Friday, 30 August 2013

Compared to School...

I wasn't going to write this post (am trying to write another), but was prodded into it by two other blog posts posted on Facebook today, by two very lovely ladies.

The first was this one from the archives of Ross Mountney, encouraging just-starting home educators (but also encouraging to anyone HE'ing and needing reassurance).  It highlighted a train of thought I had earlier today about Home Ed compared to school.  I wasn't wobbling, just thinking about all the lessons they cram in to every day compared to the little we have on the planner (for said planner see my next post, coming soon...).  I get the need for Maths & English: they are vital skills - but history?  to a six year old?  (Sorry history lovers, it's just an example based on where the train of thought went next...)  I remember a history lesson from lower primary school about Vikings.  I remember it because I copied the picture that my neighbour had drawn and was subsequently told off.  I do not however remember a single fact that I was "taught" in that lesson.  And it just reassured me that there is no point comparing what we do with schools, because so much of the 'force-fed' education in school will simply be forgotten by those who weren't interested.  As a teacher I was always trying to find new ways to engage my students, to make lessons interesting etc, but had to accept that there was no way of guaranteeing that every student would remember everything I taught. Still, I persisted, and hopefully some of it will have gone in.  Now though, I am so relieved not to have to do all that stressful planning (sorry teacher-friends if that sounds smug)... I find fun ideas, and put them in front of the boys to pick up if they're inspired - but at least equally as often, they find their own fun ideas, and if I can't help, we learn together.  My kids may seem to spend less time learning (or in structured learning at least), but they will remember more of what they learn, because they want to know it... that's the plan anyway!

This train of thought then had me thinking about the 'gaps', or subjects that we don't cover, not having a prescribed programme of study such as the National Curriculum - but before I had chance for it to develop into even a hint of a wobble, I saw this post about Homeschool gaps, shared by a good friend.  The point that the author rightly makes, is that in raising enthusiastic, self-directed learners, we are empowering them so that when they reach an area that they don't know about but need or want to, they will simply find out for themselves.  And of course, there will be gaps in any education, no matter how comprehensive the curriculum.  A history-loving HE friend (read her blog post here) was recently bemoaning the difficulty of studying subjects like the Bronze Age at home, because its exclusion from the National Curriculum means that resources on the subject are not perceived as in demand enough to be stocked in shops.  Et voila: a gap in the education of every state-schooled child.   Quite simply, no education is ever going to cover every single thing that your child is ever going to want or need to know - but home educators are privileged to be able to cater for the interests of the individual in a way that school education would never be able to do, and for that I am enormously grateful!