Self-education

Last night I went to give a talk to a group of home educators near St Albans. And it really is always such a pleasure to meet such dedicated parents.

Some had been home educating longer than me! Some just starting out. Some just thinking about it! But what’s so uplifting is the commitment parents have to their children and to acknowledging the fact that we are all different, our children are all different and all need varying approaches to their learning in order for it to be successful. And these parents are brave enough to stick by those convictions!

Schooling has become so entrenched in our thinking about education that we can forget that ‘schooling’ and ‘education’ are actually two different things that can take place completely independently of each other! And now that we can all communicate, have access to knowledge and information and groups of other people without school – via the Internet, as someone pointed out last night, our model of schooling has become completely outdated.

There’s an interesting article here about self-learning:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/oct/18/sugata-mitra-slumdog-teach-self which indeed is what home education is all about.

Meanwhile it is really heart warming to meet groups of parents who want something different for their children and who are prepared to put themselves out to fight for it rather than just accept the norm. A norm that is increasingly failing to produce ‘educated’ young people.

It would be absolutely terrific to think that one day maybe a kind of ‘self-education’ would be as much of a norm as schooling is. One that could embrace both the useful aspects of school and the successful aspects of home education, where learners and their families take better responsibility for their education, as the parents I met last night were doing, developing it in tune with their individual needs and understanding it in a broader context rather than just seeing it as something that can only take place inside school walls and only geared towards exams. For in reality education is something broader much than that.

Education is for a life, not just for schools. Although the way some professionals behave you would be hard pressed to believe that! Home education is an education which embraces real life and educates for real life, in a whole multitude of ways, and that’s one of the reasons it is so successful. Long may it continue!

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