By Pavlina McMaster
We are a very diverse community. No two households look the same, nor do they educate their children in the same way. This provides a richness to our community that at once brings us together and yet defines each of us.
There are more educational philosophies amongst us than there are family units. Our philosophies evolve constantly, in response to our children, to the world around us, to the fabric of our daily life that stretches in many directions at once.
Some start their home education journey structured, ordered, rigorous in their adherence to curriculum, while others find that the ebb and flow of life dictates a meandering journey through time, with many surprising stops along the way. Still others begin their journey with a crash landing, a rupture in their familiar routine and a life at school that is no longer a safe haven – these families need support, time to gather their senses, examine the place they have landed. They all need time to retrieve their compass and map and decide if they will take the bluestone road, the meandering path beside the creek or if they will traverse the mountain pass.
Whichever they choose, they are likely to change from one to the other, try each of them out for a while or not at all, as their needs and strengths change, as life supplies roadblocks and challenges, and as they grow, learn together and discover the world around them.
Home educated children are versatile and resilient, self-actualised and engaged. They learn much of this through modelling the adults around them. As home educators, we adapt to our children’s needs, and they adapt to ours. There is give and take, reassigning priorities, alterations to our course so everyone’s needs are met. Adhering to a rigid plan would break the threads that hold our families together. A plan cracks under the pressure and weight of changing interests, of daily life, of real life. If you try to keep using that plan, the cracks grow, and they can no longer hold our relationships, our creativity, our enthusiasm and our thirst for knowledge. To hold all these things, we need to build new plans, that are flexible, adaptable, stretch to accommodate that fabric of our lives, that are living, breathing, cherished beings that walk alongside us, and do not dictate to us. They are shape-changers, that can morph into what we need for right now.
The interesting thing about home educated families is that no matter the path we take – the bluestone road, the meandering path beside the stream or the mountain pass – we will get to where we need to be, as families and as individuals. We will thrive on our challenges, learn from adapting our plans and growing our own philosophies, and be stronger for them.
The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry*. A plan made with children in mind cannot remain largely unaltered when it spans a year – it often cannot remain unaltered even over the span of twenty minutes. To think that a plan for home education can be concocted in an hour and a half and withstand the rigours and challenges of a year is preposterous. And then to measure the progress of a child against the preposterous plan is… well… lunacy.
Plans do not make “good education”. Families do.
*from To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough by Robert Burns