Philosophy for Homeschool Teachers

Education is all about two things: teaching and learning.

Teaching is about transferring knowledge from the one who teaches --the KNOWER-- to the one who desires to know --the LEARNER.

We call the knower the Teacher and the learner the Student.

Learning is all about three things: knowing, knowing and knowing.

That is, knowing what we know, knowing how we know and knowing that we know. Together, these three constitute the Science of knowing.

When knowledge is applied by human beings it becomes an art so that when we talk about the Art and Science of Knowing we are talking about human beings who know things including being able to apply what they know to real life situations. (You don't really know something until and unless you can apply it on your own without help from the teacher or anyone else: I know HOW to tie my shoes (says my inner 5 year old); OK, here's an untied shoe, tie it. OK, I do it and so it is true: I know how to tie shoes. I know HOW to balance a check book (says my inner 15 year old). Here's your unbalanced check book, balance it. OK, I do it and so it's true: I know HOW to balance a check book. I know HOW to apply the Objectivist principles of individual rights and the fact of non-contradiction. Here create an article about Abortion: Right or Wrong? OK, I did it (says my inner 45 year old) and it's true: I KNOW what I know and I SEE what I see.).

Consequently, education is transferring the Science part of the Art and Science of Knowing from Teacher to student. The Art --that is, the applying-- part is --ultimately-- up to the student.

When the student can apply his or her knowledge without any outside help we say he or she has learned.

Learning is done by memorizing accompanied with or without understanding . The best kind of learning of course is with understanding at the time of learning. (This does NOT mean that this is the only kind of learning because a lot of learning can and is done by memorizing "today" and understanding "tomorrow".)

The second best kind is delayed understanding, that is understanding that comes at a later time, but it does come.

The worst kind of learning is memorizing without ever understanding what it is that you have memorized.

For example, when I was pursuing a Masters Degree in Engineering Science at Penn State I took a course in Fourier Series and Boundary Value Problems and because I was good at memorizing (the course was a high level math course heavily dependent on "knowing" a bunch of theorems and their proofs --both of which were memorizeable) I got an "A" in the course. I not only ended up not being able to APPLY the "knowledge" I had "gained" from the course, but it was the first time in my life that when I saw it applied by others who did UNDERSTAND it, I could NOT FOLLOW their application. Needless to say this bothered me a lot and I questioned the value of "memorizing" without understanding at the same time from then on. (Prior to this I was always able to eventually understand if I persisted but to this day I do not understand Fourier series --other than its claim that if you were to write your signature on an X-Y graph, for example:


then by a bunch of sines and cosines combined together in a complex series that signature could be described as just another "curve" on a graph. Do not ask me to give you such a trigonometric series because I do not know it and I have never seen it. Consequently, I am still a bit skeptical about the claim and whether or not such a series actually exists.)

The Public School which I grew up in --that is the public schools of the 50's and 60's-- according to many professional intellectuals today, was 10 times better than today's public schools (I think they also say that the generation's before me was a 100 times better). They say this because yesterday's, they say, still believed in a Classical Education. That is, they believed that by studying and teaching the works of geniuses they were encouraging the students to learn HOW to think.

To be honest, I don't know the in's and out's of this debate but I do know my own educational experience and I do know that being a good "memorizer" in my day and age was a virtue.

Today, as an adult I agree with the need to memorize but I agree in this way: memorizing with understanding is the best, memorizing without ever understanding is a waste, and memorizing other peoples errors with or without "understanding" will be the problems for tomorrow's psychologists to solve.

Public Schools teach we can't know...HALT.

Let me start again.

IF Public Schools teach that we humans can't know what we think we know, so ' who cares how we know, THEN if my thirtysomething kids were still children I'd yank 'em from the system so fast it'd...wait a minute, I did do that. Oh well, if what the modern day intellectuals are saying about the Public School system is true, then your only protection is to pull your kids out and pursue some kind of alternative. If enough parents do this then if the Public School System is as bad as "they" say then it will rot and die as it should and this will be good. (This could very easily end up being one of the hidden benefits of an affluent society --that is, again we will have another thing to thank Capitalism for.)

Because of my understanding of the dominating philosophical influence on America's Public School system (that is, of Immanuel Kant's philosophy) I agree with those who are condemning it. And I write in a context that takes it as a given that the Public Schools have deteriorated beyond repair. (This assumes that Objectivists and/or Objectivist sympathizers and/or some other anti-Kantian, anti-faith, pro-reason types do NOT choose to go into the system and change it for the better. And given the power of the Internet combined with the fact of Globalization it appears as if America's Public School system is going to be allowed to die.)

So, back to the children. Including the children we once were ourselves.

Children, by their nature, are dependent --very dependent-- on adults for their survival.

