Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Thoughts about home education

Ever thinking ahead to the next stage, I've recently been thinking about Alice's education. I gave up my job as a primary school teacher to have children, and by the time I left, I was feeling pretty disillusioned with the education system as it stands in the UK. As far as I can see, the theory is fantastic. Throughout my training I was encouraged to base learning on practical applications, to take note of children's differing learning styles and to get outside as often as possible. In reality, I was faced with assessments from all angles, months of teaching to the test and having to have full and detailed planning submitted well in advance.

Since then, I've discovered more about home educating. Had you mentioned it to me this time last year, I'd have said it was decidedly dodgy and certainly not something I'd consider. Now however, it is starting to feel like the only real option. I decided to find out more and read How Children Learn at Home. As I read it, I began to realise that my major concerns were more to do with my own hang ups and prejudices. I thought I was going to be a mum who never put pressure on her children. I thought I would be totally accepting of whatever academic 'level' they turned out to have. Apparently, that wasn't quite true. The authors noted that some home educated children don't learn to read until they are 12 or even older. The thought of that terrified me, and not just out of concern for Alice's development. I worry what people will think. There is a large part of me that wants Alice to do well academically so I can feel vindicated in the choices I've made for her education.

When I was 14, I chose 10 GCSE subjects as we were all expected to in the girls' grammar school I went to. A couple of years later I passed them all with fairly high marks. The same story with A-levels and a degree. Deep down, I feel proud of this achievement, but why? I took them because I had to, not because I needed that learning. It is a scary idea that some day Alice might take only a few qualifications, but they will be the ones she actually needs. I learnt for learning's sake. I'm starting to wonder if this wasn't the best way. Hopefully, I will be able to straighten out the snobbish mindset I've developed and focus on what is best for my daughter.

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