27 July 2016

Critiquing the Unknown

As I walked past a bench, in my local town, I caught a snippet of the conversation the ladies sat there were having.  It might have just been a conincidence that they were discussing home education, but as Cameron had just walked past I couldn't help but think that that had something to do with it.  Their words pricked me like a pin, widening the wedge that I feel is being driven into me by some.

When you chose to do something that is 'different' it is inevitable that you will come up again a difference of opinion.  When that opinion becomes a challenge or a criticism it is harder to deal with, especially when it is made by people who have no experience of home education, it is akin to reviewing a book without reading it.

I am under no illusion that home educating is an easy choice.  Every decision I have made and will continue to make has been considered carefully with each of my children's individual needs at their heart.  A few days ago most school children in England finished school for the Summer, it is the end of the school year here and for Cameron's peers at school this is a big time in their life.  After seven years of being at the same school they will move up into the school where they will remain for the rest of their school life.  Cameron will not be joining them, he will continue to be educated at home.    My decision has engendered criticism amongst a small proportion of my friends and family.  Talking about it to a friend recently she suggested that some are critical through fear, that by my actions I am myself being critical of them and their choice of education for their children.

I am not anti school.  I never have been.  My niece has just finished her A levels and her school life.  She absolutely loved school and is really sorry it has come to an end.  She is a really thoughtful, perceptive young woman about to go out into the world on her own, for whom school was absolutely the right setting for her to learn.  She was the right shaped peg.  Schools, by definition, cannot completely individualise each child's learning.  Teachers only have so much time for planning, I know how long it takes to plan for my two children so to do so for a class of 30, even allowing for some similarities and repeating in subsequent years, it would be a huge task. So you end up with a plan that will suit some, hopefully most, children but not all of them and however hard you try, round pegs won't fit into square holes properly.  I am absolutely sure my children would be the round pegs.

There are plans to make the English National Curriculum more knowledge based a move which I will admit to being completely baffled by, knowing facts is not my idea of preparing our nation's children to be the employees of the tomorrow.  I believe they need skills such as motivation, self confidence, problem solving, initiative and organisation all of which need to be learnt not taught and are much harder for them to learn quickly.

So to the ladies on the bench I would like to know why you think that it should not be permitted to home educate a child at secondary school age (11 - 18).  I would like to know why you think that the National Curriculum is the only framework for learning.  I would also like to inform you that if my children wanted to learn about nuclear physics* it is perfectly possible to do that outwith a classroom.


*what I actually overheard was......education at primary level is all very well but at secondary it shouldn't be allowed, they wouldn't be able to do nuclear physics at the kitchen table now would they...........


I am sorry if you were reading any other posts here in the last week and found yourself unable to leave a comment. One of the links I had added to the last post I published seemed to corrupt my blog and disabled all links, it took me a while to work out what the problem was. A huge thank you to the lovely people who emailed me to let me know, it was much appreciated!


  1. they wouldn't be able to learn nuclear physics at my kitchen table but that's only because it's covered in chaos.......... we could sit on the floor and learn it instead!
    people often judge that which they don't understand.... don't be disheartened x

  2. I always like the quote - "Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking."

    We all make our own paths. We can only hope its the right path for us. Part of me wishes I'd gone down the homeschooling path, but I know we took/made the right path for us. Far better to make a well thought out decision than to just unthinkingly go with the flow.

    I hope writing this post has helped to calm your disquiet caused by the comment. Bah! to people who should be minding their own beeswax.

  3. I'm the first to admit that I know next to nothing about home education but that's not to say that I'm against it. Children, as well as adults, are individuals and what is right for one will not be right for another. I think it's time we respected other people's decisions, providing they're doing things for the right reasons, after all, as parents, we know our children better than anyone so surely we know what's best for them.

