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When your family don’t agree with home education

Newsletter · Aug 17, 2021


I started reading a new book over coffee yesterday, called Turning Learning Right Side Up. The thing I like about it right from the outset is that it’s co-authored by someone who isn’t actually from the education space, but who specialises in business management science. I’ve spent many years working in technology startups (which, generally, tend to lead the way in how we think about doing good work, developing people’s natural abilities, balancing all that with life etc.), and I’ve seen first-hand how much crossover there is between good business and education thinking.

I’m not too deep into the book yet, so I’ll hold back on a go-buy-it! recommendation until I am, but it opens with a very interesting little tidbit that I’ve never heard or thought about before: if you look at most current definitions of the word ‘educate’, they will talk about the act or process of imparting knowledge or skill. They will focus on systematic instruction, teaching, schooling.

But the Latin word it came from – ‘educere’ – actually means to lead out, to bring out, to draw forth.

Quite different, huh?

Ok, let’s get into one of your questions (which was something a bunch of you asked about):

Your Questions & Answers

We are based in England and as we approach the start of the new school year over here, I think my family are realising that we were being serious when we said we were going to home educate. As a result, their reservations are beginning to be mentioned more and more and it is becoming an ‘agree to disagree’ conversation.

We are not not the type of people to worry or stress about other people’s opinions BUT these people are family and at the end of the day, you do want them to support you.

Any tips of how to explain/discuss your decision with family who don’t necessarily agree with our decision?

Hey Hannah! This is always hard, because family (and close friends) tend to care the most – and so they worry the most.

That worry is usually well-intentioned, but also uninformed. The key thing to remember is that they don’t necessarily believe that school is categorically the best thing for your child, it’s that they believe a child going to school is…just how it’s done. That’s…where children are supposed to go.

In an ideal world, if they want to question your well-considered position on education the burden of proof would sit with them (which is the angle this post was written from), but we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in one where the status quo in education just isn’t really questioned.

And so, if you want them to be on the same page as you, the burden of proof falls back on you. Sigh.

I wrote a whole guide (which you can grab as an ebook, or a printed hard copy if the shipping doesn’t work out too crazy for where you are), specifically talking through the main worry areas that family tend to have. I called it The Grandparent’s Guide to Homeschooling, and you can find it here. If your family are open to reading it, grab an ebook copy and send it to their email address. They’ll get through it over a cup of coffee or two, and it will give them a great overview of allllll the compelling reasons why the path you’re taking is such an interesting – and considered – one. I’ve heard from so, so many people who have used this guide as a way to bridge that awareness and understanding with their family.

Perhaps, one day soon, we’ll live in a world where that burden of proof starts to flip.

Thanks for all you questions this week! There were some big topics in there (including a few great questions around trusting in our children’s ability to learn, rather than ours to teach), so I’ll be jumping in front of a camera this week to really dig into those. Keep sending them in, and stay tuned for some Q&A vids!

Thank you so much for reading,

Issy Butson, aka Stark Raving Dad. Author of The Grandparent's Guide to Home Schooling

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