5 Ways to Teach Independence to Homeschool High Schoolers

Dr. Micah Tillman (homeschool graduate and philosophy teacher) shares 5 ways to teach independence to homeschool high schoolers.

Ways to Teach Independence

5 Ways to Teach Independence to Homeschool High Schoolers

Today is the 4th of July.  We Americans will be — or were — celebrating our independence.

From what? you might ask.

From our oppressors, we would respond.

The English? you ask. (Poor English people. Can you imagine them watching us celebrate being independent from them every year?)

Not really, no, we respond. After all, none of us were ever oppressed by England.

I mean, raise your hand: Have you ever been oppressed by an Englishman or -woman?

Didn’t think so.

The 4th is not about our freedom from England. It’s about freedom from tyranny — from unjust, exploitative, illegitimate force and violence.

Ways to Teach Independence

It’s about the day when the leaders of the thirteen “united States” (not, interestingly, the “United States”) said that there are certain fundamental truths that everyone can see — truths about people and governments and God and countries — and that anybody who violates those truths forfeits his (or her) authority to rule.

But notice that they claimed these were truths everyone could see.  And notice how they felt it necessary to explain their actions to the world by writing up a “Declaration.”

And notice that they didn’t declare war on the 4th. They simply claimed to be speaking the truth and explaining themselves.

Now, the guys who wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence weren’t all good guys. But we can learn something from them, nevertheless.

The Declaration of Independence was an attempt to remind everyone of important truths (important truths they all already knew), to convince them that the government of England had violated those truths, and to convince them that the citizens of the thirteen American colonies were justified — because of those violations — in no longer seeing the government of England as their government.

The road to independence, in other words, begins with:

  • truth,
  • reasoning, and
  • argumentation.

If you want to teach independence to your children, then, what must you do?  Ways to Teach Independence

First, teach them to see truth.

Second, teach them to understand how others see the world.

Remember, the Declaration of Independence doesn’t appeal to truths that only Americans or Christians could see.  It appeals to truths that everyone could see. The Declaration of Independence tries to start its argument from “common ground.”

But even if you can’t find “common ground” with an opponent, you still need to understand how he or she sees the world.  You can’t help someone get from the wrong place to the right place if you don’t know where he’s coming from!

Third, teach them how to make a case, or construct an argument, that others will find convincing.

Remember, the job of the Declaration of Independence was to convince the rest of the world that the American colonists were right.  The Declaration isn’t a law that forced people to agree.  And it isn’t a declaration of war that threatened violence if they didn’t agree. Its job was to make a rational argument that rational people would find convincing.

Fourth, teach them how to write.

The Declaration is extremely well written. It wouldn’t have had nearly the force it’s had for 200+ years had it not been.

Fifth, have them read great literature and study great thinkers.

The secret to the Declaration of Independence is John Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government. Everyone had already read John Locke’s book, and been convinced by it.  All the Declaration had to do, then was to remind everyone of what John Locke had said about people and governments and God and countries, and then convince them that what Locke had said applied to the American situation.

John Locke’s book was a culture changer. Without it, there would have never been a Declaration of Independence.

Philosophy in 4 Questions from 7SistersHomeschool.com
Click image for full description of this popular text.

As homeschoolers, you have already declared your independence from the “normal” school system.  And that means you have the freedom to teach independence to your children.

The 4th of July is here to remind us not to let such opportunities go to waste!

-Micah Tillman, PhD.

Introduce your children to great thinking skills with some of our 7Sisters’ teens’ favorite course: Philosophy in 4 Questions by Dr. Tillman.

5 Ways to Teach Independence to Homeschool High Schoolers


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2 Replies to “5 Ways to Teach Independence to Homeschool High Schoolers”

  1. Awesome thoughts, Dr Micah!

    And may I add that your thoughts have stirred me to look at my own homeschool a little differently.

    We have always tried to teach our children to be independent thinkers. Though it can be challenging for everyone when there is “rebellion” afoot, there is no doubt that it can bring about positive change.

    Whether in the world or in the microcosms of our families, your second point is key – understanding the another’s point of view. I have a post coming up that talks about that from a world language perspective.

    Happy 4th to you, Dr Micah!

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