The Heartbeat of Education Unlimited (Part 1)
Tags: Education Unlimited
Faye and I started Education Unlimited in 1999, as a home educating couple wanting to help and encourage other home educating parents.
It has since grown to include a wonderful group of like-minded individuals, including facilitators, managers and assistants who share the vision and direction of this ministry. It has also come to include a large number of parents seeking true freedom in educating their children.
My own professional education journey started over forty years ago. It took me through 25 years of classroom teaching in two provinces, in two languages within private, separate and public schools.
I taught grades 7-12 French as a Second Language for most of my career as a consequence of my being bilingual and, although I did enjoy working with children of all ages, I especially enjoyed teaching high school level Biology, in keeping with my lifelong interest and specialized training.
I must admit that my search for a better school is what took me to a number of different places, eventually leading me to realize that even though my personal grade school experience was not that great, my best efforts as a teacher could not change an entrenched system of educational mediocrity. This finally led me to see that I could not guarantee even my own children’s educational well-being within the status quo school system.
So, in the late 1980s, as the fledgling home education movement was just gaining momentum in Alberta and just before my oldest child was to enter junior high, my wife, Faye, and I decided that the only way we could be sure of doing the best for our children was to do it ourselves.
That was a long time ago. In retrospect, we dearly wish we would have never put any of our children in school as doing so required a lot of remediation for both our children and ourselves. I sure could share a lot of funny stories about some of the silly things we did when we first embarked on this journey.
Since it was known that I was a high school teacher, our decision to home educate our children automatically placed me in leadership within the home education community. It also put me at odds with my high school teaching colleagues, providing me with many opportunities to hone my debating skills!
However, we soon discovered that being a teacher was not so much an asset, as a liability. Teachers usually come complete with a predetermined set of ideas as to what constitutes a normal education.
Considering that all teachers are trained within a school based ideology and that nearly all teaching experience is school based, it is easy to understand how they would be most tolerable or comfortable with variations of home schooling.
Initially bringing school home proved to be a mistake for us. I am not sure what we were thinking. If school wasn’t working for us at school, why did we think that bringing school home would make it any better? How could we improve on a flawed idea?
This needed to be fixed and as we did, we discovered a very simple formula for successful home education. In nearly every way, looking into what schools did respecting pretty well anything, provided insight into what we needed to avoid doing!
Or, simply put, “see what school does and don’t do that” or “just do what schools don’t do.” This may seem a bit contrarian, but it is largely true. A bad idea does not become a good idea because it has changed venues or it is used in a different way. So, we changed our approach to education for our children.
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