Blowing off the dust I wander blearily back into this blog... It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged and I had started to think that I wouldn’t feel the urge to blog again, but here I am. Life is pretty different to how it was seven years ago when we first started home ed – but also very much the same in some respects.
Recently I have felt a little despairing about autonomous home education – not for us as a family, for us it continues to be what suits. We continue to take a ‘child-led’ approach, though one child is now a teen. We value autonomy and space and living to our own schedule. What has been making me a bit peeved of late is the sense that what we do is so often misunderstood and misrepresented – even within the world of home ed. I don’t want to go into details about our lives because I think that’s an invasion of other family members’ privacy these days. But I do feel the need to share some of what I’ve worked out over the years we’ve been home educating.
I have often heard, in home ed circles, autonomous education characterised as ‘doing nothing.’ Sometimes this is by those who are critical of the concept or those who don’t understand it and don’t want to. At other times I have heard people despairing about engaging with their older children or teens who have been advised by others to ‘say they’re doing autonomous education’. And it’s about then I want to wallop my head on a brick wall.
Autonomous education is not ‘doing nothing’. It doesn’t mean that we (the parents) couldn’t care less if our children grow up literate or numerate or able to function in wider society. It isn’t that we want to give our children a childhood devoid of challenge or progress or goals and ourselves an ‘easy’ life. Equally, it isn’t something to grab as a label if you are trying but failing to do parent-led education or school. It is not a waste or a doss or an excuse. For us, for my family, autonomous home education is engaged, active and busy and all about learning in its widest sense.
So I’m not at all sure if I want any label that relates to how we home educate. Because it makes no sense to claim an identity that’s so poorly understood and so often misapplied. And who’s to say I get the power to define? Perhaps it’s better to just get on with it and not worry about the labels?
So, here’s the core of the whole thing, for me. People are individuals. People love to learn. People crave self-determination. People have a right to support when young to help them access knowledge and to make sure they have the basic tools needed to function in society and respect others’ freedoms. People should be as happy as they can be because we only get one life. That’s it. That’s the ethos behind why I home ed. Call me what you like (within reason!)