Blog Update

Hello all,
Apologies for my hiatus over the holidays, I have been very busy!

Anyhow, the reason I’m posting now is because tomorrow there shall be an article on Home Education in the Herald to which I have contributed some of my experiences, so if anyone is interested in reading that it’d be great.

Today was a pretty unusual day, as I met with seven other 15/16 year olds to talk about Ireland’s youth with Amina Mohammed, who is the adviser to the UN Secretary General. It was very interesting and we had some great discussions. There were people from UNICEF and the National Youth Council. I was there on behalf of ECO-UNESCO, Ireland’s environmental and youth organization. I’m pretty happy to have got the chance to do that! In the short timeframe I didn’t get to say as much as I would have wished about the environment but I’ve emailed some questions on that hopefully will answer some of my queries. I do intend to write more posts on environmental and global issues on this blog, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that I will remember to actually do so.

Over the holidays, I made a lot of jewellery (Which will be on my Etsy Shop and hopefully the blog very soon) And sold some at another craft fair in Bray! With the money I made at a previous fair and what I’ve saved for years, I got a camera, who is now my beloved child. She is truly, truly beautiful.

For those of you who might be here via the newspaper article, thanks for reading and for taking the time to look at my blog. I haven’t written a huge amount on Home Education so far (as it’s a very busy lifestyle that doesn’t much favour sitting at a computer writing blog posts all day) but I have lots to say that will be posted in the near future! I am very open to any questions that you may have, however stupid you may think they are! Feel free to comment below or send me a message.

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Home education (aka unschooling, life learning, etc)

Yes. It is true.
I no longer attend school.
It is beautiful.

I am fifteen years old and I have only been in school for two years. I think it was really great for me to try. I learned a lot about myself and I made some wonderful friends.
But why?
Why?

Why are children made to spend fourteen years of their life in a BOX, treated like sheep, not given any trust or responsibility, stressed out to the highest level and given practically no interaction with people outside their age range?

I don’t know. I don’t have all the answers. I could probably rant incorrectly for a while but I don’t really have the stamina.

I can tell you this, however. Today, if I was in school, right at this very moment, I would be preparing for the last class of the day, exhausted, awake since half six, having spent eight hours in a classroom cramming in ten mostly unneccessary subjects and with three hours of homework already piled upon me for the evening. There are, I can tell you, thousands of things I love to do. I would go home, sit, staring blindly at pages that make no sense, procrastinating furiously out of tiredness, when the outdoors was calling me, but I had no motivation to do anything. When I was in school, I did not want to play music. I did not want to draw. I did not want to write, or walk, or learn.

Today, instead of spending eight hours sitting in a classroom, I have spent two hours up the mountains, walking, taking photos, listening to trees, learning invisibly about the world. I collected hawthorn berries. I noticed that a particular species of spider was common of the trunks of ash trees. Getting home, I played guitar, figured out the chords to a few songs, and I continued writing a song. I helped cook a delicious lunch (Butternut squash, chickpea and sesame seed falafels with cucumber yoghurt raita if you must ask), ate, and now I sit, speaking to people across the world, learning Irish online, drinking ginger and turmeric tea and eating the hawthorn berries from earlier.
I am not tired after this. I am energized. Which mean that my day can continue, and get even better after three o clock, whereas in school that was the end of being able to do anything. I intend to continue the scarf I’m knitting. I intend to continue the crochet hat I started yesterday (I couldn’t find a crochet hook big enough so I found a stick and carved a surprisingly functional crochet hook in fifteen minutes) If I do end up watching TV, which generally doesn’t happen, it will most likely be a Ray Mears documentary on bushcraft (Although most of my attention while watching TV is usually on my knitting)
Tonight, I will probably go to bed early, as I spend my evenings drawing these days. I’ll continue listening to a lecture about global warming I got out of the library yesterday, and if I get tired of drawing I’ll continue the book I’m reading about food waste. Is there anything there that I did not learn from? I am calm, happy, relaxed. Today is one of my more fallow days, spent mostly at home and relaxed. Other days in the week are more busy. I do maths with another homeschooling friend one day, I meet a school friend and go to an environmental/peer leadership course/group another day, I go to French class another day, I help my mum with her Forest School work one day a week, I try to get to my writing club once a week too sometimes. I’m also starting my Gaisce award, an Irish award for young people which involves a skill, community involvement and a sport. I’m going to take up the Viol for my skill, do my environmental group as community involvement and either do yoga, tai chi or archery for my sport.

