You know how taxi drivers like to talk? Well, our conversation veered onto the subject of home education. We were talking about travelling and he mentioned how it's tough on children because of moving schools. Now I could try avoidance and just not correct his assumption that my children go to school - for him he knew no other option, why would he think otherwise? - unfortunately for him, that's just not in my personality to do that so I told him that we home educate. I home educate. Now, if you home educate and have been for a while I bet you could guess what his first question was. Yes, it was basically 'is that legal? He was a little more tactful than most and it was a slightly different variant, verbatim he said: 'So what does the government think about you doing that?
I got all the other usual questions too:
- What made you choose to do that?
- How do you know what to teach?
- Do you get given resources you have to follow?
- What about exams?
- Do you feel they're missing out on anything?
It is so much easier talking to people who find the idea of HE strange when you've got so used to answering the same questions over and over again. What is frustrating is how brainwashed the world is by the system that think only a teacher, with teachers qualifications, is able to teach. For some reason he thought the home educators life would be 9 to 3:30, full of time tables and what not. Of course I corrected him and said if your child was wanting to learn maths, science or whatever it was at 5 in the evening are you really going to stop them, just because it's not in school hours? He went very quiet, as of course he knew he wouldn't.
As for the 'Do you feel they're missing out on anything?' I knew he meant socialising. I informed him that the lack of socialising if you home educate idea is a myth, in fact home educators can choose to socialise as much as they like and that there are a lot of home educated children who socialise far more than school children would find possible simply because their learning hours aren't fixed.
Now, I hate to make people feel uncomfortable and I understand that there are people out there who feel judged by our choice to home educate and even though they are wrong to feel that way, it's not going to give them a positive view on HE if we, well, rub it in their faces. I explained how it's not until we leave school that real learning takes place; it's not until we're not told to learn that we want to pick up those crosswords, learn all the answers to the quizzes on telly or down the pub, so I was just giving my girls a head start. I think most of the home educated children out there I've met have such a desire to learn. I think that because there are no walls blocking their way or teachers saying, sorry love you're not in that year yet, you can't do such advanced work or pushing them to catch up if they are not quick enough. Because of this, they just go along at their pace most of the time with smiles on their faces and learning becomes a game, learning if fun - which is what learning is supposed to be after all. I've also met a lot of kids who go to school who share the same love for learning, but from my experience not as many, but that is my experience, so don't hold me to it.
He was a tad pigheaded when I said I felt I could do the job better than a teacher. He responded with, typical woman! I said I think I have proved that point already, my children are excelling, happy, have friends and I think any father or mother willing to home educate their child can do the same. I have only 4 children to teach and the chance to do that when they are most willing and happy to and a teacher at school has a class of around 30 and a particular time of the day to get it all crammed in. How can I not do a better job? I'm not blaming the teachers: a school system is never going to be perfect in my eyes, if I was a teacher in a school I would not do so well I'm sure.
I did point out in our conversation that I do not judge others that send their children to school, after all it is their prerogative, their child and none of my business. I pointed out that home education is a life choice, one where the whole family ends up learning, one that I, my husband and our children love, one that may not suit the next family but that is ok. He couldn't argue with that and said thank you for educating me about this it was most interesting, an eye opener. I hope he saw our conversation in a positive light, I think he did.