Along with my friends Chelli at The Planted Trees and Sara at Classically Homeschooling, we've been discussing the 'Eight Essential Principles of Classical Pedagogy' this year - covering one principle each month. We've arrived at our final post in the series - Educational Virtues. It's been a joy to cover the practical aspects of Classical Education and discuss ways to bring these principles to life. Focusing on Educational Virtues this month feels like the natural point to wrap-up our discussion. Let's take a look at how we can apply this to our homeschool.
What are Educational Virtues?
According to Dr. Perrin, educational virtues are "the virtues that are necessary for crafting and developing character." One of our goals as teachers is to help instill a love for these virtues and cultivate the character of our students.
Instead of just teaching skills and facts we need to be concerned with developing the character of our children.
For many homeschool parents, I think this is a natural concern and the reason many people choose to homeschool - more than just providing a good education, we want our children to be well-rounded, educated, thoughtful human beings.
The benefit of instilling educational virtues? They help us appreciate Truth, Goodness, and Beauty and help our children become self-learners interested in the continued journey of education as a natural part of life.
Practical Ways to Cultivate Educational Virtues
Listening to Dr. Perrin's discussion about educational virtues reminds me of Charlotte Mason's ideas about acquiring good habits. She was a proponent of habit training and it's a topic she discussed in her own books.
Forming good educational habits is a natural way to build character. When something that we've worked to achieve becomes a habit, it becomes a part of us - something that doesn't take extra energy or thought to accomplish. Applying the method of habit training to homeschooling can help us instill educational virtues in an intention, thoughtful way.
How can we use habit training to develop these virtues?
Discuss the importance of these educational virtues
First of all, I think it's important to actually discuss character with our children, especially in the context of everyday life. When a bad attitude rears its ugly head, that's a good time to discuss emotions and self-control (well, maybe after things have calmed down a little!). When a student isn't applying himself to his studies, it's time for a discussion about the benefits of hard work.
Work on creating good habits as a family
Habit training doesn't just apply to our children. We all need to continue instilling good habits into our lives. When we take the time to show our children that we believe something is important enough to work on as a family, we're showing them habit training in action. It becomes a natural part of their life as well.
Show our children we are still continuing to learn
It's so easy as homeschool moms to focus on our to-do list - getting the homeschooling done, cleaning the house, preparing dinner. Sometimes it feels like it doesn't leave room for much else.
But one of the most important things we can show our children is that we are still continuing to learn. Instead of giving up the things we used to enjoy (like playing an instrument, painting, reading good books, etc), showing children that we still take time for those pursuits demonstrates the importance of continued education.
We can tell them over and over again how important education is, but the lesson means so much more when they see it in action in the lives of their parents. Don't give up your personal hobbies and pursuits - use them to communicate the importance of continued self-education.
Provide opportunities for interest-led learning
One of the best things we've ever done in our homeschool is allowing our daughter choices. She chooses topics for writing assignments, books she'd like to read, how many pages of her vocabulary book to do each day, and which subjects she wants to tackle first thing in the morning. I ask her opinion about various programs we might try or her thoughts about new curricula purchases. One year she even chose all her own science topics and studied them independently.
While I love that letting her take the lead gives her more independence, she's also more invested in her education. When she's chosen a topic to study, read about, or write about, she's much more engaged in learning.
Find opportunities for your children to make some choices - you'll discover that it's much easier to homeschool a child who is excited and interested in learning.
Learn more about the educational virtues
If you'd like to dig a little deeper into this topic, watch Dr. Perrin's presentation about Educational Virtues: