Published here with permission from The MOORE REPORT INTERNATIONAL - September/October
The Moore Foundation,
Box 1, Camas,
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
Second, they do not promote creativity which is squelched by conformity to a rigid
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