Are we depriving our children by opting them out of school?

I was asked recently whether I feel we’re depriving our children by choosing to opt them out of school. Whether we believe we’ve removed the best possible way of learning life’s foundational knowledge and skills from their path.

I paused before answering, a bit surprised – not because I’d been asked such a pointed question, but because I’d been reminded that most people still feel the majority of learning needs to happen inside school grounds.

The question I asked back was whether he truly believes that schools – and their classrooms – are really the best place for our children to learn?

Is a small room full of people really the best place to learn how to read?

Is it the best place to learn how to surf, dance, sing, cook and learn French?

Is it the best place to explore a creative writing passion, the guitar, gardening, illustration, videography?

What about maths, history, the sciences…is that same room (or the one across the hall) really the best place to learn deeply and be inspired in any of those areas?

And even outside all that, is it really the best place to connect with others socially? To collaborate? To learn from our mistakes? To connect with experts in the fields that resonate with us as we grow?

School was a primary place for learning because a key resource – the teacher – was only available inside its rooms. But technology has long since smashed those physical and geographical walls down.

Yes, you can learn in a classroom. But in 2019 it isn’t the only option, and I certainly don’t believe it’s the best.

I’d said my bit. His eyes gave a look that made me think he was going to say yes, actually, it seems a silly thing to jam all that pre-determined learning into one small space with one small group of children and call it the gold standard of education…but change is hard, especially when it’s to a core societal belief, and the look flashed away. We agreed to disagree after a short chat, and I’m sure he left having galvanised his feeling that we’re short-changing our children.

But we’re not, every fibre of my being believes that, and I know it won’t be long before that flash I saw starts to stick around.


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