The question of what constitutes a “suitable education” rumbles on. Perhaps it should as it is a question that needs some discernment, especially when we see so many children failed by schools these days both academically and personally. It’s not just that children are leaving school with poor academic ability (regardless of exam results quite often) but that they are not able to think logically or take initiative without being pushed or led.
If I was to answer the question on what constitutes suitable education I would have to say what it is that I believe makes home education so much more suitable for my children than a school one.
I am home educating my children to ensure they can live and learn in an environment where they are safe and loved and truly respected. They are first and foremost part of a family. From there they can learn to be part of a community and a wider society. No child of mine has suffered assault, verbal or physical abuse since being home educated. I cannot say the same of those who were in school.
My three younger children (7,5, 3) have not been exposed to foul language, aggressive language or retelling of “adult” television programmes – unlike those who went to school. (by “adult” I mean those crass soaps that have such horrible story lines and yet parents allow their 4-6 yr olds to watch for some unearthly reason).
There is silence when they need to have it for learning. Impossible at any school I have ever set foot in.
Their health needs have been met. (Schools have a pretty shocking record on this one).
Being part of a home education group that is mixed age means they have role models to look up to, other adults to learn with and younger children to care for and role model for. This enhances their social skills and maturity as well as morals in their treatment and respect of others. Having more responsibility also naturally enhances self esteem as well as verbal skills.
For example my 5yr old sat with my 3yr old today to do a game about counting ducks.
So far this suitable education hasn’t mentioned a single academic subject. “What about science?” someone will bellow.
Well yes, we learn that, but more importantly they are learning what commitment in marriage and friendship is about. They see motherhood and fatherhood as positive things not something to be dreaded or treated as second rate to a “career”. I do not want my children to imbue the horrible cultural view that “Career” and “money” are the pinnacle of success. I want them to learn to be good people who might just have a successful career.
Finally they are learning to learn so that we can do the academic things such as maths, Language Arts, languages, critical thinking, science, ….and so on.
As they get older (the younger ones) I think I am leaning more towards providing the Trivvium and Quadrivium that was the bastion of medieval education. That is was was once known as the Seven Liberal Arts:
Grammar, rhetoric and logic
Arithmetic, geometry, music(and art) and Astronomy(Cosmology)
This system developed by St Albert the Great was rooted in a view of the value of the human person and developed out of the rich soil of learning and life laid down by St Benedict of Nursia. He had set up ‘schools’ in his monasteries where boys (the girls went to his sister St Scholastica) from all social backgrounds mixed together and learned together. But they didn’t just learn reading, writing and arithmetic. They learned farming, animal care and how to look after themselves and others. Benedict’s “suitable education” was about learning respect for each person and finding value in all work.
I think if what the children learn gives them a grounding in all these areas they will know how to learn, how to discern learning and what they need to learn, and having never attended school they will hopefully not learn to hate learning.