Mama's Musings

Why Home Based Learning?

Jun 19, 2020

“Children are being freed to learn as nature intended” – just one comment I will always remember from my 2002 research into why Australian parents were home educating their children.  I was curious as to why so many were taking the plunge into home based learning in Australia.  Recently, isolation-schooling during the pandemic has exposed the option to all families as a possibility.  Here, I explain why  a steadily-increasing number of families been home educating in Australia over the past few decades.

Some parents actively choose to home educate.  They make the decision sometime – whether when their children are infants (and even unborn), or when they feel dissatisfied with their children’s schooling for any reason.  Some parents feel that there was no other choice.  Perhaps they have exceptional or neurodiverse children, their children are sick or injured, they may be simply unable to cope with the stress...

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Childcare: Naturally?

Jun 15, 2020

 

Childcare is a matter that greatly affects parents and employers – the main cogs in our societal moneymaking machine.  Childcare benefits and tax deductions are offered as enticements but rarely are the needs of children considered by policymakers.  A focus on numbers, timeframes and dollars motivate the big decisions. Childcare is big business and is currently influencing almost all childhoods in Australia.  The Australian Bureau of Statistics tells us that 90 percent of children under five currently use some form of childcare.  Tens of thousands of Australian children are in formal childcare for more than 45 hours a week.

Natural parenting is an ideology, not a dogma.  It is about instinctively raising our young, and making informed decisions.  Does childcare compromise or compliment our conscious parenting ideals?  Are those who perceive theirs to be a natural parenting style more protective than most other parents? ...

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Socialisation: What About It?

Jun 12, 2020

Many articles have been written before on the socialisation of home educated children. Still, the question arises more often than most others. To many home educators it’s the most ironic question of all. I mean – what about it? Socialisation is the main reason some families choose home based learning. They don’t see school as an opportunity to learn positive social skills, but more as a place to experience negative socialisation. It seems surprising that those in the school community bother to ask about the home educated’s socialisation – can’t they see what is going on in their classrooms and playgrounds?

“This depends on the kind of sociability you prefer – positive and altruistic or negative and self-centred. Many parents confuse peer orientation and dependence with sociability when instead true sociality thrives on secure, independent thought.” Raymond and Dorothy Moore

Many parents of previously schooled children have...

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Researching Home Education: John Holt

Apr 27, 2020

The Philosophy of Education

I first heard of John Holt when our eldest child was around 4 years old. There was a bookstore closing down in Sydney, and I bought a few titles at a bargain price and immersed myself in his wisdom. As often occurs when we are trying to absorb new information, it wasn’t the best timing and I made excuses for why Holt’s ideas were not for us.  My background studying primary teaching may have influenced my initial reaction to John Holt's message!

As we trialed different methods of home education, I was more able to grasp Holt’s philiosophy of respect and freedom. Re-reading books such as Learning All the Time and Teach Your Own every few years has allowed me to continue to trust my children’s capacity for learning and creating. 

There is room for John Holt’s philosophies in any home school, it's not just inspiration for unschoolers. We are eclectic learners – using some...

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Researching Home Education: Grace Llewellyn

Apr 20, 2020

The Philosphy of Education

Learning is Natural.  School is Optional.

Grace Llewellyn is an unschooling advocate, and highly esteemed author. She wrote her book, The Teenage Liberation Handbook, in 1991 at 26 years of age. I first read it before my older children were teenagers.  

Grace Llewellyn taught public school for a year. It was more than long enough to show her that something was wrong with the system. She then took a year off to travel and figure out what it was she wanted to do – since teaching was all she was qualified for. During that year she discovered the work of John Holt. Like so many who read his work, a few pages was all it took to convince her, but she went on to read most of his books.

Refreshed and with hope that she could make a difference Grace spent the next two years teaching at a very small private school, where she had complete control over the curriculum. Of this time she says, “The fact remained: they weren’t that...

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Researching Home Education: John Taylor Gatto

Apr 14, 2020

The Philosophy of Education

'At the pass we've come to historically, and after 26 years of teaching, I must conclude that one of the only alternatives on the horizon for most  families is to teach their own children at home.' John Taylor Gatto

John Taylor Gatto wrote Dumbing Us Down nearly 30 years ago. It sold over 200,000 copies and subsequent editions have been printed with additions. I first heard about Gatto in discussions on home ed. email lists. I followed a link and read some of his essays and became a fan! I read Dumbing Us Down when John Taylor Gatto was coming to Australia where I was excited to see him as the keynote speaker for the National Home Education Conference in 2007.

Gatto was New York City and State Teacher of the Year at various times in his career. He taught at a school where students everyone else had given up on were sent, and he did a good job with them ­ but in a creative and unorthodox way. He let them out of school,...

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Researching Home Education: Ivan Illich

Apr 06, 2020

The Philosophy of Education

'Together we have come to realise that for most men
the right to learn is curtailed by the obligation to attend school.' Ivan Illich

I’ve long been interested in the philosophy of education. When studying education at university in the early 1990s, I loved learning about Paulo Freire, famous for the quote, "Education is politics. It can be used to liberate or domesticate a people." There was much talk and reading during that first year of my degree about individualised education and we were almost led to believe that there was an educational revolution happening. Apparently, when we walked into classrooms in less than four years’ time we would achieve amazing things in ways never possible before. Many of us had completed high school only months earlier and were doubtful that what the lecturers were arousing in us could ever be put into practise.

About a quarter of the students studying education dropped out before the first semester ended....

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