Learning most of the time!
Back in the early to mid 1990s, when I was about 20 years old, I happened upon Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society while I was familiarising myself with pedagogical theory at the start of my Masters degree in Anthropology. Illich’s ideas blew me away. At that stage I hadn’t really given much thought to having children (indeed, it was another 17 years before Lily came along) but when I read Illich I decided that if I ever had kids of my own I would educate them at home. Since then I’ve discovered the inspirational work of John Holt and his ideas about ‘uneducation’ and ‘learning all the time’. Holt’s philosophy is simple – everything and anything can be an opportunity for learning, and children (indeed, all of us) should be given the time and encouragement to pursue their interests and to immerse themselves in learning what they want to learn. Illich is more radical. His is a political argument about institutionalisation, about the role of formal education in nation building and in the maintenance of the status quo.
So this heady mix of philosophical and pedagogical idealism inspired me and when my kids eventually did come along I didn’t think twice about home education. Lily and Katie are now 5 and 4 years old and they are indeed ‘learning all the time’. I want to share what works for us, what doesn’t, and how we get on with our own individual approach to education.