Saturday, December 5, 2009

what do you mean you're not a teacher?

I often get asked if I'm a teacher when I say that my children don't attend the institution for their "schooling". No, I'm not, but they learnt to walk and talk from me, and they were pretty important things!

I went to school for twelve years, and I don't fondly remember much of it as "social". I also don't remember much that I learnt in maths, science, history etc etc ... but these days there's this funky little place of reference called THE LIBRARY. There is also the INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY aka the Internet, should we need to hone our skills on anything long forgotten - or never learnt. 

If school failed to teach me  grammar and spelling, complicated maths, or USEFUL maths for that matter, why will it now (when it's more under funded and classes are larger and teachers are more inexperienced ...) succeed in teaching my children those skills? 

Society has some very strong ideas about the education system. I fail to understand how on one hand we criticise so much of it (discipline, bullying, values, basic skills, playground safety, teaching skills etc) and on the other hand send all our kids there without batting an eyelid!  It's very similar to the way we view hospitals as unsafe, understaffed, dirty places .. and yet insist they're the only safe place for women to give birth. Our society has many contradictions running rampant and un-questioned. And it seems to me that as an "advanced" civilisation where the population is receiving such "excellent education" there really isn't much analysis being undertaken. 

I'm not a teacher, I don't do much teaching though ... the idea of removing the kids from school was to totally and radically alter the mode of their learning as compared to their schooled peers. I can't live without questioning things, as a thinking woman I can't avoid it,  as a media student I learnt to really deconstruct the status quo and one of the things I have totally deconstructed since those skills were imparted upon me, is the institutionalised method of educating children. 

Thus I find myself answering the same question over and over ... "no, I'm not a teacher, but I don't need to be one to home school". "No, I don't think my kids are missing out on anything, I think they're getting MORE from their day actually". "My children design their own curriculum, I don't follow one set by the state". "Yes, home school is legal". 

I hope that goes some way to answering some of the more pressing questions. Now I'd like to pose some to those who are so convinced that institutionalised learning is working for their kids.

  • Do you know what your child did all day today? (I know what mine did)
  • Do you know what your child learnt today? (I know)
  • How well do you know and trust all the adults that are in charge of your child 5 days a week? (my answer would be 100%)
  • How many life skills did your children learn today? (mine did life skills all day)
  • How interested in what they did were your kids? (mine were 95% - washing up is boring, but a useful skill nonetheless)
  • How intact is your child's self esteem after a day of constant comparisons to other children and bullying? (without the comparisons and bullying - pretty good thanks)
  • If your kids had a choice would they learn maths every morning or only when they needed it? (only as they need it here)
  • Have your kids finished their homework? (mine do maths for pleasure at 10pm Sunday night ... but they don't do homework)


Tinkr said...

I so agree with you. Today we have done nothing but read book craft and play (same as everyother day pretty much) and we (they) have learnt so much. I wouldn't send them to prison (ahem, school) for all the world. :)

Alice and Mother said...

nope! And they learn more from doing NOTHING at home than they learn from doing busy work (ie: time filling, paper wasting CRAP) at prison ... I mean school!