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tutorhubI’m asking this because of a comment someone made to me recently;

“We met some home schooled kids the other day…they seemed so clever”. It was the surprise in their voice that was amusing. Because they’d clearly made the common, but wrong, assumptions that;

You can’t be clever without going to school. And home schoolers are bound to be weird, not clever.

Since we home educated, and had contact with many others doing the same (now thousands in the UK alone), I thought I’d put the facts straight.

To start with, far from being weird most home educating parents are dead ordinary, so are the kids. They are exactly like all parents in that they want their child to be happy, to achieve, to have their intelligence encouraged and nurtured towards leading a fulfilling and productive life.

Isn’t that what all ordinary parents want?

It’s just that instead of moaning about all the things wrong with the school, the system and the teachers, these parents have decided to do something about it and take the legal option of educating their child out of school.

But in all other respects home schoolers are quite ordinary. Admittedly, there are some extremists – religious, academics, hippies, controllists, neurotics and can’t-be-bothereds. But you find a small selection of those in all walks of society whether school using or not. That’s just the nature of societies. Most of the home educating parents we know are just ordinary people wanting the best for their kids.

And what’s ‘cleverness’ anyway? And how do you develop it?

In this context, I guess we’re taking ‘clever’ to mean ‘educated’.

Children may appear to be clever, or educated, when they obediently learn the stuff and get the grades in the way school expects them to. But some Unis and employers are complaining that although the youngsters come with the A’s, they lack other skills needed for ongoing education or work. Skills like self-motivation, initiative, thinking skills, problem solving skills, etc. They can tick multiple choice boxes but can’t come up with ideas, or solutions, when things don’t fit the box. They’re great when they’re told what to do but lack initiative when they’re not. They might have written a great CV but have nothing to say in interview.

It is these kinds of skills that really make young people educated. A range of personal skills that puts their education to use. Because no amount of A’s are any good at all if you don’t have the skills to transfer them to real life situations and living life.

And it is exactly these life skills that home educated children have had the chance to develop during their education out of school, through a diversity of experiences, interaction with a wide range of people and a broader approach to their learning, which develops their questioning, observation, decision making, communication, analytical and thinking skills. It’s these skills that add ‘cleverness’ for want of a better word.

Interestingly, colleges and Unis tend to welcome home educated children, sometimes even without the GCSE grades, because they are beginning to recognise that these children have qualities more important than grades. They recognise that it’s no good being ‘clever’ with grades, if you’re not clever enough to be able to apply what you’ve learned during the process.

But most home schooled kids do study for those grades, in a variety of ways at home, in small groups, or with tutors when needed, and most of the ones we’ve mixed with come out with A’s. So they end up with both the grades and those essential life skills.

Which is perhaps what makes them more than ordinary; but certainly not weird.

And proof that you can be ‘clever’, or well educated, if you Home School.

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Can you be clever if you Home School?”

  1. James Moffat

    People come to home education for all sorts of reasons, but largely it amounts to the fact that in the main, schools don’t do a very good job for a lot of pupils. Most people just put up with it, some see school as a phase in life to be got through, some parents make a fuss and complain a lot. However, some parents take the perfectly legitimate option of taking their children out of school and home educating them. Not everybody can do this – not because it is hard (although it can be!), but it just isn’t a practical option for people who have to pay the mortgage and earn a living and probably have other children as well, all having different experiences of school life.

    The ones who do opt for home education are simply the people who manage to make this option work for them. There is nothing odd about them – they are just trying to do the best for their children. Like many parents of children in mainstream schools, they are fed up of a service that does not serve very well and are in the more fortunate position of being able to do something about it for themselves. Home education is likely to be more successful than mainstream school because it is centred around the individual and delivered by someone who genuinely cares, not people trying to carve out a career based on exam results, league tables and curriculum innovation, and trying to keep Ofsted out of their hair.

    In our experience the support from the local authority was non existent – neither the school nor the LEA even replied to our letters saying we were taking our son out of school to be home educated, then seemed shocked when they came across him two and a half years later. We just got on with educating him ourselves from Year 7 to Year 11. His story is one of great success. Home education worked well for our son when school was failing him. He went back into a different school for the Sixth Form and thrived in this atmosphere too. This time school served him well.

    We are not odd and it should be no surprise that he is clever, well rounded and accomplished. There is nothing ‘funny’ about him or us. We are simply a family trying to get through!!!

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