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The Homeschooling Philosophy

Homeschooling is growing because school is not right for everyone. Children must be educated, that is the law. However, children do not need to be educated at school, children can learn at home. There are a variety of reasons why learning at home is the best option for the child.
Parents who homeschool their children choose to for a variety of reasons. Some have religious goals, others object to specific topics taught or methods of public or private schools. Still others simply believe they can provide a superior education themselves. But if one thing unites all these differing individuals it is but one thing: the belief that the public school system does a relatively poor job of educating children. But that negative view is often turned into very positive results. Homeschooling is actually not a radically new idea that requires striking out on one's own to reshape education. Prior to compulsory education laws established in the mid-19th century, virtually all children were educated at home, if they received any formal instruction at all. But throughout the 20th century, public education, with a small percentage being supplied by private institutions, became the overwhelming norm. The adoption of the authoritarian Prussian model of the 1800s (still followed in essence today) was the major reason. In the mid-1960s that trend was challenged from several directions. From different sources, including a response to several well-known books by authors such as John Holt, grew the decision by many parents to withdraw from the public education system. Some were early libertarians, eager to be free of the State as much as they could. Others harkened back to an older tradition of Classical Liberal training, both from offshoots of the Roman Catholic Church (such as the Jesuits) and the Greek-origin Enlightenment ideals. But whatever the roots of that philosophy, a common set of ideas evolved that became dominant in homeschooling. One central idea is that an individual is a naturally active learner. The idea goes back at least to Aristotle who begins his famous book Metaphysics with the words: 'All men possess by nature the desire to know.' But the view has been echoed in many places and forms throughout the homeschooling movement. In essence, the idea is that given the proper environment and resources, learning does not have to be enforced. Rather, it will be actively and eagerly embraced by a child eager to explore the world around him or her. Different schools of thought within homeschooling diverge on what should take place next. Some, such as those who embrace 'unschooling' believe that no curriculum or direction needs to be given by parent or tutor. Simply provide the child with books, natural phenomenon or other sources and he or she will learn whatever strikes their natural interest. Others look to a more formal structure, even going so far as to teach exactly the same topics with the same materials as are taught in public and private schools. In this case, the parent is simply substituting for the state educator and the home replaces the school. Montessori takes a somewhat middle ground, allowing children to develop at their own pace while providing materials and guidance. Exercises in sensory and motor development, followed by language learning form part of the program. The teacher pays attention to the child, rather than the reverse, allowing imagination to stimulate learning. The emphasis is on self-correction, rather than external corrections. Across this broad spectrum of approaches and motivations, there is a consistent line of thought. The child is the focal point of the experience and his or her proper development is the goal. That goal, homeschoolers argue, is best achieved outside the public school system that has not and can not supply the same level of quality in instruction of most parents.