Back in the early 90s, it was very trendy for churches to make and have a mission statement. The business world had been doing that for quite some time, I believe, and that leaked over to churches as well. The overarching idea is that everyone, from the CEO to the janitor, needs to know and understand what the company is about as this belief informs practice and procedures. I'm willing to bet you, dear reader, have been part of writing or learning about a mission statement in your lifetime.
Schools, teachers, and classrooms may also have something similar. For schools and educators, it might be called an "educational philosophy". If you had asked me to write my educational philosophy when I was a student in college, you would have been met with a blank stare. Experience is the best teacher.
After 11 years in public education, my educational philosophy underwent a big shift when I began teaching my children at home. Experience + maturity + the humbling experience of being solely responsible for someone's education means solidly understanding what I believe about it all.
The demographic that oftentimes lacks an educational philosophy is parents. So many parents send their children off to Kindergarten expecting school to be what they remember from their own experience. Parents sending younger siblings to school might have adjusted their expectations to be more in line with their older children's experiences.
The problem comes in when teachers have one philosophy and parents have different expectations. This can cause conflict. Parents who send their children to public school, yet firmly know their own educational philosophy for their children, will probably be better able to communicate their expectations or frustrations with the teacher.
The only place where teacher and parent can truly be on the same page about learning expectations is in the homeschool. Being on "the other side of the desk" will really cause you to rethink whatever your previous assumptions were about school. And we all know how our children can make us rethink things!
Homeschool parents must ask themselves questions such as:
What are my goals in homeschooling my children?
What does a successful outcome of homeschooling look like?
What are the most important things to focus on?
What things were emphasized in my own educational experience that don't matter that much?
What kinds of things do I need to change in my children's schooling to meet the world they will live in?
What do I wish could have received more focus when I was in school?
What needs can I meet in my child's schooling that a classroom would be unable to?
If you homeschool, these are questions you must revisit from time to time as the answers can change. If your children go to school, you need to spend some time thinking about what matters most to you concerning your child's education so you can be sure those things are accomplished, while letting less important things go.
Have you written down a mission statement for your homeschool lately? Do your children know about it?
Have you thought through your own goals for your children? Do they match up with the school's educational philosophy?
Remember, these beliefs inform practice and procedures and THAT is why you need to know what you believe. I don't believe in homework, but now you know what you need to do.