Probably the most exciting development in the Jump household this week was arrival of our membership pack for Education Otherwise – not least because I’d forgotten it was coming, and I had no idea what the parcel I was collecting from the Post Office might be, and that’s always exciting.
I’m EXTREMELY conscious that our regular readers include some people who are shouting “No!!! Don’t do it!!!”, and some who are cheering and opening bottles of champagne. I should make it quite clear that this is far from a made decision. Daisy is still a full three years away from what they like to call Compulsory School Age, and I have a strong sense that this sort of decision isn’t really made until she’s five and not in school. However, I have done oodles of research, and can certainly see the advantages.
I have read essays, case studies and blogs on home education, and got a sense of the wide variety of approaches that different people take. It really seems to work for the people who are doing it. I can see overwhelming educational advantages, particularly with reference to teacher-pupil ratio, and the freedom to work at the best pace for the child, and to persue her interests in an order not dictated by the management needs of a class of 30. Frankly, I have two degrees, and Kevin has another one in a diametrically opposed discipline, and I am pretty confident in our ability to offer an education.
I have also read the academic research (not that there’s much), and that, too, seems to be very positive.
The bottom line, as far as I’m concerned, is that everyone who is on the outside, in terms of home education, worries about the social development of children who don’t go to school, and everyone who is on the inside is adamant that their children are absolutely fine, if not rather better than average. Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they? We all think our own children are better than everyone else’s – we’re preprogrammed to be biassed in their favour, it’s how the species survives.
So I figure I need to meet some Home Educated kids. There’s no other way to make an informed judgement over whether it makes them weird – or at least, weird in a bad way. With that aim in mind, I’ve signed up, and I’m looking to make some friends. And then decide if I think their kids are weird. And then decide if I think their kids would be any less weird in school (which might be a bit trickier). And then decide if I think their kids grow into weird adults. And then decide which is more important – wierdness in childhood, or weirdness in adulthood. The deeper I get into rationalising this, the more obvious is becomes that nothing is going to prove anything, but I intend to try.
This is a fairly brief post, that can’t hope to summarize the volume of what I’ve read, and learned, and thought about it all. I wrote that one last week, but didn’t post it because it was nearly 3000 words long. The bottom line, though, is that I can see great advantages to teaching Daisy at home, over sending her to school, but I’m terribly, terribly scared. I’m scared of breaking her by keeping her at home, and I’m equally scared of breaking her by sending her to school, but neither of those things count for much compared with this: I’m utterly terrified of not following my gut, for no better reason than I fear the disapproval of other people. Because that is a pitiful and pathetic reason to do anything at all in this world, and I would never be able to look at myself in the mirror again, if that was what it came down to.