Re-educating the so-called educated

I’ve been writing about home education for several years now and I was hoping attitudes were changing. But from what I hear on the forums I’m not so sure. So I’m re-posting this in the hope we might stop unjust accusations and re-educate those uneducated about the world of other learning approaches!

….As home educators you get accused of a lot of things:

–          You get accused of tying your children to your apron strings and being unable to let them go.

–          You get accused of narrowing their education to the confines of your home.

–          You get accused of wanting to molly coddle them instead of allowing them to acclimatise to the rough and tumble of the ‘real’ world.

–          You get accused of both academically cramming your children to make them brighter than other kids and the opposite of totally neglecting their education.

–          You get accused of being weird and alternative.

–          And the worst thing of all; you get accused of being a parent who does not care about education since you don’t send your child to school.

What is so galling about these accusations is that firstly, in the case of most home educating families, the exact opposites are true. And secondly and even more irritating, they are usually made by people who have no first hand experience of home education and who speak in complete ignorance! Often in fear of having their own institutionalised ideas challenged.

Far from tying the kids to their apron skins most home educating parents are giving their children an opportunity to be out in the ‘real’ world. The real ‘real’ world that is, not the artificial world of school.

Far from narrowing education, home educating extends the child’s experiences far beyond the home and the world becomes their learning environment, gaining them an understanding of how the world works and how they fit into it unlike the cloistered world of a classroom. And far from molly coddling them, home educated children are exposed to a wide range of people and a wide range of experiences more extensive than school ones.

As for academically cramming or neglecting their education; most home educating families strive to achieve a far better balance in their educational provision than that which a child would normally achieve within the restrictions of the national curriculum. A balance between first hand learning and study, a balance between passive learning and active engagement, a balance between physical activities, arts, sciences, field trips, experimentation, personal development, investigation, creative innovation, intellectual stimulation and a social diversity which extends way beyond that which they would receive going to the same school with the same bunch of people, day after day, year after year.

And far from being weird and alternative we are actually very ordinary parents who want the same simple things every parent wants for their children; their health and happiness, continued development and achievement, and realisation of their individual potential.

Finally, as for being neglectful of their education; we are totally and one hundred percent committed to it. Why else would any parent take such a mammoth step and heart pumping responsibility?

If there is one thing I hunger to achieve with these writings here it would be to open closed minds. To invite people to do a little personal learning themselves, step beyond their normal conditioned ideas and seek to understand that there are many, many approaches to education and learning that are as equally successful as the one that’s familiar through schooling.

And to show a little tolerance and compassion towards those people who would make different choices to their own.


15 thoughts on “Re-educating the so-called educated

  1. When I feel a bit overwhelmed by other people’s ignorance, I just find my way to your blog and read your amazing posts : my way of cheering myself up.
    Thank you so much for being who you are and speaking out for so many of us.

  2. Let me begin by saying I’m a dad who handles the homeschool workload.

    I can honestly say I have never been met with an egregious reaction or an accusation or had to endure any type of commentary about the ills of the homeschooled child. Perhaps I’m one of the lucky few, but for the most part, the people in my life (family, friends and strangers alike) have met my decision to homeschool my son with interest and open minds. At least outwardly; I’m not privy to any pillow talk.

    I present my child with opportunities and my great hope with his education is that he can build a relationship of accountability with his community. I want him to love learning, to make good decisions, to live a rich life and to be one of those boys who grows into a good man.

  3. Hi, hope you don’t mind me giving a non-HE parent comment – not negative, I hasten to add, so keep reading!
    We considered HE many times, years ago, when there definitely wasn’t as much support or resources available, but sadly lacked the courage to actually go ahead. We worked for several years at a christian conference centre, which received a number of HE groups and families as guests. Many of these families had undertaken HE from a faith perspective, and some, sadly, out of a fear of their children’s faith being ‘corrupted’ by the state ed system. I completely disagreed with the very narrow, dated approach and the very restrictive ‘curriculum’ a lot of them adopted. One family in particular, who we knew quite well, kept their two children extremely closeted, not even mixing with other HE children, groups etc. The mother took them to the library and swimming pool during the day, but little else. These two children, (ages about 12 and 10) when we invited the family over for a meal, were totally unable to hold a conversation or interact with other adults or children.
    What I think I’m trying to say, is that often, people who have a wrong view of HE have only come across families such as these, and, I’m sure you would agree, are right in saying that those children’s educational experience at home isn’t the wonderful, free, creative life that I know you all have!!!
    I don’t know that the answer is, apart from word of mouth, and great blogs like yours, but keep spreading the word and showing the world what superb education you are providing for your children, and peoples’ opinions can only change for the better!

    • Thanks Rosie, I really value you taking the time to comment and leaving those points – it’s really heartwarming to have a pro HE comment from a non-HE parent! 🙂
      I tend to agree; no one rigid approach works well because children are so transient and their needs change constantly. And like you say there are a few who give the wrong impression. I’m not comfortable with any fanatical position whether that’s from a religious point of view or a National Curriculum one! 🙂 And thank you too for the lovely compliment and like you remark, showing the world other approaches may even change what we see in schools (was going to blog about that tomorrow!) Thanks again – lovely you dropped in!

  4. I detest the term “the real world”, I mean, how can that possibly be defined??? We all live on the same planet therefore we all live in the real world… We just make different choices and follow different paths.
    Most of my home ed criticism is the dreaded SOCIALISING!!!! How could I possibly socialise my children when they’re sat at the kitchen table doing work sheets all day?! (Note the sarcasm!)

    Fab post thanks Ross.

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  6. Do feel most people I encounter are very positive about home ed now. We are just over three years in and I’ve noticed a change even in that short time. Some even ask for details of websites and google groups. I think many people are looking for something else for their children. I am so happy we chose this path. Both me and my children have found such lovely new friends. I wouldn’t even care now I think if someone gave a negative opinion. the only opinion I care for is that of my children and husband. Plus I’m a better person for HE I’ve learnt so much from my children. And the other lovely home educators. 🙂

    Thank you Ross! ….Love reading your posts. Also can I mention Khan academy? It’s free and soooo fab. The biggest fear I had about home ed is that I wasn’t very good at maths. But this has actually helped as we have fun learning together. And we can rewind the tutorial videos and watch them as many times as need be. Never thought the day would come when maths wouldn’t fill me with dread. But thanks to khan academy we are loving it. Embarrassment free learning what could be better? And we all know our times tables. Which seems to be the thing strangers do want to test my kids on. Even Father Christmas In a department store thought he’d test my girls last year. Luckily they got every one right yippee! But before we had them in the bag and people asked my older daughter would respond with ” I’m not a performing monkey.” And she’d walk off He he :)…Now though they just answer and people are impressed. They are eight and ten. Funny how strangers don’t test schooled kids in the same way xx

    • What a positive and uplifting comment Shannon. Thank you! I agree there does seem to be increasing interest in something different from school and the Net has provided parents with support in ways we didn’t have before, as well as highlighting its success. And I used to feel the same as strangers (or family) used to surreptitiously ‘test’ the kids about what they knew but never bothered when they were in school, assuming I suppose that school was bound to be teaching them what they needed to know – what an illusion! 🙂

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