What are the negatives of school?(14 Posts)
I have had my mind changed about Home Ed in the 5 years I've been on MN. I used to be annoyingly judgemental skeptical but now I'm beginning to swing the other way as my eldest gets older.
Well.. DD is 4 and is in pre-school (school starts at 7 in the country I live in) Although she was very tired at the beginning, and had night terrors (!) for a while we put it down to the transition to a new routine. Then she started to love it, and I thought everything was fine.
The past two and a half weeks I've been on holiday with my kids, just by myself for the hell of it, and DD seems to have turned into a much happier soul and my relationship with her has improved. We have become closer, which is what you would expect from spending so much intensive time together, but it seems as though everything is easier- she does what I say the first time I ask that sort of thing.
Which then got me thinking that maybe there are a lot of hidden stresses in going to school that can't be accounted for.
I have the additional problem that DD is bilingual and the only person who speaks English to her is me. This obviously makes her life even more stressful again.
So I suppose what I'm asking is what were the "push" factors that pushed you away from normal school (as opposed to 'pull' factors i.e the benefits of HE )
For me it was that my kids just weren't enthused by it. They got on ok with kids and staff (were even popular) but never really came home excited about what they had been doing. Then we started to think about how school works - and realised that inevitably in trying to deal with a large group you rarely meet the needs of the individuals. We also didn't like the way the curriculum is so prescriptive as to what they should do at a given age. They school they went to was a good school, by the way.
Having HE for a few months I can now see that my kids were much grumpier (at home, after school).They are now often enthusiastic about what they have been doing during the day. They get much more outside time and exercise. They are more willing to think for themselves. They are more themselves - less moulded by social expectations of what boys of their age should like.
I think we are very lucky to be able to HE our kids at the moment. We don't know how long it will last - but feel for ours at the moment it is a big bonus.
that's an interesting point about outside time and excercise. I suppose they would get more if they're not in a classroom. It's so crucial for children to be running around in the fresh air isn't it. (I've read Toxic Childhood)
I'd never thought about societal expectations of what they should be like. I am almost obsessive about monitoring what DD reads and watches because I really don't want her to be socially conditioned by all this WAG culture that's about and the emphasis on looks and body. Do you think by home edding you can escape some of this sexist culture, or at least delay it a little? Or is that too much of a leap!
Following on from the WAG culture question, I don't think you can lose/delay it completely, but I think it can help not to have it constantly reinforced all day, every day.
One thing I'm struck by is how refreshing home ed teens are (a long way off for you, I know but always worth thinking of the end result, so to speak). My DD1 is 14 and all her home ed friends are so lovely - they chat to adults as though we are the same species! DD1 has school friends too - and lots of them are lovely also. But there is a kind of secretive, us against them type thing that doesn't happen with the home ed friends.
It's hard to explain exactly what I mean, but I think that school takes your children away from you to a certain extent. Yes, peer relationships are important (and both my girls have plenty of them) but in school there's a feeling that somehow family relationships are unimportant - or even shameful in some way. DD1 isn't scared to admit that we get on really well and knows that doesn't stop her having really good friends. I think I have the world's loveliest 14 year old (of course, I'm biased ) and I think a lot of that is down to the bond created by home education.
I was having a frank discussion with some of my friends the other day - all their children are schooled and they thought I was mad when we first did this. The only critisism they still have is that they think both girls are a little young for their age. I think by young they mean they're not streetwise/ stroppy/ tied unthinkingly to the latest trends - and I think that's a positive. Certainly they're not young in terms of independence - they travel around the country on their own with a confidence that none of their peers have.
Other negatives of school? That's a whole separate post which I'll maybe tackle later, but I wanted to answer the above.
Hidden stress is correct I would think. There is not enough to actually complain about but enough to wear them down. My dds say you have to get used to being invisible and then when you get home you forget you are not still invisible.
I've just got her off to pre-school today for the first time in 3 weeks and it was just hell, absolute hell trying to get her ready.
Will have a proper think about this all.
I've just posted a long bit on "If you're involved with local HE groups, what do you actually do/get from it?" I agree with what MusicPosy has said here and that post is in line, so I won't repeat it.
I know of a girl who came out of school in Y7. She went back to playing and told her mum it was a relief not to have to pretend to be grown-up any longer.
I'm looking at it slightly the other way; my mindset was home = norm/starting point, school = 'intervention' sometime around 5ish, what are the benefits/risks of making the change vs doing something else or making no change right now.
