Funny how things turn out!
After leaving conventional teaching in disgust, after having my own children in school and removing them to home educate, after them graduating to college and Uni and finishing with rather a distasteful view of institutional education, my youngest had an interview for a job in a nursery.
There’s no way she’d consider working in a school environment, but this is one with a difference. It’s one where children are mostly playing – unstructured play at that. There are few toys because the managers want the children to be imaginative and inventive. And they wanted a candidate that wasn’t necessarily qualified in childcare (they’d had those before and weren’t impressed as they didn’t know how to be around children), but one that knew how to play with and inspire children, work on their own initiative and be prepared to be outside in all weathers and get muddy. Charley fitted those criteria perfectly – it almost described her home educated childhood. It certainly described some of her education.
She and I talked about that education on the way to the interview in the hope that she’d remember some of it; what the really important aspects of it were like choice, respect, diversity, experience, relevance and building confidence, all of which are so important, many of which were missing from her Uni experience! But she was really too nervous to take it in so I stopped all that and told her she should just be the honest, intelligent, articulate person she is.
It’s all we ever can be really – be ourselves. No good pretending to be something different. No good trying to fit other people’s agenda – parent’s, schools’, social media. No good avoiding truth about ourselves, our skills, our strengths and weaknesses; best to work with them. Best to be true to yourself, however much you know or don’t know. Just be strong, face up, be who we are best at and let others be as they will be. And be brave.
On the way home I tried not to grill her about the questions. Inevitably her home education was discussed.
“They had the impression that home education meant sitting at home on your own with a workbook in front of you” she told me. “But I told them it’s not like that at all. I told them a little bit about what we did and they said it was nice to meet a home educated person.”
“Well, you’ve changed their mind about Home Ed, broken through the same old myths,” I said. “Whatever the outcome, you’ve made a difference today!”
We travelled quiet. She was hoping. I was thinking how ironic it would be for things to come full circle and she to end up working with children. It’s never what she intended. But you never know how things are going to work out. You have to be flexible and adaptable, think for yourself and create your own life plan rather than staying in conventional tramlines and home education certainly prepares you well for that.
Youngsters today are facing enormous challenges in a time of too many employees for far too few jobs. They’ll certainly have to be adaptable, resourceful and resistant to the rejections they face until their turn comes along, try and keep their personal self esteem intact, confront disappointments and be persistent and courageous. However they’re educated, those are the qualities we need to nurture.
Luckily it was Charley’s turn this time and she is thrilled. They are thrilled to have her they said.
Ironically, we’d discussed previously whether it was even worth applying since she didn’t hold those relevant qualifications. Good job we didn’t stay within those tramlines of thinking for you never know how things are going to turn out!