We had an interesting discussion and talk this week about homeschool curriculum. Our goal was to build familiarity with our support team about the different approaches to homeschooling. Here's how our discussion roughly went.
Curriculum in a box - A highly defined day-by-day lesson by lesson workbook approach. The parent reads / teaches lessons directly from the teacher guide. The kids do the assigned worksheets and assignments. While very formulastic, if you follow it, the quality of the education can be high. Saxon math is often cited as a very thorough education. Primarily A Beka, Saxon, and Bob Jones. Usually a very religious approach. Maybe 15% of the homeschoolers.
School at home - A textbook, discussion, and lecture approach which imitates the classroom. Maybe 5%.
Classical - This is the hardest to summarize. It is a Classical approach in the sense of the Greeks of the Great Age of Greece , think 50BCE. They have three stages of education...the trivium -- grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. Very roughly, these correspond to elementary, middle, and high school. Since they view the children as being ripe of a certain type of education at each stage, you could perhaps summarize this as the Stuffing stage (make them memorize a lot of great stuff), the Arguing stage (make those middle schoolers take and defend a position. They have lots of logic and passion at this stage, put it to work), and Judgement stage (OK, by high school the kids should be able to evaluate complexity and make an intellectual decision based on a variety of subtle factors, let them think). Excuse me for this rough summary. Other defining aspects on a scorn for textbooks and enthusiasm for original literature and texts. There are great stories and books, read them. Did I mention their enthusiasm for reading, Latin & Greek, reading in Latin & Greek, and then memorizing it all? In the right family, this education is incredible. There are also classical schools. Perhaps 10% of the homeschoolers do this.
Unschool - Perhaps 10%
Eclectic including unit studies - Dominant. Maybe 50%.
This is rough. I'll redo this essay next week