Our current school system is only one of many possibilities and it really does not need to be this way. The system needs to radically change.
The information on better ways of educating children is to show that there are alternatives, that our current school system is only one of many possibilities and it really does not need to be this way.
There are some examples in this section which are essentially of little tweaks to our current system. These are not here to suggest that this is the solution, a much greater revolution in school is needed, they are here to show how things we might assume to be unquestionable are not. We think that because something is how it is, and has been for a long time, that it is right in some way. That it wouldn’t be possible to learn useful things without a state mandated curriculum. That testing and exams are necessary because otherwise we wouldn’t know how well students and schools were doing. Or that of course teachers must mark students’ work so they know what they’ve done wrong and right. We assume that children must learn together with other children of the exact same age.
None of these are in any way necessary. We have included some examples in this section to show how schools could work without them being the case. Finland is an example of how, at state level, schools do not need to relentlessly test children, how teachers and children being allowed a level of autonomy achieves dividends.
There are also some examples of really good practice and innovative ideas which have been applied successfully in mainstream schools, schools which do the 2018 School Without Walls programme takes children’s learning out of the school building and into a cultural space. The RSA wants to support children learning in their local community. Khan Academy and learning via videos shows how online can support personalised learning by allowing students to learn at their own pace. There are also examples of schools which have successfully used aspects of self-directed learning, game playing and social classroom set ups. Philosophy for Children, designed to work in schools, help children learn through enquiry and discussion, rather than focusing on getting the right answers. Again, none of these individual aspects are put forward as a complete answer but instead as an inspiration to show how the principles which underpin home education, particularly self-directed learning, truly help children to learn.
Change is possible on every aspect of what we do in schools. There’s an organisation HundrED which shares literally hundreds of inspiring ways in which schools around the world have found ways to genuinely improve children’s learning.
There are also some examples shared which are edging closer to what home education is. School in a Cloud is Sugata Mitry’s brainchild, following his experiments which showed that children can learn on their own very successfully. Examples of School in a Cloud used in the classroom and an example of used at home are both included here. Summerhill is as close to self-directed home education as is possible within a school environment, where all academic activities are voluntary (some of the community activities are not). The school won acceptance of its learning philosophy in court, following attacks on them by OFSTED.
All of these examples are here as an inspiration to believe that change is possible and necessary to our school system.
They are also here to show many of the different aspects of home education work. It can be hard to get your head around a system so totally different to school, but perhaps it is easier to understand broken down to these individual aspects.