A Philosophy of Elementary Education

          The education and the shepherding of a child through infancy and adolescence until he or she emerges from the protection of the family are wholly the right and responsibility of that child’s parents. In this way and only in this way can individual families ensure that the political and theological conclusions that they hold will be preserved and impressed upon future generations. The family provides a shelter from the commercial and political pressures of society. These societal pressures often present artificially skewed priorities, or prevent frank and open speech about the essential matters of life. Practically without exception, the family provides the only place where an immature person can obtain instruction, advice, and counsel that is offered in a true spirit of altruism, solely for the benefit of the recipient, and without hope of personal gain or the advancement of some hidden agenda. Tragically, this may not be the case in every family. Nevertheless there is no acceptable substitute for it.

          From birth to age six, every child would best be served by remaining in the home and being educated and cared for by both parents, with the majority of care and instruction provided by the mother. The mother carries the infant from conception to term and they are bonded to each other. The infant trusts and depends on the mother and knows her voice. The infant and the mother share the same routine for nine months and it becomes a simple matter to expand the routine after birth and expect cooperation from the infant child. The infant child wants its mother and she is there for the child. In this warm cocoon of caring and intimacy the child can be easily taught and encouraged if the mother is prepared and determined to teach.

          Rather than provide daycare opportunities for children up to the age of six, the government and society as a whole should create opportunities for parents to better teach and otherwise raise their own preschool children. Our society should do everything within its power to ensure that a single income be enough to support a family of four, or government subsidies should be provided when one parent (again presumably the mother) stays home to raise and educate the children. Opportunities should be provided for children to play together, during which time both parents can learn new teaching skills, and have access to the necessary materials. Parents should have already received training in the basic skills necessary for teaching and child rearing as a part of their secondary education. A national program of recitals when children could voluntarily showcase their basic skills should be established, with special holidays for colors, numbers, alphabets, days of the week, time telling, etc., when children might demonstrate these basic skills and receive a small treat or refrain from showing off their skills demonstrating their modesty of character. This would be done specifically to accommodate those who parents might decide not to formally teach their children at all letting them experience a purer form of childhood for the first six years devoted to what development might occur during self-directed play. Irrespective of which approach was chosen, children during this period would learn important life lessons, the first of which being that they are loved and cared for and protected, and under the authority of their parents, for this is what parents are supposed to do. The second being that they have a home, a described area separate and safe from the rest of the world, where the greater part of a good life takes place. Most importantly, by learning the lesson that they are individuals of importance, whose thoughts and feelings and emotions matter within the institution of the family, and that they are not just one more nameless child among scores of children in a vast, impersonal educational system. It is this strong social foundation, bolstered by basic skills that both parents should be expected and encouraged to impart to their children that would prepare them to enter the first grade of elementary school, and carry them through the rest of their school years and into adulthood.

          The first day of elementary school can be a very stressful one for the young student. In order to smooth the transition into the educational system, as the sixth year is reached children must be afforded additional opportunities for socialization with other children of their own age, and must also be required to take a battery of tests to establish a base line for their educational development. These tests will have been available throughout the child’s life and may or may not have been taken advantage of by the parent or administered by educational counselors or the child’s pediatrician at the request of the parent. But now, because of the state’s vested interest in an educated citizenry in order to preserve a functioning constitutional republic, yearly testing would continue throughout the child’s educational career. At all times parents will have the option to home school, or to enroll their child in a private or a public school.

