homeschooling methods: an epic comparison chart

Recently I followed a link to a quiz entitled “What Kind of Homeschooler Are You?”  (Now that you’re curious, you can go take the quiz for yourself.)  Among others who took this quiz, there was much discussion on the ideals behind these various styles of homeschooling, the questions chosen to sort homeschoolers into these categories, and the accuracy level of the results.  After noting that my top results included Classical Education, Charlotte Mason, and Unschooling–an interesting assortment–I began to wonder what elements of each of these truly attracted me.  This led me to do some reading in order to create an Epic Chart of Homeschool Philosophies.  (If you’d rather cut to the chase, see the link at the bottom of this post to access the chart.)

This epic chart shows the origin of each educational philosophy, any age or educational divisions inherent in the method, the spiritual or philosophical underpinnings of the approach, and the educational methods used.  Please know that I have done my best to represent each philosophy fully, fairly, and briefly.  Obviously I can’t include every detail in this chart, and different educators will have different flavors to the different approaches; this chart is merely to help me (and anyone else who finds it beneficial) to have an at-a-glance idea of what is implied by each of these terms.  I included most of the styles listed on the quiz above: Classical Education, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Thomas Jefferson Education (TJED–which I’d never heard of before), Unschooling, and Waldorf (Steiner).

You’ll note that I did not include Traditional Schooling or Unit Studies on this chart.  Regarding the former, I think most if not all of us have a clear understanding of its methods and ideals; the latter has, to my knowledge, no or figurehead or proscribed methods, but is more a stylistic/presentation preference.  If I were to summarize it, I think the philosophy of the Unit Study approach is that life is not truly divided into separate subjects and thus should not be studied in that way.  Students learn by making connections between ideas; the Unit Study approach seeks to promote those connections by making them more obvious, choosing a topic of study and pondering all its facets, thus incorporating many subject areas into one cohesive unit.  Since this is the essence of the idea, however, I’m not going to try to squeeze in an entire column just for this information, so you’ll have to take it as it is.

Unfortunately, since this Epic Chart of Homeschool Philosophies is enormous enough that it struggles to fit on 11×17, it renders terribly on this screen.  Thus, if you want to view it, you’ll have to check it out via the Word attachment.  (Apparently WordPress won’t let you upload PDFs.)  If you want to learn more about any of these educational philosophies, you’ll note that I’ve listed a few resources at the bottom of each column.

Click here to access the Epic Chart of Homeschool Philosophies.


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