Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Philosophy of Education

I have been reading a lot in the homeschooling community about the importance of establishing a philosophy of education for your own family.  I realized that without knowing why we study the things we do we are learning "just because".  Because that's what you need to know when you are in X grade.  Because it will be on the test.  Because you need to know this to get into college.  Because you need to get a good job someday.  Or, as my husband says, "So that they won't be idiots and will be productive members of society and get a good job."  Well yes, that's true but it's not good enough for me.  I don't see getting a job and making as much money as you can as the ultimate end.  I don't even think that finding what makes us happy (happiness is such a fleeting, momentary feeling, isn't it?) is the ultimate end. 

So I thought about it and I borrowed some ideas from others and now I have a Philosophy of Education for our family.  Before I tell you all of it I have to give you this disclaimer:  My husband does not agree with this.  He is not a Christian (God's still working on him.  He's a tough shell to crack.)  so he does not have the same view of life and education through the eyes of someone who wants to live in a way that is pleasing to God, not man.  I still chose to define our Philosophy of Education this way because it is the only way I can see it.  Without God I am at a loss; I think, what is the point of all of this?  And since I am the main one designing and implementing our curriculum, I win.  :P  Just kidding.  Sort of.

Philosophy of Education

Goals of Education:
To know and understand God
To know and understand God's creation
To know ourselves and others
To equip us to do the work we are called to do in this world
To equip us to be good stewards of the material things God has given us
To recognize, use and improve upon the talents that God has given us

We study Bible because it is God’s Word. It tells us about Him and ourselves and what he requires of us.  It is the primary way God speaks to us and as such is essential to a relationship with Him.

We study language (grammar, spelling, writing, speech, and reading) to learn effective communication.  This is both to understand the communications of others and to become competent communicators ourselves.  Poor communication can prevent even the best message or idea from being received. Good communication is important in building meaningful personal relationships.  Language and words are one of the greatest tools that God has given us and we must learn to use them properly.

We study math so that we will be prepared to be good stewards of all God has given us. Good financial stewardship is impossible without good mathematical training.  Math is necessary in many of the tasks we perform.   Furthermore, in studying math we learn principles that God has built into His creation.  In math we see most clearly the timelessness of truth.  Two plus two always equals four. Math shows us that real truth does not change.  Math opens our eyes to the magnificent order and perfection of creation, and therefore its Creator.  Math helps us to understand our infinite God.

History is the story of God’s greatest creation.  It shows us God’s character and how He operates.  It is more than just names and dates and events; it is a look into the lives of people from the past and paints a picture of how humanity has changed into what we are today.  It shows us human failings as well as virtues. It gives us examples to follow and examples to avoid.  It helps us understand the issues of our time which enables us to make informed decisions in our world.

Science is the study of God’s creation and the use of that information for the benefit of all. From the creation we learn about the Creator.  He has revealed Himself through all of creation for us to see so that we may never doubt his power and glory.

The beauty and creativity found in the arts reflects the way God has created us in His image, as creators of our own beautiful works.   Trends in the arts also parallel trends in society and as such, they aid in our study of history.  Arts give us another way to communicate ideas.

Literature aids in our study of history.  Literature helps us to explore ideas and understand that they have the power to shape the mind.  It also gives us examples, both good and bad, of what a person can accomplish based on something as simple as an idea. 

Geography aids us in understanding history, current events, cultures, and this world that is home to us all.

These goals and guidelines seem a bit lofty but they give us something to aim at rather than just drifting in an endless sea of knowledge without a purpose or direction.

What goals of education do you think are important to pursue?