Tag Archive | Charlie Mackesy

The case for un-learning

An illustration by Charlie Mackesy from his beautiful book; ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and Horse’, details below.

You maybe don’t realise but in order to home educate successfully parents have some serious un-learning to do!

Un-learning? That’s a bit contrary for an education blog isn’t it? How is that going to help with home schooling when there’s so much new stuff to understand?

And that’s the whole point; there’s a lot of new stuff to understand about education. Old stuff to un-learn. Un-learn a lot of inhibiting ideas about approaches to learning and education that can get in the way of a successful home educating journey.

Firstly is the idea that only qualified professionals can facilitate a child’s learning. Not true. Anyone can help a child learn, anyone can give support and encouragement, inspire and motivate them, which are all the things you need to assist learning. You don’t necessarily need it to be teachers. The content stuff you can find out on the internet anyway.

Secondly, there’s the idea that kids need a classroom, to be quiet, to sit formally, to study all the time, to write stuff down, to do formal academic exercises, in order to learn anything. Also not true. There are all sorts of different ways to approach it, informally, incidentally, as a by-product of other activities, whilst moving about, out and about, through conversation, through active experiences, YouTube, visits to historic or scientific sites, as examples. Another example; reading any sort of material is as valuable for developing reading skills as wading through a reading scheme. Learning can successfully take place in informal settings in informal ways.

Thirdly, there’s the idea that in order to progress kids need to be tested. Not true. Tests have very little value to the learner. Why waste time regurgitating what you already know when that time could be more usefully spent on learning something new. (Understand more on testing here)

And fourthly, and a massively damaging idea; that all learning requires paper evidence of it having being learnt otherwise it hasn’t taken place at all. Parents are addicted to having massive amounts of stuff that shows what the kids have been learning. But no amount of paper evidence is proof that learning has been absorbed and understood. Now, I can totally understand that parents feel more confident with a nice wad of workbooks or written exercises or note paper with their children’s ‘work’ inscribed upon them to show off to relatives, doubters and the LA. And do it for that reason if you must. But this isn’t an essential approach to learning things. It demonstrates some skills, admittedly. But not proof of concepts having been deeply understood which is what really leaning is about. I appreciate it’s different at exam time and some youngsters find it helps to record stuff, but let that be if they choose to – not as a default.

And fifthly, the idea that how they do it in school is the right way. It isn’t necessarily. It’s just one way to approach education. In fact, is a wrong approach for many kids.

You have to brave to home school and continue to do so. Brave enough to let go of a lot of what you thought was true about approaches to learning. You have to trust that your intuition is right, that learning is taking place as long as the children are actively engaged, even when there’s no paper evidence. You have to re-learn what you may have been taught about education through your own schooling.

Especially that the school way is the right way to becoming educated.

It’s not.

Thousands of parents and families have un-learnt that idea. Perhaps you should join them.

Find Charlie Mackesy’s delightful book illustrated above, here It’s just what you need for troubling times!