Tag Archive | life long learning

Learning is for living – not just for targets

We’re a such quick-fix target-driven nation now. Both in work and education.

Everything is about results – measurable results. A quantifiable outcome a god-like goal, out-valuing the process of getting there, whatever it costs you. Tangible results overtaking what education is supposed to be for; building a warm, happy successful life.

Some of the stuff on the English curriculum provides a good example of what I mean, with its dissection of English into obscure parts you can’t even pronounce let alone remember or apply to the context of our daily living. Some of the maths can be the same. Small kids are expected to understand complicated mathematical concepts at a younger and younger age, concepts that are not only irrelevant to their young lives, but which make them feel like failures, as they grapple to comprehend them. So schools can put ticks on sheets and politicians can pretend this system is working.

Education is as long term a process as growing a tree!

It’s tragic. And it doesn’t have to be that way, as many homeschoolers prove, as they leave the more complex and academic stuff for when the children are older yet still achieve mainstream outcomes such as qualifications.

What’s even more tragic is that the target-led approach to learning puts many kids off. Too many rigid targets means learning becomes for targets only not for the experience of enhancing a life – which is really what education is for. And it suggests that learning success is dependent on falling into these measurable compartments, at specific times, which it isn’t.

Becoming educated is instead a long, ongoing, experiential process that continues beyond specific learning outcomes and can be the result of many diverse approaches that do not need to be measured to be successful.

I look at it in a similar way to growing things.

To grow a tree you’d need to provide the right environment for it to grow in; the right soil, the right place, the right climate. The right climate needs to be conducive to its ongoing growth. It needs the right nourishment, compost and care, and the right support to hold it up to start with, not to be overshadowed by too many others.

These are not outcomes, just un-measurable on-going processes that guide the tree towards flowering and healthy growth. But measuring them along the way will not make them grow taller or bloom brighter. Neither will it make them grow faster.

So now apply that to education.

For a child to learn to their potential they need the right environment; a base that provides for their need for love, security, calm, safety, encouragement. A place for them to flourish in their own time.

They need the right climate that will change as their needs change and grow; different things at different times, sometimes quiet and solitude, sometimes buzz, sometimes inspiring others, sometimes comfort, a feeling of belonging, acceptance of their differences as all kids are different. They need a climate where they do not feel afraid of failure or being trampled by others.

Then they need the right nourishment. Not only in the form of healthy food, but other types of nourishment which comes in the form of stimulation and exercise for their minds, bodies and spirits. A wealth of experiences and opportunities to discover who they are and what they can do.

And they need the right support from others they can trust, peers and adults, friends and family. Support that’s able to adapt to their changing requirements. Warm loving encouragement that shows them ways to have a go, to discover their potential, develop new skills and work with any weaknesses.

These conditions will compost into an education that can be applied to living a life – a real life, not just a set of outcomes only useful in one instance of time.

Targets and outcomes are often only valid within a given period of time.

But education is for life, to build an understanding of learning as a life-long attitude and opportunity to enhance and improve that you can never fail at simply because, if what you’re doing is not working for you, you can change it.

This is the beauty of home education. Through home educating you can ditch the obsession with targets and short term outcomes and educate towards an ongoing learning life that can diversify approaches until the right one is found. One that is free from the idea of ‘failure’. One that instead perpetuates the idea that learning is for living – not just for targets!

For more notes on this see my ‘Home Education Notebook’ available from Eyrie Press where it’s on offer and Amazon.

Learning without time frames

Those of you who know me will know that my lovelies moved on from education at home a while ago now.

But I’m still a home educator – as in; I’m still learning for myself at home even if they’ve moved on! Once you lead a learning life in that way you always do.

My new book to help support parents who also want to educate without school is coming out very soon and that’s been a steep learning curve for me. It is a book containing some of the writings that I did over those years to help alleviate parents’ inevitable wobbles. We couldn’t include all of it and I found this one among the archives that I thought would be worth a re-post as it’s not included but is an issue we all confront; learning to see education without time frames.

Our youngest is back here again for a while and I still find it difficult not to launch back into that Home Ed role that was predominant when they were little; ‘come see the moon, it’s fantastic’ or ‘want to come for a walk?’ Or, when I’m really irritating; ‘seems a shame to be stuck in front of that screen on such a beautiful day’…

My daughter would be rich if she were paid every time I slipped in a bit of advice. She’s very tolerant – she knows I’m on a learning curve too; learning to let go!

But these little regresses aside, the home educating I do now is not really for them, it’s for me. It’s self education and much of it still takes place in the home and it’s still ongoing.

Because that’s the way we’ve always seen education. Not as something that happens between the ages of five and eighteen. But as an ongoing, lifelong process. One that integrates into all aspects of life and work at any time. Throughout life. And is not confined to ‘doing’ education. But is just the way life is led – continually learning.

Learning can extend or develop you personally whatever stage you’re at, six or sixty, whatever you are doing or want to do, change, or develop, whether it’s dexterity with your latest device or cooking something new, drawing, driving or gaming, learning business, budget, or new job skills.

Education is not just for kids. We can all do it, parents included.

And the useful thing about this idea is; if you can view you child’s education like that, in that bigger context, it puts into perspective those little worries about whether they can read yet, write yet, understand long division or the periodic table. For just because they haven’t got it now, doesn’t mean they’ll never get it – you have an ongoing chance at learning, a lifetime’s chance, it doesn’t have to be confined by time or age.

You don’t need to do GCSEs at sixteen for example or a degree at twenty one. Or coding at four, or spreadsheets at fourteen, not unless you want to. You can take up anything anytime – there are ways.

And it’s so often the case that once you stop worrying, pressurising, and trying to make learning fit into certain time frames (often dictated by a system that doesn’t work that well anyway), learning becomes more natural and easy and gradually clicks into place.

Think of your child’s education as part of something much bigger than this age now, as part of a learning life that can be updated at any time.

Take the pressure off your children and focus instead on giving them a wide, diverse and enjoyable experience with learning and with life. This way they’ll feel able to continue with it whenever they need to, to get where they want to go. Whenever. Wherever. Which sets them up for life far better than anything else.

Both my daughters learn new skills constantly, in their twenties; I envisage that they always will.

And I’m learning the new skill of backing off and allowing them to!