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Thoughts of a Home Educated University Student
By Josh Williams
Two factors characterize my thinking concerning my experiences as a home-educated individual: I believe that home education was the right thing for my parents to do, and second, I feel like a fraud compared with many of my peers. It might seem that these two ideas are irreconcilable. However, they are both based on aspects of my home educated life.
Home education had more impact on my life than most other factors; it shaped my ideas, my skills, my goals and my relationship with my family. I believe that home education (H/Ed) stems from the same basic principle as mainstream education, i.e., the need to convey the ability, and to a certain extent the skills, to lead a productive and well-balanced life. However, in H/Ed, the individual features more strongly. Looking back, I appreciate the fact that my education was specific to my character and intelligence and that there was more room for my own interests. I enjoyed and learned a lot from the informal aspects of my education: projects, museum visits, H/Ed groups, extra-curricular activities, my own pursuits, etc. While the formal side of H/Ed is vital, and I’m thankful that education in my family aimed at individual needs, it is the activities my siblings and I would not have had in school that shaped my perception of H/Ed.
My overwhelming perception of my educational experience is not a formal one, and this links to my feelings as a fraud. How have I gotten where I am without a formal education, I ask myself? I hear my peers talk of lessons, teachers and study, and I can honestly say I have either blanked this out (possible!), or it didn’t figure as strongly as other things in my upbringing. I don't consider my history of H/Ed as one of books and timetables. For me, H/Ed was more about the daily influence of the family surroundings than about education as traditionally seen. This is the hidden curriculum of effective H/Ed: the shaping of character and nature by the child's immediate surroundings; in this case, the home and the family. I appreciate this because I believe I have a stronger relationship with my family, a unique character, ideals and ideas shaped by my family and especially my parents, due to close and daily interaction. My upbringing has not taken away all my problems, nor was it all smooth, but I believe my parents worked their hardest to pass on the life education they wanted me to have, and this is the H/Ed I remember and appreciate.
One particular aspect I want to comment on is socialization. While I believe my family provided a large portion of socialization within my H/Ed years, I appreciate the fact that my parents searched for and provided other suitable sources of socialization. While the very nature of educating at home sometimes made this difficult, it is one that I think was important to our time as a home-educating family.
I realize this is a short piece, and it doesn’t cover H/Ed in any satisfactory way, but as I wrote it I thought long and hard about what to discuss. I do not want to give the impression that I know all about H/Ed. I have only grown up through it and cannot imagine what my parents, or other parents, go through. I know others hold different perceptions of H/Ed, but for me, growing up with my family has shaped and strengthened who I am.
Josh is studying for a Masters in Primary Education at Aberdeen University. He has frustrations, not with “fitting in” or “keeping up” but with the lack of academic challenge and the dumbing down and spoon feeding! – Editor, The Home Service
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