To school or not to school

For most people this is not a question.
Schools exist. You send your children to school. They go to the local government school. Decision made.
For some, the question of choosing between a government and a private school arises.
If the decision favours private schooling, then further decisions must be made, including which school and when to enrol. The choice may be influenced by a variety of factors such as location, cost, religion, family tradition, uniform or discipline, amongst others.
A smaller number of families opt for non-traditional independent schools offering alternative or individual programs.
Fewer still choose the path of home education.
The reasons for choosing any one of these options may be as varied and individual as are the families. The level of satisfaction with each, and the success to be achieved within each is also individual. While no one situation is best for everyone; one situation may be better for some than others, and each has its advocates and detractors.
My personal journey with education has led me along each of these paths at various times: sometimes teacher, sometimes student, always learner. I was educated in a Catholic school, have taught in both government and Catholic schools, attempted to establish an alternative school, and home educated my daughter for a short while.
Attached to this blog is an article that was first published 20 years ago when my daughter was 6 years old and my son 18. As you will read, I had long held misgivings about the effect of formal schooling on the development of the individual and on the ability of a large institution to cater for the needs of each developing learner. I felt I had suffered somewhat from the imposed restrictions of my schooling and, although my son had been taught by one or two wonderful teachers, there were many more who were less inspiring. When my daughter came along, I knew I wanted something different for her education.
Many of the thoughts, attitudes and emotions expressed in this article are just as fresh now as they were then; and I am no less concerned for the education of my grandchildren in the current educational environment, than I was for my own children so long ago.
Future posts will explore decisions I made and the effects upon my children’s (and my) education.
I would love you to share your own thoughts about learning, education and schooling.
I have found that if there is one thing that everyone has an opinion about it is school: been there done that!
Love it or hate it, tell me what your think!

To school or not to school

Click on the link to read the article.

9 thoughts on “To school or not to school

    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for finding that old post, Sarah. I guess the topic of homeschooling doesn’t come up in every post, and maybe you started reading after I posted that one?
      I home educated Bec until she was 9. My son attended school all the way through. They both got plenty of education at home though! While I respect people’s choice to home educate their children, it wasn’t an intention of mine to do so. I was attempting to set up an alternative to school and educated Bed at home while that was underway. When it fell through, sadly, Bec went to school. I wrote about that here http://wp.me/p3O5Jj-2i
      I thought Bec had written a post too about her experiences but I can’t see it at the moment. I’ll let you know if I find it. 🙂

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  1. Bec

    Hi Nor, thanks for your blog post and for the article to read. I recall reading it sometime within the last eighteen months, and it was one of the first times that I think I genuinely realised how weighty your decision to home educate me must have been. It always made sense to me, because as I look back on my own history – of course you home educated me because you are Norah and that is what you do. But what a silly, deterministic view of the world. I’m fortunate that you made the choice you did! Thanks Nor!

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    1. nco04662 Post author

      Thanks Beckii. I’m glad that you feel fortunate. It is reassuring for me. I’m sure others would love to know how you believe it has impacted your life. What about a guest post?

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  2. Bec

    Hi Nor, thanks for your blog post and for the article to read. I recall reading it sometime within the last eighteen months, and it was one of the first times that I think I genuinely realised how weighty your decision to home educate me must have been. It always made sense to me, because as I look back on my own history – of course you home educated me because you are Norah and that is what you do. But what a silly, deterministic view of the world. I’m fortunate that you made the choice you did! Thanks Nor!

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  3. Rosie Thrupp

    You are thinking of Deschooling Society by Illich. I too reflect on my schooling and now after 40 years of teaching, wonder how it was that I sat in those awful classrooms, wearing awful nylon uniforms in Queensland summers and regurgitated so much rubbish that had no meaning to me. How obedient can one be!!! I love Ancient History but went through a process that made me believe that I was dumb at it. I love maths and what it is but went through a schooling process that led me to believe I was dumb at it.

    It saddens me to see children in the twenty-first century be burdened in the same way. Lecturing at uni, I hear students who, in the 1990s and the first decade of this century have undergone many of the tortures that I recognise from the 1960s. When will it change?

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    1. nco04662 Post author

      Hi Rosie,
      Yes, Ivan Illich is certainly one of the authors whose ideas spoke very loudly to me. Obviously to you too. I know what you mean about maths! I wonder how many others share similar schooling experiences. I dread to think. That’s why I always strived to put the children first in my classrooms, connect with them and their needs and interests, making it as happy a place for them as I could. I know I succeeded for most, but I always worry about those I may have missed. Lecturing future teachers at university is perhaps one great opportunity for turning it all around. Go to it, Rosie!

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