Oak Grove's Philosophy of Education
Oak Grove Philosophy of Education Statement
approved by the Board of Directors, August 2020
Based on the understanding that we are created in the image of God, Oak Grove Homeschool Cooperative’s defined purpose is to assist homeschool families to educate their children in a manner that allows them to become everything God intends them to be.
Oak Grove, as a supportive community, is able to offer the various benefits of a classroom experience, while recognizing the God-given privilege and responsibility of the home teacher.
With this vision of teaching in partnership, Oak Grove provides a quality educational framework for home education with classroom and community support. While our framework is built by our co-op volunteer parent leadership according to the philosophy of education outlined below, each family must build upon the framework to meet the current goals and future plans they have for their children’s education. We view the parent as the primary teacher with responsibility for the educational goals they have for their children. We require cooperation and participation with our community curriculum and syllabus, but each family can add to the framework and use home education methods that are most effective for their children’s learning.
Oak Grove’s educational framework is built upon key philosophical principles which support our mission and values. We do not adhere to state mandated programs, such as Common Core; rather, we desire to help children learn at the pace and skill level for which they are best suited, guided by the wisdom and discernment of parents and teachers. Our educational philosophy may be examined in more detail through the following three perspectives:
- a broad view broken down by developmental level
- a general statement of beliefs and approaches per subject area
- a listing of philosophy-of-education ideals which we acknowledge as significant influences
Educational Philosophy by Developmental Level
For the elementary level (PreK-4th grade), the objective is to create and nurture a love and excitement for learning. The educational focus for the elementary stage student is input - listening, reading, memory work, hands-on/active learning, and BIG memorable experiences associated with areas of study. Parent involvement in the classroom in the elementary years is crucial to implement the rich learning experiences we envision. At home, parents can adapt the curriculum to best meet their children’s learning styles.
As students approach and continue to Middle School (5th-8th grade), more emphasis is placed on building and growing strong Christian character - kindness, compassion, respect, forgiveness, and service. The educational focus begins to progress toward more interaction with learned information, critical thinking, and working to understand the relationships between information in all areas of study. Parents must continue at this stage to provide instruction and support at home to meet each child’s level of need. Children at this level will be progressing over the four years toward becoming more independent learners. The co-op invites parent involvement in the classroom to provide hands-on support to teachers and to add beneficial social and extra-curricular opportunities.
Entering and continuing through High School at Oak Grove, Christian character and behavior will remain a focus as student knowledge in different areas of study begins to coalesce into an integrated understanding of the world God has created and His plan for us. The educational focus shifts to more exposition, debate, discussion, reporting, and problem-solving. In other words, students will take a more active role in their education and that of their classmates by accepting the responsibility of preparation, participation, and cooperative learning. Parents will begin to act as a coach, mentoring and guiding their students in preparation for their post-high-school pursuits. Parents will continue to act as sponsors for any social or extracurricular activities the high school community would like to implement.
Educational Philosophy by Subject Area
Science: We desire to help our children understand that the science they are studying is a revelation of God’s glory, power, and character. We understand from Romans 1:20 that God has shown “his invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature” through his creation. Through our science studies, we want to help students comprehend all that mankind has discovered about God’s creation through careful observation and study over many centuries, and we want to invite them to join in and study God’s creation for themselves. We value cooperative and hands-on engagement with science concepts, providing weekly classroom opportunities for hands-on, multi-sensory experiments, projects, and demonstrations.
While we firmly believe in and teach Creation, we do not hold to a specific interpretation of the Biblical account in Genesis, namely a “young Earth” vs “old Earth” theology. Our curriculum is chosen to allow parents the freedom to teach the Creation doctrine as they see fit. In Oak Grove High School, we emphasize the development of a Biblical worldview throughout scientific studies, both during class time and in homeschool reading assignments. Students will be introduced to the many theories about origins, examine the scientific evidence, and engage in critical thinking about the theories that are presented.
Math: We believe that God’s infallible wisdom is revealed through the study of mathematics. We desire to teach math concepts through engaging, hands-on, multi-sensory strategies that make it relevant and practical. We practice the traditional teaching of math skills through memorization of math facts and regularly-repeated application.
Language: We believe that a solid grasp of the English language and its structure and content is essential to mastering language in other areas, including writing and second-language learning. We believe that language is best developed through practices such as reading aloud, copywork, narration, memorizing parts of speech, diagramming sentences, memorizing poetry, and finally, putting the structure of grammar into practice on a practical level through writing composition.
Writing Composition: We believe that one of the ways in which the concepts of the English language is most easily grasped is through practical application. Taking the components of grammar and putting them to use through writing composition will help children not only to recognize parts of speech and correct sentence structure, but also to apply them to their writing. Our goal is to teach children to become clear and eloquent communicators through the discipline of writing.
Literature: We believe that the study of literature through “living books” (a book that makes the subject “come alive,” as described by Charlotte Mason) is an essential component in our students’ learning. In the elementary grades we introduce literature through a variety of genres with a desire to instill in children a lifelong love of reading, providing personal interaction with the content through guided literature discussion and creative book report projects. Beginning in Middle School, we dig deeper into literature studies as we explore characters, settings, plots, and contexts through group discussions. Students in our program will read a variety of classical books (books that stand the test of time), as well as contemporary books with a classical appeal. We desire that students will be equipped to understand and engage in the “Great Conversation” recorded in literature about the nature of God, man, relationships, and the created world.
Social Studies: The study of our state, our country, and other countries of the world is a foundational tradition of Oak Grove. We desire to open our students’ minds to the world God created through the study of the people and places of His world, using all five senses. Parents and teachers make social studies fascinating and fun in many ways, both big and small, with hands-on projects, dramatic and creative presentations, books, art activities, games, music, food, etc.
