MY SCHOOL EXPERIENCE
My own school experience was on the whole, positive. As my parents were largely ‘uneducated’ immigrants who spoke very little English and worked long hours, school gave me an education that my parents could not. At school, I excelled in my GCSEs and A-levels, then at university gained a very good degree and thereafter a PGCE. I went on to become a primary school teacher, a job which I loved. Having been “successfully” educated in the school system and then having worked as a primary school teacher, I was a proponent of the school system.
HOMESCHOOLED KIDS ARE WEIRD!
I grew up in Cardiff in the 80s and everyone I knew went to school. I didn’t know anyone who was homeschooled. NO-ONE. I didn’t even know such thing as “homeschooling” existed. It wasn’t until I was an adult working in Hong Kong that I first met a boy from a Canadian family who was homeschooled. The boy was clearly socially awkward and a bit slow and strange. My husband and I concluded that homeschooling makes people weird and made a mental note to never ever homeschool our (future) children! That boy has since grown up to be a wonderful young man and I’ve also since learned that the boy had once attended school and had experienced some bullying there. As my husband and I started to meet a few more families who home educated their children, we were surprised to find that the children were bright, engaging and…quite ‘normal’! One family had access to one of the very best and highly sought after private schools, at no cost, yet still chose to home educate their children. This then begged the obvious question, why?
MY UNQUESTIONING TRUST IN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM CHALLENGED
As we sought to explore this hidden world of home-education further, one of the first and most surprising discoveries was that contrary to popular belief, school is actually not compulsory; it is a system that we opt into. For the first time, we started asking questions of the school system, especially about the people who set and change the contents of a curriculum for the children of the whole country…
- Who are they? What qualifications do they have for this massively important job?
- How attuned are they to children and how they learn best?
- What is the process by which they decide what children need to learn, and the ages at which they should learn it?
- On what basis did they decide that all children across the country should be reading and writing at the age of 5?
- Why is there increasingly less play for children at school, when studies overwhelming show the vital importance of play in a child’s learning, development and well-being?
And as we sought answers to these questions, our list of questions seemed to grow. Can schools really operate with each child’s best interests at heart? Needless to say, my previous unquestioning trust in the school system as an ex-primary school teacher were massively challenged and, from there, began our journey of home-education.
Story written by Kayi and uploaded by Streams.