The purpose of education

Theoretical beginnings and actual beginnings are two different things. It is easy for me to sit in my chair, fingers tapping away at the keyboard, look back on raising four children and tell you the equivalent of ‘follow your nose’ concerning your own children. What isn’t easy is for you to get up every morning, look at those energetic, ever-moving, continually growing-out-of-their-clothes bodies, and accept the responsibility of being the prime molder of those minds. If you fail, who will share the blame? I don’t know about other committed homeschoolers, but this pebble in my mental shoe gave me more than one intellectual blister.

Asking how to start homeschooling is a bit like asking how to live your life. Much depends on your point of view, your financial circumstances, your family circumstances, and the personalities of you and your child(ren).

What are your family values? Independence? Camaraderie? Self-sufficiency? Obedience? Discovery? And how do these fit in with your educational philosophy? Do you see Education as a public good meant to give Society a competent worker or is Education a private good meant to fulfill the individual?

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” W. B. Yeats

It may be easier to begin if you realize that the job of educating your children is not entirely yours — you share it with your children. By following your child’s interests you can more easily ensure that she will grow intellectually.

Books written about an activity, a world event or natural occurrence about which your child is interested may well be the entry to literacy for a younger child. Horse-crazy girls can hone their reading skills with Black Beauty, King of the Wind, Born to Trot, and Justin Morgan Had a Horse. Dinosaur-mad boys will find interesting revelations in The Big Beast Book and revel in the adventures of The Dinosaur Hunters. Horse-crazy boys will enjoy the horse books as much as will girls (the main characters of the books I’ve mentioned are boys), and girls who see themselves as paleontologists will be just as keen on the treasures hidden in the earth. The Dinosaur Hunters is actually a National Geographic video program but if the flame of learning is fed, learning will be served.


Copyright 2006, 2008 Valerie Bonham Moon

This work may be copied and distributed for free as long as the copyright and this notice are included.

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