We were settling down for our first lecture after the frantic activity of registering for our courses in the previous two days. Twelve years of school and a wonderful Matric break spent at Hole in the Wall on the Wild Coast, behind me, and I was ready to take on the world. So here I was in the first class, Electronics T1, of a promising Electrical Engineering Career!
Mr Edwards came in amongst the general hubbub of a lecture hall full of enthusiastic first-year students, and as he placed his briefcase on the desk, and arranged some of the contents from it in front of him, the chatter ran dry and soon he had all our attention.
I’ll never forget the first words out of his mouth:
“I want you all to forget EVERYTHING you learned about Electricity in your Science classes at school!”
“FIVE YEARS of High School Physical Science? DOWN THE DRAIN?” “What a waste!” That was my first reaction, and, judging by the incredulous looks on the faces around me, I was not the only one who reacted that way!
Turns out, it soon became clear that Mr Edwards knew whereof he spoke, and as we were introduced to the subject of Electricity from its true First Principles, we soon did unlearn much from the way we had been led to understand it at school. We all chuckled about that introduction we had to Tertiary Education in the subsequent days, weeks, months, and years as we settled down into our semesters, careers, and family lives.
Over the years I have often thought back and pondered over whether there was a better way…
…a more efficient and effective way to manage and direct this major responsibility of taking us all through infancy, childhood, and adolescence, into a rich and meaningful adulthood…
Fast forward to February of 2017, when we decided to take the leap from School to Home Education. Our elder boy was in Grade 6 and our younger boy in Grade 2. They completed the first Term of 2017, and by May we were a Homeschool Family!
So why DID we leap? I realize now, in retrospect, that this incident in my student days was probably a dormant catalyst, like a seed, and when we started looking at all the different options as our sons came to schooling age, already this seed started germinating. It must have popped up and shown itself above the ground the day we made the final decision to Homeschool!
Did we have it all figured out? No!
Curricula sorted? No!
Weekly schedule? Not!
How does that old saying go? “You don’t have to see the whole staircase to take the first step!”
Here is what did happen, though. After about three weeks of just “de-schooling” – and, believe me, it is a process the WHOLE family goes through – my wife turned to me and said: “The boys are getting their personalities back!”
And I had to agree with her! The boys gradually became less “ratty”, they calmed down; for the first time since they had started school, we began seeing a discernible difference in their natural demeanour!
Yes, it has been quite a transition to make, away from the highly regimented and safe routine of a workday for the parents, and a school day for the kids, but we will never again look back from the flexibility, variety, wonder, passion, creativity and FREEDOM that Home Education affords!
So is there a system yet, that will take a kid, in the most efficient and effective way possible, from zero to a highly qualified, productive, contributing, well adjusted, and profitable adult member of society? A system other than the one I experienced, that was not so efficient after all? I don’t know, but I’ll tell you this: Home Educating your kids, whom you know better than anyone else does, comes pretty close!
In closing, I’ll take a cue from Michel de Montaigne, a philosopher of the French Renaissance, who said: “I quote others only the better to express myself…”, and share with you some gems from:
John Taylor Gatto (Author of “Dumbing Us Down”)
“The primary goal of real education is not to deliver facts but to guide students to the truths that will allow them to take responsibility for their lives.”
“I urge you to examine in your own mind the assumptions which must lay behind using the police power to insist that once-sovereign spirits have no choice but to submit to being schooled by strangers.”
“This was once a land where every sane person knew how to build a shelter, grow food, and entertain one another. Now we have been rendered, permanent children. It’s the architects of forced schooling who are responsible for that.”
“I feel ashamed that so many of us cannot imagine a better way to do things than locking children up all day in cells instead of letting them grow up knowing their families, mingling with the world, assuming real obligations, striving to be independent and self-reliant and free.”
“Is it any wonder that Socrates was outraged at the accusation he took money to teach? Even then, philosophers saw clearly the inevitable direction the professionalization of teaching would take, that of pre-empting the teaching function, which, in a healthy community, belongs to everyone.”
“I never let schooling interfere with my education.”
Apologies to old homeschoolers if I have been “preaching to the choir”, but for the newbies starting on this journey, I hope you, too, will soon be wondering:
“Why did we consider School, even!?”