A lot of people have asked me, of late, why we have chosen to put our second son into school. It’s a valid question and I shall answer it shortly. When also asked by one person “What has happened?” my answer was, “Nothing”. No great cataclysmic event has happened to cause this. I remain the passionate educationist I have always been who believes wholeheartedly in the effectiveness of home education – and loves it as a valid mode of education. In fact, through the beginning of this new and fresh season of school experience, I feel even more strongly about its effectiveness. I am processing a lot of thoughts on it all right now. My mind is constantly chuntering away, philosophically.
I believe that the primary purpose of education is to develop our character, in a way that does not undermine our self-worth, to make us successful contributors to society. What that actually looks like will vary according to the uniqueness of each individual.
This approach produces some interesting results in the small community if our own household. Our eldest is a ‘doer’ with a healthy work ethic. Our approach to his education has already helped him make contributions in a unusual field which, I hope, have been good contributions. I have seen his character develop and I am confident that he is able to conduct himself as a contributor to society not just a consumer. I know too that his nature lends him towards following a more apprenticeship style of education and that he is happiest and most effective when applying himself in a practical way.
In son no. 2 we have an observer and an analyst who is a sponge to knowledge and very perceptive about people. His learning style fits perfectly into the traditional academic modes of learning and I would not be surprised if, in time, he contributes to society through the field of academic research. However, this suitability is not our reason for putting him into school. The main reason we have embarked on this new adventure is that we want to see his character grow and we feel that, for the sort of person that he is, he has reached a stage in life where he needs more challenges to grow him. The school environment, we concluded, would provide this. If, however, his character is not enhanced in a positive way we will return to home education for him.
Of our other youngsters, one is very clear on what she believes is a vocation for her life and we are tailoring her education towards that, while developing her character and confidence. Her sense of vocation and learning style (again more traditionally academic) makes our objectives, in educating her, quite clear and straightforward. Our youngest, meanwhile, presents the biggest challenge. The beauty of her having a specific language impairment makes traditional learning difficult, keeps me humble and real. I reassess again and again what our objectives are. What am I trying to achieve through educating her at home? I conclude, with gratitude that she is not being taught for the purpose of jumping through hoops and tests but to enhance her own unique character and gifts. I conclude, with gratitude that her self-confidence, worth and social skills are not being undermined by her language impairment and preference for spending time with those younger than herself (as would not be the case in a school environment). I conclude, with gratitude, that she is flourishing by being able to learn at her own pace without external pressures or consciousness of limitations, when measured by traditional measures. I am educating her with the objective that one day she can manage her own finances, run a home, relate well to other people and contribute to society in a beautiful way.
So why have we chosen to put our second son into school? Well, we live by conviction not convention. This means that we make educational choices based on our conviction of what is right for each child of ours. Right now, we believe it is the right choice for him, as an individual, to bring the best out of him.
As with all these things, “Time will tell!”. The proof will be in the pudding! Whatever our choices, they are made in hope and faith that it is the ‘BEST’ decision.