Published here with permission from The MOORE REPORT INTERNATIONAL - September/October 1997

The Moore Foundation, Box 1, Camas, WA 98607

What is True Education Anyway?

by Dorothy Moore

Every year about this time, we are deluged with phone calls and letters from those who are beginning homeschool. Although many are fearful of what such a commitment will mean, most hope that we can just tell them how to do it and then hope they can do it. I wish that were so in every case. The truth is that indeed there are a few people who can just get the information and run with it.

For example, one mother I know adopted the Moore Formula of study, work and service on her own from the time her children were small, and in the process attended at least four seminars, driving a considerable distance to three of them. She told me that she learned something new each time and puts it into practice. Although she now has five children, she has carried out this Moore Formula long enough to really see the results. She is doing brilliantly. Yet many do not have her kind of courage nor the opportunity to go to seminars.

Unfortunately, too many just flounder, buy a rigid curriculum package, burn out and quit. They have so little confidence in themselves or are so tied to the way they were taught, that they are constantly plagued with worry and doubt that they are doing enough or somehow leaving gaps in their children's learning. They are so immersed in their concept of what education really is that they can't cross the chasm into true education. We have proven that we can help them, if they will let us. However, it usually doesn't come in one or two easy lessons, simply because most of us are too steeped in tradition. Certified teachers are often worst of all because they have so much to unlearn!

But what is this that we call "true education?" It is not filling the mind with information, as one would pour from a pitcher into an empty bowl. The woman who had more to do with starting the home education movement and the one who has guided us in these principles of home and family makes a very profound statement on this as she describes the method Jesus used in educating unlearned fishermen as His disciples: "It is not the highest work of education to communicate knowledge merely, but to impart that vitalizing energy which is received through the contact of mind with mind, and soul with soul. It is only life that can beget life." - Desire of Ages, p. 250

So, because we have watched so many families flounder, especially the first year or two, when they resort to rigid cookie-cutter curricula, we have decided to urge parents to join our highly- successful methods that have earned genius and great behavior for many families. With their cooperation we start them with a full-service Moore Academy program for at least a year, first helping them custom-make an individualized program for each child and coaching them as needed throughout the year; then if the mother and child feel confident to go ahead on a more limited program or with no help at all, they are free to do that. Some take longer, but many learn well in one year.

The market is full of canned curricula. In the early years of homeschooling, conventional mass education textbook-workbook curricula were largely transferred into homes as is. Some of the worst of these that destroy creativity are little more than stacks of workbooks taken one by on "at the student's pace" but often under pressure. To their credit the unschoolers were the only ones besides us that found ways to break away from these. Then there came the videos which were right out of the classroom, again using mass education methods.

Now I hear about E.D. Hirsch's Core Knowledge Series which tell what each student should know at each level - like taking a loaf of bread, representing all the knowledge expected to be learned in 12 years and cutting it into 12 slices, one slice each year from age 6 to 18. He believes that there is an extensive body of school-based background knowledge that is necessary as a foundation for communication and participation in society. Creativity is wasted.

Another offers a self-teaching curriculum with 12 years of education on 22 CD-ROMs along with a set of Saxon math books with which the children "teach themselves." This was developed by the father of six children after his wife died. It takes five hours a day, six days a week and ten full months of the year, but little or no teacher time, though the author spends an average of 15 minutes a day correcting grammar and spelling errors on the on-page essay each child is required to write daily on a subject that interests him. There is no formal Bible teaching, though they have a family Bible reading before bed each evening.

Parts of some of the above curricula could be useful as resources with any program, but what exactly is the real problem with them? Basically they are designed for mass education: one size fits all.

First, they do not consider individual differences - the readiness of the child, different learning styles and personalities such as we design individually in our custom-made program.

Second, they do not promote creativity which is squelched by conformity to a rigid curriculum.

And third, although an author may fell that his children are developing thinking skills, especially through the problem-solving exercises in two hours of Saxon math, we wonder how practicable this is with little or no give and take or personal association. Christ offers an excellent example in preparing His disciples to think. He asked them many questions, answered their questions, told them parables, provided object lessons by His example as He dealt with others, and taught them by close association with Himself, so that they became like Him in mind and character.

Here is great teaching, whether or not you are a Christian. Always keep in mind that, "It is not the highest work of education to communicate knowledge merely, but to impart that vitalizing energy which is received through the contact of mind with mind, and soul with soul. It is only life that can beget life." - Desire of Ages, p.250