I read a fascinating book recently called ‘The Button Box’ by Lynn Knight. It is a social and fashion history inspired by the buttons of the times and their relevance to how everyone lived, the women in particular. Through the buttons the book illustrates the position of women through the ages, from the rich to the powerless (as most were in past times), and their ever changing roles and rights.
What struck me most was how resourceful women have always been, how ingenious they were at making use of what resources they had and how creative and entrepreneurial they were when, let’s face it, mostly they were up against it!
I think that is a fundamental skill most women have, developed further I think through mothering, home educating, and in times of challenge. A bit like now!
Throughout the pandemic we’ve all faced hardships and deprivation of one kind or another; social and spiritual as much as the financial and physical. And educational, even though it’s been education in itself. We’ve had to dig deep into resourcefulness some of us never knew we had.
I always equate that kind of resourcefulness with home educators – it’s almost a natural part of what home educators do; make an education with an entrepreneurial spirit. And maybe those who’ve had home education thrust upon them through ‘school-at-home’ which is very different (see this blog), have discovered that they can be resourceful with education and learning too and branch out from what they thought it was. I hope so.
Most people have always (wrongly) thought that school is the only route to becoming educated. And it also requires having money. Or masses of tech. Or qualified teachers. Or expensive materials.
All these may contribute to a broadening of an educative experience, but are still no guarantee.
What we need most of all to develop educated people is to encourage them to have resourceful, inquiring minds. Minds that can adapt, embrace challenge and diversity, think past problems, who have resilience and staying power, as well as the ability to find out stuff, seek out new experience and learn for themselves by whatever means we have.
Prescriptive schooling rarely achieves this. But this is what home educators generally do most of the time!
Home education and the people doing it are nothing if not resourceful. Unlike school-at-home where many schools prescribed the learning, home educators take a different approach and engineer it themselves. They consider options, navigate resources, choose their objectives and the route to take them there within the boundaries of what they have to hand.
Few have exclusive lab equipment or high brow tech, but they find ways open to them.
But what they do have is the best resource any educator can give; the time, attention, engagement and encouragement of another human being.
We are raising and educating human beings remember – social human beings. Tech will never show us how to be human however much we use it, or use online teachers and online schools. Whilst useful, tech can never show how to be empathetic and responsible, respectful and kind, in the way that humans show. And you need those qualities as well as knowledge and exam passes to be a truly educated human being.
As the book says; whether you have posh buttons or cheap ones on your clothing, wealth or poverty, underneath we are still all human.
It’s also true that whether you are school users or home educators; education is about humanity and developing personally as well as academically. Education should develop a mind that is broad and open, all embracing, and resourceful, and able to go on learning beyond being told what to do through prescriptive schooling.
And it is the resourcefulness of home educators and the approaches they’re using, that succeeds in doing this and in making a new educational history which other families and educators, current and future, should learn from!