Three main reasons that families choose home education are
There is, however, another reason and one which is, we believe, the best reason for choosing home education:
- dissatisfaction with the school system
- no suitable school available in their locality
- Parental responsibility.
More and more parents are realising that it is up to them how their children are raised and are taking their responsibility seriously.
Home Education allows us, as parents, to seriously think about what it really means to be a parent and be responsible for another life. It gives us a real reason to look hard at 'education' and see what it really means to us.
Traditionally we have been led to believe that the purpose of education is to enable a person to earn a living. Perhaps we also believe it is to help us solve problems, learn to cope with difficult circumstances, or even to help us out with a social life. We believe that the only way to be successful is to grasp the rudiments of a certain box of knowledge, decided on by other people, and to pass an exam which proves we have done it.
Certainly, in order to pursue certain careers one needs an accepted qualification. Gone are the days when one learned thoroughly through apprenticeship. These specialised qualifications, however, are achieved in specialised institutions such as colleges and universities. The trend, therefore, is to assume that the purpose of school is to gain employment or to enter university in order to follow a more specialised career.
However, school qualifications aren't the only way to attain university entrance. Many universities welcome home educated children as they are inclined to be self-motivated and more mature. The way things are, though, most of us bow to the status quo and obtain GCSE's, A - levels or an equivalent qualification to enter university or to show on our C.V's.
There is no reason why this particular part of one's 'education' has to start at age 5 and end at age 16. GCSE's can be done at any age when a child is ready.
In many instances school has become a place where we send out kids to earn a piece of paper to prove they attended. Unfortunately a piece of paper which means less and less as time goes on. Much of what children are taught in school is either forgotten or irrelevant to future life. Have you ever said "Why do I have to learn this stuff? I will never use it!" Did you get, or have you given, glib answers like "it does you good!"
So, are achieving 'qualifications' all education is? What is education all about? Is it to produce responsible citizens, loyal to every nuance of the government in power? Is it to produce a skilled work force? Is it to ensure that we all think alike? Is it to ensure that we all have the same box of knowledge poured into us? No, that certainly isn't what most people think. Most of us would like to believe that the purpose of education it is to prepare us for adult life.
Does school, (traditional education) achieve this? In order to answer that question we must look at what it means to be prepared for adult life. What do we need to know? What skills do we need?
But, we can't figure that out until we have gone back a little further. What does successful adult life mean?
Success has been defined as 'achieving that which it sets out to achieve'. Therefore, being a success at adult life means achieving what you want to achieve. So, the first thing a child should learn is to assess his or her own goals, make choices, discover meaningful values and morals that they want to carry with them through life. Academic knowledge or specific skills can be learned in middle age, old age or in your twenties. Traditional schooling has become an institution which has lost its focus. No longer do schools care about preparing children for independence and teaching them to think. These days it is all about results and rankings. Ofsted reports. Teachers aren't allowed to care about instilling real knowledge. Instead they have to teach how to pass exams, how to give the required answer in exactly the right way to get better 'marks'. That's education? I think not.
Children do learn things in school. But education isn't about learning things. It shouldn't be about acquiring knowledge. It should be about preparing for adulthood and acquiring knowledge is merely a small part of that preparation. More importantly, as parents we should be concerned about our children acquiring values, morals, independence, self-discipline, responsibility and to have the courage of their convictions. They need to learn to think. They must know who they are, accept their uniqueness and understand others. All of this is extremely difficult to learn in adulthood. By then our way of thinking is set and takes pain and effort to change.
As a case in point, traditional schooling has become a mindset. This is the way it is done. This works. If it ain't broke don't fix it. Most of us find it quite a leap to go from the 'normal' view of education to seeing things from a whole new perspective. We find it difficult until we seriously question our motives and ask "why?".
I have heard many people say that children just have to go through it because we all did. They have to learn. They must suffer and know what hard work is all about. Why? Haven't we taken children out of the factories and given them office jobs instead? Why do some think that suffering at school is a good thing? Isn't that a bit like saying that the concentrations camps were a good thing? Well, they produced suffering didn't they? Oh, that's different. I see. Well, when an adult is harassed at work should they just suffer, because it is good, or should they stand up for their rights? Under this type of thinking children would still be working in the mines and there would be no minimum wage or hours for workers today.
