On Homeschooling and the System
I home educated my daughters, but I generally try to avoid being too negative about the school system and certainly school teachers. My daughters actually started out in the school system and while it ultimately didn't work out for us, I know it suits some and I've encountered more lovely teachers within the system than I have bad ones (much of the time when teachers couldn't help with my girls' specific needs it was down to the restrictions of the schooling system, not their desire to teach). However, in this article I will be venting a bit on my frustrations with the school system which fails so much of our youth.
Image courtesy of @crosheille.
A bit of background first
I was probably fairly lucky in my education, as while I spent a short time in the state (public) school system, most of my school years were at a Rudolf Steiner (Waldorf) school. I actually didn't realise at the time just how lucky I was, because it was a school specifically catering to a deprived area where most families, us included, could never normally have afforded private education. Sadly this school has now been closed down by the education department and I've heard that at least one other Waldorf school in the UK has also been closed down. Make of that what you will.
The Waldorf approach to education is much more holistic and individual to the child than the state school system, yet while they did things differently, there was still the need to conform to the government approach when it came to exams and this was my first experience of how exams don't always allow you to demonstrate your abilities, so much as demonstrate how well you can jump through hoops. Both my sister and myself were pretty much put off art at this time of our lives, because of the way the exams work. We were basically made to feel like we had no talent in that area. This all came back to me recently with my youngest doing her SACE (South Australian Certificate of Education).
I started home educating my daughters just before their 10th and 8th birthdays. It turned out to be the best thing for them. Once they approached their mid teens we started looking at what they wanted to do moving forward. My eldest knew she wanted to do science at university, so we looked at different ways she could get into university. We knew some children went back into school at this age in order to do their SACE and get an ATAR score. I don't know exactly how the ATAR works, but different university degrees will demand scores above a certain amount to allow you on them. In school you are led to believe that these scores are the be all and end all of getting into university and if you don't achieve them then it's over for that path and you have to do a different degree.
A physio friend recently told me that she thought she'd failed to get into her physio degree because the year before you'd needed a 99 ATAR score to get in and she'd gotten 97, despite all the hours and work she'd put in. She cried nearly all day when she got her results. As it happened she did get the university offer with this score, but it demonstrates just how much pressure is put on students in the school system and they are not told that there are actually a variety of other ways to get onto the course they want. Perhaps it's because school's reputations are based on the scores that their students get, so they want them to strive for the highest scores they can.
My eldest didn't want to go back into the school system to get into university and thankfully we already knew from other homeschooling families that there were other entry pathways. We made inquiries and were told that she could do a specific maths course offered by the university to get into most of the science degrees, so we started doing that. Unfortunately, it became harder and harder to get hold of the contacts for the marking and by the time she finished the course they'd decided it would no longer be a pathway to anything. So she ended up having to wait until she'd turning 18 and take the STAT (Special Tertiary Admissions Test) adult entry pathway. In some states you need to be 21 to be able to enter university this way.
My youngest wasn't sure what she wanted to do and wasn't sure she wanted to go to university either. She's more of a hands on learner than an academic learner. However, my husband wasn't keen on the idea of her reaching school leaving age without any "formal" qualification, so he wanted her to at least get a SACE qualification. While my eldest could have handled school for this, my youngest wouldn't have, so we decided to do it online through a place called Inventorium. It was recommended by another homeschooling parent and was supposed to be more fun and child led than normal Open Access learning.
And thus the journey started
The idea of Inventorium is that students can gain their certificates working on the things that they enjoy and are good at and the teachers would enter this work in a way that would cover all the task requirements. It should have been a fairly relaxed approach and she didn't need an ATAR so it was just a standard certificate she was working towards. If she then wanted to go into university at a later point there are still pathways even without an ATAR. For example you can start a degree like art, take on a unit required for the degree you actually want to do, then do a course swap after the first semester.
