Monday, July 30, 2012

I Always Thought Eclectic Meant Weird

ECLEC'TIC, a. [Gr. to choose.] Selecting; choosing; an epithet given to certain philosophers of antiquity, who did not attach themselves to any particular sect, but selected from the opinions and principles of each, what they thought solid and good. Hence we say, an eclectic philosopher; the eclectic sect.                           
                                                       ~Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary

     I always thought eclectic meant weird.  Turns out I was wrong.

     I mean, it's not that I thought there was anything wrong with weird.  Personally, I can't think of any season of life when I didn't have at least a dozen or so people who would ascribe that word to my personality and/or life choices.  Let's face it, homeschooling is pretty weird.  So my wrong assumption about the word eclectic did not at all translate into a deterrent to the method.

     By no means do I have an exhaustive knowledge on the subject of homeschooling methods.  But I have done some research on the topic and after eight years of homeschooling I have come to discover what I like about each one.  So very briefly, I will attempt to explain the homeschool methods that have influenced us and how we use them in our own very eclectic style.

Charlotte Mason Method: When I think of Charlotte Mason homeschooling, I think of living books, nature study, copywork, and narration.  Actually, this is really my dream method of homeschooling.  I can just imagine us all spending hours outdoors, sketching wildflowers and reading classic literature under a weeping willow tree.   Unfortunately, that isn't always practical with our large family and all the responsibility that comes along with that.  But we do pull heavily from this method, searching for curricula that is literature rich and incorporating read alouds in our every day lessons.  We have included much nature study in our homeschool over the years centering many of our field trips around outdoor education.

To learn more about the Charlotte Mason Method check out this website.

Classical Education Method:  In her article, What is Classical Education?, Susan Wise Bauer says the following...

"Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium."

This three-part process has always made sense to me.  We started out as a strictly classical homeschool while we attended a classical cottage school.  We pay homage to our classical roots with the name of our school, Integritas Academy.  The trivium is a part of our overall guideline when choosing curriculum each year.

Traditional Education Method:  Think textbook, paper, and pencil.  Think workbook.  Think public school.  Probably my least favorite method of education, as it seems most uninspiring, yet in a pinch it can get the job done.  And with eight children, sometimes I just need to get the job done.  Actually, two of my children operate very well with the textbooks and workbooks, no-frills approach.

Unit Study Approach: This is another one of my very favorite methods.  It seems that all of my children flourish using unit studies.  The basic concept is large-family friendly in that the idea is to teach subjects using one main theme and teaching all of your children at their own level at once.  So, if we are learning about Ancient Egypt, we will incorporate all of our lessons including history, science, art, language arts, even math when possible around the theme of Ancient Egypt.  HomeschoolShare is a great website that offers free unit studies for all ages.  The biggest problem with this method is the amount of prep time it takes for the teacher.  We usually incorporate unit studies a few times a year.

Unschooling: Also described as "natural learning" or "independent learning"...I've also thought of "child-directed learning" to be in this field.  Basically learning happens as life happens and when the child shows an interest in a particular field of education, take advantage of that and explore it.  This method is really not structured enough for me, but on the days that I fall short and manage to complete little or none of our planned lessons, I like to think of us as having an "unschooling" day.  I mean surely we learned something that day, right?

Wait.  Maybe I shouldn't have admitted that out loud.  Scratch that last thought.  What I really meant to say is that our children always have highly intellectual, well thought out and implemented, educational plans.  Every day their learning is fruitful and they retain every part of their lessons indefinitely.


Montessori Method:  Really when researched, the Montessori method just seems a lot like the unschooling method with a more sophisticated title.  And that kind of bothers me, because I find 'unschooling' much easier to pronounce than 'montessori'.  As a matter of fact, I cannot say that word without forming it like a question to the person I'm speaking to...

"I was reading an article recently explaining the Montessori method....MonTESSori?...MontesSORi?"


I will say that the one distinguishing factor that I think of when it comes to the Montessori method is fun, hands-on learning.  We like to use this a lot especially in the early years.  We use file folder games, lapbooks, sensory and activity bags. 

     Thankfully for homeschoolers like me, the term eclectic was dubbed as an actual method.  We don't ascribe to any one method, but instead take a little bit from all.  You can call us weird.  You can call us undecided.  But I like how Noah Webster defined us...the eclectic sect.

     Hey, did you know that I'm not the only one talking about Homeschooling Methods today?  Check out all the other homeschool bloggers participating and be sure to come back each day for the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop! Pin It Now!


  1. LOL I've had the same Charlotte Mason vision of us studying under a willow tree. There is one near the lake across the street. Unfortunately the geese have claimed that spot.

  2. Your post title made me laugh. I think eclectic usually *is* associated with weird. I think people mistake it with "eccentric." Oh well! We're weird, I mean eclectic, too. LOL We like MonteSSORI for the early years also. =0) I actually taught in a Montessori school for a time before my kids were born. It was fun!

  3. I love how all of us who have termed our style "eclectic" pull the same likes out of each style. I wanna read under a tree all day too!



Related Posts with Thumbnails