…It’s also very right for so many although you maybe wouldn’t expect a home educator to say that. But I readily acknowledge that for some it works extremely well. What could be better than a stimulating and vibrant environment, where caring and inspired adults teach and encourage children to realise their highest potential within a warm and friendly community?
But does that sound like school to you?
We’ve been sold school for so long as the ideal way to education. But, actually, it isn’t ideal, it isn’t good for many children – and that’s just the climate I’m talking about never mind the learning – and some children don’t learn much of value there anyway. They are educated for something else instead; how to survive in a school setting and pass tests. Which is a bit of a waste as once outside the school setting life’s nothing like that, had you noticed?
For example; what if when you went into work you were only allowed to work and mix with people who were the same age as you? What if you had to endure the disruptive, frightening and bullying behaviour of your peers, which bosses could do nothing about, and you had NO POWER to do anything about either? What if your work was considered of no value unless it put the company up league tables? And what if you were told you had to endure it for the next ten years or so – for your own good apparently even though it may make you ill – and you had NO VOICE in the matter whatsoever? No CHOICE at all? How would you feel about working in a culture like that?
Yet this is the culture in which many children find themselves in school. For some kids it’s okay, it doesn’t seem to bother them or they’re in schools which are more respectful of children. For others it’s hell.
When I worked in schools I saw much that wasn’t doing kids any favours. It was the wrong approach to learning for many. Some failed to thrive in that environment. The emphasis was on scores not on people. It was an unpleasant and threatening atmosphere at times. But no one seemed bothered.
After we started to home educate a GP friend of mine said that he was seeing an increasing number of school-stress related illnesses among children, so much so that he did sometimes make the parents aware of the choice to home educate.
And that’s where the crux of the matter lies – in CHOICE!
In our lives outside school we always have choice. We think we don’t but it’s really that some of our choices are far too difficult to contemplate! However, the choice is always there. But choice has its drawbacks; you have to make decisions all the time. You have to take charge.
Children are so disempowered by the choice-less system of schooling that they have no ability to take charge – of anything. Sometimes they don’t even get a chance to in the home. Then parents and employers moan that young people have no common sense, no motivation, no initiative, no ability to make decisions, little understanding of what’s required of them outside school.
Is it any wonder really? When do they ever have the chance to learn to use their initiative, their common sense, to make decisions? And why would they understand about life outside school when school is nothing like it?
Schooling is SO prescriptive now that it takes away all opportunity for children to develop these kinds of essential life skills. But because we are so used to it, because we are threatened that without grades our kids won’t have a successful life and that justifies any means to get them, because it has become so ‘normal’ to subject our kids to this and call it education, little changes for the better.
What we need is less prescription, more people to care. And to understand that school isn’t that ‘normal’ in comparison to a working life outside, and parents to really think about what it’s all for and what it’s doing to their children.
This is what home educators do. Home educating parents are just ‘normal’ parents who have begun to understand that school isn’t the only answer to educating children. And the more there are of them choosing that route the more it will provide proof that other ways work too for those who want them. And maybe even schools can learn from that.
School is so wrong for so many. Thanks to home education we can choose to make a difference.
(Want to know how you do it differently? Check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7PRuMTYP8E&feature=youtu.be )