On Being Eclectic

One of the labels we homeschoolers give ourselves is “eclectic”. It’s a vague term that allows for being outside of all of the other labels (unschooler, classical, Waldorf, school-at-homer, etc.). It gives us a label for when we can’t fit inside any of the homeschooling boxes.

I don’t like to use it however. Because, in my mind, and probably in the minds of anyone who would hear me use it, eclectic means “taking a little of this and a little of that.” This definition implies that a homeschooler has gone out, checked out the various options, then has taken things from each one and made a different picture out of the individual pieces.  The “stuff out there” is still where we get all our information, and where we get what we need to create a homeschooling style.

The truth is, everything we need is in us already. And when we discover something in a system or program that makes a lot of sense to us, it’s because it matches who we already are. We’ve used our inquiry into an approach to find ourselves.

This is why, in our family, eclectic doesn’t fit: We aren’t taking from the different approaches to create something that wasn’t there. And, we aren’t depending on the different parts of different approaches to guide us. We do indeed learn from studying various approaches, going to talks and reading up on the different ideas of what’s out there. But by the time we’ve incorporated the things that make sense to us into our educational approach, we can’t tell where classical starts and waldorf ends. It no longer belongs to the approach. It belongs to us.

This method is not eclectic because when we incorporate all the bits and pieces into our learning world, they create a consistent, fluid approach that belongs only to the Takahashi family. All the choices we make and the things we teach are done according to the Takahashi plan for education. Not the Waldorf or classical or unschooling. Although we might have discovered great ideas and discovered ourselves by understanding these approaches, when we break down our Takahashi educational approach, they no longer have a tie into those outside approaches.

We’ve taken what we’ve learned, digested it, changed it, incorporated it and when it came out, it was ours. Not eclectic at all. Eclectic means a mix of different styles in the same room together. And that’s not us at all. We have one style. A very clear, internally consistent, fluid style. It’s not eclectic. It’s our own style. And it has not name other than Takahashi family educational approach.


6 Responses to “On Being Eclectic”

  1. Summer Says:

    I never thought about it that way before, but it sounds so right. Taking the little pieces from here and there becuase they match with what you already have/know/are rather than trying to create something new with them all. It’s so obviouse once I think about it, but I never stopped to think about it before. You’re a genious.

  2. tobeme Says:

    I love your approach to not being limite by an lable. You thought process on this is excellent!

  3. anatole Says:

    Well said. Kudos for the boldness to call it by your family name, since it is indeed unique to the family. I’d still say “eclectic” for my own family, though, because otherwise concerned relatives will think I’ve finally gone entirely off the deep end. 🙂 Plus I actually do pick up ideas from other sources which I would never have thought of myself; calling it my own method would mean not giving credit where credit is due.

  4. silvermine Says:

    Oh, excellent post! I also didn’t like the label “eclectic” because it sounds like mix-and-match. Or messy. Or kooky. Or just like I’ve taken little bits of everything. But I haven’t — I’ve just taken in information from a multitude of sources and made something for us. Something that I’m sure will change as they change, or I change, or I realize something might work better a different way.

    I really bristled at the phrase “eclectic”. I don’t know why I had to fit someone else’s mold or just call myself, essentially, a mutt. 😀

  5. Jill Says:

    I like the idea and agree with it being your family’s style. I still will say we are eclectic though. We are. Dictionary.com describes eclectic (as one of it’s meanings) as I think that would include what is best of my family’s own system and mixing it with others to formt he system that becomes our system as we evolve. I love yor idea of it being the Takahashi style! That is great name for it.

  6. Jill Says:

    3. not following any one system, as of philosophy, medicine, etc., but selecting and using what are considered the best elements of all systems.

    For some reason it did not post the definition here it is again

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