Monday, 21 April 2014

The Good Thing about Wobbles...

It doesn't take very long once you join the ranks of Home Educators before you hear the term "wobbling". In the case of HE it refers to the feeling of sudden insecurity about what you are doing now that you have sole responsibility for your child's education.  Are you going about it the right way?  What if they never get any exams?  What if they never learn any social skills?  Would they be better off in school?  Should you be more structured/ less structured/ not structured at all?  Oh look, there's a "should": they're never far away when talking about the wobbles!

I had a little wobble last night, but actually found it a positive experience - bear with me.  A few weeks ago on BBC1 there was a programme that I wanted to watch but couldn't at the time, so watched it on catch-up last night instead.  It was "When Joanna (Lumley) met Will I Am".  Fascinating.  I love stories where troubled kids (he had a rock solid family but his struggles with ADHD are fairly well known I think) go on to show the world the positives of their supposed educational/ behavioural handicap (eg in his case unstoppable energy and highly creative mind).  What intrigued me was the money he now pours into educating the impoverished children nearby, based on his conviction that it was his "good education" that saved him (along with his endlessly supportive family) from going the crime-laden route of many from his neighbourhood.  *wobble: "should my kids be in school getting a good education?"*  I went to bed feeling slightly unsettled, but not much - I really am convinced they are best off where they are - it's just sometimes these thoughts creep in, and if you don't resolve them they can turn into full-blown ugly doubts.

This morning I woke up and lay in bed listening to the happy sounds of the boys playing, and I let my mind explore the thoughts from last night's TV...

*Should my kids be in school getting a "good" education?  (the 'should' is already a give-away that I am about to answer a perceived opinion that is not my own)
No.  I only have to look at the difference between my children when they were in school, and my children now with two years of home educating under our belts... it is a no-brainer.  It would take a serious overhaul of the education system in this country, not to mention our own circumstances, for me to ever consider school as a viable option.

*But Will I Am got a "good" education at school and look at him now...!?
OK, this is my opinion as obviously I wasn't there at the time, but... from what I saw on the programme last night there appeared to be two obvious elements that made his school experience so positive.
1/  He had to travel an hour by bus each way to get to a "good" school that was outside of his neighbourhood.  I wonder how important it was to escape the "never achieve anything" mentality of the local ghetto-ised schools - so that he could go somewhere where the over-riding message was "you CAN achieve; you CAN make a change..."
2/  His favourite teacher's MO was to encourage Will (and all of the students apparently) to never stop asking questions - to each be their own educator.  Obviously in Will's case this reaped huge rewards.

*Can I really provide what my boys need for a "good" education? 
Yes.  Not in an arrogant way, but I have to be able to believe in myself, in my boys, in my Father God who provides all we need.
What do they really need for a good education?  Not so much a timetabled plan of lessons every day to give them a broad base of subjects studied (studying does not equal learning).  They need to hear "you CAN achieve; you CAN make a change".  They don't need me giving them endless information that they "should" know - they need the encouragement to keep asking questions; to be their own educator.  I can do that.

You know, that was such a productive wobble!  As the fabulous Ross Mountney often encourages: wobbles are not a bad thing, they just mean that you are conscious and reflective about what you are doing.  If you spot a wobble, take the time to reflect and ask yourself what exactly your concerns are - you may find the real issue is either someone else's opinion ('yah boo sucks' to that!), or just that you are reassessing your family's needs, which is healthy. And as my lovely friend and experienced home educator, Sally says, if you find yourself wobbling, just go back to your goals for Home Ed.  That's what I did - my little wobble took me full circle to our main aims in home educating the boys: to instil in them an enthusiasm for learning, and to give them the confidence to tackle whatever they wanted to do.  Yes we will study Maths & English etc - should they want to take exams I want them to be equipped to do so - but education is far, far more than that, and with all that in mind I totally believe that Home Education gives them the best start to life that they can have.

There's a famous quote by George Herbert:
"Storms make oaks take deeper root"
Now that we've been on our HE journey for a couple of years, we've weathered a few storms, and yes, I can say that each storm - each wobble - really does seem to have caused us to put down deeper roots.  We now have a stronger foundation to be able to weather further storms.

So how about that?  Next time you have a wobble, face it head-on - if you feel overwhelmed, by all means ask for input from the home educators near you or online - young trees do need propping up in storms before they have had chance to put down strong roots!  But don't be afraid of them: wobbles make for strong home-educators!


  1. Great post! xx

  2. I think it's impossible not to worry, but what a great thing when you can turn it into a positive! I saw that programme too, it was so interesting. Rx