Homeschooling or home educating?
There’s a few messages doing the rounds on social media regarding “home educating”.
Another one says,
Contrast this with the comments of a headteacher on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning.
We’re not going to name and shame this headteacher/principal – (If you want to hear the rest of the interview, go to BBC Sounds, Radio 4 – 2.36 into the programme) – however, we are going to criticise his comments.
Naturally, we want our children to be educated in its broadest sense. We want to help them, facilitate their learning and enable them to learn in a stress-free environment but we are at the start of a global crisis. A mere 2 minutes of watching the news can terrify anyone, let alone a child/teenager. The learning of exam-specific chemical equations or who said precisely what in the war between the Capulets and the Montagues is, to some, fascinating but in the current context not the most vital piece of learning that our children and their parents should consider.
Right now, learning matters, standardised learning doesn’t.
It’s not appropriate to threaten learners into ‘learning’. Ever. Neither is it appropriate to suggest teachers are going to police learning in this ludicrous manner. It may have been tongue in cheek. If so, then have a listen to yourself, Mr. Principal, and judge for yourself how ludicrous this quote sounds in today’s climate of mass uncertainty and fear.
As per the excellent social media quote above, there’s plenty of learning that can be done at home that isn’t part of the National Curriculum. (Arguments for them to be included post Covid-19 will undoubtedly return).
Teach your children some life-skills. Change a lightbulb, replace a fuse, plant some bulbs in the garden or window box. Teach them how to safely do the ironing. Cook with them. Teach them how to hold a kitchen knife safely, how to boil an egg, how to mix herbs and spices together to make a piece of chicken taste different.
Get them to exercise. Learn yoga, stretching exercises, 10-minute workouts. Get children to create their own learning programmes for the week. Enjoy the satisfaction as they become masters of their own learning. Enable them to learn a musical instrument, a few phrases in another language. The Internet and YouTube carry lots of great tutorials (and many unhelpful and useless videos etc). Discuss which ones are good, and what makes them useful.
And then do what the other social media quote said – read, read, read. Model regular reading yourself. Take time out. Get the entire family to do what many of us did pre-National Curriculum in school – Drop Everything and Read, for 20 minutes. Do this twice a day. Share what you’ve been reading. Ask questions – how did you feel when that character behaved in that way or what would you have done in that fictional situation?
Then talk to you children and teenagers – about respect, and shared responsibility; about social distancing and why it’s inappropriate to barge past people to scramble for toilet rolls in supermarkets, and then discuss the purpose of government – about the political landscape whereby ‘instruction’ is given, why nationalisation might be necessary, what a future government may look like.
Once this is all over, we will have to – as Dr Mary Bousted so rightly says – reconsider yet again and more vociferously what we actually want our national education system to look like. We’ll discuss this more in a future post but we have an enormous opportunity to change our archaic, exam-driven, narrowly focused curriculum now and we have to start planning for this before the entire system reverts to type.
We’ll leave you with a paraphrased quote from another headteacher, who will remain nameless because we don’t have access to permission right now. She/he is saying something that we’re confident is being replicated around the country, and we sincerely hope this is the sort of advice that will resonate with and be acted upon by thousands of worried yet sensible parents and carers.
Education and learning should be seen in three dimensions. This post sets out what we mean by that and we’ll expand on this at a later date