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Autonomous V's structured

(8 Posts)
Mewhoiam Mon 13-May-13 07:34:11

Hi! I'm new, just curious in this area. I don't have any kids of my own yet, I and my partner are thinking of trying the next few years and I wanted to do some research on this topic. I find it really interesting! I have 3 'nieces' and a 'nephew' who I am very close to and the school system is letting them down terribly, so I really would want to HE from day 1.

This is something I hadn't really though of until recently and wanted to make sure I have all the information so that when it comes to it, I know what I'm talking about and already have contacts in the HE universe smile

My biggest question is about the title. Autonomous V Structured. I love the idea of autonomous but feel I would want to expose my child to so much that if there wasn't a structure how would I get it all in???

Also, have any of your own personal experiences of schools made you HE? Either directly or something that happened in school with your child? I know my best friend who is basically my sister smile (the mother of my 'nieces and nephews') has had an awful time with the schools.

All your comments and ideas would be lovely!

ToffeeWhirl Mon 13-May-13 08:14:16

Mewhoiam - my DS1 had an awful time at school (developed school phobia, was bullied, struggled with learning) and I now home educate him. I don't think he would suffer so much with anxiety if he hadn't gone to school. However, I know several children personally who loved the school and would have hated not to go, so it depends on the child.

My second son goes to the same school (I can't home educate him for various reasons) and now complains that he is bored and hates it. I have come to the conclusion that the school just doesn't suit my boys, but I can't find another local state school that is any better. I dislike the National Curriculum and the way children are tested. My DS2 (7) told me he failed his Maths test on Friday and was kept in at playtime so that he could do it again. He used to love Maths, but now he finds it boring and he doesn't understand what he is meant to be doing. I have discussed this with his teacher, but nothing has changed. I can't believe he has gone from loving Maths to thinking he is failing at it! What a thing to teach a young child. Recently, his class have been working hard for their SATS KS1 tests, so whole days have been swallowed up in revision. I think it's ridiculous.

We had lots of help trying to settle my older son into secondary school and it was a disaster - like trying to force a square peg into a round hole. He just can't cope with an enormous state school - the number of children, the demands of the lessons, the noise, etc. However, after a year of home education, he is now interested in trying another school as he misses the community feeling of being part of school. This time we are looking into an alternative type of schooling and we will have to pay, but there's nothing in the state sector that suits him.

As for autonomous vs structured - I chose semi-structured. We do formal work every morning, but DS1 can also choose to study particular subjects or topics when those are finished.

Hope this helps.


Mewhoiam Mon 13-May-13 08:46:20

Thank you Toffeewhirl. I really appreciate your feedback. I like the idea of HE from the go. Longer childhood with no pressur of testing until gcse.
Also I like the idea that I'd be keeping alot more of my childs individuality. I hate
I am talking to ppl at work at the moment just trying to get a general reaction and the bigest thing is peer socialization. My response so far is that you dont have to just socialise with people who are the same age to become a whole person.
What are the biggest issues you have encountered?

FionaJNicholson Mon 13-May-13 10:14:31

It's a false dichotomy. Families don't have to choose a method and then stick to it.

I find if you tell people you are home educating, they ask all sorts of questions and the easiest answer is "it doesn't seem from my research as though that's likely to be a problem although I was a bit worried TIL I LOOKED INTO IT but thanks for raising it, hmm, interesting idea, I guess we'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it".

ommmward Mon 13-May-13 11:50:54

The big thing to lose, as you are thinking about autonomous/structured, is the idea that education is something you do to someone. It's not a matter of fitting everything in, it's a matter of following the child's interests and needs at any given moment. After that, the question of whether your response is informal, using conversation, or formal, using curricula and workbooks, is moot in my opinion.

Mewhoiam Mon 13-May-13 13:08:10

I think it's more like I want to make sure they are exposed to as much as possible. Lol and thats what I'm afraid I won't fit in. But thats a great point.

Saracen Mon 13-May-13 16:32:15

Looked at from the child's point of view, even at its best mass education is bound to be very inefficient.

First of all, consider all the time in the school day which is not being spent on anything ostensibly educational. There's time spent waiting for everyone to settle down so the teacher can talk, time watching other kids be disciplined, time queuing up, time waiting for your turn with the glue or red paint or computer or scales, time waiting for materials to be distributed and papers to be collected, time waiting for the teacher to come help you when you don't understand, time waiting for the others to finish when you've done your work quickly, time spent being assessed so the teacher can see what you understand. When I was looking round at schools for my eldest daughter, most of the headteachers gave me a whistle-stop tour of all seven classes in the school. In three of the four schools I visited, by my estimate overall 50% of the children I saw did not appear to be doing ANYTHING educational at the moment I put my head in. They were just sitting and waiting. I remember that well from my own school days. It was soul-destroying.

Secondly, even when a child IS doing educational "work" at school, think about the tiny proportion of time when the material is perfectly targeted to his needs. Much of the time it is too easy and he already understands it, or too difficult and he's floundering, or poorly explained and he doesn't know what he is supposed to do, or ill-suited to his learning style, or not engaging with what interests him at that moment in time.

All of this means that home education, in whatever form it takes, is astonishingly efficient when compared with school. If you give school a miss, you are giving your children about 1000 extra hours a year, not including travel to and from school, homework and other associated time-eaters. There will be time for lots and lots and lots of learning in your day, alongside relaxing, playing and doing other things which some people say are not educational (but which I think really are).

You can be as laid-back as you like, and your children will STILL have plenty of interesting opportunities which they wouldn't have had if they went to school. Or you can be an overachiever very academically focused by teaching them five languages, reading them the Odyssey in the entirety and visiting every known historic site in five counties. Or something in between.

When it comes to it, you'll know what feels right to you and what suits your children. It's hard to get your head round at the moment because they are theoretical children and you haven't been living with them for the last few years. But (unless you send your kids into school, or remove them from school) major educational decisions won't appear suddenly when they are four or five. Just as you will find your parenting style gradually over the years, you will figure out how to educate your children over the years.

By all means read up on different approaches, read blogs, and meet families who are doing different things. That will help you have some ideas to choose from as your children grow up. But you don't have to have it all laid out in advance. It will come to you.

Mewhoiam Tue 14-May-13 07:25:39

Saracen, that is the best reason for HE that I have heard so far. Time wasted, I think that's so true. Your constantly waiting, maybe that's why you never feel as though your getting anywhere.
Teachers don't have time to actually commit to any one child any more. I hated that when I wanted to learn everyone else wanted to talk.
My worst memory of school was actually french in year nine, I remember sitting it must have been April/May and it was glorious outside. I remember thinking 'this is hell' being inside when outside was right behind the glass.
I never want that for my child.

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