It is simple enough to learn that hard work pays off. Children learn this from watching their parents, not from school where all most of them learn is to hate learning and fear authority. Surely we should learn to stand up for ourselves? Children learn that from watching adults do things in an adult world. In school they often learn that they have no rights. We want our children to love learning. They learn that by watching us learn. We want our children to be fair, just and honest. They learn that by our example, too. No matter which school your child goes to, his most important lessons will be learned at home. Every teacher will tell you this. A child cannot be sent to school to learn discipline. Or morals, or values, or to think for himself. Despite discussion groups and some excellent teachers, schools are extremely limited in what they can actually teach.
How can you teach 30 children, all at the same time, and expect individualism or original thinking?
How can several different teachers, at secondary level, get to know the potential of hundreds of children they teach every year? In Junior School teachers at least have only 30 or so children to get to know during the year. Some enlightened schools even have the teachers move to the following year with their class to maintain continuity. Even so, who knows a child better than their parent? All the children are at different levels, with different interests and different learning styles. The best the teacher can to is instil knowledge at an academic level. The rest is learned from peers. Is that where you want your children to obtain their values? Are those the social skills you want them to acquire? The blind leading the blind? Both will end up in a ditch.
Too often 'life skills' are learned too late and too little. Genuine life skills are learned through practical outworking of normal daily life and by apprenticeship to our parents. As an aside, isn't it strange that teachers don't teach (or learn about) life skills and doctors don't teach (or learn about) nutrition? It is truly a strange world we live in. Doctors learn to deal with symptoms by using drugs. The medical faculties and research centres are subsidised, according to my GP, by pharmaceutical companies. Our educational institutions are subsidised by government. What is their agenda? To produce loyal citizens; a viable workforce and maintain control? Possibly. It certainly isn't to allow each individual to meet his or her best potential.
The law says children must be educated according to age, aptitude and ability. Is your local school achieving even this little bit? The word 'education' is not defined but can any school truly educate each child according to their aptitude and ability? No. But parents can. Think about it.
As an indication of what I mean by life-skills I have set out the educational goals we have adopted for our family. In no particular order:-
- Problem solving skills - the ability to discern the problem, ask the right questions and find answers for themselves.
- Goal setting - the ability to decide on a desirable goal, work out a path to achieve it and work towards it.
- Entrepreneurial skills - understanding the economics of the world we live in and the ability to see opportunities and make the best of them.
- Advanced computer/technological skills - we believe it is going to be more and more essential to understand the technology of the world we live in and keep up with the changes.
- Proper nutrition and exercise - not only a knowledge of healthy living, but a full understanding in order to make informed personal choices.
- Psychology - an understanding of human nature for the purpose of a better understanding of self and others. To aid relationships and solve personal problems. This includes an understanding of personality differences, personal choices, and unique talents or interests.
- Creativity - to explore creative talents and have every opportunity to develop them.
- Communication and relationships - effective communication and listening skills.
- Love of learning - to see the value of learning and to pursue learning out of personal desire.
- Career guidance - to equip our children to the best of our ability to pursue the career of their choice, and one which is best suited to their unique abilities, personality and interests.
- General knowledge - to have a good general knowledge of the world, people, places and cultures. To have an understanding of history including the ability to analyse events and see current events in the light of the past and future. To have an adequate knowledge of science, mathematics and grammar to enable them to enter into the career of their choice.
- Practical skills - an adequate knowledge of things like electricity, DIY, first aid, cooking, sewing, laundry, gardening, budgeting and other skills necessary to maintain a home and family.
- Travel - to the best of our ability and as finance allows we aim to take them to different places and give them a broader view of the world.
- Discipline and responsibility - to learn self-discipline as well as respect for authority, whilst maintaining an understanding of personal dignity and rights as a person. To take responsibility for themselves.
- Values and morals - to attain to the values and morals taught by Jesus Christ.
- Theology - an understanding of apologetics and religious issues including a knowledge of religions besides our own.
- Manners - to get along in our own culture using what we as a family consider to be good manners and etiquette. (An understanding of what constitutes 'manners' and etiquette in other cultures or social groups would not go amiss.)
- Social - to join and be a part of groups and activities outside the home in sport or leisure.
We have purposely not included 'to be Christians' as we see this as such an integral part of our lives that it is not an educational goal, but simply who we are. Most of our teaching is taken from a biblical perspective where possible. To say that it is our goal for our children to believe as we do is tantamount to saying we want them to believe that the earth revolves around the sun. It does. God is. Jesus is. That is all there is to it. We know it, they know it and some people just still have to find out.