The fuss we make about it, the complication of league tables, testing, inspecting, examining, the administration and the processing it has become, we tend to think of education as difficult. That without schools, schemes, strategies, timetables, SATs, curriculum, teachers, hierarchies and politics of course, children won’t learn anything.
Yet there are now thousands of home educated families who are doing just that without many of these complications. But it’s these complications which have led parents to believe that learning is difficult and education beyond their ability to develop.
From my work in classrooms and as a home educating parent, I see it quite differently. Learning doesn’t have to be as complicated as schools and politics have made it. And parents have far more educative skills than they’re led to believe.
Most parents have already been involved in educating their child before school age. They manage to develop a wide range of skills and understanding like; walking, getting dressed, basic use of language, using tools and utensils, forming opinions and decision making, naming objects and understanding of their world. All this is as educative as the stuff schools do. Parents have facilitated their child’s learning, mental and physical, for several years through their interaction with them.
Education is really just an extension of this and this organic approach can work just as well as the child begins to learn more academic skills. This is how home educating parents develop their child’s education. For education is a developmental process, more than it is the result of ‘teaching’.
There is no secret system of teaching that teachers know and parents do not. There may be schemes of work that teachers use, perhaps for language, reading or number development, but these are all readily available to parents now anyway. However it is not the schemes or systems that are really important. It is the person and the approach.
The person and the approach need to use guidance, support, inspiration, motivation, encouragement and care, humanity and respect. With those children can learn anything – whether that’s how to shoot a goal or read a book. Both are skills which are learned through practise and experience, guidance and support. Just because reading a book requires the possibly more complicated skill of using language, (although footballers might say it’s not more complicated!), does not mean that parents would not be able to facilitate it.
When I learned to drive I needed an experienced adult to show and support me, I needed constant practise and a little understanding of the mechanics. I needed time for my skills and understanding to develop.
This may be a simplistic example, but learning anything is the same.
Learning is accomplished through the basis of understanding, practise, growing and developing over time. There is no magic teaching bullet that is going to make the process any quicker, any more guaranteed, or provide short cuts. It’s a simple, organic, developmental process that requires growth; mental, physical and even spiritual if you take the complete well being of an individual into consideration as any humane education should.
The schooling system has created so many complicated learning structures round our children’s education it has prevented people from seeing it as the natural, developmental process it is, and has excluded parents in many instances from involving themselves in it.
Home educating parents are reclaiming management over their children’s education and in doing so are providing better opportunities, happier experiences and qualification success, without those complicated learning structures schools impose.
Through our modern technology and connectivity we have access to all the knowledge we need. The National Curriculum is available online as are masses of teaching and learning resources, tutors included. Even gaining qualification can be a simple process supported through on line courses. We can now cut out the ‘middle man’ of school. If you think about it, this is just what the Open University does.
What’s not so simple, and the reason schools let so many kids down, is having the right inspirational, encouraging, respectful, supportive and caring adult who kids can look up to throughout their educative years and be motivated by. That’s the complicated bit and the government is ruining even that by destroying passionate young teachers through politics and weighty admin.
Learning is simple. It’s politics which has complicated it.
You don’t need convoluted systems to help kids become educated. You need inspirational mentors and a humane approach to allowing a child to develop and learn in the way that suits them best. And in some households parents are finding that they can provide that far better themselves than complicated schooling does.