Another approach to learning

There was a little piece about Home Education on Radio Five Live the other morning and an interview with the Meek family.

They’re taking a year to travel with their children to enrich their education. It’s fascinating reading their blog ‘Do try this at home’.

But the presenter came out with some rather daft questions, seeming not to understand a great deal about home education and how children learn from life.

It illustrated the huge difference in thinking between those who can only define education by what happens in schools, compartmentalised testable outcomes, its effectiveness measured by such, and those who know that education is far, far broader.

Education is to do with learning about life, an approach to living and learning, and about the qualities of an educated person rather than any finite outcome external to that individual.

The Meeks are living a learning life with their children (albeit for a year). As a result their children are having rich, varied and educative opportunities and experiences which develop many of the skills they need to transfer that education to real life.

In contrast a school education consists of unvaried experiences transferable only to test results and irrelevant to real life – certainly to children’s real lives.

For example, instead of sitting at a desk learning about water pollution the family is examining what happens for real. Instead of the ‘socialisation’ of a classroom, where people seem to think skills will develop from being in a confined institution, they are engaging with a range of people and their social skills are developing naturally and organically from those interactions. Instead of their learning being dully delivered by irrelevant others in uninspiring ways through a prescribed curriculum they are instead being excited and motivated by their experiences. Nothing teaches more profoundly than exciting experiences!

None of these are really testable experiences. But that’s the other misconception that many people have about education; that it’s only valuable and accomplished if it’s testable.

The truth is that education is only valuable and accomplished if it’s transferable to living in responsible ways.

Real valuable learning, that means something, will be transferable to tests and exams if and when necessary to the individual. But for now the Meeks are just living. They are educating their daughters through real living experiences from which they are learning.

Thousands and thousands of families now opt to do this, but not just for a year’s trip; for the majority of their children’s childhoods. Some home educating throughout their children’s entire ‘school’ age, until such time that they’re ready to move on.

And making a wonderful success of it too.

Living a learning life is such an inspirational way to raise and educate children quite different from the ‘school’ way. And the more the media – and presenters – understand what it is to be educated, rather than what it is to be schooled, the better it will be!

(Check out the page of home educators blogs on this site for a real illustration of how it works for each family)

10 thoughts on “Another approach to learning

  1. Brilliantly put Ross. The presenter was illustrating perfectly how formal schooling doesn’t actually educate because if it did, he/she wouldn’t be asking daft questions. C

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. We are starting to make a dent with the perception of learning. Though I had a lot of freedom while in the classroom, it became suffocating and I’m relaxed/unschooling now at home. My husband and friends are still in public ed. Little by little my influence is getting through and my discussions with them about “What is truly learning?” is beginning to call everything they do into question. As long as we continue to get the word out, know that even those opposed to us initially are beginning to understand. The current oppression in schools may be just the thing we need to start an education revolution!

  3. I completely agree with you and find it sad that so many people have such a narrow view of what constitutes education, especially now when there are so many more possibilities opened up by the internet.
    This in particular struck me as a fantastic definition:
    “The truth is that education is only valuable and accomplished if it’s transferable to living in responsible ways.”
    Fantastic. Thank you.

  4. Hi Ross,
    Thanks for mentioning us. More than anything, we sold the house to force (ensure) that we learn on location, and go to where ever the educational opportunities pull us.
    We’ll do all we can to make this last longer than a year – that is our biggest challenge!


    • Brilliant you dropped by Tim, thank you. Here’s wishing you enjoy your challenge as much as we did – there was never one second we regretted our decision to home educate! All the very best to you and family. x

  5. I was homeschooled and one of the questions we got asked a lot is, “How do you get socialized?” The answer was simple: through real life. I was actually a lot better at talking to adults at 8 years old than I was talking with kids my own age, because, instead of living in a world of kids my own age, I lived in one with people of all ages. I was used to socializing with people of all ages. It’s kind of a funny thing to think.

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