Monday, 6 June 2011

Schooling Choices

For the past 4 years, I've been going around in mental circles about education choices. It's a real dilemma: on the one hand, I believe in comprehensive education which, in an ideal world, should cater for every child.

And then there's the Glasgow Steiner School, which is a real alternative. A school not focusing on achieving, but on letting the child develop their own interests, in a holistic way. The more I read about the Steiner approach to education, the more excited I get, the more I wish that my children should have an opportunity to go down this route.

Yet, it's a private school. I'm not even yet considering whether or not we could afford it or if it's logistically possible. One thing at a time.

How can I justify rejecting comprehensive education when I believe in it's value as an equaliser in society? Of course it's not a perfect system, and if anything, it should be changed from within. And don't I know that school is just a minor element in the learning journey of a child, accounting for only 17% of learning (the rest is made up by input from parents, family, community and peer group). Does it really matter which school my girls go to?

And yet. Waldorf education. All natural materials. Learning by exploring. Child led. Holistic. Respectful to other human beings and the environment. Gardening, knitting, cooking, outdoor play on the curriculum.

Oh my, I'm tempted. Not by ensuring my children do well and will be high achievers, but by instilling a love of learning in them and giving them the opportunity to learn life skills rather than how to pass exams.

Two ideologies having a tug of war in my head.


Anonymous said...

I can so relate to your struggle! We're not yet at the point where we have to choose a school for our son - he's only 18 months. But even before he was born, I found my ideas about education being challenged. I used to believe very strongly in the comprehensive education you speak of. But as I've thought more about it, I just love the ideologies of the education found at places like Waldorf, Montessori, or Sudbury. I love the idea of letting children follow their passions and interests and seeing where they go. I love the idea of fostering a love of learning.
We currently live in one of the best school districts in all of Pennsylvania (or so I'm told). But I wonder what that means? I know I need to do some research. What if our public schools embrace some of these same ideologies? How wonderful would that be?
I wish you luck in your quest for the perfect school (or as close to perfect as possible)! Keep us posted!

Muddling Along said...

Its a horribly tough choice - we've made our peace with private education, I'm all for equality but in a typical middle class way I'm not totally willing for my children to be the lab rats

And the private sector offers wider benefits for us - different lessons, greater extra curricular offering which is what we'd like

Kat @ Slugs said...

Terribly jealous you even have the choice.

Mwa said...

I have similar struggles, even though both Steiner and more traditional are free over here. (Well, as good as free anyway.) We also have other options. And still I went for the traditional, even Catholic, because of the feeling that at least in primary school my children should see all kinds of people and know what society etc is really like. I'm not always 100% sure of my choice, but overall I'm happy-ish with it. We do have to provide a balance at home against some of the things they are being taught, but overall I like that my children are sharing a more comprehensive life experience with children from all walks of life. And they are happy themselves as well.

Good luck with the choices!



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