DIY Education?

(20 Posts)
tricot39 Tue 23-Jul-13 19:42:22

This ethos was taken from a well known independent school's website: "when boys and girls leave xxx they emerge informed, articulate, and well able to hold their own intellectually." Also teaching staff "encourage pupils to think for themselves, to question and to argue in a way that genuinely stretches their minds." I have first hand experience of a number of pupils from this school and they are fairly awesome!

If our local state comps have less than 50% of pupils achieving 5 a-c gcses, (I get the impression that they do.a good job with the pupils that they have to get many up to average standards) they teach "to the test" and we can't go private (or enlist tutors), how would we go about supplementing a state education in an attempt to achieve the same ends as listed above?!

I suppose that i am looking for ideas on how to expose my dc to new ideas and broaden their minds at minimum cost and/or via regular family activities.

I suppose what underpins this is the question "what makes a good education?" which is maybe a whole other thread?!

lljkk Tue 23-Jul-13 19:49:53

Isn't it just... doing all the usual good parent things?
Our local comp is lucky to exceed 50% A-C GCSEs. They still seem to send at least one up to Oxbridge out of that cohort each yr.

Talk to them, about anything and everything, and listen to them even if thei ideas are a bit simplistic or downright wrong.

Take them to museums and art galleries and talk to them about what you see there.

Take them to the library to look for books about the things you have seen - but let them lead on what they found interesting and don't decide what you think they ought to want to know about. If they are fascinated by trucks or poo, then go with it. But don't take over - that's not what they need. Most young children find something interesting, and they don't need or want adults to hijack it and turn it into a "learning opportunity"

As they get older, have the news and documentaries on as well as lighter stuff.

Show an interest.

tricot39 Tue 23-Jul-13 21:17:54

Thanks for the replies.
lljkk - what are the "usual" things for you?

lljkk Tue 23-Jul-13 23:21:19

Talking to them about stuff, encouraging them to think, especially for themselves. Using big words. Finding maths & science in daily life. Admiring intellectual prowness. Pointing out what achievement does for you. Demonstrating that you yourself take a cerebral interest in things and want to achieve (life long learning). Reading books, talking about ideas.

mummytime Wed 24-Jul-13 07:10:33

I think a key thing is to talk and debate with your children. It helps if you think deeply about things yourself. Actually my late Uncle was great for this kind of thing, because he could usually argue both sides of any debate, and has been known to switch sides in the middle. Its annoying but sharpens the mind.

Otherwise follow their interests, whilst also encouraging them to try new things. So you might follow their interest in Football to a deep level, but still encourage them to read widely.

If you can find them holiday activities where they meet others with common interests.

creamteas Wed 24-Jul-13 14:56:45

From years teaching first years at university, I can confidently say that the ability to debate and articulate an argument is not the preserve of private schools grin.

But it is more likely to be found where families have had enough resources to give their children a wider variety of experiences and they been encouraged to form their own arguments on issues.

lljkk Wed 24-Jul-13 18:47:15

From years teaching first years at university, I can confidently say that the ability to debate and articulate an argument is not the preserve of private schools

My children are proof of that!!

tricot39 Wed 24-Jul-13 23:01:36

I feel woefully equipped for this task and am very aware of the limitations of my own intelligence and experience. I was unaware of this growing up but my mother always tended to avoid debate and my father was probably only happy in circumstances where he remained in control of the subject matter. So I suppose i may be trying to fill a gap in my skill set as much as develop the dc!

creamteas Thu 25-Jul-13 17:35:39

Debate doesn't have to be difficult or antagonistic or politically driven , it is really just asking people to explain a position.

An easy way to start is just be constantly asking questions like 'why do you think that?', 'what alternatives might there be?' or 'which is better and why?'

cory Thu 25-Jul-13 21:34:05

And it doesn't all have to be debate either. If you get into the habit of telling dc about your own day and listening to when they tell you about theirs, that will enhance their language skills.

If you've read an interesting book or somebody mentioned something interesting at work or you saw something strange or funny on the way home- tell them about it. If you have a dp- tell each other about things when the children are listening. Get into the habit of everybody telling each other things.

Read aloud and don't stop when they learn to read. Use reading aloud to introduce them to more difficult books (children's classics particularly good), more complicated sentences and bigger words than they would find in the school library.

exoticfruits Thu 25-Jul-13 22:07:30

My DCs comprehensive used to regularly beat the local private schools in debating competitions.
It helps to get your children to question things and talk to them as if their opinions are worth listening to. I am always surprised on topics like collective worship in schools - instead of using it as a talking point the parent just wades in with a rant and their view- the child doesn't appear to be allowed one. ( or not if it differs from the parent)
You need to be an example - telling them to read will work better if they see you and DH reading for pleasure. If you want them to be sociable, take part in things, volunteer they need to see you doing it.
They need to be given gradual responsibility and independence to build their confidence.

cory Fri 26-Jul-13 09:20:52

It helps to learn to distinguish between a child challenging your ideas (good!) and a child being rude for the sake of it (bad).

Some parents are so afraid of losing control over discipline that they don't allow any questioning of their ideas for fear that their child will never obey them again. They have the idea that somebody has to be totally on top and all powerful all the time and that if it isn't them it will be the child (obviously bad).

This isn't actually true: often children who are involved in family discussions and allowed to voice their own opinion are more corteous and more willing to listen to others, because they haven't had to push so hard to be heard. Yes, children need to know that ultimately you are in charge. But a wise general consults his staff.

