Monday, September 25, 2006

Sort of an introduction

Hi, I'm Radegund, another contributor to this blog. Ailbhe invited me to join ages ago, and I've been meaning to start posting ever since. Champion procrastinator, me. I have a two-year-old son, whom I'd very much like to continue educating at home once he reaches schoolgoing age. (Actually, now that I think of it, "at home" is a pretty reductive phrase to describe where his education will happen. "Not at school" is more accurate.)

I first became interested in non-traditional education in 2000, when a passing mention on an e-mail discussion list pointed me to the website of the Sudbury Valley School, Massachussetts, US. (Wow. That site is quite a bit slicker now than it was then.) From the moment I began to read, I was electrified by the idea of child-led learning.

Later, I read about unschooling (e.g. the Wikipedia entry and and found myself to be in visceral accord with it as an educational philosophy. The principles of respecting a child's time, of facilitating learning rather than coercing memorisation, of providing a stimulating, physically safe environment and then getting out of the way unless asked to help - these make so much sense to me that I can (still) barely articulate my opinions on the subject without becoming emotional.

I read John Holt's How Children Fail and How Children Learn (see this post for a list of his books) when my son was a baby, and came to the slightly heartstopping realisation that I was serious about this: I wanted to act on my beliefs and not send him to school. My husband and I have reached a loose agreement that we'll work something out, but the details are still hazy. Soon, I think, I'll try to get in touch with other home educators in our area and see if there's some kind of ready-made community I can join.

I don't ... necessarily ... think that traditional schooling is equally bad for all children. I think there may be some for whom (for whatever temperamental or circumstantial reasons) it provides more benefits than it imposes constraints. But the more I read and experience, the more I'm convinced that an alternative model is essential. I'd love child-led learning to be an option genuinely available to more people. Actual "home education", which fairly inevitably entails parents forgoing household income (as well as professional fulfilment, etc.), is a realistic (not to mention appealing) choice for, I would imagine, comparatively few. One day, when the time is right, I want to start a school on the Sudbury Valley model in Ireland. Until then, I'll work with what I have and try to ensure that my own children (the born and the hoped-for!) have access to whatever educational model is most suited to them.

1 comment:

Ailbhe said...

Wow, Sudbury have discovered web design! Itnever occurred to me to look at wikipedia before, nor at - I think I'm more about a-schooling; not schooling, not unschooling, not deschooling. I don't like the word school being involved.

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