By guest author Cindy Puhek
What is education? Sometimes as homeschoolers we mistakenly think that completing the perfect curriculum will educate our children. But those of us who have been homeschooling for a couple of decades understand that there is no perfect curriculum. I’ve watched curriculum trends come and go.
When I first started homeschooling, unit studies were popular. We were told true education would occur when my children learned things in context, with everything tied together, while having fun, hands-on experiences.
A few years later, everyone was talking about classical education. We were now told children needed to learn in the three stages — grammar, logic and rhetoric. History should be studied sequentially, and students must learn Latin. Currently, I think there is a backlash against classical education in favor of Charlotte Mason which says childhood should be beautiful and children should love what they are learning.
The ironic thing is I have seen amazing homeschooling successes using every imaginable homeschooling curriculum, even the much-maligned workbook/textbook method. If there is no perfect curriculum, how does a homeschool know when their children are educated?
According to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, the definition of education is the following: “EDUCA’TION, noun [Latin educatio.] The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.”-Noah Webster
According to this, education is giving my children the tools they need so they can learn anything. I want them to be critical readers, good writers, and good at mathematics so they can explore the worlds of history, technology, literature, and science for themselves as God’s calling on their lives becomes clear.
I want them to know God’s Word and for them to allow God to use His Word to transform their lives. I want them to love learning and be lifelong learners with their creativity flourishing. I want them to have the courage to try and fail knowing that failures are often the learning experiences that become the backbone of success.
I now have a house full of young adults and teenagers. I know they are educated as they pursue their passions independent of me. I know they are educated when they know how to study, how to find information, and they have the courage to try new things. I know they are educated as they diligently seek God’s direction and will for their lives.
I know they are educated as they display servant hearts and humility. And while curriculum helped accomplish these results, it was only a tool. Most of this true education occurs as a result of relationships and conversations and learning experiences that take place outside our normal school hours.
I encourage you to keep the definition of true education in mind throughout your school year. While Webster’s definition is challenging, it is also very freeing. True education is parents working with dependence on God to equip our children for life rather than depending on the right curriculum to fill them with facts and knowledge.