Friday, September 09, 2011

Proud to be a Hard-core Home Educator

Lately I've been going through a hard-core home educator phase - I know that there are really truly fantastic and wonderful parents who opt to put their children through the school experience and who believe it was and is okay and really good for them, blah, blah, blah. And I know LOTS of young people in their 20s who went to school and are lovely people - as lovely as my wonderful three. But I am going through this very intolerant phase right now where I think of all the time and opportunities wasted during those school years and of the unlearning that needs to be done to break through those useless assumptions that will dog their lives for years to come... And they are the ones that have a chance of challenging those assumptions because their parents obviously put the time and energy and care that was needed. There are plenty of other young people I know who startle me with their ignorance, apathy, attitude - and sadden me as I watch them fall into despair and harm's way. Far from protecting these children from not so brilliant parenting and giving them choice and a chance school reinforced the self-esteem destroying messages these children were exposed to from an early age.

Albeit along with a lot of other factors, school is implicitly responsible for the woes in our society. Which is why I'm going through a hard-core home educator phase at the moment! I usually don't like to be so militant in my approach -I work hard to be inclusive and supportive. However, seeing young people with messed up lives makes me angry - I want to blame someone and so I blame the parents and the schools and the teachers and the whole school system. Humanity can do so much better than this - and does! Home education, in its modern revision, has proven beyond doubt that there is a gentler, kinder and saner way to bring up and educate young people. It is time the school system started looking at why we are succeeding and natural socialisation is one of the main reasons. Perhaps then I'd feel less angry and frustrated and more hopeful for the future.

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If you haven’t already done so, please think about joining our Homeschool Australia FAQ, it is a friendly, on-topic homeschool Yahoo group. We encourage people to share information and tips, as well as reviews on favourite homeschooling resources and where to get them. And,
of course, to ask questions about any and all aspects of home education! To join send an email to HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ.

Our Learning Naturally Yahoo Group aims to cooperatively widen our understanding of how learning occurs naturally in the home and community, and to share advice, tips, trials and tribulations so that we may all grow! We want to help dispel some of the myths that are out there about Natural Learning and Unschooling and make it easier for everyone to capitalise on these approaches as home educators. To join send an email to: learningnaturally-subscribe@yahoogroups.com, or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/learningnaturally.
And once subscribed, don’t forget to post an introduction and begin asking questions, sharing tips and ideas, etc!

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Addictive Socialisation

by Beverley Paine

From birth we are conditioned by the school system that being in the company of same aged children is normal socialisation. It isn't. It's warped and very unnatural. No one hangs out with people all the same age year after year for 12-15 years, or didn't until compulsory education arrived only a dozen generations ago. However because of systematic brainwashing of successive generations schooled societies have come to believe that it is is 'normal' socialisation.

If every child was forced to drink cola for 12-15 years and the natural alternative, water, was frowned on, drinking cola would become the social norm - after half a few generations people would take it for granted that cola was essential to healthy development, even though there was mounting evidence that in these compulsory and large doses it actually harmed people. A few people would find cola doesn't affect them very much, but the majority would become addicted to some of its elements. Almost everyone would not consider they were addicted and would claim that drinking cola is beneficial, essential - to not drink it would be very damaging both short and long term!

School socialisation is like that. We were socialised in this way and it is hard for us to feel okay about allowing our children to socialise differently. We were taught that not having special friends our own age means we are social failures. The more special friends of our own age we have the more successful we are - success based on popularity. Because school is a competitive environment based on comparison the values upon which friendships are based are often distorted. If our best friend is in another class next year she no longer is demoted to simply friend. The frequency of how often we spend time in her company is important to maintaining this kind of friendship. If her parents can't afford or won't let her keep up with the latest fad then in order to protect our 'image' we drift even further away. It isn't socially good for us to be seen hanging out with 'losers'. We won't win the popularity contest that socialisation has become if we do...

Schools are deliberately structured this way. By alienating people from natural social situations, where friends are selected based on compatibility, interests, personal growth needs and companionship it is possible to manipulate whole sections of the population. In the early years of school the bond between the child and the family (parents and siblings) need to be undermined so that the teacher and principal and school can replace the natural authority and responsibility of the family in order to manage large numbers of children. Break the loyalty and ties to family and you create additional consumers down the track, fodder for the 'economy'. In traditional societies where family bonds remain intact people share, in fact, whole communities share expensive resources and resources are recycled (that's the way its been for millennium).

If our children have been in the school system then they have been exposed to this very powerful addictive socialisation process. The fact that we, their parents, have also been exposed and are in recovery means we are very vulnerable to self-doubt. We feel that what we are doing and asking of our children is radical, an experiment. In fact, in terms of human history compulsory schooling with its abnormal socialisation is the experiment. Given the increasing stress levels in society and accumulating incidences of mental illness I'd say the experiment is failing...

When we deschool our children and worry enormously that we're not meeting their needs, we can think about the cola example above. Our child might not be affected yet (or at all) by the addictive socialisation prevalent in society thanks to compulsory schooling and the attitude and beliefs it engenders. She might simply be an wonderfully social child who definitely needs a range of people in her life every day to thrive plus regular access to one or two special friends who are at the same developmental stage of life (not necessarily the same age!) Or she might be like the rest of us, craving something we've been coerced to believe we need, but when given in bulk and without alternatives, wears us out, makes us fractious and irritable, and leaves us confused, but still craving more. 

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If you haven’t already done so, please think about joining our Homeschool Australia FAQ, it is a friendly, on-topic homeschool Yahoo group. We encourage people to share information and tips, as well as reviews on favourite homeschooling resources and where to get them. And,
of course, to ask questions about any and all aspects of home education! To join send an email to HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ.

