Observations Of A Concerned Mother

He picked up this attitude of learning being "work", to be avoided, and gotten over with as soon as possible. - Nalini

Nalini

My son turned 7 last month. We relocated to the UAE four years ago, and initially took a while to settle down. He has spent a total of 2 complete years in school so far, and I find that he has learnt

Nothing new those two years. Most of what he knows/knew came from our sessions together which were, for him, the greatest fun, reading & doing stuff with mom. The two years he did spent in school weren’t consecutive, and what he was learning in school was a rehash of stuff he’d already mastered with me. Bored I guess, he started with “bad” behaviour in school.

Another very disturbing thing I noticed is that now satisfying his curiosity was no longer was an end in itself. He picked up this attitude of learning being “work”, to be avoided, and gotten over with as soon as possible. For example, his teacher writes in his diary one day “no homework because you have been good and well behaved today”.

I was upset with that!!! This insidious message that studying is something you can avoid by exhibiting the required behaviours, because it is something to be avoided. Not to mention the message for their self-image - getting homework daily means that they are ill mannered and bad most of the time?? Kids become what they are told they are - self-fulfilling prophecy. I know that it’s one day, one incident, but it kind of highlights all that’s wrong with the schooling philosophy (speaking for myself of course) and he was starting to buy into this philosophy a bit too much for my liking.

SO feeling the time he spent in school is

  1. A waste of years that so much can be don’t with
  2. Teaching him an attitude I just don’t agree with
  3. Spent getting into mischief out of boredom (I presume)

I reached the conclusion that home educating is the right way to go for us.

Personally I have always thought schools were there to turn out obedient little workers, who know ow to please authority and do as they are told. I may be exaggerating the effect to make a point, but it’s a subtle version on this attitude. Yes, the knowledge they impart is highly desired, but the style they do it in, is self-defeating. They churn out literates, not educated thinking people by and large. Yes, some manage to escape that in spite of being in school, but I don’t want to play Russian roulette with my son on that issue!!!

Am I concerned that I might not have the skills to adequate to the job? No, not at all. If there one thing about home educating (love that!! so apt!!) I have absolute confidence in is my ability to open his eyes to the joy of learning as a way of life. That he might fall behind others academically? I don’t think so. Anyways, academic standards in terms of marks don’t really mean much. I would look more at how able he is to satisfy his own curiosity, answer his questions, once I have shown him how and where. (He asks a lot of questions!!!!) Since he learnt to talk). And even if I didn’t know the answers, we found them together) I’d look at how intelligently he can speak to people about their interests and his own, and not just own peers, but all ages. I definitely don’t measure success in learning by marks.

If I do have a fear, it’s that one day he will grow up and say “ma, I want to be a XYZ, and I can’t get the training/knowledge/qualification I need coz you never sent me to school.” I have no doubt that this is absolutely the right thing to do, home educating. But I’m also concerned it doesn’t close doors for him. If he wants to start his own enterprise, great, there’s no stopping him. But what if he wants to build buildings and bridges? What if he wants to be a doctor? What if he wants to study the brain? All of these cannot be done at home in a small setup. You do need the qualifications or no one is going to let you near a patient/bridge/neurosurgery without the requisite credentials, and I agree completely with that!!! You have to be given the chance to prove you know about something, or to learn something, before you can expect to make contributions, in quite a few fields.

It not that I don’t appreciate what you are saying Clive, but perhaps I’m not getting across my reasons for keeping an eye on the future. Yes, things could change 10 years from now, when it actually comes to his wanting to go to college, and I’m really hoping it does in favour of moving away from the old school system, but I’d like to do as much as I can in the here and now.