We hate to dwell on the negative, but sometimes understanding where we are helps us understand where we want to go. We have found that every educational option falls into one of three categories. In order to describe these categories and help you better evaluate the educational options you come across, we will compare each level to varying levels of light: star, moon, or sun.
Star level education: Typically described as “conveyor belt education.” These are compulsory systems created to teach each student what to think (instead of how to think or why). The mentality, tools, and influences that support this type of education can be found across educational environments: public, charter, private, and online schools, as well as most “open-and-go” homeschool curriculum (which are usually made by the same people who publish public school texts and curriculum). The focus in this level of education is conformity. Everyone learns the same thing, in the same way, at the same pace. Spirituality is outlawed and most of the time mocked. Humanism and obedience is the religion here. Students are taught to “trust the experts.” There is a huge emphasis on group work instead of individuality. The method of motivation at this level is extrinsic and fear based (fear of embarrassment, fear of bad grades etc).
Moon level education: Typically described as “leadership education.” Proponents of this level are usually well intentioned parents and educators trying to give their students more light than the star level. Often accessed through homeschooling, co-ops, commonwealths, and private schools. In this level the focus is on teaching what and how to think. Moon level programs typically focus on learning from inspiring leaders of history, philosophers, and statesmen. Scholastic achievement and rigor are stressed. Students are held to high and usually noble standards. However, the mentor or text being studied is seen as the ultimate source of knowledge and mastery and memorization of classical ideas are the end goal. Even though the content being learned may be uplifting the methods here can still result in students who are less than passionate about learning. And the individual learns to look outside of themselves, ignore nature and to “experts” for knowledge.
Sun level education: Typically not described at all because so few people are even aware that this level of education is an option! We describe it as “purpose driven education.” Each student is encouraged to seek an understanding of their purpose and mission. Here at American Family Education, the student actually develops their capacity to access wisdom, think independently and logically, work individually and as a team, build meaningful relationships and understand themselves and their potential. Students are intrinsically motivated to acquire knowledge and skills that will enable them to be creative and capable adults who have identified their life’s purpose and are living for that purpose. Families are not limited by arbitrary content, schedules, or the requirements of curricula that do not serve their unique purposes. Students and parents learn from the best books and seek mentorship from people who have the results they want.
This is the goal– a Sun Level Education where an individual’s power to create, their personal relationships, and their effect on the world are the primary focus. Where everything that happens “at school” supports, encourages, and facilitates each individual’s personal progress.
The next steps in this series will help you understand the principles that actually make this idea a reality…