Home Education

Imagine if when you were a kid, one day your mum had said to you “Jimmy, you don’t have to go to school any more if you don’t want to. Apart from helping us out occasionally you can pretty much whatever you like for the rest of your life!” Imagine not growing up with any of the hang-ups that school and society forces down our throats: get some qualifications, get a job, and get on with it. Imagine growing up happy and continuing to be happy for the rest of your life. OK, well maybe not going to school isn’t going to necessarily cancel out everything else bad going on in your life, but we’re forced … forced … to spend our childhood somewhere we probably don’t want to be while our parents pursue jobs that they probably don’t enjoy to earn money to buy things they don’t really need. That can’t be good.

For the first four or five years of a child’s life we trust them to learn all about life and the skills they need with minimal input from us. What changes? Why, all of a sudden should we ship our kids off to school, isolate them from real-life and stick them with 30 other pupils of their own age, amongst 100s of children all of whom are forced to go there, when real-life is going on on the outside. Is school just free childcare? Can we not be bothered to spend time with these amazing little people? OK, they can be a pain in the arse sometimes and you won’t always feel like playing horsies again (!) but surely they deserve a better start than this.

I went through the usual routine: O levels, 5 A and AS levels with a couple more O levels thrown in so I didn’t get bored and finally a degree. John Holt describes a job as what you have to go to earn some money and a career as a series of jobs. Whereas work is something you feel drawn toward, something you really enjoy doing (and hopefully someone is going to pay you to do it). After my degree I spent a “year out” aimlessly wandering around Europe and visiting friends until I got bored and I felt the only option was getting a job. Middle of recession not the best time to be looking for work but I eventually found one and I’m not saying it wasn’t fun at times but I spent a lot of time gazing out of the window at the sunny day going on outside. After four years I eventually built up the bottle to go self-employed, but this still involved a lot of travel so after moving to Wales I finally started to try and find local “work” and carve a niche for myself in West Wales. I used what skills I had: did some tutoring, computer repairs, worked in an animal sanctuary, did some gardening, until computers looked like the easiest and most fun way to make a living and have enough time plenty of time to play. Then a family came along and that is a whole other story. But my point is it took me fourteen adult years until I finally realised that I didn’t have to go out and earn lots of money for stuff I didn’t need. I had been forced to go through education, then what do you do, you get a job. You want to earn as much as you can – fulfil your potential – but what about the stress; the doing what you don’t want to do