For this academic year I am currently placed with Primary School aged children either in a non-traditional school setting or guilding them into out of school excursions through history. As well as my own children at home and nursery. I have many thoughts swirling through my mind as I experience some familiar challenges and some brand new ones. This is where I am up to….
A case for the traditional setting.
Sir Ken Robinson says that despite being a major figure behind the apparent need for a revolution in our education system, he still firmly believes that schools are the best way of educating our children.
I maybe thought that this was a fairly diplomatic statement or based on ‘if there was an actual revolution’. But I now see that generally he has a point and it doesn’t matter which recent era of modern education we choose, the traditional school setting has done pretty well with a huge amount of people, even if there is a massive waste of potential at the same time.
Let them out to find a way in.
In the last few years I have experienced and worked in several education settings from the traditional to the alternative and continue to do so. I am constantly seeing examples of kids who simply do not fit in to the settings they are forced into and sometimes only need small adjustments to thrive but are held back by unnecessary systemic boundaries. But this isn’t a new discovery, what is a new discovery for me is an approach that I don’t hear much talk or coverage about: Flexi-schooling. I have a friend who found significant parts of her school week extremely difficult. Emotionally she was mature beyond her years and struggled with the confines of the classroom. She had a passion and knowledge of animals and did one day a week of work experience in this field. She lived this one day each week, it helped her build her confidence and her mental health greatly improved. It made the difference between going under and staying the course.
Extra-curricular but Inter-curricular.
Imagine if it was the norm to go and build shelters, start fires and make things out of wood in the great outdoors for one day a week, as part of school! Or go and be with a group of hard working people who are doing what they want to do with their lives; maybe they were in your position only a few years ago. Then teachers have something else they can use to help you connect to the work in the classroom. A knock on effect of this might be that after school activities and groups, weekend and summer schools aren’t so removed perhaps from the normal week and feel more normal and natural. They become another outdoor oportunity or another chance to try something new or another group of people to hang out with and learn from.
What if you have the option to Home School your child for one day a week? Maybe home schooling doesn’t have to be the revolutionary commitment it currently feels like it is. This would allow a parent or carer more opportunity to stay in touch with their child’s regular schooling. They could still take advantage of the flexibility and budget that the school might not have. Why does every option feel so full time and permanent? Young people’s needs change all the time, and do you know what, so does a family’s from time to time.
From Child lead to Family lead.
As a family we have considered home schooling but feel it doesn’t quite fit with us for several reasons. One of the reasons is that we don’t feel we could get the best out of each other by doing it full time. But knowing that you can pick ‘n’ mix what is best for your child and your family? Well that might allow far more families to take ownership of their child’s education. What affect might this have on our lives, on our social and cultural spaces and communities?
One of the big lessons in all parts of life of course is balance. The search for balance is on going and I feel that some goalposts are unnecessarily hammered in to the ground, even if they seem to be the opposite.