Why you shouldn’t worry about ‘getting behind’

It’s threatened by schools constantly. A kind of subversive blackmail to keep parents in check. Keep them sending their kids to school so they can be kept on the conveyor belt of test scores, thus keeping schools high up the dreadful league table competition that the business of education has become.

Did you realise that’s what the education system is mainly about?

The irony is: this is NOT a complete education.

And the tragedy is that this propaganda – this threat of ‘getting behind’ – has made parents desperately afraid; has created at FOMO of education, if you like!

However, true education has no ‘in front’ or ‘behind’. It’s the competitive and political system which has created it. A system which has become less about what’s good for the child and more about what’s good for the politics.

It doesn’t happen so much when home educating because most home educators treat education as something different from the prescriptive hot-house process based around child control and mass teaching. They generally see education as a personal process that a) is for the whole development of an individual not just the academic and b) doesn’t have to measured or scored or graded in order to be successful. And they’re proving this approach works.

But that aside, in these unprecedented times, when everyone’s in the same boat, it’s therefore true that no one is really missing out or getting behind.

What’s more important to focus on is addressing the trauma that everyone’s going through, particularly the children, with the unsettling disturbance of what they knew to be life, and having the concept of mortality brought much closer.

In fact, we’re all suffering a major emotional trauma that has disrupted work, family, life as we know it. And this is what we need to be nurturing ourselves and our children through, not worrying about getting educationally ‘behind.

Even more importantly; this time now is an education in itself.

It doesn’t look like the grade getting, measured process that most parents equate with education, but it is building many personal skills which are an essential element of it and without which grades are of no use at all.

I do understand that this is hard for many parents unfamiliar with this way of thinking to grasp. But maybe now’s the time.

The value of education, and what use it is beyond school, is not only based in grades. It’s also based in the learner’s ability to apply themselves to living and earning and working with others. To do this they need a whole range of non-academic skills; relationships skills, conversational skills, empathy, self-motivation, social skills, confidence, budgeting skills, respect, creative skills – not just for creative activities but to think creatively enough to solve challenges life throws at you, this current crisis being a great example. We’re all having to think creatively, beyond what we normally do, in order to get through it.

This time at home away from the normal institutions, is an opportunity for your children to develop those other aspects of themselves, through their personal pursuits at home and the way you respond to this crisis and live together as a family, that they never get the chance to develop in the treadmill of school. Everything they do out of school is as valuable to their development personally and educationally as that which they do academically.

So don’t worry about ‘getting behind’. Rethink this propaganda – which is what this concept is to keep parents and kids doing what the government wants – and take the opportunity to rethink what are your priorities for the education of your children and how those might be best facilitated. And trust that time will even it all out anyway.

And take care of yourselves whilst you do. Your children are learning from you!

(Scroll down the ‘About Home Education’ page to read about a philosophy of education)

5 thoughts on “Why you shouldn’t worry about ‘getting behind’

  1. Pingback: Real Education is Relational – especially in a Pandemic – The HE Byte

  2. Oh Ross, this is such a “spot on” post! Absolutely perfect, thank you! I have had this conversation twice this week already, with dear friends who are struggling to engage their children with all that the schools are expecting of them at home. I have encouraged them to enjoy their days doing activities that the children do NOT get in school, in particular, to let them play! I hear the phrase “need to catch up” so much, that it makes me sad, because it is a pressure on parents who just do not need anymore anxiety right now. One young mum even said “we have a much better day when we just do our own thing”! You never cease to keep parents, and hopefully teachers, questioning what education really is 😄

    • Thank you so much for your generous comment. It’s really uplifting to know the post has inspired. It’s such a difficult time for parents, they must be so torn and anxious! Best wishes and thanks again for taking the time to leave your lovely compliment.

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