History: In Middle School, students begin in-depth studies of history. We believe that God reveals Himself through the story He has weaved throughout history and cultures, and we tell this story as it applies to His involvement in it. We desire to put new breath into the old stories with interactive learning techniques, hands-on activities, projects, games, and lessons that make history both relevant and exciting. We believe it is important for students to develop an understanding of how history is written by historians and how to be a critical thinker. By examining evidence from primary and secondary sources, students will learn to discern conclusions about historical facts, cause and effect, and the development of society and culture.
The Arts: We desire to incorporate visual arts, music, and poetry into our learning in order to bring subjects to life and aid in memory retention. These mediums are integrated into our classroom environment in a variety of ways. Parents and teachers are encouraged to integrate the arts into a wide variety of subject matters.
Educational Philosophy Ideals
As we interpret Oak Grove’s Mission and Values, we are guided by these significant principles from Charlotte Mason’s Educational Philosophy and Classical Christian Educational Philosophy.
Charlotte Mason principles:
- Children are born image-bearers. We must respect the child as a unique creation of God with inherent dignity and ability to learn. Our teachers and curriculum materials seek to respect children in this way.
- Education is an atmosphere. We want to create home and classroom atmospheres that communicate respect to children, that allow them to find joy in learning, and that point them to Christ (not the teacher) as the author of knowledge and wisdom. Our teachers and curriculum materials seek to emphasize joy and play in learning, glorifying God and enjoying His creation. The classroom environment adds the benefit of cooperative learning, public-speaking, and social interaction to the homeschool experience.
- Education is a discipline. We must develop habits of humility, attention, truthfulness, self-control, diligence, and unselfishness in children in order to equip them to be life-long learners.
- Education is a life. True learning happens throughout life, especially in the home. We want to expose kids to the feast of ideas from living books, music, nature, and people of all ages. We want to cultivate wonder and a love of learning that will last throughout life.
- Education is the science of relations. A new idea must connect to a previous one in a child’s understanding in order for them to truly learn it. We are seeking synthetic, integrated learning--integrating the spiritual, intellectual, and emotional aspects of life. Our teachers seek to: integrate a Biblical worldview into all learning, draw out the relationships between diverse ideas, and help students connect to ideas and make them their own. We believe that using multi-sensory learning strategies can help students to form relationships with the ideas they are learning.
Classical Christian principles:
- The goal of true education is not an increase in knowledge, college entrance, and a high-paying job. The goal of true education is to develop a wise and virtuous human being who can think and act rightly. Human beings make decisions based on what they love, not what they know. True education helps children to prioritize their loves in order to live a life that is good.
- God created us to be imitators--ultimately imitators of Him, but also imitators of parents, mentors, and teachers. Our teachers and many of our curriculum materials use the strategy of helping children to imitate mentor texts or memorize material. We believe that memorization is valuable because what we memorize becomes a part of us.
- All truth is God’s truth. We want to help students understand how all subject areas are connected under God’s Truth.
- We believe in the value of teaching clear and critical thinking (logic) and clear, appropriate, winsome communication (rhetoric). We want to challenge kids to use higher-order thinking skills in their studies--to engage with, react to, evaluate, and apply ideas in new ways.
- Humility is the first step in true learning (to know that you don’t know, that there is a gap that you want to cross). We try to cultivate humility and curiosity in children to help them become life-long learners.
Some practical implications applied at Oak Grove, based on these educational philosophies:
- We intentionally weave God’s truth into all the subject areas. We want to cultivate a habit in our students of noticing and paying attention to God’s truth and activity in the world.
- Our classes and homeschool families experience many worthy books together through reading great literature, introducing a variety of literary genres, using living books to teach concepts, having an abundance of books available to our students, and reading aloud to them.
- We use narration (oral or written retelling in one’s own words) as a learning and assessment tool in many of our subject areas.
- We teach kids to annotate (written and/or as a mental habit) as they read. They learn to take notes, ask questions, and find connections as they read.
- We emphasize hands-on, engaging activities (like science experiments, country parties, games, hands-on math, and interactive notebooking) to help students form relationships with the subject matter they are studying.
- We embrace imitation and memory work. (Ex: the IEW curriculum and scripture/poetry memorization)
- We desire to use Socratic discussion (purposeful discussion to lead students to seek and discover truth), especially in literature discussions and history discussions. We want to help them make real life connections with any new knowledge they are exposed to.
- At home and in class, we encourage parents and teachers to use “morning meeting,” “bonfire time,” or group time as an opportunity to build community and feast on Scripture, ideas, art, music, poetry, and prayer.
At the heart of our vision at Oak Grove, and accordingly our educational philosophy, is an emphasis on relationship, evident (1) in the classroom teacher/home teacher partnership; (2) in the combined effort of all co-op teachers and families to contribute to the growth of our students; (3) in the accountability and encouragement provided by a supportive and cooperative community; and, most importantly, (4) in our commitment to make God and our relationship with Him the focus of our efforts. We believe that God our Father is the author and giver of life, and therefore, we exalt Him in our teaching, and we acknowledge His wisdom, character, and creativity in all areas of study. With the understanding that all our intentions come to naught without the Holy Spirit enabling, working, and breathing life into our educational pursuits, we are praying for God to bring about his purposes in the hearts and minds of each family He brings to Oak Grove.
“School is not about school. Homeschooling is not about school. It’s about pursuing wisdom; it’s about becoming virtuous human beings; it’s about soul transformation.” --Andrew Kern, quoted in Teaching From Rest by Sarah MacKenzie