What is Organic Education? It is education that sees people as living, organic beings, like trees, instead of machines. Other names for it are Celestial Education, Leadership Education, or a Liberal Arts education. Many educators label it different things, but they are essentially talking about education that is based on seasons of the human life. Just like fruit-bearing trees have seasons, so do people. The ideal education capitalizes on these seasons, to bring forth the best fruit. Here is a chart to illustrate this:
Here is a video by my friend Olivia Votaw to explain the importance of a Liberal Arts Education:
It is education to expand our hearts, to fit us for the infinite perfectiblity of mankind, made possible because of the atonement of Jesus Christ.
It is education that is real. It involves the classics to build our spirits to enjoy things of an eternal nature: relationships, nature, and godly literature. From organic education, we gain knowledge not simply to get “credit, then forget it,” but to aid us in becoming the man or woman that God wants us to be for eternity, with Christian character, knowledge, vision, skills, and abilities.
Here are some of my favorite blogs that give insight into what this looks like:
The scriptures give us numerous verses that liken mankind to trees. The ultimate tree is the Savior Jesus Christ, who is presented as the Tree of Life in the Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 11. He embodies the love of God, or the love that God has for all mankind, as manifested by giving us His Only Begotten Son. See John 3:16.
Deciduous trees have seasons. Women have seasons in their lives, due to their biology. Perhaps God gave women seasons so they could be nurturers of the seasons of learning, or the seasons of education, in their own children. Did you know that the 1828 Dictionary of the American language by Noah Webster gives a definition of nurture as “That which promotes growth; education; instruction. Ephesians 6.”?
Many educational philosophies feature seasons of learning. They just call them different names. You can find the best description of the seasons of learning in the book, Leadership Education:The Phases of Learning by Oliver and Rachel DeMille. See http://tjed.org to order the book and read about the basics of Leadership Education. (By no coincidence, the book has the image of a tree on its cover. )
Spring is the season of core and love of learning phases (approximately ages 0-12), summer is the season of scholar and depth phases (approximately ages 13- to after college), fall is the season of mission (adulthood), and winter is the season of leaving a legacy (elderhood).
Here is a beautiful video that has images of seasons and touching words about people being like trees with seasons openmyeyeslord.net/theseasonsoflife.htm
When school/education/learning harmonizes with these seasons, the fruit is sweet, because it is full of wisdom, happiness, prosperity, and freedom. What more could you want?
Michelle Stone, mother of 8, gives the phases or seasons of learning LDS names and calls the education I am talking about Celestial Education.
You can watch her on video below:
Here are more of my favorite resources to help with organic education/homeschooling:
For younger years (preschool, grade school or “spring”) I love Mary Ann Johnson’s stuff at http://home-school-coach.com, and then click on “getting started”. She will teach you how to set up homeschooling so that your kids are begging to do school. The young years are a time to focus on laying the foundation of good character with allegiance to God and family. It’s a time to develop a willingness to obey parents and strengthen family relationships. It’s a time to work hard at home alongside parents in daily chores. And of course, the young years are a time for play! I like Oliver DeMille’s description of this time, what he calls “core phase”: learn the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, true and false, through work and play at home.
For older years, when kids get into intense “summer” work of scholar phase, I recommend attending or setting up a commonwealth school in your area. See The New Commonwealth Schools web site here. This organization can teach how to set up a once a week school, a commonwealth school, owned locally by parents in your community, to give classes for practice and apprentice scholars.
For older scholar phasers I recommend Williamsburg Academy, http://wacademy.org. It is an online, classics-based high school.