I have this constant dilema with myself and education.
I don’t like the education system – it doesn’t work for me. I can’t stand sitting around being expected to be engaged in stuff for such a long period of time. Over days. Weeks. Years.
What’s worked for me in the end is to find my own path. Learning as I go. Through the internet. Through the occasional course, meetup or conference. Through reading books. And, perhaps most importantly, through trial and error.
And I’m getting there. I’ve discovered things along the way that have deeply interested and inspired me. And I’m doing things because I can and want to. Not because I have qualifications of x, y and z.
To Homeschool, or not to Homeschool
I mulled for ages about homeschooling my boys. I never did. Opted for choosing to send them to a small private ‘child led’ school. Long story cut very short – I should have spent my money elsewhere.
When it came time for my boys to go to ‘normal’ school, I was nervous and full of fear, though remained positive for their sake. The funny thing is I’ve actually been somewhat surprised at how well they’ve done. The past 1.5 years has done them wonders. Their confidence has grown. Aaron’s cleverness shines. Within a couple of months he went from barely interested in reading to reading loads. He’s now working his way through the Harry Potter books which is freaking him out a bit 🙂 And his math skillz are awesome…a geek in the making perhaps.
Ben has gone from just being able to read and write his own name, suffering from huge amount of shyness and lack of confidence, to being proud, writing (messy, but at least writing!) and is now reading The Diary of The Wimpy Kid series. He’s working himself up to the top half of the class, rather than being at the bottom where he was at the beginning.
I can’t help but think that if I were homeschooling them, that I couldn’t have gotten them to this stage myself. Perhaps with a bit of support…who knows, perhaps I’m doing myself a disservice.
Of course, I’m not really here to brag about their achievements. I’m questioning things.
For example, the really simple things at school appear to make such a difference. Those different colour reading levels give them so much motivation. As do stickers. And being star of the week. And having those precious 15 minutes golden time at the end of the week.
It’s great that these techniques work, and perhaps this is the best way to get kids to learn and do stuff in a school environment, but is it the best way for the child to learn in the long run? Maybe, maybe not.
I think back to what puts me off the school system, which is the inflexibility, standardization and tests. My boys haven’t reached the tests stage yet. I am not really sure when they do and am trying not to think about it – it appears these things change constantly that I can no longer be bothered to keep up.
Will things change then? The idea of them studying hard with the focus being on passing a test, it just feels wrong.
Will the fact that my son would love to play more football make me rethink all of this over again? What’s better for a child – spending that extra time learning more about something they appear to love, or focusing on passing that test.
I really struggle with this.
What’s in my heart?
And of course, it doesn’t help me when deep in my heart I just don’t value degrees (in general) as an entry to a better job. And in 10 years time when my eldest will be 18 and perhaps considering going to university, the job market will probably be even tougher.
My heart tells me to educate these kids myself.
Seeing how Penelope Trunk runs her startup life and homeschools her kids makes me believe it is achievable too. For example, she brings her son on business/conference trips. He is learning business skills. They learn through her. They put some stuff into action, she encourages it.
My boys would love that, they love my STC monsters are curious about what I do and often help me stuff envelopes and stamp our brand on it. They are always trying to come up with business ideas (often ones similar to mine!), to make that bit of money to buy toys or a house with a big garden and swimming pool and a horse and a dog and a cat and a Camaro…
Schools don’t teach…
Schools can never teach these kind of things. The kind of things that I want them to be teaching will probably never happen, like…
- When it comes to technology – I want my kids to build stuff. Invent. Code. Design.
- I want them to learn about business. About making a life for themselves and not relying on having a proper job.
- I want them to do creative stuff every day.
- I’m really not fussed about fancy math or reading skills. If they can read and write and practice regularly, this feels good enough for me. I didn’t read much until my early twenties. There wasn’t anything that made me want to read, but that changed once I started to develop interests. I now can’t get enough books or time to read or learn.
- More sports please – twice a week is not enough
- Cooking! Food! This is so crucial for everyone. I really wish I knew the basics of cooking when I left home.
The Sherry School
So I struggle. They like school and seem to be happy right now. This makes it more of a dilema.
But I also bet they would be happy creating their own school agenda full of sports, cooking, business, making stuff, reading, etc… and given the choice, I think they would opt for The Sherry School.
And god, where would I find the time to do it? Hah!
And my husband probably disagrees, purely to keep him from going insane 🙂