Don't be ignorant of home education

26th October 2007 at 01:00
"A child not in school is a child not learning": the old familiar mantra of the critics of elective home-based education strikes up yet again.

Effective learning, they'd have you believe, has a lot to do with sitting on a hard plastic chair for the greater part of the day, being shut in a room with some 20 other people who happen to share your year of birth, and enduring the humiliation of having to ask publicly for permission to use the lavatory, have a drink of water or even change position.

Education means learning to run with the herd, denying self-interests, exchanging natural individual curiosity for a sort of Government-approved inquisitiveness. Of course, the students can ask questions as long as they are the right sort of questions.

Naturally curious children are too often labelled disruptive, challenging or even anti-social in school. It is an uncomfortable and, for some authorities, an inconvenient truth that real learning happens when it meets the unique needs of the individual. And that happens best in a place of comfort, safety and love - for most of us, no matter how old or young we are, that means "home".

The "oxymoronic belief" that home-based education is no valid education runs through a society blissfully ignorant of home-educated children, and the ever-growing number of university students who have never been to school.

Those who educate at home, and those who have been educated at home, can testify to the provision of real learning, dedicated to the needs of each individual, tailor-made, personally delivered, and available 247 from the age of 0 to eternity.

How does that compare with a 9-4, five-day week, term time-only approach? You decide. But before you do, meet some home-educated kids. They're all right!

Mary Rose, Lochranza, Arran.

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