When beginning homeschooling, I felt bombarded by all the different schools of thought and the philosophies behind diverse approaches to homeschooling. I have always been a reader and a researcher, so I approached homeschooling the same way that I had approached any other new area. As I read, researched, and observed, I found that it seemed many homeschoolers felt the need to identify with a particular “school of thought,” and so I felt as if I probably needed to do the same thing.
However, no matter what or “whom” I read, there seemed to be one or more areas which didn’t quite fit with what we felt like God had laid on our hearts. We may have been new to homeschooling and unsure about many things; however, we were confident that God had called us to equip our children to be all that God had for them to be. As I read a variety of more well‐known approaches to homeschooling, I could see a piece of one fitting one of my children, and yet totally different pieces of a different approach fitting a different child.
My husband John and I had been given a huge vision not only to educate the minds of our children, but also to train and equip our children spiritually and emotionally and to instill character within them as well. When we wrote down our goals and dreams for each individual child, we found that although there were many things in common for each child, there were also many things on each list that were unique to each child. The verse, “Train them up in the way they should go” (Proverbs 22:6) became more unique and defined, for each of our children, than we had ever dreamed possible.
Based on the belief that God created each individual for a specific and unique purpose, we approached each of our children almost as if we were studying them. We couldn’t approach them as if they were all cut from the same cloth ‐‐ created with the same strengths and weaknesses ‐‐ and it was our responsibility, as their earthly parents, to teach and develop those unique qualities so that they could be all that God had intended them to be. God didn’t create them alike because He didn’t have the same purpose for each of them. It was our responsibility to approach them as individuals and help to develop each child into a whole-hearted child. Academic preparation and training would not be enough to fulfill the responsibility God had given us; we had to approach the entire person in our educating and equipping — mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
As is often the case, John and I drew on our own life experiences to look for models to emulate in the education of our children. I am so thankful that God gave me a very unique educational experience growing up. I want to take you on a little bit more of my own personal educational journey to give you even more of a background into the vision of Artios. This will help you learn more about our program and understand what makes this approach and philosophy of education, and philosophy of arts education, so unique, needful, and important during this time in history.
As a teenager I was privileged to have experienced a very unique approach to education based on teaching through principles and leading ideas and study based on researching, reasoning, relating and recording. All of this was done through a thorough and distinctive Christian worldview that was applied to every area of life. One of the most influential aspects of my education was the emphasis placed on the uniqueness of each individual. My mom demonstrated this type of educational philosophy in her approach with me and also in her approach with the students who were privileged enough to come through her English, Spanish, and French classes. In addition, I had several very important adult mentors during my middle and high school years who looked for my uniqueness and then invested their lives in helping to develop the potential that they saw in me. They taught me through the personal inspiration of their example and their approach to principle-based living and learning. I give my grateful thanks to Mrs. Guyla Nelson, Mrs. Kathy Pritchard and Mr. John Nelson for their investment into my life and ultimately into the lives of other students throughout the country.
It wasn’t until very recently that I even began to understand how instrumental and influential this educational experience and philosophy had been on my own educational philosophy as a classroom teacher, homeschooler, and founder and Executive Director of Artios Academies. This foundational philosophy of education was instrumental in the development of Artios Conservatory and eventually to the establishment of the independent programs of Artios Academy of Arts and History and Artios Preparatory Academy. I believe this philosophy is what sets Artios apart from any other. Because of what I had experienced through my own education, I knew that as a teacher, it was not enough to just know the material. As a teacher, I had to know the child and adapt the presentation of the material to fit each unique child. It was my responsibility to lead my students in not only learning the material but also leading them to learn about themselves. It was my job to present material grounded in a Biblical foundation and help my students to apply those principles in every area of life and character. The latter responsibility is key to raising children and mentoring students who not only just know how to make a living but also know how to live and make a difference. Based on my personal educational experience as a student, principles that I was continuing to learn from God’s Word, and a vision that God had placed on my own heart, as a young teacher fresh out of college, I took this approach into the classroom. It wasn’t long before I realized how unique this approach was and how much effort and preparation this type of approach demanded of a teacher and/or a parent. At that point in my life, I had trouble verbalizing the difference, but I definitely could see the difference and knew how to demonstrate the difference. This same emphasis and philosophy became foundation in raising and educating our own children and in our home education journey. We wanted to raise children that were “artios.” This vision was carried over into our work with young people in various ministries and eventually into the founding of the Artios program.
Scripture talks about Jesus growing in wisdom and stature with both God and man. Wisdom is more than simply informing to educate; it’s more than just giving students academic and artistic tools and equipping them mentally; it’s elevating discernment into our student’s lives so that they can be effective salt and light in every area of their lives. It is educating the heart, soul, and mind of our children — the children in our homes and the children in our classrooms. This is a foundational principle behind the Artios Academies’ philosophy of education.
As I mentioned earlier, there are many positive things about each homeschool curriculum and philosophy. However, I do not think we can approach any curriculum or “school of thought” as legalists and expect our children to fit into a preset mold of instruction. I love this quote by Joni Harsh: “As Christians first, and then as home educators, we must not become bound by any particular method that would lead us legalism” (Harsh 23). Truly this is a definition for what Karen Andreola described as “the gentle art of learning.” As I have reflected on my own educational experience and how it has impacted my own ministry within my home and through teaching hundreds of students over the years, I realize that I am actually using much of the same educational philosophy and methodology in which I was raised, and I couldn’t be happier or feel more blessed with that outcome. I believe it is Biblically-based, and I believe it lends itself to great freedom and the ability to meet the needs of the whole heart of each individual child.
Before There Was An Artios
The idea of a historically-based program in the arts for all ages and an advanced conservatory level program began during my college days and continued as I began teaching privately and in the classroom. It became evident through my research and teaching experience that the arts came alive to my students when we set the arts in a historical context. Time-period related music camps, recitals, performances and more were frequent occurrences in my studio and classroom and spread to those teachers with whom I worked.
Building on that foundation, I knew from my own background in the arts that we would soon have students who wanted more than just an exposure to the arts. They would want more advanced instruction and opportunities. I began referencing my own educational experiences at crucial stages in my development and realized that I had had the opportunity to participate in an education rich in the arts and in arts instruction. To some extent I had experienced a very “conservatory” like atmosphere of instruction in my middle and high school years. This instruction culminated in a forty-five minute personal and college-level solo recital at the conclusion of my senior year in high school.
Having had this experience led to an understanding of the power of a strong arts background in the lives of students. The discipline and creativity that is nurtured in an educational background that is rich in the arts is invaluable in the future educational success of students. Future reading and research written by other professionals on this topic backed up all that I had experienced and gave real-life statistics and studies.
I continued to teach both in the classroom and in two Music Development Centers both in South Carolina and in Georgia, and both John and I continued to be involved in student-related organizations and development throughout the years. Over the course of over 25 years, all of these opportunities and experiences formed much of what Artios has become.