I’m going to try to share with you the things that have been swirling around in my mind on the topic of Home education today. Just mentioning the term ‘home education’ tends to bring about a frosty reception in some circles of the society and cause people who don’t know anything about it, to raise their eyebrows even higher if you say you believe in it.
I for one, want to home educate my son and any other children I might have in the future. But he is only three at the moment and I am still trying to win over my husband and extended family on the topic of HE. However I have been researching the HE way of life even prior to the birth of my son and will share with you in one of my future posts why I think it is the right path for my son, but for now I want to disprove the idea that Home educating (or choosing alternative education options besides mainstream schooling) makes a child grow up weird (socially inept) or that parents can’t match the caliber of qualified teachers from a school, or that it would hamper their chances in gaining qualifications/skills leading to a dream job or one that earns you big bucks.
I am presenting to you here a list of recognized public figures who have been either home educated or gained much of their capabilities that define them outside of school hours despite going to school, just to prove to you that gaining an education has nothing to do with ‘attending school’! Read on.
Meet Jake Barnett, 17-year-old Physicist from America, who was diagnosed with autism at 2 and went on to be homeschooled by his mother along with his two other siblings. Having taken no other formal school lessons, he managed to study elementary and high school math in just two weeks to be able to sit for a Master’s program in Quantum Physics that he wanted to pursue. Watch his Tedx talk here to know out more about his story. Or read his mother’s book ‘The Spark’ written about raising an autistic child prodigy. He is tipped to be a future Nobel Prize winner and apparently has an IQ higher than Einstein. All this about a boy who was was written off as being severely autistic, needing special education and was told he would never be able to talk ever. In his funny and inspiring TEDx video he is quoted saying that he had to ‘Stop learning, Start thinking (in his own unique perspective, in order to) Start creating’ to be able fully realize his potential. And he is bang on right. Most of the real learning doesn’t happen in a classroom environment. Eureka moments actually happen when we are at our most relaxed and when we know that no one has any expectations of us. Archimedes had his eureka moment lying in a bath tub. Beethoven similarly came up with compositions while splashing about in his bathroom for hours together; Benjamin Franklin while flying a kite and Isaac Newton while daydreaming under an apple tree! Moral – going to school, doesn’t automatically make you a genius or clever! Education or inspiration and creativity can happen anywhere, quite literally.
Timothy Doner from New York came to the world’s attention as a polyglot with medium to advanced proficiency in 19 foreign languages aged just 15 at the time. Admittedly he did attend mainstream education but in his own words, school didn’t help to spot or further his passion in linguistics. He taught himself languages out of personal interest in current events and learnt it mostly at nights (he was insomiancal) with unconventional methods such as memorizing and repeating back foreign rap songs, watching movies in other languages and listening/speaking with other native speakers around him. Visit his channel PolyglotPal on youtube to hear him conversing with native speakers of foreign languages with such ease. He claims that any language can be learnt to a reasonable degree of proficiency in a month’s time if approached in the right way. Just with the use of technology (skype, chat messengers, internet websites, songs and movies) one can achieve a greater degree of command in a language than you would by attending language classes spanning over months or semesters. Moral – School really wasn’t of great use for this self-taught polyglot. His skills flourished mostly in informal environments where he saw native speakers of a language gather or in the comfort of his home watching foreign movies. I would highly recommend his videos if you have any form of interest in learning a new language. He is the reason I’ve been inspired to further my passion in learning French in the past year (German and Spanish more recently). His passion for linguistics comes across clearly in his manner and his enthusiasm is seriously infectious. I wouldn’t be surprised if you came away wanting to learn to Pashto, Xhosa or Arabic after watching one of his videos!
Star of the hit comedy Sitcom ‘2 Broke Girls’ from America. If you thought home educated kids couldn’t get a break in the big bad world of Hollywood, think again. According to this famous actress’ Wikipedia page, she never had formal schooling aside from one half day at a local school! She graduated early at the age of 14 and went on to pursue a career in acting thereafter. Although the 2 Broke Girls series has mature content and is not in keeping with my Christian values, I will admit that I am a big fan and find it hilarious. Kat sure has acting skills and convincingly plays the role of a female character which I think that not too many actresses can pull off. She is funny and gutsy. Applause! Yet more proof that being home educated doesn’t hinder your options in life. Whether it is a career in acting, business or fashion, you can dream big and have it all! Also, as a bonus feature, she doesn’t for one moment come across as shy, weird or socially awkward because of her HE background. More proof that, all that malarkey about growing up ‘unsocial’ or geeky because one is home-schooled is just pure, well, you know what!
Yes, Michael Faraday, the influential English scientist who contributed much to the field of electromagnetism and electrochemistry, and who among many of his other achievements, invented Benzene and came up with the Laws of Electrolysis which are to this day are named after him. Ironically, he received little formal education, was deplorably poor and went to work as an apprentice at book binders’ aged 14 to help his family. In fact his family was so poor that his mother would ration out one slice of a loaf of bread to him and each of his siblings which they had to meticulously portion out to last a week! He learned much of the information he would need later on as a scientist through the books he would receive as a binder and pour over them for days on end! His thirst for knowledge and his spark eventually got him noticed by Humphrey Davy who employed him as his assistant, giving him his big break. You’d be interested to know It is because of him that we have accessible electricity today. However this great scientist, who conquered the field of physics and chemistry at one point, had his own unique weaknesses. His mathematical abilities were relatively poor and he often found trigonometry and algebra too difficult (strike a chord anyone!) Goes to show that you don’t have to know everything to achieve what you principally want to in this life. The idea of being all-knowing or having an all-round knowledge is preposterous (which is what most schools claim to achieve with our children), so stop aiming for it. It is ok to be a great physicist and still have mathematical weaknesses. In other words, schools these days are turning children in to jacks of all trades with their various subjects and extracurricular activities claiming they will turn them into a ‘complete man/lady’ (read drama, athletics, glee clubs, football practice and endless other activities) . It is better to tune their hearts and their mind to what they want to do instead of shooting an arrow in the dark.
These are just few of the personalities that I have grown to love and admire after researching their backgrounds and life stories. The resounding theme that runs through all of their lives is that ‘school’ whether they attended one or not, wasn’t the chief factor in determining their successes in their various fields. Something worth thinking over I guess.
To finish I’d like to quote a passage from Albert Einstein’s autobiography taken from the excellent book ‘Free to Learn’ by Peter Gray
It is nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wreck and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty