SS #106 – Stop Looking for Hacks (Get an Educational Philosophy)
Homeschool moms are often on the hunt for hacks to streamline and simplify the school day, but what if hacks are making us slaves?
To make good decisions as we homeschool and appropriate curriculum picks, we don’t need to find the right guru or printable to tell us what to do. We need a philosophy of our own – because our philosophy, whether we know it or not – is what determines those choices.
Also, don’t miss the toga tangent.
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Philosophy Is Practical
homeschools three kids and has one graduate at New College Franklin; Charlotte Mason is her go-to gal for educational philosophy.
homeschools three kids and has two homeschool graduates; she piecemeals her educational philosophy from many classical sources.
Scholé Everyday: What We’re Reading
A History of Western Philosophy and Theology, John Frame
Mystie gushes about the book she recently actually finished.
Regenerative Agriculture Podcast
Brandy specifically mentions episode 2 as helpful for drawing connections between agriculture and education, about principles and particulars.
You already have a philosophy of education
Everyone has a philosophy. It’s only a question of whether or not it’s intentional or not.
You don’t need a complete, thorough, filled out philosophy of education. But you do need a basic to know your basic philosophy because all our decisions flow from our philosophy.
We’re all working out a philosophy, but is the philosophy we’re working out one we would actually agree with if we saw it written out?
What is an educational philosophy?
We assume a philosophy is abstract, academic, difficult. However, fundamentally, a philosophy is just a love of wisdom, a pursuit of wisdom.
You don’t need to have all the answers to all the questions to have a philosophy.
A philosophy answers the basic questions about the nature of persons and learning and reality.
Getting a philosophy of education isn’t a creative project
Choosing a philosophy of education can feel intimidating if we think it’s something we have to come up with ourselves.
If we each have to be our own Descartes and begin with nothing but doubt and construct a philosophy from scratch, few would be up to the challenge.
However, we definitely do not need to do that. Instead, particularly as classical educators, we rely on the many intelligent and articulate people who have gone before us and put truth into principled statements for us.
Wisdom is drawing on the experience and clarity of those who have gone before.
Philosophy brings freedom
When we don’t know our philosophy, we go by our defaults. If we heard our default principles stated baldly, we probably wouldn’t agree with them.
To be set free from our ingrained thinking and teaching patterns, we have to be thoughtful and intentional in getting to the heart of an educational philosophy.
Without a philosophy, we are also slaves to curriculum schedules and checklists. If we don’t have the principles internalized whereby we can make wise choices about what to do and what to leave out, then we’re going to feel compelled to obey someone else’s requirements.
When you know what education you’re aiming for, you can adapt the curriculum you use to achieve your end, rather than follow its plan in lockstep.
Questions form an educational philosophy
A philosophy is having definitions for existential questions and terms.
What is education?
What is a person?
If you have answers to those questions, you have a philosophy.
A philosophy isn’t just a set of words, but also an imaginative picture of what an educated person looks and sounds like, so we have an idea of what we’re working toward. Even if we never get there, having a direction helps us make better choices.
What is a person? What is human nature?
If we don’t understand original sin, we are going to have a hard time homeschooling.
When we enter the homeschool day with a romantic view of children and the home, we are set up for disappointment.
Only when we know that our children are sinful and we are sinful, we have better expectations for the day to day routines and better plans for addressing that reality.
Homeschooling is beneficial because we’re pulling kids out of a bad environment, but our homes are not perfect environments. Also, sin does not originate in the environment, it is not caught by others. We each have our own
When you educate at home you have to face the child as he is and yourself as you are, without the mask of mediators and all-encompassing activities.
Every good fiction book gives you more insight into what humans are like.
Is the past significant?
Progressives do not believe the past informs the future, so learning history is about knowing facts, but it doesn’t help us understand what to do in the future. You can learn what the past was, but you can’t really learn from the past for the future.
The Marxists dismiss history. The Greeks believed we literally repeat history. Christians believe history is directed toward a goal by God.
The past is prologue.Radio Free California Podcast
What you teach in school and how you educate will be directly affected by whether or not you respect the past and choose to be informed by it or if you believe in future utopian thinking.
Other human nature questions
What is free will and do humans have free will?
What is will itself? Different philosophers define it differently!
What is a human right?
What does a person consist of? Do you believe in the tripartite man?
What parts of human nature can be educated?
Other important questions for education
Because education is coming to know things, knowing how a person comes to know is a helpful question to answer.
Education doesn’t consist of finishing a bunch of workbook pages. If people were educated before workbooks existed, then we know workbooks are not essentials or necessary to education.
Many today do not even believe the world is knowable or reality is fixed. So today we do need to even be reminded of our understanding of what reality is, or even that reality is.
What can we know? Can we only know facts or can we know universal truths and virtue because they actually exist?
How shall I live? How can I be saved?
Don’t Ask for Hacks, Ask Questions
When you’re in the weeds of difficult practical questions, try stepping back and asking one of these questions and seeing if you get clarity.
Instead of giving practical advice right off the bat, try asking a more fundamental question. You’ll give a better answer if you understand the situation better by backing up to underlying questions.
What to do tomorrow can feel like an urgent, panic-inducing question, but when we remember what we’re really about and what we’re really after, we can calm down and recognize our actions and attitudes matter more than checklists and curricula.