But even coming at it from that side I came up with 'risks' like
- how can a system possibly cater to every child at once, regardless of how good the teacher is - my child has the rest of her life to learn to tick along with other people and develop independence through natural events/life, it doesn't need to be forced by large class sizes
- what views will my child be absorbing from being in school that I may not even be aware of to counter with discussion? With a big emphasis on coercive behaviour and feminist principles here that I know you'll appriciate
- linked in to that is that all the boy/girl toys/jobs/roles/aspirations stuff dd comes up with tends to come from films and her schooled friends. We talk about it when we watch films, we talk about it with her friends (ours is the play house where the whole street gets to come). I couldn't make rules like 'everyone in this house is allowed to be the mum/dad/doctor/prince/queen and wear whatever dressing up clothes they want to whether they are a boy or a girl' if the play was happening in school.
- and also I could see DD being labelled as something very easily as she does tend to go to extremes in things.
- I really dislike the artifical division of ages in the school system. There are really all different types of peer groups, and only some of them are based on age rather than say ability or interests.
- I dislike the artifical separation of children from 'real life' that I think you get when you have school time and 'quality time'. Not quite sure if that's the right was to express that though; because I'm not saying you shouldn't have quality time, more that I think it's good for kids to be part of the day to day upkeep and running of the house; to see what time and effort goes into it, whether they're just around adults doing that or taking part themselves. And that if they're out at school 5 days a week it becomes easier to get stuff done when they aren't there in order to spend nice times with them doing fun things when they are there. Does that make sense?
They are all personal to me, and other people may not see them as downsides at all, or if they do then they might see more benefits than I did, for them and their chidren.
Sakura, I have so many things I dislike about mass schooling. I think it is essential for some children, whose parents aren't interested in engaging with them. But for children whose parents enjoy their company, enjoy engaging with them, enjoy sharing their lives; for those children (unless they really want to be in school), school is at best a waste of time and, at worst, highly damaging.
I am totally skeptical that a school can possibly enable each child to reach their potential, whatever that may be, unless they happen to be the average child that fits their mould.
I dislike the focus on rewards. I dislike the time wasted on crowd control. Teachers are brilliantly trained at imparting set amounts of information to large groups of children...but I am certain that that is absolutely not the best way of educating a child if there is another option.
One of the things I didn't expect, but have noticed about home educated children in our area, is the lack of peer pressure. Lots of the children pick up their friends' interests, but only because they actually like it themselves, never, IME, because if they don't, they won't be able to be friends with that person IYSWIM. The children are all so much more confident than I remember being at school (and my school friends too) at wearing the clothes they want, liking the music they want to like etc. I love it that myc hildren are growing up forming their own opinions that are not influenced by anything except their own thought processes, and open, honest discussions with me or their dad - people who love them and care about them and with whom they feel unconditionally safe and secure.
I could go on and on, sadly. School just doesn't fit with our parenting ethos of non-coercion and taking our children as seriously as we take eachother! If one of our children wanted to go to school, that would be another matter - they would be in control of it. But I wouldn't ever insist one of my children went to school.
I've already seen how forced teaching(through attempts from me because of HE wobbles!) damages not only my DDs' learning but also our relationship. I wouldn't risk that by sending them to school.
anastaisia, yes I agree that children should see how the world works as opposed to being isolated from it. It must make the transition to adulthood easier than if they're segregated from society. I have read "Letting Go as Children Grow" by Deborah Jackson and that was an absolutely bloody brilliant book
Notanotherbrick, yes, I know it's a bit of a duh moment, but I was suprised how much our relationship improved without the stress of chivvying her about
From my own experience when my son was at two separate primary schools, once that door closed behind him I had no idea what was going on, what he was being taught, how problems were being addressed. When I tried to engage with school staff I was 'interfering' - which is a laugh when you consider that this was MY child I was asking about,and all I wanted was a consistent approach towards helping him. I found both these schools to be quite hostile places, though masked with a false pleasant smile. The idea of 'working in partnership' that they claimed to aim for, was in fact based on "We tell you what to do and you do it". In short, they too ownership of my son and he was no longer any of my business.
I know I had a horrendous experience with my son's school education, I know we were dreadfully unlucky and that no everyone has the same as we had, but it all built up to a highly negative impression of what school is about in general. He'll never go back into one, that's for sure.
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