Our Learning Naturally Yahoo Group aims to cooperatively widen our understanding of how learning occurs naturally in the home and community, and to share advice, tips, trials and tribulations so that we may all grow! We want to help dispel some of the myths that are out there about Natural Learning and Unschooling and make it easier for everyone to capitalise on these approaches as home educators. To join send an email to: learningnaturally-subscribe@yahoogroups.com, or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/learningnaturally.
And once subscribed, don’t forget to post an introduction and begin asking questions, sharing tips and ideas, etc!

Please become a ‘fan of our Homeschool Australia page by copying and pasting this very long url into your browser... http://www.facebook.com/pages/Homeschool-Australia/102822156428377?ref=ts

Sunday, September 04, 2011

A Week's Worth of Reading - Many things home educational!


Happy Father's Day to all those wonderful home educating dads across Australia and beyond!
Today’s blog is simply an eclectic collection of links I’ve picked up over the past week – take your pick of and enjoy!  Thanks to all my friends who send these links my way… Every day I learn something new, revisit old lessons and grow some more! 
Teaching Empathy at Home and School – Can Schools Teach Empathy was the impetus for my last blog post and started me thinking about the benefits of home education yet again. So many benefits! 
Climb, Swing & Snuggle: Reading Readiness Involves the Whole Body discusses a subject I feel strongly about – allowing children plenty of time and space and encouragement to move. It is too easy for everyone to neglect this vital aspect of being alive!
Free Homeschooling Ideas, Activities and Resources : Inspiring ideas for creative home educating - free activities, resources, worksheets and information
Our Spring Nature Tables : more great ideas from Rhythm of the Home ezine, great for anyone interested in Montessori or Waldorf approaches to home education.
My friend Wendy has been busy blogging on different subjects:
Have a look at 7 year old Spiral’s Sing With Spiral blog! If you have a blog or know of any home educated children with blogs, let me know and I’ll add them to my Australian Homeschoolers Blogs page.
I enjoy dropping by at Parent at the Helm: Linda's articles are usually either reassuring or thought-provoking but always informative. This one is a favourite: Homeschooling Doesn’t TAKE Time, It MAKES Time
And I participated in an online conversation about how adults talk – or should talk – to girls and boys in relation to gender stereotyping provoked by Don’t Dumb Girls Down in the Sydney Morning Herald and my friend Jo’s excellent blog on how to talk to boys: http://unboundedocean.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/sunday-unschool-how-to-talk-to-little-boys/#comment-368
I am great fan of Ken Robinson, have been for a long time. It came as no surprise to me that he is a passionate advocate of personalised learning based on the way students (of any age!) learn: http://www.vancouversun.com/mobile/iphone/story.html?id=5298060. See also his TED talk.

Some of the ideas in this blog relate to home educating as well as school education: The Innovative Educator: Back to School Dos and Don’ts. Most of them we already know and do, but a gentle reminder now and then never hurts!
Everyone loves to read anything about home education written by someone who was home educated! Stories in the media such as I Was Homeschooled: What it Taught Me That a Classroom Never Could are a lot more reassuring and encouraging than anything written by their parents!  Thank you Kate Fridkis for this excellent article.
Another convert to home educating life! Why we switched to Home School. Adding this one to my International Blogs page – if you have any favourite blogs by overseas home educators email the urls to me and I’ll add them too.
RESOURCES
Don’t forget to look into the annual Premier’s Reading Challenge – this link came up for the SA Challenge but there is one held in every state. http://www.premiersreadingchallenge.sa.edu.au/prc/
Geradine shared these links suitable for older home ed students looking at tertiary studies:
And while we’re on the subject of tertiary education, 5 reasons a college degree won’t help your business echoes my beliefs on the subject.  
Alternative Learning Centers is a group for anyone interested in alternative learning centers as a choice for those who want a choice of learning environments outside of traditional school options.
Eclectic Homeschooling is a new FaceBook page by Joanne, a Californian homeschooling mom.
Unschoolers' Arts Gallery is an online art gallery for unschooled youth of all ages from around the world – well worth a visit!
Some homeschoolers devise their own forms for recording elements of their home educating programs, others find the perfect ones online. This site has 823 (and counting!) forms… http://highland.hitcho.com.au/Forms.htm
Whoa! What a huge list of links and articles… and it is only half of what comes my way each week. There is so many excellent things to share with my home educating friends, which translates into the wonderful fact that the times really are a’changing! There are so many of us working hard to shift the education paradigm from school-centric to student-centric. Well done everyone!
All the best
Beverley 
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If you haven’t already done so, please think about joining our Homeschool Australia FAQ, it is a friendly, on-topic homeschool Yahoo group. We encourage people to share information and tips, as well as reviews on favourite homeschooling resources and where to get them. And,
of course, to ask questions about any and all aspects of home education! To join send an email to HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HomeschoolAustraliaFAQ.

Our Learning Naturally Yahoo Group aims to cooperatively widen our understanding of how learning occurs naturally in the home and community, and to share advice, tips, trials and tribulations so that we may all grow! We want to help dispel some of the myths that are out there about Natural Learning and Unschooling and make it easier for everyone to capitalise on these approaches as home educators. To join send an email to: learningnaturally-subscribe@yahoogroups.com, or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/learningnaturally.
And once subscribed, don’t forget to post an introduction and begin asking questions, sharing tips and ideas, etc!

Please become a ‘fan of our Homeschool Australia page by copying and pasting this very long url into your browser... http://www.facebook.com/pages/Homeschool-Australia/102822156428377?ref=ts