Back from the big city to the quiet again. I’m sure glad to be able to rest my eyes on these empty vistas after all the city huddle!
But it was really fascinating to meet so many parents at the home education event who want something different for their children from the education on offer in school. Fascinating to hear the variety of reasons people want to home educate too. Funny, but it seems that many of those reasons are not to do with learning at all; they are more to do with the relationships that develop in a school climate.
I’ve always believed that it is the relationships within schools that can make or break a child’s learning potential. And far too often it is the damage done to children by poor quality relationships that can drive parents to make the final decision to home educate. Bullying springs to mind first and the fact it is not dealt with effectively; this regularly pushes parents to home educate. But when I hear about bullying from the very people that the children are supposed to be able to rely on – their teacher, then it makes me intensely sad. Bullying not only of the child, but of the parents too, on occasion.
Children and parents need to feel they can trust the staff in their school. Trust them to care, to be encouraging, to be on their side, as someone to turn to when they don’t understand. Sadly the reality is that many teachers, despite working their butts off, don’t have time to create the kind of caring relationship children really need to nurture their potential – even if they’ve had the opportunity within the confines of an over prescriptive curriculum to spot what that potential is! There is little time within the school system to develop the care and respect that we would like our children to both receive and afford to others. And it seems to be this aspect of schooling, much more than it is anything to do with learning, that drives parents to home educate.
It’s a most valid reason too. For the simple thing is; if you get the relationship right then the learning will follow easily!
If there is one thing the government needs to do in order to improve the quality of these relationships in schools, it has nothing at all to do with choosing teachers with higher academic grades, it is more about changing the system to allow those teachers who care more time to develop a caring relationship with their learners.