To start with things with Inventorium seemed like they really were being done with a more informal approach through the website, but it soon became apparent that this wasn't enough to satisfy certain compulsory areas. Basic maths was straight forward, but English still had all the essay requirements and when we reached other stage 2 subjects it was pretty much a case of forget about what the student wants to do, they might be able to choose the direction of the topic, but then you need to learn how to present everything in a specific way for marking and moderation. If you don't present it correctly with the correct wording that they want to see, then it doesn't matter how capable you are at the subject, you will be failed.
The teacher even admitted that for many of the assignments students will pretty much have to make things up to fit the requirements that they are looking for. So it seems like the highest grades in school are actuality achieved by the ones that are best at hoop jumping and lying. You can't meet the requirements within the limitations of a student without filling in the gaps this way. It feels like integrity is just not encouraged any more, in fact the opposite is encouraged (which would actually explain a lot about managers in the workplaces these days...).
The subject that almost broke my daughter was Creative Arts at stage 2 level. She thought she'd finally be able to have some control of what she wanted to do, but because she wasn't presenting it properly she basically got told that this wasn't her strong suit. It turned out that for about 80% of the assignment they actually want to see research, then only about 20% of it was the student demonstrating their art and ability. This could have been explained much better by the teacher, but she wasn't really experienced in this area herself and she end up passing her own stress about looming deadlines onto my daughter.
There were lots of conversations after this about how while art and techniques can be taught to an extent it's really not something that you can test for with an exam, because it's so subjective. This is likely why they've devised an approach to try and bring it into a form where they can mark it impartially, but it actually ends up undermining the confidence of many creative people. It's not just these types of talents that are undermined by the examination system, but they will continue to try and devise ways to give you certificates in a range of subjects, not just because it's money coming in to pay for the education system, but because we now have employers that want to see those certificates, even for jobs that don't need qualifications.
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The exams and grading systems are some of the things I dislike most about traditional school. It puts so much pressure to the student and they are somewhat forced to make high grades so that the school would look good. Gone is the intention of measuring what the kid actually knows and wants to do, all they want to see is make sure the kids produce the things that the school wants to see.
Even the teachers I love back in my schooldays are also trapped with what the system wants them to do and produce.
This is so true! You've reminded me that there are those academic tests throughout school which the school's credentials are based on. In the UK it was SATs (Statutory Academic Tests) and here in Australia it's the Naplan. I actually recall schools being disappointed that my eldest would be leaving before sitting the tests, so they wouldn't benefit from her scores. As homeschoolers we could still sit the Naplans and it was useful to gauge where they were at with maths and literacy. The school we left to homeschool was eager for my eldest to go back there to sit the Naplan, not realising that it wouldn't count towards their school, but instead fall into the homeschooling category. 😆
The interesting thing was that we chose that school based on the academic scores from these tests and it turned out that they got those scores by cherry picking the students they took on (they had a waiting list) and not through their "superior" education. The local government school turned out to be better at teaching than them. A lot of fast learners left and went to the government school where they were much better stimulated. It was quite ironic.
Beaurocracy is amazing at ruining otherwise good things.
Isn't it just! 🤦♀️
I totally agree with @romeskie, gone are the days when schools just let students learn and not force them to produce what the school wants all because of the system.
Sad to hear it seems to be a worldwide phenomenon too.
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I have to admit that I'm new to this, to all that you shared with us here. I get the impression that all these alternative systems that are meant to evaluate children and complete their scores to have like a formal qualification and so on are not always easy.
And yes, definitely score system in schools are so frustrating and so pressure on. I even have had a "debate" with my husband on this a few days ago because he said in a way they're good because kids get to be competitive and this makes them better on that class and prepare them for the real word which is not smooth and easy path. Maybe he's right in a small proportion but overall, score system sucks and screw up many kids. Not all kids are good at everything and it doesnt have to affect the final general score in the end.
And you cant put a score on a kid just like that. For example, one kid who's amazing at science and math but fails on arts. He's still a brilliant kid. Why does this have to count on the final score by taking an A+ at Math and a C to arts? It's not fair. This is only one thing that school system lack of. There are many more.
Anyways, I just know that Caleb will be homeschooled someday, like real homeschooling because I feel school environment it will not be in his favor because of many reasons (and because of our lifestyle). On the other hand, he's way to bright compared with the other kids his age. And this will definitely wont benefit him. At all.
