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People who have been HE, and subject specialists in senior school

(10 Posts)
Kaida Tue 06-Sep-11 11:17:02

Hi all, I'm new to Mumsnet and have a couple of questions about HE. I've been researching for a little while, and still have plenty of time to make a final decision as my son is only 5 weeks old! I've been talking to my DH about it, and although initially a little wary, he seems to be coming round - his main concerns are whether I'll have enough time/energy/motivation to do housework as well as HE, and standing up to his family's opinions (an awful lot of them are teachers) - if LO did badly (even if he would've done badly anyway if in school, they'd blame HE) they'd never forgive us!

My first question is where I might find people who have been HE'd, especially for senior school, and their opinions of it? DH is worried because the two people he's met in real life who were, have both said they hated it and not to do it. He also knew a friend from school who'd been HE'd previously and had huge trouble catching up when he went back to school, but since he went back to school because his parents didn't have time for him at home I suspect that situation had been going on for a while and he'd probably spent all day every day playing Xbox.

My second question is why 11+ year olds learn just as well at home (I think they do, according to the study I read by Dr Brian Ray which covered ages 5-18 in the US) when at school they are taught by subject specialists? This is something MIL (a teacher) brought up - she thought it might just about be acceptable to HE for primary, but in secondary they need subject experts she says.

Thanks in advance.

LastSummer Tue 06-Sep-11 16:50:52

I'm sure that you feel you've something very special to offer to your child; and I'm sure that you're right. No teacher can provide the unique one-on-one educational experience of a loving and thoughtful parent. As senior school age approaches, you'll come to recognise gaps in your educational expertise and the opportunities you can offer: languages, music, dance, a science laboratory and competitive sport may be among these. Specialist academic help can be essential post GCSEs. How will you cope? Find tutors? Seek the input of your teacher relatives? The internet is a rich and growing educational resource up to and including university. Yet some subjects and activities may seem beyond reach. Does that invalidate the most precious and rewarding experience a child and parent will perhaps ever share?

Tarenath Tue 06-Sep-11 22:38:21

Hi Kaida,

A lot of the HE experience for me is about teaching my children to be inquisitive and have a love of learning. How to learn, where to go to find information etc.

To be honest, if you have a child who is truly interested in a subject then they will all but teach themselves. I remember being on a biology field trip during my A levels. The on site tutor had been trying to explain a concept to us (something to do with genetics I think) for about 90 minutes. We took a break and one of the girls was commenting how she still didn't get it. In the space of five minutes I managed to turn the subject matter on its head and explain it in a way she understood. Now I was obviously far less of an expert than our tutor but because it was something I was so interested in I was able to think my way around it in order to explain it to someone else.

I'm not saying that all subjects will be this easy. There's a good chance that at some point they will have to learn things they may not want to learn and you may not be very good at teaching. This is where social networking comes in handy. In our local area we have groups for french, spanish, latin I think, as well as science clubs, plus the usual social meetups. There's a high chance that someone you meet up with will either be able to help you, or know someone who can help you out.

julienoshoes Wed 07-Sep-11 14:31:39

I've home educated our three all the way through their teens. All three are in Higher Education now and doing well.
I'd be happy to chat to you and answer your questions if you'd like to give me a call?

You can either PM me, or contact me via info@worcestershire-home-educators.co.uk which will come straight to my inbox, and we can arrange to chat.

In simple terms home ed teens learn just as well (if not better) because they are really interested in their subjects and doing them because they choose to.

and all three of mine fully intend to home educate their children in the same freedom as they experienced.

musicposy Wed 07-Sep-11 18:05:55

You don't need specialist teachers, you really don't. That's one thing people cannot get their heads round - they're so ingrained into thinking that because secondary schools do it this way, it needs doing this way.

My eldest is 15 and my youngest 12. They love home ed, absolutely love it. I know this because they are free to go back into school any time they wish and I would absolutely respect that and be happy for them. They're here by choice, not by coercion. They have lots of very envious schooled friends and lots of home ed friends. They are having the time of their lives. They probably do around 3 hours at most of studying each day whilst their school friends do a 7 hour school day with a couple of hours homework each night. My 12 year old has just this minute come back from a sleepover at a friend's house where she's been since early yesterday. They went to the shops, played at the park and sewed themselves some furry tails (just because they could!). On a Wednesday. There's no waiting until the weekend for fun and a great social life.

And yet, through all the weekday sleepovers and meet ups with friends, DD1, at 15, already has 6 GCSEs/ IGCSEs, most of them at A grade. DD2 took Physics IGCSE at age 11 this summer and passed with almost 100%. I'm not a physician, I'm a musician and none of the GCSEs have been in music.