There is nothing more reassuring to a mother's heart than to have a 16yo gently point out that you are about to make a very foolish decision.

tricot39 Fri 26-Jul-13 17:09:38

Some parents are so afraid of losing control over discipline that they don't allow "any" questioning of their ideas for fear that their child will never obey them again. They have the idea that somebody has to be totally on top and all powerful all the time and that if it isn't them it will be the child (obviously bad).

Cory you have hit the nail on the head - that was my parents' style and I find I am beginning to repeat it with my dc. Not sure how to be different!!

mummytime Fri 26-Jul-13 18:04:17

We have tried various things with our children over the years. One thing I would definitely suggest is a family meeting. It's good if you have one or two specific issues to discuss (we had homework at one), someone explains the problem, then each person has a chance to speak without interruption. It can help if you have a prop eg. A wooden spoon, which indicates that person speaks. It is also useful to have a chair who encourages everyone to speak.
In one case it was the 3 year old who came up with the best solution to the problem. Which we did use for a while.

Family life doesn't have to be a dictatorship. If you try to make it so, I think when your teenagers are teens they are more likely to lie to you.

tricot39 Fri 26-Jul-13 19:17:43

Oh the family meeting sounds like a brilliant idea!

My parents were good at standing back to let me get on with things but they definitely took the position of being authoritarians. However this is not an easy position to maintain when your child is 40! Maybe its a generational thing?

Dragonessa Sat 27-Jul-13 12:30:34

I work with other parents in a partnership way for educating the child, so I'm speaking as a mother , a home educator, and as an experienced teacher on a small education project.

As parents we are constantly made to feel that we don't know enough, and should leave it to the experts. But we know our children better than anyone else possibly could. Far too many professionals in education look down their noses at parents.

In home education circles it's known that parents don't need to be highly educated themselves, and don't need to know all the stuff that their children are studying. The parent job is support.
Whatever kind of education we're using that means frequently checking what our child is doing. Knowing they are NOTICED really matters. A smile from mum or dad is worth more than anyone else's smile in the world.
In fact there's research that shows that it's the parent attention that builds success in education and later life - not expensive private schools, not flashy school techniques, and not technology. That smile, and "That looks interesting" are the simple keys, so it's obvious we care.

On fostering independent minds I'd advise make it a golden rule to ALWAYS answer questions AND ask them. Young people do ask questions and we should never be too busy or too tired to appreciate the honour they are doing us by turning to us as advisers.
It's also important to ASK questions "What do you think?" sharing our interests. Questioning what we see on TV or what comes up on the computer screen, current events, local events ... questions questions questions SHOW that questions are a good thing to do.

On my own project First College UK I love to open up debates on almost anything and young people are very exciting to share ideas with. I run a seminar on Monday mornings Philosophy and Society before they all go to their everyday study groups and it's a great start to the week.
If you'd like to talk more about how to get discussions going with young people you're welcome to get in touch.

cory Sat 27-Jul-13 17:30:55

Dragonessa Sat 27-Jul-13 12:30:34

"On fostering independent minds I'd advise make it a golden rule to ALWAYS answer questions AND ask them. Young people do ask questions and we should never be too busy or too tired to appreciate the honour they are doing us by turning to us as advisers."

There is a wonderful Just William story where William drives the unfortunate visitor into a breakdown by turning up in his bedroom on the hour every night throughout asking earnest questions.grin

I don't think there are many parents who talk to their children more than I do or are more happy to share information, stories and viewpoints. But I do think it is perfectly all right to say "I am very tired tonight, I need to go to sleep now" or "I am talking to your grandma just now" of "I have a bit of a headache, dear", as long as this is not your default position.

My whole take on the child-parent relationship is that we are both important. And I wouldn't think it ok to hang around my children's rooms and pester them for conversation if they were really tired or talking to their friends.

Still, this leaves plenty of time for disseminating information and exchanging ideas; it's fun, it's something to be enjoyed.

Dragonessa Sun 28-Jul-13 11:27:43

Cory said
I do think it is perfectly all right to say "I am very tired tonight, I need to go to sleep now" or "I am talking to your grandma just now" of "I have a bit of a headache, dear", as long as this is not your default position.

I think a good strategy for this is to say exactly when I WILL talk about it. That is "I'm almost asleep love but we'll talk about that at breakfast/ on the way home from school" / "I am talking to your grandma just now but in about 10 mins I'll switch to you." / "I have a bit of a headache, dear but I've taken a painkiller so I'll be Ok to talk in half an hour."

Otherwise to a child's view our barriers translate as just "NO I don't want to talk to you. Go away."
To an adult we are being polite and comprehensible, to a child, we are rejecting. But if we give an appointment to talk, and it's SOON and DEFINITE, that works for a child worldview.
They are limited mainly to the rest of today and the first part of tomorrow.

Of course we then have to KEEP the appointment or else we get known asmaking excuses which then also translate as "Go away."

cory Sun 28-Jul-13 15:17:38

So how can you make a definite promise that your headache will be gone in half an hour? What if the half hour comes and you are throwing up with a migraine and unable to articulate? wink

Personally I'd be a bit more cautious and say "I think I will be all right to talk in half an hour".

Of course you are right about the basic default position. But perhaps not right in suggesting that the right parenting has to happen every single time or the child/relationship will be irretrievably damaged.

A childhood is long. If you spend most of it making it clear to your children that you are interested in them and that you do enjoy talking to them, then they will be resilient enough and secure enough to cope with those times when you aren't quite on top of things. And that includes very occasionally being irritable or saying the wrong thing or not being able to keep a promise because something unforeseen made it impossible.

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