I do not need to send my children to an institution to be ‘normalised’ and groomed in specific skills and values so that they will one day be valuable workers and citizens.
My children are valuable now.
The sole purpose of their lives is not to be in training to become their future adult selves.
They are themselves now.
They matter now.
Their life matters. Now.
Their childhood is important and valid. It matters.
I won’t spend their time for them, by force, at school. I won’t spend their time stealing their childhood for some preconceived notion of ‘when’.
Perhaps they might need algebra or quantum physics in their adult lives. That will be their concern. I am more concerned with what they need now.
Now, my children need love and care.
Now, my children need the freedom to explore.
Now, my children need to learn how they learn.
Now, my children need people around to support them.
Now, my children know what they need to learn. Their instincts tell them. Their interests guide them. Their family help them by staying out of the way, by sourcing the stuff they need, by helping them spell, or skill up from time to time.
Family life is a safe place with a big window where my children can visualise their own ‘when’, while living fully in the now.
School is a compulsory institution that trains children for work. That assumes the same outcomes are relevant for each child. That assumes our current model is best. (For who or what? Society? Earth? Peace? Humanity?) School is impersonal.
I am not. I am a mum. I have more concern for my children’s future than any school or teacher ever will have. I also have more diligent concern for them now than any teacher can begin to fathom.
I know this because before I was a mum, I was a teacher. A diligent, caring teacher. I created, I planned, I did overtime. I made classroom stuff on weekends. I obsessed.
I could not have imagined that one day my own children would come along and teach me. That when this happened, I would be lucky enough to unlearn school. Slowly. Shakily. But surely. And that when I did, I would also unlearn the stress of being in an unnatural environment. Where ‘learning’ and ‘socialisation’ are presented in unnatural ways. I would unlearn the meanings I had attached to ‘success’, and ‘achieve’ and even, ‘behave’. I would unlearn the expectations that had led me to accept mediocrity and I would replace them with deeper truths, and with the freedom to choose.
I couldn’t have foreseen that, one day, these institutional walls that I had striven to teach within would seem senseless, displaced from reality, and totally against the grain. I could not have foreseen this because I was institutionalised too.
I do not homeschool because the last thing I want is for home to be ‘school’.
My children were born programmed to learn. It is what they do. Naturally.
I will not let some external program replace the inner program they were given at birth.
My daughter has begun collecting shells and learning about them. She is a conchologist. Now.
My son makes his own scripts and animations. He is a film maker. Now.
This is what they do with their free time, which they have because they’re not at school. This thing called life. It’s what we do. And how we learn.
Our life is our classroom. We learn by living.