen..

That's it for now, more later!

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