EdPhil: Draft document, please comment!

“The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable to his age ability and aptitude and to any special needs he may have either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.”

Educational Philosophy

(1) Children are born learners. They learn to self-feed, to walk, to talk, with no teaching at all – all that’s needed is example and opportunity to practice.

(2) People remember the things they wanted to learn, the things which interested them. Someone whose Bachelors degree was in mathematics might have difficulty with simple arithmetic (as far as I can tell, they all use calculators), but be happy with complex equations, and cheerfully able to rattle off the time and location of the world’s most impressive stegosaurus fossil finds.

(3) People learn what they want to learn and what they need to learn. Many adults leave home and learn to manage a washing machine, write a CV, balance a budget, ask for and decline social or sexual favours, all without being told how by a teacher or parent – when it becomes necessary, they teach themselves to do it.

(4) People acquire skills at different ages and different stages. Some people learn to negotiate social boundaries first, others learn to multiply fractions first. Some people learn to sing before they learn to compose rhyming couplets, others can’t hold a tune until long after they can recite their own poetry for hours on end. Some skills are never acquired by some people. Some are usually acquired by most.

(5) “Skills to be learned” is a very broad category. “Being friendly” is a skill. “Self-knowledge” is a skill. Literacy, hopscotch, numeracy, representational drawing, an eye for colour, plumbing, horse-riding, poetry recital, poetry composition, playing a musical instrument, designing a spaceship, washing the dust of ages from recently-uncovered bone combs, guaging the colour of the grass the cattle are eating and choosing whether to move them on or not, cooking, house-cleaning, grocery shopping, tying bootlaces, ballet, typing, handwriting, sign-painting, pottery, accountancy, graphic design, computer programming, rugby, goalkeeping, teaching – all skills. All learnable. Very few people have them all.

(6) Information to be absorbed is usually absorbed as part of skill acquisition or from sheer delight in the information itself.

(7) Who my child wants to be and who I hoped she’d be before she existed are not the same person. She is her own person. I do not own her. I have responsibilities towards her. These are not the same thing.

(8) My responsibilities towards my child are to provide her with the opportunity to learn what she wants and needs to learn (usually the same thing), to facilitate her learning when she cannot do that herself (which may include taking her places, finding classes or groups, acquiring equipment, etc) and to teach her when she needs me to. An important responsibility is to leave her time and space to just get on with things when she needs to do that.

(9) If the plan doesn’t work, we can always change the plan.

  1. Radegund’s avatar

    I agree with all of this, you’ll be astonished to learn :-)

    Of the problems my family has with the whole enterprise, the one that strikes me as most reasonable is the question of access to external milieus (as in, spaces where the child can be apart from the influence of its parents/household). School takes care of this particular issue very neatly. I’m not entirely sure how it works when there isn’t school.


  2. Ailbhe’s avatar

    Mm, I know you agree with it – what I’m not sure of is whether it’s coherent!


  3. Shira’s avatar

    Nope, that's all perfectly coherent to me, and I imagine you'll be shocked to hear that I agree completely. I don't know how many times I've tried to explain to people that *children want to learn* and you don't have to *make* them do it, unless of course you've spent several years making them learn a bunch of stuff that doesn't interest them, and trying to stop them learning about the things they want to learn about at the time.
    Now *I'm* wondering if I've written incoherently.


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