Now, answer this question. If you were/are a fifteen year old, which one of those days sounds more appealing? Rich? Full of true, life learning and skills?

I didn’t attend primary school, and yet when I went into school I got on as well as the people who had spent six-eight years in there already. And I was bored by the work given, most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, there were some good things too, but the drudging routine, the sheer pointlessness of it was not something I fared well with.

Some people may argue that school is very important, because without school, you can’t get into college, and without college you can’t get a job, and without a job you can’t get money, and without money you can’t have a family and a house and a pension and therefore you can’t be happy.

…….

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and I’m sure there are many other reasons that you might think school is great. You might actually be one of the rare people who really thrive in school and love it, and if you are, that’s great!

But I’m just going to make a few points here, going through the thing I said before.
1. “Without school, you can’t get into college!”
You can get into college without going to school. There are many, many, alternative routes, and there’s also different types of homeschoolers/unschoolers, some with a strict curriculum and exams and some with completely free child-based learning. Most are somewhere in between the two. It does differ in different countries, but here, I know that if I want, I can study myself and do the leaving cert, or I could do A levels, or I could do FETAC level five courses, or many other things. School and college do not go hand in hand.
2.”Without college, you can’t get a job!”
Ehh… no.
There are certain professions, such as teaching, medicine, etc. which would be very difficult to pursue a career in without college. In this day and age, however, there are thousands more thing you can do with your life. Home education gives people time and space to develop their true interests and passions, so that when they do decide to go into the world, they are generally pretty sure of themselves and what they love.
A lot of unsure kids are coming out of the school system who are forced to pick what they want in life within moments and then an extremely large sum of money (that they then have to pay off for the rest of their life) is spent educating them in something they might not even be passionate about. Why??
I can reasonably confidently say that if I wanted to, right now, I could probably make a reasonable amount of money off what I love to do (With some effort and enthusiasm, which is currently somewhere not too accessible within me) Because I haven’t been in school for my life, I have a rather large range of interests and passions. I could not put any one of my passions above the other. (Although nature, environmental issues and human/animal rights are very, very important to me)
3. “Without a job, you can’t get money”
Well, depending on what you call a job. I don’t even like the term ‘job’. It indicates something you don’t want to do. And why would people throw away their lives doing something they hate? It’s a little beyond me, but it’s too common.
There are many ways of earning money. As I said before, homeschoolers often have superb skills and resourcefulness. Why have a ‘job’ when you can earn money doing what you love? And you can, if you want.
4. “Without money, you can’t be happy.”
Well, money does help in terms of things like food, shelter, travel, etc. Probably, getting older, money is handy. But it’s not necessary to hoard giant amounts of money to spend on things you’re going to throw away. There are ways of living without money, or much of it. Happiness does not depend on money. No.

Happiness. That’s what a lot of this is based on. No, you cannot have eternal happiness, it is impossible. Sorry. But you CAN live a fulfilling life, helping others and truly loving everyone and everything. No, homeschooling is not the answer, not to your life’s happiness and worth but I can definitely say that my life is the greater, the happier, the better, the funner, the brighter, the calmer, and the more beautiful for it.
(This post is based on my experience and thoughts, please don’t take it as personally attacking school or anything! I’d just like for people to see that there are many sides to life and that school is not the only way forward)

If you are a teenager or parent or carbon-based life form interested in homeschooling I would recommend you read The Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewellyn, I had it lent to me by a friend and am reading it and finding it really interesting!

Feather Hair Clip

Apologies for my recent absence. I was away at a home education conference, which was awesome, and day after tomorrow I will be going into school for the first time ever, so I’m pretty busy, between tidying and getting ready and unpacking. The conference was really fun. I guessed the weight of a giant marrow and got it nearly right, so I won the marrow and a box of Ferraro Roche. I cant eat Ferraro Roche so I had to sneakily pull some out of the box and give them to people I knew and tried to hide it from the hordes of small boys who will do anything for chocolate.
I also discovered the extent of my gluten allergy, and got a reaction from a puff of flour in the air going into my mouth. It wasn’t the worst reaction I have ever got, but I felt so rubbish that I have sworn never to stand near someone baking ever again.
I made a feather hair clip. it was pretty easy.
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