My Educational Philosophy, Part III: Methodology
When deciding how I wanted to teach my children, there were several questions I asked myself:

  1. How can I show God's sovereignty and purpose?
  2. How can I best foster a sense of accountability and responsibility?
  3. How can I best promote understanding of a subject rather than a cursory knowledge of the facts associated with that subject?

This lead our family to the Biblical Principle Approach. We attempt to set the foundations for each subject in scripture and learn to discern godly purposes for the different subject areas. Essentially, any subject can be used to glorify God, to benefit man or to glorify man. The first two are scriptural and we focus on application in this manner. I actually do have some of these foundational studies archived on my other blog and will begin working on linking to them over the next week.

The ability to reason is critical. If we want our children to be able to withstand the pressures of this world, they will need more than passive acceptance of everything we have taught them. If we succeed only in indoctrinating our children, I fear they will go the way of the Victorians Mr. Rice discusses in the article I have been reprinting. In order to practice this, I ask a lot of questions and wait patiently as my daughter tries to reason through the logical answers.

The issues with accountability and responsibility actually rarely come up during the school day. I don't use the cooperative learning strategies my teacher education program was so fond of in our homeschool, and I hold her responsible for her own work. We actually are working more on a sense of ownership in her work, which is increasing as I have loosened up in some areas and have learned to balance our plans with her interests a little better.

While preparing for this first formal year, I had to adjust a lot of my thinking about what the different subject areas were and what kind of work each entailed. I can be a bit slow at some things, but essentially I realized that each subject area is NOT a collection of related facts and skills which is largely how I taught in the public schools. Each subject area is a method of reasoning to analyze the world around us. We strive to learn the vocabulary of the subject, its history and its purpose. We practice using the subject area to advance our own knowledge. For an example of this, see my post on using primary source documents in history.

When I teach, we use authentic literature ("living books"), and primary source materials whenever possible. We copy experts in the field to learn to study math, history, science, art, etc. We study the scripture daily and in each subject, focusing on reasoning from it and making applications to our lives and what we are learning. And to record progress, my daughter keeps a notebook which contains her thoughts and applications.

Previous posts on my educational philosophy:

Why I started this blog
Beliefs About Education
Purpose of Education

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