Monday, 27 November 2017

There is ALWAYS more to learn.

The home education community is currently feeling under attack once again. (There is a pattern.)

Lord Soley's bill had its second reading in the House of Lords last week and is proceeding to the committee stage whereby amendments and changes can be made before it is presented again.

My mood is wobbling between screaming, "I told you so!" to anyone who will listen/hiding from all social media/springing into direct, offensive action or, starting some process of family defense!

Amidst all of this angst though, I think the above title is vitally important.
I am desperately trying not to lose sight of what I love about my family life and why we choose to live as we do.

The title of this post is the reason why I LOVE home education, and especially unschooling.

We are all always learning and we know that there is ALWAYS more to learn. We are never done.

In my house:
  • We do not kid ourselves that it is only during 'lesson time' that we are learning something important. 
  • We do not wait for someone else to suddenly impart the knowledge we need upon us.
  • We do not believe that all there is that is worth learning comes in bite-size chunks in age appropriate categories and can only be delivered by 'qualified' teachers.
The thought of having to teach my children a prescribed curriculum and subject them to standardised testing, just sucks all the joy, spontaneity, creativity and desire OUT of our learning experience and therefore our family lives. If they wanted to learn in a traditional way, they would all choose to be in school (yes, they have the choice and their voices are loud and clear let me assure you :-D).

If the Lords wish to have a larger say in how I educate my children (or how they educate themselves for that matter), they had best be providing the funds for me to do it! This is of course in the same way that they would fund a school! If the Lords want that right then they need to accept the financial responsibility too. I am almost certain that this is not something they would consider.
I perhaps would not be quite so bothered by their interest if it weren't for the fact that modern science has demonstrated over and over again that active, effective, long term learning does not happen in a classroom style environment!

Academics have also proven that delaying formal learning IMPROVES long term results.
We know that intrinsic motivation is key and yet we push more and more external rewards.
We also know that homework has no significant, measurable effect on results and yet it is still mandatory in many schools.
We know that our school population are in the poorest mental health EVER in history and yet nothing is being done about it.

Obviously nothing about the bill is set in stone (indeed it may come to absolutely nothing, although I highly doubt it), and I am largely speculating about what might happen in the future, but I think it is safe to say that child led learning (that looks entirely different than 'mainstream' learning) will be more difficult to 'justify' to the local government representatives when they come around for their mandatory home visits.

I find the notion of my children studying a curriculum completely baffling. Why would you want your children to learn facts and information that come from limited and biased sources? Why would you want your children memorising information and 'facts' that are at best of date and at worst incorrect? Why would you want them to be basically the same as every other child? Why would you want to risk their mental health and well being as well as their curiosity and enthusiasm? (NB - I am speaking ONLY for myself.)

I am aware that I am using broad strokes when speaking about school and school children.
I am aware that there are many children who love school.
And to that I say, "Thank goodness!".
Please do not think for one second I am hoping to ban schools or discourage those who love it from attending. I most definitely am not.  Each to their own provided there is no actual harm.

What I am doing is defending my right to make different choices, and the rights of my children to follow their interests, talents, skills and hobbies in their own time and in their own way.

Speaking only for my family, we are active, self-motivated learners. Our minds are waiting all the time to glean some nuance we missed before. Or to hear a new word or explore a new idea. Our lifestyle facilitates our learning.

We embrace our lives as a part of the whole 'lesson'. To spend these precious years in a government institution seems like a huge waste of time and opportunity to me. Again, just speaking for myself.

There are many lessons in this experience too I'm sure and I hope we can all explore them together.

Please, when the time comes, stand by me and my family and help us protect our right to learn in a way that is most meaningful to us.

Join the discussion. This affects us all.

Thanks for reading my tired, our of practice ramblings.

N x

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