I know that he'll be one of the fast learners kids and he'll just stagnate among the others. Like @ingridontheroad said in her last post with collaborative learning, he'll be one of those bright kids from the group who'll "lose" in the end of the day.
I'm saying this only because reading your post, I feel that soon enough, I have to deal with searching and reaserching on which is the best way to homeschool my son and what system/platform/classes we have to follow in order to be OK for the Romanian system.
I've read it already many many times, but I still dont have a clue.
It's daunting when you first start out because you don't know what to expect. Keep trusting your own judgement and simply tackle one day at a time. That's do-able and less stress. You are a great mum and you will do well. Love, patience and no stress will see you through.
Thank you kindly for your words! I'll try my best when the time comes! And I'll get some inspo from your posts as well 😊❤️
My eldest is a fast learner and she would start school at the beginning of the year loving it with all the new things to learn. Then part way through the year she'd get bored as they weren't moving on to new things. I'd literally be taking her to school in tears after the first term or two, because she'd be so unhappy. Homeschooling allowed her to move at her own pace and try different learning methods/styles when she got bored with one way of doing things. When she left home she got an ADHD diagnosis, which likely explained a lot. 😅
Thats cool to know! In our case, we're not there, yet. For little kids, things are different for sure. You know it better than me. But we'll be there I guess, one day.🧐
I cant wait for Caleb to grow (to put it like this) so I can observe his own learning style. I dont know what to expect but it will be a beautiful journey for sure.
Still, what I want to add here is that I understand exactly how has it been with your daugher. And I'm telling you why. I know its not the same but its close. So Caleb is going now to kindergarden short program (I dont remember what I talked to you last time about this). He likes it now and I like it too. I like the activities they're doing there. Its not walforf or montessori but its cool enough. The environment is cool. I think its the best we have in our town. Even though I discovered a few days ago a montessori one, I dont think I'm interested. In the end, the main reason he's going to kindergarden is for social reasons and emotional growing and development. Following easy rules, becoming independent and stuff like these.
Still even though I said I love whay they're doing there, I consider that is not enough. Definitely! Caleb's potential is way higher than all that. And I work at home with him to keep it that way.
..so thats why I said I understand. He's not getting bored but he needs something more. He can something more.
Anyways, I hope you understand my point here. 😁😁
P.S. it was cool that you followed a waldorf school, no matter for how long.
My eldest actually loved Kindergarten, but it was a completely different environment to school. They could do whatever they wanted learning wise at Kindy, so it wasn't structured or limited. We only encountered problems when we got to the official schooling point. In reception she only managed one term before she got bored. Her teacher said to me that he was aware how far ahead she was, but couldn't do any more to stretch her in this year level.
I wish my daughters could have gone to a Waldorf school, but by the time they were old enough the school had to change its pricing structure which meant we couldn't afford it. It was interesting to see how the state/public school system worked when my girls experienced it, though.
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There is really a big difference in teaching kids in school compared to those kids being taught at home. Kids learned more from home if the parents will really give time to teach to their kids.
Homeschooled is not common here in Philippines (or might be I just don't know more about it here).
I just learn more about homeschooling here in hive particularly in @homeedders Community.
I don't think homeschooling is common anywhere, although I think with the internet it's become more common and easier. It's probably also easier to find out more about it online now as well.
Thank you for stopping by. 🙂
Fast brother thank you, for making a great decision about the education, again, education build a lot, thank you for sharing.
I think is very clear to me that most of the school system is oriented to produce individuals useful for a serialized-production system. I am not sure about the school systems in other countries, but I think it is mostly the same. All the grades and competitive system often puts the individuals in a kind of never-ending competition… I think that is not right at all
Even when I would love to teach my girls, I don't have the time or the full acknowledge to do so. What I constantly do is to reinforce them with the idea that the education they received is a tool for their own development. They must complain with the system to get the acknowledge that will allow them to do their will lately. I try to reinforce that idea as much as possible so they don’t get trapped by the system