What I want them to learn


At the weekend, I went to a reunion dinner at New College, Oxford, where I studied music around about a decade ago. (A decade? Really? Wow.)

Now, Oxford is a pretty special place to my husband and me. We both studied there, as undergraduates and postgraduates, and we lived there a long time after graduating. Our children were both born there. But it’s also special because it’s just special.

In Oxford, you actually feel like you are surrounded by learning. And that learning is wonderful. And that learning for its own sake is good. It is a city full of libraries, colleges, museums, lecture halls, where learning is valued and pursued and praised. It’s a pretty amazing place.

Taking the train home, I started thinking… As we embark on homeschooling, whether it ends up being for a term, a year, a few years, or their entire school years, what are my hopes for their learning?

I’m not talking about getting them to learn addition, or Shakespeare, or algebra, or photosynthesis, or Beethoven. I’m talking about the relationship I’d like them to have with learning.

What do I want them to learn?

To read for pleasure and profit.

To read to understand, to read thoroughly, and slowly, and carefully.

To mine the internet for all it’s worth, to know how to use the internet to access human knowledge.

To write creatively, persuasively, eloquently.

That learning is lifelong. That learning is good.

That listening to and learning from an expert is an amazing way to expand your knowledge and gain new perspectives.

That there are often many ways of looking at and tackling a single problem.

That they will be loved and accepted whatever their idiosyncrasies, and whatever they excel at.

To understand that learning is also a discipline.

That a life of learning is a rich life.

That a life surrounded by books is a rich life.

To use museums, galleries, artefacts to enhance their learning.

That it’s OK to be wrong.

That it’s good to ask questions.

That there are opportunities to expand our minds every day.



Resources for those considering home education

In my previous post, I wrote about our journey to deciding to home educate, for now, our two children (the older of whom has just reached statutory school age).

Now, I am no expert on education. I don’t have a teaching degree or anything like that. And our family has been officially homeschooling for less than a month, so we are novices. But since I began to investigate home education I have read and watched a ton of books, articles, and videos about education. And before that, since becoming parents we have been continually thinking about how to parent, the values we would like our children to learn, and the environment we would like them to grow up in.

There are so many interesting resources about home education out there, and I have barely scratched the surface. I am constantly learning more about how children learn, both through observing my own children and through my own reading and research.

For anyone who is considering home education, or wants to know more about it, or wants to understand a little more deeply some of the reasons that people choose to home education: here is a list of some of the most helpful and interesting resources I’ve found so far.Read More »

Going against the grain – deciding to home educate

IMG_2715A year ago, I would never have believed I would be writing this post.

Home education sort of happened upon us, without us looking for it.

Yes, I once had a conversation with a friend about our vague mutual interest in home education, but then my own firstborn had not even turned one year old and my second child had not even appeared in our lives. And the thought was filed away in the course of having another child, relocating to a different city, learning a new way of life.Read More »