One of the fears I had when deciding to forego school, and I think many others do too, was that my kids would ‘fail’. What if it didn’t work out? What if they didn’t learn everything they needed to know? What if they would have been better off at school? It’s a big responsibility taking your children’s whole education into your own hands. We’ve been led to believe we’re not qualified for that task.
But then I realised, school is not a guarantee. If I chose to send my kids to school I would be taking a risk with their education there too. An even bigger risk maybe as they would be educated by people who didn’t know them as well as I did, and their education wouldn’t be specifically catered to their individual needs. Sending your child to school does not automatically guarantee ‘success’ or even an education.
School kids fail. Some don’t get high enough marks to pass school. Sending them there does not mean they will end up graduating. Of course, some of them don’t.
School kids drop out. Some kids won’t make it to the end of school, they will drop out before it has been completed. Some will skip class on a regular basis even though they have to be there.
Some kids have their love of learning damaged. They lose that beautiful passion for learning they had in early childhood.
Some kids are unfortunately damaged by bullying.
There are no guarantees. Sending your child to school does not mean that they won’t ‘fail’, it just means that you won’t be solely responsible for it. It’s true, if you decide to home educate you are entirely responsible for your child’s education. That is a risk too, but maybe not one as big as outsourcing their education. If you are in charge of their learning and you are with them every day then you get to know them deeply. You can help them learn whatever they want to learn, and you can spot any difficulties and change things if needed. You have big responsibility but also big power. They won’t get to the ‘end’ of their education and suddenly realise they haven’t learnt what they needed to know. You are there every step of the way and you are involved.
Whichever method of education you choose, it’s all a risk. In my opinion though, no one really ‘fails’. If by the time you are an adult (whether schooled or unschooled) you find that you don’t know something that you really need to know, you can just learn it. You don’t need permission, or a teacher, or a curriculum. You can always learn what is needed, learning has no expiry date. But what of that time in between? Those 18 or so years before you’re considered an ‘adult’. How would you want to spend it?
I would want to have time to enjoy my childhood. To play, to be outdoors, to climb trees, to be with my family, to learn what interested me, to be free. And I want that for my kids too.
So I could pack my kids off to school every day because I was too scared to take the risk. Because I was too worried about not being good enough. Because I was too afraid of failure. Or I could be brave, accept the responsibility, and give my children the childhood I dream for them.
In the end, the choice is simple for me.