  4. I am sorry you had to overhear a conversation by two women who clearly have no experience nor knowledge in home education. I am afraid this kind of conversation is typical for so many topics, not just education, misinformation (and fear of the unknown) is widespread and repeating other people's misinformed view seems to be the basis for many 'discussions'. It drives my potty. I often don't voice an opinion because I feel I don't know enough to substantiate it. Whilst I personally don't have the strength, skills or experience to home educate my children, I have huge respect for you and other home educators who spend much time and thought to giving their children a custom tailored education. I don't think there is a limit to what you can teach your children and that the children can take any further education path they dream of. I don't know for sure but I assume it is possible for home educated children to sit the necessary qualifications for college or university entry etc? I bet your way to teach nuclear physics would be a lot more engaging than the exam led school taught physics many children 'enjoy'. I hope you are able to ignore this overheard conversation, and other comments, and carry on on your chosen path. You know what is best for your and your children. x

  5. Those two ladies sound like ignorant little busy bodies. It's very difficult when you are doing this different to the culture of close friends and family. I have personally been affected by it since having children and it's very difficult. But remember these are your children and you know the most to what is the most comfortable for them. Keep your head held high. I know it's hard.

  6. I understand how you feel. Homeschooling is more common in my country and especially in the west, in large part because of certain religious influences. It doesn't get very much criticism anymore, but it has had a lot and there are still plenty of skeptics. I do have to wonder why they think you can't homeschool at any level. I was a high school teacher before I had my own children - if I could be trusted to teach everyone else's children, why not my own? :)

  7. i'm sorry you had to experience that sort of criticism. i'm just curious as to whether they actually do nuclear physics in secondary school anyway?! ;) i'm fairly certain it's not in the curriculum over here.

    i absolutely empathize...no matter how firm and strong we are in our beliefs, it still rankles to hear criticism, especially criticism that isn't based in fact...only following a 'party' line.

    years ago, i was interviewed for a newspaper article on consensual living...my part in the article was about how i allowed my daughter - then, aged 5 - to wear a cat costume, day in and day out. as far as i was concerned, there was no harm being done..it was simply a need that she had. it helped her feel secure. well! the absolute sh*t storm of hate and rage that erupted in the comments section of the online version of the article would make your teeth curl. it was horrifying. and it was mostly people reacting out of fear -- parenting ought to be done a certain way and our way wasn't it.

    anyway - i could go on, ad infinitum on this topic as it's near and dear. my daughter chose to go back to school for third grade and insists on continuing., despite my misgivings. Sebastian, though, won't ever set foot in a public school. the one-size mentality is bad enough for neurotypical children, but for an autistic child...well, that's just something i'm not willing to put him through.

    stay strong...the world is full of 'experts', only too happy to tell you how you should be doing things. ;)


  8. It can be hard to do things differently than the norm. I think your friend it right, I think some may take a decision to home educate as being critical of the choices others make. I think if we could all just keep in mind that we do what is best for our family, and our children and it really has nothing to do with anyone else.

    I am also not anti school, I think it is great and know plenty of children who love going to school, but it isn't right for our family, and so a decision was made to home educate because it is what is right for us.

  9. I think your friend is right, sometimes when we dance to a different beat it stirs up something in the other person. That however is their problem and not yours to own!! Still I am sorry that you encountered harsh and unwarranted criticism. Hugs xx

  10. In my long experience as a teacher, one thing I can confidently say is that children do not all walk to the beat of the same drum. While some children thrive at school, others thrive less or not at all for a myriad of reasons. I don't think it's anyone else's place to judge the schooling options chosen by families for their children. Parents who know, love and understand their children are often best placed to decide what is right for their own child considering how their children learn, what their needs are, what the priorities of the family are etc. I'm sure you don't go round shaking your head at those who send their children to school and that same level of respect needs to be afforded those who, like you, choose a different path. Meg:)

  11. No matter that you know what is absolutely best for your unique children, it is still hard to hear your choices criticised by ill informed gossips. Our heads tell us to ignore it and move on, but our hearts still sting. However, when these women have moved on to criticise someone else (as they surely will), you will still be there, faithfully, skilfully, lovingly, educating your children. X

  12. I too find the criticisms of others hard to bear at times. I wish Home Education was better understood.


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