The Insanity of Home Education?

There he stands all smart and sparkling in his new too-big uniform, looking too small for school but with a sparkle of enthusiasm also in his eye.

He’s excited; everyone’s told him what an exciting place school is with lots of nice people and great activities he’ll love doing. He’s very keen – everyone’s been so nice each time he’s visited…

A few lessons in and the sparkle goes out his eyes faster than it goes off the uniform.

His first lesson is that not everyone is so nice, not even some of the people who smiled before. They’re too busy. Too concerned with having to do other things like keep control and make kids sit still.

His next lesson is that you rarely get exciting things to do. In fact, you never learn about things you want to learn about because you have to learn what the learning objective says. He doesn’t get what a learning objective is but writes it down in his book like he’s told to do.

And the third lesson he learns is that, despite the fact his mum shouts and gets cross sometimes, it’s nothing compared to being humiliated by the teacher. And the worst thing of all is that at least he knew what mum was cross about. The teacher just seems cross all the time and about things he doesn’t understand.

And he begins to learn that he doesn’t actually like school that much but that doesn’t seem to matter.

Over the years he learns a lot more about school but only a little about the world outside.

He learns that test results and grades are more important than learning about the world outside. In fact, they are so terribly important that if you don’t get the right ones, he’s been told, you won’t have a life. They are so important it makes him and some of the other kids ill trying to get what the teachers want them to get. They try so hard but still some of them don’t manage it. Those kids are disregarded.

And the grade getting does something to the teachers too. Where once there was a glimmer of something warm in their eye, this is wiped out by getting grades and by the word Ofsted.

Ofsted makes the teachers very impatient, very tense and very stressed. Except the day when someone sits in the classroom and watches them. Then they behave differently. They’re not impatient or humiliating that day.

As time goes on and the sparkle is long erased something else becomes erased too; parts of his personality.

He no longer has a personality truly his own. He has a school persona, one that enables him to fit in. Fitting in means not being who you want to be but being the same as everyone else.

Not fitting in means braving an emotional and physical pain far, far worse than falling off your bike or Gran dying. This pain is intensified every day by the group you don’t fit into sticking knives in the wound of who you are and twisting them. Telling the teachers makes it worse because some kids have control over the teachers too.

Even human kindness is secondary to fitting in.

Fitting in is the only way to survive. Fitting in with the teachers. Fitting in with peer groups. Fitting in with what you’re supposed to learn however irrelevant it is to your normal life. And fitting into the big institution that is school which to him, now he’s studied Aldous Huxley, is worryingly similar to ‘Brave New World’ where everything is for the greater good and not the good of the individual. Where everything is manufactured, even people.

You have to fit in with that. If you don’t, you won’t get an education.

But finally he realises that even fitting in doesn’t guarantee an education because, on the whim of an adult who sometimes abuses their position of power, you could easily fall out of favour and fail to get the scores. He’s seen that happen to his friend. His friend’s done for. He won’t have a life – he’s been told.

So he doesn’t think about being an individual. In fact he doesn’t think at all. No one wants him to. They just want him to do the work, fit in and get the grades, whatever the cost…

Home education insane?

Well, everything is relative, and compared to the insanity described above, it seems to me to be a relatively sane, natural and appropriate way to educate our kids!


25 thoughts on “The Insanity of Home Education?

  1. As a parent of one child home-educated and one in school I find it very sad that home-educators feel the need to measure themselves against school all the time and that there is constant comment about how awful school is. The ongoing need for justifying themselves against school is very odd- you’re not in it any more, tell us how great it is at home and what you’re doing there instead! My son at school laughs all day- I’ve seen him, my other son didn’t so I took him out. Get over it guys!

    • I do try and acknowledge how well school works for so many whilst laying out other points of view! But your point is very valid Rachel, thanks for leaving it. As you say, there are several families for whom both approaches work extremely well.

  2. Reblogged this on Musings from the Den. and commented:
    We know what battery cages and factory farm conditions do the physical and mental well-being of other animals, so why the HELL are we inflicting them on our children!? There was a time when I would have dearly loved to be a teacher but my aunt (who taught for many years) warned me against it. Now I understand why.

  3. Hi Yup that was my two and worse still they at first felt I was compounding the lie that was ‘school’ by making them go. I read your book on HE and that was a major turing point.
    It never fails to amaze me how supportive the HE community is and we have been He-ing since March now…I have never for one day regretted it and my children tell me they never want to got back to school. They are coming on in every way possible and I enjoy our time together so much.

    Thank you

  4. My parents took my out of a Christian school in ’82 because I’d “lost my bounce.” It had only taken 4 months and I didn’t have any learning problems.
    It’s not a conspiracy, techno-mole, or rather, it’s not our conspiracy, but the educational system’s. I haven’t read the info in a long time, but the group with Dewey here in the States was very actively seeking to indoctrinate the young generation into accepting their beliefs without questioning and thinking. Found a webpage on this subject:

  5. Not far from the truth of the experience of more than one child, watched it happen many a time in my teaching days and was one of the reasons we chose home ed. Seems sad to have it written out loud though but well done for saying it.

  6. This post so sums up my son that reading it brings tears to my eyes. Thanks for saying it like it really is. 7 more days of school, then he leaves to be home educated until we can find a school that is the right one for him and his dyslexia. Roll one the last day of term!

    • Aw! And it so brings tears to my eyes to think about the kids trapped in the system waiting for deliverance! Thank you for leaving your comment – always appreciated. All the best for your new journey. x

    • Thanks so much for commenting. Sometimes I just feel like saying it how it is for some kids as they’re the ones so often neglected whilst the ones who do manage to fit in get all the glory!

  7. Once again hitting on the things that made home education the right path for us. Only wish I’d known before and hadn’t watched the sparkle being lost. Thank you!!

  8. I guess at the end of the day that’s what school is all about, training kids to conform, to fit in and be like everyone else, not standing out is the best way to get on in life, which to be honest I find extremely sad, we should be teaching kids to find things out for themselves, to explore the world, to use their imagination, but the schools don’t really want that.

    It sounds a little conspiricy theorist, but I don’t think the state wants kids to be free thinking, mainly because free thinkers might figure out what our so called leaders are really up to, in short free thinkers are a challenge to their authority.

    My kids are home educated, and I hope they never have to suffer the soul crushing way of life that is state schooling, a great post.

    • I totally agree with you and always suspected that the state doesn’t want people to think too much – people would see through their idiot policies if they did! Thank you very much for taking the time to leave your comment. Much appreciated.

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