I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. -- Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Why We Are Homeschooling

Anyone familiar with the homeschooling universe knows of the wide diversity of “homeschooling philosophies” – e.g., the classical trivium, unschooling, Charlotte Mason, and, most of all, “eclectic.”

Rather than choosing from that smorgasbord of homeschooling philosophies, we have based our homeschooling approach on the idea that one’s homeschooling methods tend to be a reflection of one’s broader view of human life – including philosophy, politics, religion, etc.

We are homeschooling largely for academic reasons and also because we dissent from much of the prevailing values and attitudes that are typical of contemporary American life.

American society does not value intellectual achievement. We have “select” sports teams even for grade-school children who show unusual athletic talent. It does not surprise us that some kids can advance at twice the pace athletically of most other kids their age.

But, with very few exceptions, we do not have “select” schools for academically talented and motivated children. Very few Americans grasp that bright kids can advance intellectually at twice the speed of average kids.

Indeed, bright kids, as we all know, are disparaged as “nerds.”

Our own kids have been consistently testing at twice their grade level or higher (in tests administered by a local school district, not by me). I’d like to think that this shows that our kids are simply born geniuses, but I am pretty certain that this is not the case: I know lots of other kids who, at an early age, seemed to me as bright or brighter than our kids.

No, I think that our kids are excelling academically simply because our homeschooling approach is centered on the idea that learning is a very good thing, and that children are capable of learning much more, much faster, than most adults realize.

Aristotle said that man is the rational animal. Our mind is our primary tool for survival. To deny children the opportunity to develop that tool to its fullest is to cripple them.

Aristotle also said that long-term happiness is the result of developing our potential as rational beings to the fullest, in the pursuit of excellence.

As a modern scientist, I of course can find numerous points on which I differ with Aristotle’s philosophy. But on those two points, I agree with Aristotle.

Modern American society, especially the pop culture that so pervades most Americans’ lives, does not.

And, that is the central reason we are homeschooling: to enable our kids to develop their potential as rational beings to the fullest in an environment that values their intellectual efforts and achievements.

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