The Status of Homeschooling in the U.S.
While a lot of people seem to think that homeschooling is a new educational phenomenon, this simply is not true. In fact, it is actually public schools that are the new phenomenon. In the past, Americans were much more rural with a larger proportion of people making their living as farmers. Their schedules revolves around planting and harvesting crops. Children would typically stay at home to help out on the farm. Education took place daily inside the home and at work.
In the past, children would learn naturally - as they were involved in the family’s daily work. Only a small amount of time was spent on teaching children how to read or write. These lessons were taught by parents, older siblings or in a small one room schoolhouse and they would not take place at all whenever there was field work to be done. There were no laws to compel any of these lessons to take place.
The Origins Of Today’s Homeschool
It is difficult to know exactly when today’s homeschool movement began. Some say that it was born in the educational reforms of the sixties and seventies. At this time Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore began researching and publishing articles. They went on to form the first curriculum created especially for homeschools. Thanks to them, and other great minds along the way, the idea of homeschooling really began to spread throughout the seventies and early eighties.
In the eighties tax regulations led to a lot of small Christian schools closing down and parents having to truly consider homeschooling for the first time ever. A lot of these parents decided to homeschool and Christian curriculum providers began creating materials for this new wave of homeschoolers. After a lot of work, legislation now allows for homeschooling within the United States and today it is seen as a viable option to public schools.
Important Developments in Modern Homeschooling
The following people have been hugely influential whenever it comes to America’s homeschooling philosophies:
- Jesse Wise and Susan Wise Bauer wrote a book entitled “The Well Trained Mind” about the trivium, which is a form of classical education.
- Charlotte Mason has a homeschool methodology named after her which features short lessons that emphasizes focused attention. Habit training is also emphasized.
- John Holt encouraged parents to be more relaxed in their homeschool and allow their child to learn at his own pace by pursuing his own hobbies and interests. This has come to be known as unschooling or delight-directed learning.
- Ruth Beechick and Sally Clarkson are advocates of what is known as whole-heart learning. Herein “living books” are used instead of textbooks, which Charlotte Mason was also an advocate of. The difference here is that the entire family sets a goal to work toward and a goal is also set for each individual child too.
- Rudolf Steiner is an Austrian philosopher who came up with what is known as Waldorf homeschooling. Herein electronic media is discouraged and emphasis is instead placed upon art, gardening, foreign language and learning to play an instrument.
- Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore created the Moore formula, which is a type of Christian homeschool education. This is an educational philosophy that believes in allowing children to develop at their own pace and thus there is no formal education until a child is 8-years-old. Herein there is a balance of study, work and service. It is a low-cost, low-stress curriculum specifically for homeschools.
- Maria Montessori developed an educational method of the same name that is based upon a child’s sensitive periods, wherein they will work repetitively on something that they are interested in learning about.
Famous American Homeschoolers
You will probaby recognize some of the names of these famous homeschoolers:
- Venus and Serena Williams (Tennis superstars)
- Abraham Lincoln
- Andrew Carnegie (Founder of the Carnegie Steel Company, a.k.a. U.S. Steel)
- Booker T. Washington (The first president of Tuskegee Institute)
- Woodrow Wilson (President of Princeton University, governor of New Jersey and 28th President of the United States, from 1913-1921)
- Joseph Priestly (Inventor of soda water)
- Frank Lloyd Wright (Architect)
- Albert Einstein
- Pearl S. Buck (Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author)
Today, homeschool families are from a wide variety of religious, economic, political and philosophical backgrounds. It is growing in popularity due to more visibility, support groups and problems within the public school system. Although the exact numbers are hard to pin down, it is estimated that homeschooling has grown in popularity in recent years. Currently, it is believed that there are at least two million homeschoolers within the United States alone.