Why Christian Homeschooling Moms Need a Philosophy of Education
I remember playing house and school with my dolls as a young girl. You probably know the familiar scene of a little girl “nurturing” her dollies. Next, all of the little dolls are lined up like angelic little students ready for alphabet lessons. And while many girls pass their childhood days with this role play, not all of them go on to homeschool their children. But for the ones who do and who are serious about it, there’s one major thing to begin with. Ultimately, one of the most important things to do as a Christian homeschooling mom is to develop a philosophy of education. But I don’t mean just on a whim.
Certainly, a philosophy of education is more than saying, “I don’t want my kids in a traditional school for x, y, z reasons.” Or, “I want them to have more one-on-one educational time.” Or any other reason a mom may think of. Indeed, it’s much deeper than any of those. If you’re serious about your role as a Christian homeschooling mom, keep on reading.
Why a Philosophy of Education is Needed
Firstly, it gives homeschooling moms a clear focus on why they’re homeschooling. Secondly, that essential why becomes their target for which they aim. And having that target, or vision, for a Christian homeschool is imperative for staying the course. (If you don’t know from experience already, we all have those days. And an individual’s philosophy of Christian education can really save the day! Or homeschool for that matter!)
To begin with, we’ll define the word philosophy by using Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. Once you learn about the pains and time that Noah Webster put into compiling the 1828 dictionary, you’ll understand why his definitions are critical. Especially when comparing the original definitions of words to the modern adaptations of several of them.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines philosophy as:
“PHILOS’OPHY, noun [Latin philosophia; Gr. love, to love, and wisdom.] 1. Literally, the love of wisdom. But in modern acceptation, philosophy is a general term denoting an explanation of the reasons of things; or an investigation of the causes of all phenomena both of mind and of matter. When applied to any particular department of knowledge, it denotes the collection of general laws or principles under which all the subordinate phenomena or facts relating to that subject, are comprehended.”
Let’s pause and ponder here for a moment. In short, philosophy is, “Literally, the love of wisdom.”
Now let’s dive deeper. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary continues to express:
“The objects of philosophy are to ascertain facts or truth, and the causes of things or their phenomena; to enlarge our views of God and his works, and to render our knowledge of both practically useful and subservient to human happiness. True religion and true philosophy must ultimately arrive at the same principle.” And, “Reasoning; argumentation.”
In other words, philosophy is a love of wisdom to enlarge our views of God and His works. That is to say, to see His Providential Hand. For both true religion and true philosophy must arrive at the same principle from which we reason.
Surely, wise and loving mothers want their children to love wisdom and seek truth. But what does it mean to reason from principles? And what is a principle?
Understanding what principles are, how to find them, and how to apply them is important for any Christian homeschool. But the first step is to be certain that we know what a principle is.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines principle as:
“PRIN’CIPLE, noun [Latin principium, beginning.] 1. In a general sense, the cause, source or origin of any thing; that from which a thing proceeds. 5. Ground; foundation; that which supports an assertion, an action, or a series of actions or of reasoning. 6. A general truth; a law comprehending many subordinate truths; as the principles of morality, of law, of government, etc.
“PRIN’CIPLE, verb transitive To establish or fix in tenets… 1. To establish firmly in the mind.”
All in all, this means that more than learning facts about something, our children need to learn the cause, source, or origin of any thing. For instance, what foundation does mathematics have. And what does its cause result in over the course of History? Or what about the foundations of art? And in identifying the cause, how do your children learn to observe the effects of it? Or any of the other subjects we study? In any case, how do we see God’s Providential Hand in these subjects and their role throughout history (His Story)?
But how are homeschooling moms to help establish principles firmly in the mind of their children? More than memorizing and parroting facts, how does she engage her children in the learning? This will be addressed shortly.
Internal to External
Firstly, the Christian homeschooling mom who is serious about her role will work on herself. As with anything else in life, individuals need to work on themselves (cause) and then they can pour into others (effect).
Consequently, moms need to take ownership of their own education. Or rather, their re-education. Once she fully embraces the importance and the practice of owning her own education, she has taken the first step.
Finding Bible Principles
This is rather easy to do. Whatever the topic of study, pull out words to define. Simply put, these words can be descriptive of actions, attitudes, or ideas. And then do the following:
- Research. Use Webster’s 1828 Dictionary to define these words. And highlight key words within the definition for further clarity. Next, use a concordance to help you find Bible verse which may have a general principle (truth) that pertains to the action, attitude, or idea you’re researching about. Lastly, read through those Bible verses for the principles.
- Reason. It’s wonderful to ask questions and to ponder things, isn’t it? Doing this helps us to better understand what we’re learning and what to think about it. You can easily write reason and relate questions for your students based on your own ponderings. Of note, when we speak of reasoning, we speak of reasoning from Scripture. We’re always asking, “What does God have to say about this?” Additionally, we ask, “What is the cause to effect?” And, “Where can we see God’s Providential Hand?”
- Relate. To be clear, Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines relate as: “1. To tell; to recite; to narrate the particulars of an event… 2. To bring back; to restore. 3. To ally by connection or kindred.”
- Record. Do you remember the question of, “How does she engage her children in the learning?” Not only is relating the subject a way of engaging children in learning. But so is keeping a notebook of their recordings. These precious notebooks are a testimony to their individuality as they express their own reasoning. Although with younger children, we do help guide them with reasoning. But they write their own wording.
For more on notebooking, please read, Notebooks vs. Workbooks: Which One Unlcocks Biblical Scholarship?
You Can Do It!
For obvious reasons, the four steps listed above are called the 4R Method. And it’s also known as the Principle Approach® method of education. Furthermore, it’s America’s historical method of education which keeps the Bible at the heart of education.
Now, what’s keeping you back from writing out your own philosophy of education? Pull out your Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, a concordance, and a Bible. And print out the free guide for writing your own philosophy of education found at the article, How to Develop a Vision to Make Your Homeschool Productive.
Have you a Webster’s 1828 Dictionary? If you need one, you can purchase one at our store here. While Webster’s 1828 Dictionary may be found on-line, be intentional about getting yourself a hard copy of it as soon as possible. As not all of the definitions are found in the on-line version.
As a Christian homeschooling mom who takes her role seriously, you may also like to join our growing facebook community. Christians Homeschooling with Bible Principles is a facebook group of wonderful like-minded parents. Come join us and let’s support each other!
[…] In case you’re unaware, a philosophy is why you teach what you teach and is behind your decision about how you teach. For it’s so much more than the many common reasons parents want to homeschool. Therefore, I can’t emphasize enough why Christian homeschooling moms need a philosophy of education. […]