One of DD1's early GCSEs she did at 13/14 was Biology. I've never done Biology in my life. I gave it up at 14 after 3 years of messing around in class and deliberately not taking it in! We read the books together, found stuff out, experimented, tried things out. If I didn't know the answer (9 times out of 10!) DD went on the internet and found it. She passed the exam with an A. Proof that you don't need specialist teachers. You need an interest in what you're doing and someone to bounce ideas off of.

One of DD1's current GCSEs she's studying for is Sociology. I always wanted to do this at school but wasn't allowed (stupid rules put me in language sets). DD1 thought it sounded interesting so we bought the book. We now spend much time in coffee shops (good places to study Sociology, we decided!) reading this book and discussing it. She's loving it and so am I!

All of us, as a family, have a thirst for knowledge that just wasn't there when they were in school. You don't need as much energy and motivation as you might think, particularly with little ones, because so much just comes up in every day life. It's a natural progression of what you are doing now. And it's fun. grin

sleepingsowell Wed 07-Sep-11 18:13:50

musicposy, I am sitting here green with envy....imagining me and my DS sat in coffee shops discussing the latest enthusiasm. You have given me an image to hold on to there.

(as you may gather we are not HEing...yet, but once our pesky debts are paid off in a couple of years things will change around 'ere!!!)

julienoshoes Wed 07-Sep-11 20:08:32

it occurs to me Kaida, that if you listen to the link I have just posted, to a radio show featuring an home educating mumsnetter and her teenage daughter, who is about to go off to college, it may well answer your questions-as well as he concerns of your dh and MIL.

what they don't actually say in the feature, is the other 'child' Janet is talking about has just finished his PhD in Medical Research.

Saracen Fri 09-Sep-11 01:46:24

Re: subject specialists, I'd echo previous posters in saying that it is not essential and that people who know a great deal about a subject can be found elsewhere than at school.

There is another point. Thinking back on my experiences at school and elsewhere, it strikes me that having a teacher who knows about a subject is very often not sufficient to help a child learn about that subject. The environment has to be right if that knowledge is to be of any use, and the environment at school usually is not conducive to this. Let me tell you about a teacher of mine.

When I ten and in the state school system, someone had the idea of reintroducing Latin to the curriculum. As a pilot project, several classes of children were invited to learn Latin in a summer class taught by a retired teacher who had a passion for the subject and volunteered her time to teach it. I was among the children who accepted this offer.

Well, it was absolutely fantastic. She was a brilliant and dynamic teacher. I liked the textbook she chose. We put on plays, did Roman cookery lessons for each other with instructions in Latin, and even tried to play sport in Latin at breaktimes. It was a wonderful opportunity and a great way to spend the summer. I could see how much the teacher enjoyed it too. She always had a sparkle in her eye.

On the back of that pilot project's success, two years later Latin was introduced as a subject at my school. The teacher I'd had before came out of retirement to teach it. She used the same textbook and all the same methods. I was delighted to learn that I'd be in her class.

Well, it was awful. The kids hated it. Latin, they said, was a useless dead subject and too difficult. The class was full of spitballs and snide remarks. No one respected the teacher, who looked downtrodden and slightly stressed all the time because she could not control a class of twelve year olds who were determined to dislike her. You might think I'd still have had a bit of enjoyment out of it. How could I not, when I had this great teacher and a good textbook to work from? Surely all I had to do was keep my head down and get on with things. But no, I hated it too. I began to wonder why I had ever enjoyed Latin. I didn't even like doing my homework, and I began doing as little work as possible to scrape by.

The only conclusion I can reach is that it was fatal to make attendance at Latin classes compulsory. How else can one explain the dramatic difference between the summer school classes and the term-time classes? Even this brilliant teacher wilted in the face of relentless opposition from kids who simply wanted to be elsewhere. Even I, an enthusiastic learner who already thought Latin was great fun, was turned off to it by the experience of working alongside classmates who were forced to do it.

This particular teacher struggled more than most to control her class, but the situation was not very different in my other school classes. I consider it a small miracle that I still enjoyed learning after years of compulsory education. At university I found the same enthusiasm from most of my classmates that I remembered from the summer Latin class. They wanted to be there, and that made all the difference.

Kaida Sun 11-Sep-11 10:32:33

Thank you all very much for your input. I've made DH read the thread so hopefully something is sinking in, and I'm just listening to the radio programme. smile

FigsAndWine Mon 12-Sep-11 17:16:18

Oh saracen I'm so sad for your latin teacher!

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