We are homeschooling this year. Well, I wouldn't really say we are "homeschooling." What we do encompasses so much more than "schooling." My children are learning to keep a home clean. They are figuring out how to get along and face disagreements without being (too) disagreeable. By pursuing what they are interested in, they are learning to take charge of their own education. Most importantly, they PLAY!
I've read so many different homeschooling books and about so many different philosophies that it makes my head spin. Every new philosophy seems like "The Truth"...until I read the next one. But I started reading the Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola and I've finally found my jam. Charlotte Mason was a 19th century educator who was concerned with what was happening in the school system. (Sound familiar?) She wrote many books about how to educate children at home and her work has changed thousands of lives.
In chapter four of this book, the author explains Charlotte's philosophy that "Education is a science of relations." When I read "Charlotte's desire [was] that all children gain knowledge about--and establish relations with--God, man, and the universe." I realized I had answered the pressing question "What is the purpose of Education?"
I still have a lot to learn. Our homeschool days are beautiful things. I enjoy almost every minute of being with my children. I have gotten over the first bump of wanting to threaten to send them back to school every time they don't do what I ask. I think the main reason for this change is that I've stopped comparing what we are doing at home to what they would be doing at school. This is no easy feat considering that I was trained as a public school teacher. We are finding our own way and defining education for ourselves in a way that makes sense and is comfortable to us.
To me, establishing relations with God, man, and the universe means reading quality literature, studying God's word, exploring the world He created, spending time learning together. One of the most common comments I get when people find out I'm homeschooling is "I could never do that! I don't have enough patient/my kids don't listen to me/etc..." Following Charlottte Mason's philosophy really takes all of those problems away. I'm not forcing my kids to follow a box curriculum. I'm not constraining them to do all their "learning" between 8 am and 3 pm. We are not prepping for a standardized test. We have made a complete paradigm shift and let go of what the bureaucracy says education should be. I could not be happier!