Education and the sock drawer mentality!

I contributed to a discussion about home education on the Radio this week.

I always find it so hard – there is so much to say. And the questions fired at you about children’s learning are so embedded in a school perspective of education it’s impossible to know where to start.

Now I’ve grown away from that schoolised conditioning I know that learning and education are not exclusive to school, nor dependent on it, and have no need to be confined in that familiar structure. But trying to explain that to people who think that home schoolers are just lazy wasters trying to avoid hard work is not easy.

Schooled education reminds me of a sock drawer. You know; those tidy divided ones you see advertised where there’s a little compartment for each pair. I look at them and think life’s too short for that sort of control!

But school learning has become as comparable and controlled as that, dividing education up into little structured cells, controlled by time, age and subject and doled out to children one section at a time.

Climb out of that concept and you see the educational world more expansively and certainly more enjoyably.

For what is education anyway? Is it a set of unrelated targets that kids must regurgitate parrot fashion, irrespective of their individual needs, for the sake of measurement, grades or politics? Or is it an enriching process pertinent to living that overlaps all subjects, concepts, skills and personal development, which enables children to become competent in the ways of the world and interact with it?

The sock drawer view relates to the former!

So when asked about children’s learning and ‘doing the work’ it’s difficult to overcome the sock drawer mentality and explain in a second or two that ‘doing the work’ is not a problem because there doesn’t have to be such a great division between learning ‘work’ and living. Learning is a natural, interrelated process that is ongoing; a natural part of a child’s everyday life, not separate from it and compartmentalised.

When children are involved with life they want the skills to engage with it for themselves. For example; skills that might range from simply being able to speak, to the more complex written use of language, reading and enjoying books or the Net, to being able to use it to text and communication, or getting a GCSE in English because they grow up wanting to go to Uni to do computer programming.

This desire to learn and progress develops with the child, with encouragement and facilitation from others, with experience and contact with the real world and understanding of the real skills they’ll need to access it. When learning is a natural and enjoyable part of their life youngsters know they will benefit from, why would they not want to become educated?

If learning is as dull, controlled and structured as a sock drawer no wonder they want to climb out!

This is hard to explain in a moment or two on the radio under pressure.

It is thinking, developed over time, which requires us to accept that traditional schooled approaches are not the only ways which work. And there are now thousands of home educating families taking a less controlled approach who are proving it!

16 thoughts on “Education and the sock drawer mentality!

  1. Great post. I enjoyed listening to the positive and eloquent case you and the other lady on the show (Sam?) made for home education.

    It’s understandable that many people are confused about what home education is and how it works. People who went to school and haven’t had any contact with home education are bound to find the idea strange at first. I grew up hearing all the time how important school was and both my parents were teachers. I assumed my little boy would go to school, despite my reservations about current education policy (although looking back, maybe my untidy sock drawer was a sign).

    It’s funny that the presenter on the radio show asked about kids missing out on school trips. My son’s school was so focused on targets and risk assessments that the kids never went anywhere. The only planned trip (to a recycling centre) was cancelled by the head teacher because ‘it would be too dangerous’. Our happy, eager child was switching off and not sleeping at night. We took him out after a term and haven’t looked back.

    Incidentally, he did visit the recycling centre with the local home education group and loved it! And yes, my sock drawer is a complete, happy mess.

  2. Interestingly, I want my sock drawer that organized; I really like it. (Plus, it’s ingrained in my mind due to military training.) However, I do not want my children’s lives nor their education to be submitted to the same rigid orderliness.
    Excellent analogy!

    • Thanks for coming and commenting. A little secret; there is something appealing about that kind of order sometimes – in the sock drawer only! As you say, it doesn’t work with children! 🙂

  3. I wish I had started home educating my twins sooner. They have blossomed so much since we started and their motivation to learn is amazing. I feel holistic views of education need to be a stronger narrative in the education system. Our ability to label and compartmentalise experiences, skills and age groups is the biggest tragedy, because we are trying to force young people down one well worn path.

    There are many paths to an education and many unique young people who learn in different ways. Education is also not just about academia it’s about how you live and the kind of person you are and want to become.

  4. It’s all become clear now….. before we home educated my kids always wore odd socks to school!

    Great post, I always find the same when you get the ‘back at school soon?’ question. It’s so hard to convey that not only are we not going back, but the learning we do is part of our everyday lives and far better way than being spoon fed the new national curriculum within the confines of the classroom.

    This latest line of preparing children for modern Britain is laughable, the technology our children will use in the future hasn’t even been developed yet.

    Education/ learning is our world is about the hear and now, not worrying or working towards something which might never happen.

  5. It is so hard for some people to think differently about education, to question what they were taught about what it means to learn. Many people never, ever will get it. They will have no idea how learning can be seamlessly integrated into real life, and how kids can develop all kinds of skills in a natural way. I wouldn’t have the patience to try to convince someone unless I really thought they wanted to understand. I think it’s one of those things that you must be receptive to, at least a little.

  6. I don’t even bother to match my socks! How maddening for some I am sure. But I am too busy learning and trying new things to worry about whether my socks match.

  7. I would imagine its a near impossible task to convey over the radio because people jump to so many conclusions about parents when they declare what sort of education they want for their children. Well done for going for it though.
    Oh, and don’t talk to me about sock drawers. Arrgghh.

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