Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What is occupying my brain right now...

is homeschooling.  Well, unschooling/natural learning to be precise.  Even radical unschooling, which challenges all kinds of assumptions and my dearly-held beliefs.

Firstly,  homeschooling.  Why?  Well, Abi still has two more years at her Montessori kindergarten and Evie will start at some stage next year, probably in fourth term (sob, myyyy bbaaaayybeeeee).  The issue arises when Abi finishes and Evie still has two years to go.  What do we do?  I had always planned that they would go on to a Montessori primary environment; we have two semi-nearby, one private and one as part of a state primary school.  We live pretty much right in the middle of both so a 20/25 minute drive either way.

The state one is near the kindergarten so we could have Evie at kinder and Abi at the primary school.  Or, we could swap both to the private school, which has an attached kindergarten.  However, the private school's kindergarten is not as good as the one Abi attends now, and the state primary school stream is not as good as the private one.  Confused?  Yes, me too.

A couple of months ago it occurred to me that another option would be to leave Evie at the kinder we love and homeschool Abi for those two years.  Then we would have the option for them both to go to the private Montessori school or if it was going well, we could just continue to homeschool.  It was like the sun came out when I thought of this.  Homeschooling has always hovered at the back of my mind as an option for lots of reasons, and it seems right for us.  I love the school holidays and I have no doubts about Abi and my ability to learn together in a very natural and spontaneous way all the things she needs and wants to.  I love being with my girls and the thought of being with them for all those hours, days, weeks, months and years that I would otherwise lose is intoxicating.

This is hard to talk about sometimes because I worry people who are making different choices will feel attacked or judged by me.  But I have so many reservations about school as an institution, even though I personally had a mostly positive time there.  But the more I think about it, the more it seems insane that children have to go somewhere 6 hours a day, five days a week, forty weeks a year for 13 years.  13 years!

I remember in year 10 saying to a friend that I thought we could have learned everything we had learned at high school so far in one and a half years.  I was being generous.  I have since read that it takes around 1 and a half hours per day to cover the actual curriculum.  The rest of the school day is about behaviour management, assemblies, waiting around for everyone to catch up and just waiting.   When I look back at school, I remember lunchtime and the seemingly endless hours of sitting in class, waiting for it to be over.   Sometimes I was interested in the class, but that was pretty rare.

School suits parents and society because it gives children somewhere to go, a place that will keep them safe and occupied (although I could put quotation marks around those words) and out of the real life lived by adults.

School is not real life.  It is a fake, manufactured social world that all too often seems to bring out the worst in people.  I don't want my girls bullied, periodically ostracised, ridiculed for learning, dumbing themselves down, learning to victimise others, putting up with years of boredom or being forced to memorise and learn things they aren't interested in and won't need to use.  

There are other things too, but I'm out of time.  It's a big subject and a big decision.    I'm becoming more and more sure that it's the right one for us though.


Amy said...

just out of interest, have you ever read john taylor gatto? most likely you have as that's where i came across his manifesto in support of unschooling ;)

Lyric said...

I haven't Amy, so far I've only read about him :). On my list though, along with about 5 billion others.