Our survival depends on our knowing and knowing what we know and knowing that we can know, knowing that we should know. Since the desire to know is driven by a need to know, the desire is pretty strong in virtually all children. Consequently, a teacher is like a doctor in that the first principle is: DO NO HARM. That is --and I don't mean to scare you, but your choice to teach is a gigantic responsibility, so please take it seriously-- consequently, your first job is to NOT kill a child's eagerness and desire to learn and to know.

If you teach them that they cannot trust what they "think" they know so who cares about how to know, then you might as well send them to Public School.

If you teach them the evils of knowing then call what you are doing --not education, but-- religious indoctrination.

If on the other hand you are homeschooling your own (and/or other's) children because you are fed up with arguing with those who preach... you can't know, you shouldn't want to know so why not become an interchangeable cog in the social wheel... if this is WHAT you DON'T want, then teach your child HOW to know. You will know that you have succeeded with your instruction when your child grows up and can say with all the self-assertion becoming an adult: I know what I know and I see what I see.

That is, I know that 2+2=4 is just a short hand way of saying, (1+1) + (1+1) = 1+1+1+1 = count 'em = 4. This I now know on MY OWN and I don't NEED you to tell me. I don't need anyone in this most fundamental of self-sufficient ways to tell me: to tell me, myself and I that is: I know what I know AND I see what I see, I can count for Christ's sake: 1+1+1+1= one, two, three, FOUR!

If on the other hand (he says, shifting temporarily to his facetious-sarcastic tone) you want to plant the seeds of self-doubt for future days in your child's life that they can "enjoy" under the influence of some suicide worshipping guru who says, follow me I KNOW then teach them that 2+2=4 is just an arbitrary assertion (it's way way ... way too early to attempt to teach them that 2+2=5 as this should be left up to the real professionals anyway, kind of like that "don't try this at home" warning that comes along with certain risky things shown on TV). Teach them that 2+2=4 has no basis in reality, it is just something human beings made up, it is a construct that we need in order to pretend that we can know: just memorize it WITHOUT understanding it. Everybody knows knowing is not possible anyway (you don't have to worry here, your young charge is not capable of seeing the contradiction in this statement because the concept of an adult person whom they trust and look up to who wants to destroy their capacity to know is not part of their innocence --yet-- so if this is YOUR teaching goal, then ... then ... then maybe religion is right and I am wrong: maybe there is a devil.)

Yes, knowing is selfish. If you teach your child that knowing is for others benefit and not their own, then ... then ... then I don't know what to say ... for your child, other than: heaven help them.

Yes, I DO know what I know and I see what I see.

That is, I know that this thing I hold in my hand that is round, red and firm and has a stem coming out of it is an ... apple. And if I bite into it I will like it and it will taste good. I know that I am capable OF knowing this and I don't NEED you to tell me it is so. I know what I know and I see what I see.

That is, I know that 3 * 2 = 6 is just a short hand way of saying, that 3 * 2 = 3 + 3 , that is two groups of ones we call three's added together = (1+1+1) + (1+1+1) = count 'em = 1+1+1+1+1+1 = 6 and yes I also know that "6" is the SYMBOL for ////// = six things which in this particular case is six slashes, but it could be six apples or six anythings, but that it has to be some-thing but can be any-thing. This I know, and I know what I know and I see what I see.

If you are beginning to see the importance of math in your child's learning then you are smart enough to teach your children and if you want to preserve, protect and enhance your child's ability to learn then if you haven't already done so my advice is get in touch with and stay in touch with that eidetic personality within you that some call your inner child. This inner child-self can be a source of guidance FOR you, to protect YOU so that YOU do NOT end up regretting your choice to Homeschool.

Remember: Do no harm.

Then your child won't have to regret it either.

I'd be willing to bet a buck that your desire to homeschool is driven --in part, if not totally-- by an inner longing for objective selfishness. By a desire to rediscover that selfish self you (may have) abandoned somewhere in your (own) childhood.

Since this is eMatter the number of "potential" bettors here so far exceeds my capacity to pay --should I loose the bet-- that I am adding here that the bet-a-buck is meant figuratively, not literally.

So HOW do we know?

By relating things --that is, the what we want to know-- to our DIRECT experience, our direct --first hand-- contact with reality, with existence. By relating "it" --whatever the "it" is-- to our sensory-perceptual experience.

Therefore, everything eventually is reducible to sense experience. The reduction can be and often is a long complex chain of connections because higher level concepts are just that: multiple levels removed from immediate sense experience but if they are valid they are traceable back down to reality.

In the new spiritualism that I am developing, promoting and preaching --that is, in BiO Spiritualism-- this last is known as going down in order to come back up.

AFPS (Modified 11/17/4)
In the new spiritualism that I have developed, am promoting and advocating --that is, in BiO Spiritualism-- this last is known as reductive realityism.


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