I like self-discovery, and I like homeschooling. So I was pretty impressed that the folks at Eclectic Homeschooling managed to combine the two into one quiz.
The Homeschool Philosophies Quiz scores your answers according to 10 educational philosophies. Even better, it doesn’t box you into just one model—it gives you a range of scores, reflecting the fact that most of us are motivated by a blend of different ideas.
However, the Jones homeschool throws a little extra in the mix. All the planning and curriculum choices are Darren’s territory, not mine, and we split the instruction. So to really gauge the philosophies in play, both Darren and I had to take the quiz.
The results made us laugh.
I scored a negative 17 in Unit Studies, which just barely expresses how that method drowns me in details and leaves me for dead. But wait—Darren got a 13 in Unit Studies. Yes, that’s a positive 13. My lowest score was Darren’s highest, and we didn’t overlap on any of the others.
Sara: Unschooling (9), Reggio-Inspired (8), and Charlotte Mason (7)
Darren: Unit Studies (13), Montessori and Classical (both 7)
Fortunately, our methods are similar even if our thinking doesn’t always match. We both rely on textbooks and a traditional schedule to stay on track. What could be a lot of conflict and stress has actually proven to be a good exercise in teamwork and balance. Taken all together, I think these results show just how much our homeschooling is a blend-of-blends.
Do you want to take the quiz? I’ll give you the benefit of my research. Below, I’ve summarized each of the philosophies. Take the quiz, then pop back over here and see what the results say about you.
Special thanks to my friend Karen R., whose hobby is educational theories, and who helped fill in some gaps in my summaries.
Charlotte Mason Education
Charlotte Mason (1842 – 1923) was a British educator who challenged the concept of a utilitarian education. She believed that children learned best through life and “living books,” rather than rote memory and dry facts. She advocated that students read narrative books, retelling what they read in their own words. Her ideas also favor outdoor exploration, art, music, and a wide variety of subjects, with an emphasis on focus, effort, and a love of learning.
The most popular classical education model divides learning into three phases. In the Grammar stage, elementary-aged students memorize and recite the “building blocks” for later learning in a full range of subjects. The second stage, Dialectic, teaches its middle-school-aged students to think through knowledge they have acquired. The third stage, Rhetoric, guides its high-school students to understand the deeper themes of what they already know, communicate to others, and apply those lessons to their own lives.
This educational method was developed by Maria Montessori (1870-1952), an Italian physician. In a Montessori setting, older children and younger children learn alongside one another. Teachers are on hand to give guidance and support, while providing access to a large array of learning materials. Children choose their work activities and learn through seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, and movement. Knowledge is internalized in a natural, self-paced way.
Citing inspiration from Maria Montessori, American educational theorist John Dewey (1859-1952), and even Confucius and Aristotle, this educational method challenges students to solve real-life problems. These projects are not developed for the sake of “enriching” a student’s previous learning; the project itself is the means by which the student learns. Presented with questions such as “How safe is our water?” or “What can we do to protect a special place or species?” students research, analyze, and communicate their own work in a real-life setting.
Named for the Italian town in which this philosophy originated, the Reggio Emilia Approach focuses mostly on early childhood education. Although no “Reggio-inspired” classroom or home will look exactly alike, they are influenced by a few core ideals. Children are viewed as competent, curious, and interested in connecting to the world around them. Teachers document students’ work (through a variety of means including observations, video, or visual mediums like paint), then track what the students are learning and develop ideas for expansion. The Reggio approach focuses strongly on working in groups, giving equal value to all thoughts and ideas, and facilitating children’s search for knowledge.
Thomas Jefferson Education
This model is drawn from the writings of Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), author of the Declaration of Independence and third President of the United States. Thomas Jefferson Education (“TJEd” or “Leadership Education”) is designed to help each student discover his or her inner genius by fostering a deep love of learning and study. Students progress through lessons on morals, family values, and the value of work; projects, books, and lessons tailored to their interests; and finally, the rigorous study of classics and guidance from mentors, leading to a lifelong love of learning and knowledge.
The “traditional approach” to education, mirroring public school classrooms, views teachers as givers of knowledge, and students as receivers of it. The curriculum is designed to provide students with the foundation they will need in order to achieve their own personal goals in life. Parents use textbooks, workbooks, videos and computer programs, tests, and grading systems. A traditional method prepares students to flourish and compete in today’s economic and social culture.
Unit Studies Approach
The Unit Study Method builds a variety of topics around a common theme rather than teaching each subject as separate courses. A unit-study homeschool might use pre-planned studies, or create their own based on their children’s interests. This method lends itself to aspects of project-based education, multi-age education, and open-ended exploration and learning.
This education model is—in my opinion—often misunderstood. Founded by John Holt (1923-1985), unschoolers believe that children will best learn academics in the same manner they learn to walk and talk: naturally. It doesn’t mean that children are uneducated; it refers to the fact that parents don’t use curriculum or formal lesson plans. Unschoolers are encouraged to follow their interests, and learning occurs through daily life experiences and interactions.
Waldorf Education follows the ideas of Austrian philosopher and social reformer Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). This model posits that children pass through the same developmental stages, and it’s the role of the teacher to guide learning during these stages. The earliest stage focuses on creative play and moral principles. The second stage spans childhood to puberty, and focuses on a child’s emotional development by way of creative expression and cooperation. The third stage guides students into independent thinking and their own personal way of interacting with the world.
So… what do you think about your results?
Photo Credit: First graphic design by Anna Soltis; Second image courtesy of author.