“Each of us needs to feel we belong, that our relationships are of value and our efforts have purpose. We can’t expect any one institution to meet these needs.” ‘Free Range Learning’ by Laura Weldon. This is almost the crux of why I think Edward didn’t like school, why for four years, everyday when he woke up he said, ‘Mummy, I hate school. Why do I have to go? I don’t want to go’ and then again as he was walking into the classroom, he’d turn around, nestle into me and say, ‘Do I have to go? I hate school. Please don’t make me go in’ All I can say is, why didn’t I bring him home sooner? And in my defence, all I can say is, I’ve done it now! He never felt he belonged there. Edward’s always been different- whichever school he went to felt as if he was a round peg being forced into a square hole. I think he felt so much of school was pointless and much of it probably is. He’s also always been extremely rational and from the earliest age asked, ‘Why do I have to do this? Why can’t I do it this way instead of that way?’ I was exactly the same at school (although not until I was older. My son has turned out to be more evolved than me. The way it should be) and I was not liked by the teachers or boarding house staff for it. I never rebelled the way others did, smoking or drinking. I’m sure they wished I did, they knew how to deal with that. I was a far more insidious rebel. I asked ‘Why? Why do I have to do that? Now? That way not this way? For what reason?’ They hated that. The ‘system’ hated that. And it’s one of the reasons I left halfway through my ‘A’ level year, taking the craziest leap into the unknown, gambling with my further education future. It was the best thing I ever did, along with another crazy step off the conventional cliff when I first moved to the Middle East 15 years ago, ditching my successful career in the incredibly competitive UK TV industry. The more unconventional my lifechanging decisions, the better they have been. My marriage was another one but that’s another story ;)!
So, when I teach Edward at home, or rather when I learn to let go and mentor and facilitate his self-directed learning (soon I hope), I will always be ready, willing and able to answer his ‘Why do this?’ questions. Multiplication tables may be the first to go out of the unschooling window since I just can’t see the point of knowing every single one when we have calculators. I never did and I got a Cambridge degree and manage to get through life very well without them! If I can’t calculate it my head or on my fingers, it’s calculator time and I don’t feel stupid saying so! Unless of course, now that Edward has the freedom to look at Maths in a way that might make it actually interesting for him, he decides he really enjoys mental arithmetic and wants to take this to his father’s higher Maths levels. Then maybe he’d love to learn his times tables off by heart for the pure fun of it or maybe he’ll find he does just by using them so frequently to solve stimulating mathematical problems or maybe Edward will decide for himself that he needs to learn them, years later, in order to be ready to do mathematical calculations in calculator free environments – relief work in earthquake zones or something? I still find it hard to think where it would be hard to find a calculator when you need one, especially if you’re in the business of using Maths regularly and so would presumably carry one with you everywhere to do all your complicated applied stuff?!
I hope home education will result in both our children feeling completely ‘right’ being just the way they are and further, to feel this lovely calm confidence, like a warm fire always keeping them cosy inside, in a generous way, in a way that allows others to also be just the way they are, providing those others are not assaulting my children in any way, including intellectually. I can’t stand arrogance, which is I always feel is a shallow confidence won at the expense of others, but I love true confidence which I think is a very giving trait. The world would be a better place with more truly confident individuals in it, rather than so many fragile and therefore hostile, paranoid egos.
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