School vs Learning

While there are records of educational institutions dating back to at least 2000 AD, the modern school system and the “norm” of sending kids to be taught while we all go off to earn is relatively new. In fact, for centuries, millennia even, most people worked in and around the home (or farm), and everything was done as a family.

Based on that, we might be tempted to think no learning occurred until we built schools and sardined all our kids into them while all the grown ups sold their souls for school fees.

History shows us, however, that this is patently untrue. The fact is that people have learnt stuff since the dawn of time. We’ve learnt to speak and to dress ourselves. We’ve learned to eat and to feed ourselves. We’ve learnt to walk and talk and socialise and cook and clean and work and even read and write. And for centuries, we’ve learnt all of this without the intervention of a single qualified teacher.

In other words, school is not necessarily the same thing as learning.

As schools evolve, many of them* seem to actively discourage learning altogether. When we took the girls out of main stream schooling, we found them so overwrought at the thought of “school” that the very word left them a quivering mess of tears. It took us months to begin to open them up to the possibility that learning could be fun.

I don’t know if this is large number of children in a class, the massive admin burden facing so many teachers, the lack of fascinating subjects for learning-challenged learners to sink their teeth into, or some diabolical combination of the above.  Whatever it may be, school certainly wasn’t conducive to learning in my children. We pretty much had to start from scratch.

Since taking them out of main stream school, so many people have challenged us about how much they learn – how much they could possibly learn – under these circumstances. They wonder how we could possibly know enough to teach our children (we did pass high school, after all. And plus: Google). They wonder how we could make our children learn.

But in truth, they’re learning every day. They learn when we make breakfast together. They learn when we discuss current affairs. They learn when they hear us run our business, and they learn as we disciple others in Church. They learn from us as we live our lives, and they learn from us as we actively invest time in their education. They learn when they help me design logos or capture cash slips. They learn when we go to the zoo or the beach or the museum or Granny’s House. Sometimes, we hardly touch an academic subject for days, but that doesn’t mean they’re not learning all the time.

They certainly haven’t stopped learning. If anything, they’ve only just begun.

What they no longer do is fear it.

*(Certainly not all – many are amazing institutions of learning where great strides are made in thought and human development)

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