You know you’re getting on a bit when your grown up kids start talking ‘vintage’ about an era through which you lived. Apparently vintage Eighties is big!
Is eighties really ‘vintage’?
Worrying! I shall soon be one of those people kids talk to about ‘The Past’.
We used their grandma a lot for that. She featured big in their home educating lives. Especially since she remembered the war and was able to tell of rationing, evacuation and the Blitz. And history coming from real people is the best history of all. Their Gran was such a great character they learned much from her, including mischief! (You can read about their funny episodes in ‘A Funny Kind Of Education’).
But actually, kids learn lots from real people whether it’s history or not. People who are inspired and enthusiastic about things and give children first hand stories or practical experiences in life.
Contact with real people is another advantage of home educating.
We are conditioned to believe that it is only trained teachers or other professionals that can educate.
Look beyond that conditioning and you’ll see that children can learn from anyone, even the untrained. In fact, they are more likely to learn from people who are not so trained as to make subjects dull, having to fit them into curriculum and worksheets. Children learn from people who are engaging and passionate, whether that’s the local wildlife enthusiast, the woman who makes pots for a living, the football group leader or car fanatic in the street, the old chap who’s got an allotment or an elderly relative.
Real people, in real situations, doing real things in real lives are often more valuable to an education than teachers so obsessed with teaching to objectives it switches enthusiasm off.
But, I hear parents say, what about the subjects on the National Curriculum and all the exams kids have to take?
Well, firstly, kids don’t have to take exams and they won’t die if they don’t or fail to become educated or employable – there are other routes to life.
Secondly, exams are no good to a person’s future without other skills; transferable skills, personable skills, thinking skills. There’s no GCSE for those.
Thirdly, real experiences contribute to an education as much as grades, and even to grades. For example, making pots develops hand-eye coordination and manipulative skills (important for writing and other academic tasks). From the wildlife enthusiast and the allotment owner the kids learn the value of observation, analytical thinking and awareness of their environment, broadening their thinking from self to how they relate to the world (important for employability). From the football group they learn – and feel – the importance of physical movement (physical activity stimulates the brain as much as mental activity). And from the elderly relative? Well, who better to explain about living a life, care and values, etc, as well as what’s vintage!
Children’s experience of adults is so very, very narrow really if you restrict it to teachers. They learn so much more from real people who are applying their skills to real jobs and real life, not just school life.
And home education gives you a great opportunity to go hunting for that experience. So, don’t waste the contact with the vintage relatives this Christmas!