          The public elementary school should be based on the principles of inclusivity, community, and assimilation. All cultures and personalities embraced, every student valued, respected, and challenged, and all students citizens of the republic. Students should be encouraged at every turn to develop their unique personal identity as a sovereign citizen, and also to identify, take pride in, and cooperate with their class and their school. Classes should not be numbered but should instead be named in some agreed upon convention, perhaps using colors or the names of animals. The class should keep its name and remain together as a unit for the entire six years. Students should be taught little more than the essentials during their first three years of school limited to reading aloud, rhetoric, grammar and penmanship, arithmetic, deportment, and basic etiquette. Much of this with the exception of reading will occur by simple rote memorization. All other subjects, science, history, social studies, health, geography, and civics, should be lightly touched on as a result of what was chosen by the instructor to be read aloud in class that day. Reading aloud is essential to develop a strong and independent personality in the child, to teach confidence and the ability to stand up and speak for one’s self. It is also the easiest way to see if basic reading and punctuation skills have been retained. Demonstrations by the instructor might possibly follow the reading, as well as celebrations of politically significant days and other holidays, show and tell by students, and special visitors to class, many of whom should be parent presenters and observers. All of these activities should serve to enrich and diversify the learning experience. However, none of these additional activities would be tested or graded. A long recess period at midday during which the children have lunch and engage in supervised but essentially unstructured play ought to punctuate the day, followed by an afternoon period where the children receive music education in the form of choral singing or group playing of instruments, and on alternate days, creative art projects such as painting, clay or papier-machie sculpture, drawing, and the like. At every point, parents must be invited to recognize, appreciate, and participate in the learning, artistic and recreational activities of their children. Each year, students should be tested for the basic skills of reading aloud, grammar and penmanship, and arithmetic. Students failing to meet standards should be referred to remediation during the summer and as a last resort placed in a special class for a year or more. Observations about the children regarding rhetoric, deportment and basic etiquette should be reported by the teacher to the parents and counseling staff so that they might be aware of any unique or troubled personalities that might require special attention. A wide variety of behaviors and eccentricities should be accommodated with the exception of violent and disruptive behavior, or behavior that is inherently mean or disrespectful to faculty or fellow students.

          If the first three years of elementary school could be said to teach children how to learn, the next three years should be devoted to teaching them what there is to learn about. With a strong grounding in the fundamentals, children in the fourth through six years of elementary school should begin the task of reading in specific areas, and learning to write and speak about what knowledge has been gained during this process. Focusing on the construction of clear, concise, and grammatically correct paragraphs, this process of reading, discussing and writing should be applied to all other subject areas that begin to be explored in greater depth. A suggested curriculum would include World History and Geography, American History, American Government and general civics in the fourth year, Earth Science, Astronomy, and Heath Science in the fifth year, Art History and Music Appreciation, Biology, and Life Management in the sixth year. Throughout the three years students should also be exposed to a great deal of English Literature, additional training in mathematics through pre-algebra, and of course basic computer and keyboarding skills. During the last three years of elementary school, recess after lunch is to be replaced by various organized individual and team sports. Afternoons continue to include art and music, but students are given opportunities to advance their skill in areas that are of particular interest to them, either by performing music in ensemble, receiving instruction in a particular art medium that is appealing, or working on special projects in other areas of academic interest including foreign language studies, with the guidance of teachers and parents.

          Regular testing and comprehensive examinations at the end of each year, and overarching comprehensive finals at the end of the three years would ensure that the knowledge that had been meant to be imparted during the six years of elementary school had in fact been processed and retained. Again, those students who were having difficulty in retaining the curriculum ought to be remediated during summer sessions or transferred to another class, until such time as they would be ready to be graduated. Students who were unable to complete the curriculum after an appropriate period of time would be conditionally graduated and would be eligible enter a select group of secondary trade schools. Nothing would preclude these students from retesting at a later date, even at a much later date, and passing their comprehensives, receiving a regular diploma dated for the year that their class graduated. Students who did receive a regular diploma from elementary school would be determined fit to enter high school, or a broad and diverse group of secondary trade schools. High school would be considered a necessary path only for those students planning careers in business management, law enforcement, the military, the para-professional fields, or for those who were planning to attend university in order to prepare for professional and academic careers. Students graduating from this type of elementary school would be fully prepared to read about, comprehend, write about and discuss any mundane subject, and would have all the necessary skills to continue to self-educate for the rest of their lives. Students graduating from this type of elementary school would have the mathematical and life skills necessary to function as a citizen in an advanced society, as well an appreciation of what priorities must be set upon work, and what pleasure might be obtained from the enjoyment and practice of the arts.

About Louis William Rose

“I am an advocate for Liberty. What I do for Liberty I do not do for profit or fame. I seek no office other than the office of parliamentarian, and no reward other than for myself and my fellow men and women to live in a free country.” Louis William Rose is a lifelong student of parliamentary procedure and political process. He has served as parliamentarian for various organizations. A political philosopher, poet, singer, and writer, his articles have been published on-line and in pro-liberty papers in Florida, Kentucky, Georgia, and Montana. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of North Florida, graduating summa cum laude in 2004, with an additional two years of graduate work in political philosophy. Mr. Rose is an outspoken supporter of the basic rights of man, especially freedom of speech, association, religion, individual rights to personal defense and property, and of republican, constitutional forms of government. He is married to the lovely Jamy Sue Rose, an award winning nature photographer and a Florida Master Naturalist and guide. He has two sons, Edward, a hydroponic farmer in the panhandle of Florida, and Alexander, a successful real estate developer.
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