Many families choose to homeschool their children for various reasons. Many of these homeschooling families show signs of pragmatism in how they approach these real-life problems in education. Merriam-Webster defines pragmatism as the way individuals approach and experience situations and problems. Families approach homeschooling based on their experiences, educational philosophies, and beliefs. They may choose to homeschool because of past experiences in which they believe their children did not receive the educational foundations for which they feel they should have received. They may choose homeschooling because of the quality of the schools in their residential area. They may choose to homeschool because of religious beliefs or Christian education needs. These reasons only skim the surface to explain homeschooling.
Through Dewey’s understanding, the primary reason for homeschooling results in experiences. “People do not experience ‘experience’ but the world in which they live—a world of things, ideas, hopes, fears, and aspirations, all rooted in nature” (Ozmon, 2012, 121). Families often choose homeschooling because of these experiences they fear they do not receive in the traditional school setting. One family in particular became so disgruntled with the public school system in their beliefs that their daughter was not being challenged enough in her studies. They chose to homeschool her from first through ninth grade, then enroll in her tenth grade public high school, only to have continued feelings of frustration with the testing procedures that did not match the many hours of homework each night. At that point they decided to have their daughter test out of high school and enroll in college early and complete her degree two years earlier than the average college student. For this family homeschooling was an option to create and instill challenging study habits to carry into adulthood.
Another study shows families choose homeschooling for hands-on learning opportunities and flexible lifestyles (Dahlquist, 2006). One family chose to homeschool their two boys because of the father’s out-of-state employment. They knew they would only reside in another state for one to two years so they chose to homeschool rather than enroll their boys in school, only to withdraw them in a short period of time. They were able to continue their quality Christian education at home during their short employment deployment.
In comparing pragmatism and realism, pragmatism is associated with real-life experiences; realism is associated with real-life representations. As an early childhood educator, the learner is primarily interested in giving her students experiences with which they can use each of the five senses to learn. She must present material in easily understood hands-on techniques for students to manipulate through their senses. Mead applied an inductive approach to learning through social and psychological behavior by saying that students must be social in order to learn (Ozmon, 2012, 114). To be social, teachers must provide real-life experiences in which students can experience concrete hands-on learning.
Ozmon, H. (2012) Philosophical Foundations of Education. Boston: Pearson.
“Pragmatism.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 29 July 2013. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pragmatism>.
Dahlquist, K. L., York-Barr, J., & Hendel, D. D. (2006). The Choice to Homeschool: Home Educator Perspectives and School District Options. Journal Of School Leadership, 16(4), 354-385.