Pakistan homeschooling comes to Australia!

It’s been a week of travelling but we are finally here in Byron Bay – the most easterly point of Australia and the home of my mother.

It is a year since we were here in Australia, where all my family lives, but it has been a big year. Last October we dropped out of school and this trip has been everyone’s opportunity to question me about my latest unconventional decision.  This is my family, and they have known me long enough to think I am completely mad anyway – watching my transition over the last 40 years from farmer to greenie to yuppie to hippy to Muslim living in Pakistan (the worst phase of all and unfortunately the longest lasting!) What they are all worried about is that I have now drawn my kids into my craziness. More

What to do when your kids don’t want to learn?

I think a lot about learning… in fact I think about learning pretty much all day every day. But one thing I have realised from my own kids and the adult learners I work with is that (GASP) not everyone loves to learn.

This was a bit confronting for me, since ‘love of learning’ has long been my theme. It was even more confronting since I took my kids out of school so that they could recapture the sense of adventure that learning brings, but every time I introduce a new project, they groan. The standard pattern is that Safiyah says “Okaaay. Just tell me what to do”. Diyana says “No. no. no. I am not doing it”. Shams says “OK – but when can we finish?” More

The future of education

One of my favourite topics these days is the future of education. Interestingly in the last year or so just about every part of my life has become involved in some form of education…. in the morning we homeschool, in the afternoons and evenings I work as an e-learning facilitator and designer, in the spare cracks I teach my (much diminished) freelance writing team about writing, and all day every day my husband is teaching spirituality. If our kids don’t become educators of some sort I will be truly amazed…

So given my preoccupation with education and learning, and the fact that none of the learning we do could be termed as “traditional”, it is a bit of a theme of mine to be thinking of where education is heading.

I always had this dream that I would start a school here in Pakistan called “Love of Learning”, but wanted to first get to know the Pakistani education system. Unfortunately the more I got to know the Pakistani education system, the less I wanted a school like that! Sir Ken Robinson’s well known RSA video about Changing Education Paradigms is a perfect illustration of why the old system doesnt work and how the future could look:

After starting homeschooling and learning lots about better systems of education, I have been thinking about how online education could grow. It’s great to be sitting at home and doing our own system of school, but wouldn’t it be even more great if there were online learning communities where we could choose our topics, register to be part of a group that is doing that topic at the time, and interact with them throughout the course?

This is kind of what we do in our e-learning training courses at GCA. Each week there is a new module of learning, and the participants have resources and activities to do in the week. They work at their own pace, but have to submit their project or assignment to the forum before the end of the week and comment on the other participant’s posts. I absolutely LOVE this approach because it provides the freedom to work on your own, as well as have a support group to share ideas with, AND best of all, it converts the role of teacher into the role of facilitator, guiding the learning rather than directing it.

If we can incorporate self-directed learning, creativity, and all the other things we hold dear in homeschooling into this model, it could be an incredibly amazing system, and truly worthy of the name “Love of Learning”.

THIS is MY vision for education in the future.

What’s yours?

What should we really be learning?

After starting out six months ago with this sense of self righteousness that homeschooling was THE THING to be doing, I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I am now back at the questioning stage.

As the structure has progressively dropped away over the months and we have quit just about everything we started out with, I find myself now at the point where I am asking (actually screaming) WHAT SHOULD WE REALLY BE LEARNING???

There is no point asking the kids, because they will definitely answer even more loudly “NOTHING!!!!!” I guess some kids must get a kick out of learning at home, but mine still complain as if they have completely forgotten the torture that school inflicted upon them. More

Why teaching maths is unnecessary

John Bennett is a maths teacher and this TED talk is spot on.

His argument is that aside from basic addition, subtraction, division, fractions and percentages, there is hardly anything that we really need in maths, EXCEPT the idea of building analytical skills. How awesome is this…. I dont know about you, but I am feeling this tidal wave of change coming that is going to engulf traditional education and suck it out to sea. John Bennett argues for brain games and logic puzzles for kids… totally awesome. Now as homeschoolers all we have to do is decide whether we REALLY want our kids to sit for SATs, O levels or whatever board exams they are using for regurgitation purposes in our area. If we dont really need those exams, then the sky’s the limit!

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