I want you to take a moment to reflect upon these older folks that you share your lives with. I want you to see beyond the scraggy hair or the disheveled house clothes. The daily battles where they insist you help with chores or the desperate plea not to “hurt with your hands” as you slap the face of your sister for the third time in an hour. I want you to look beneath the tired, bleary, unhappy-looking eyes that cry when the day seemed like a disaster or the fractious voice of the person who lost control in the heat of the moment. These folks that you share your lives with maybe mum and dad or aunt or granny, perhaps even that quirky lady from the local community hub, but let me tell you something about these people.
They are special. They may not look like it to you, as they pour your cereal or brush your tangled hair, but these people are revolutionary. They are brave rebels, fierce and madly passionate. They are deep thinkers, radical thinkers, out of the box and upside-down thinkers, creators, and doers. They are often misunderstood, labeled as hippies or the over-controlling, overbearing parent that can’t let their child go. People around them think they are mad and perhaps they are a little because they choose to spend twenty-four hours a day, every day, with YOU.
From very early on, I saw in my eldest daughter, a bold and untamed streak of wild. Some would call it her Algerian blood, some would define her as “spirited” but I always saw her as beautifully curious. To support this curiosity I became passionate about exploring how she might learn and engage in the complex world that surrounds us, whilst not dampening that fire within her. I’ve always wanted her and her sisters to thrive, to experience the richness and depth of life and grow amongst an array of different people. I want them to pursue what interests and excites them and bask in having sweet and precious time to simply be the innocent children that they are.
Toe-tapping through deep green forests, gazing up at the night sky with no pressure of tomorrow, painting abstract artworks and jumping in the car to who knows where just because we can. These are the days that we want to unravel, laying those foundations and that strong, sound sense of self, brick by brick. Lying together on lazy days with piles of great books and no need to go anywhere because there is no better place to learn, than with those that love you and know you more deeply than one can ever imagine. No one else knows that you pace around when you are trying to think, that your eyes roll up to the top of your head when you don’t know the answer or that with unfamiliar people you can be painfully shy. No one else will know how well you slept, if you ate enough for your breakfast or that you’re worried because a friend from down the road is in hospital. Our days will always flow exactly as they should because you have the ability to show us exactly what you need. We trust that you are fuelled with the natural desire to live a full life, to learn and grow, to better yourself and to keep on moving forward.
So you see, these people, these home educators, unschoolers, free thinkers, life learners, hippies, radicals, whatever you wish to call them. They stuck their fingers up to a system that they didn’t believe would serve you. They made a courageous decision to go against the grain despite questioning constantly if they were qualified to do so. Despite the pressures of living up to institutionalised expectations and despite the immense worry that they would fail you. They didn’t take this decision lightly, they researched (by researched we mean they googled: How to homeschool? How to keep your sanity and homeschool? How to teach a five-year-old to read? How to stop worrying if your child can’t read? How to teach maths in a fun way?), they gathered their evidence, they wrote their family values and they went back and forth a million times until they finally leapt. They dared to imagine that they could, in fact, provide not just an adequate education for you, but an absolutely amazing, life-long education. A feast of knowledge, delight, and wonder.
What these folks in your life did for you at this moment, is they opened their warm, weathered and loving hands and they offered you a beautiful gift. They gave you the opportunity to take real authentic pleasure in your own learning, to do things differently and most importantly, they want to share the joy of this gift WITH you.
Let me also tell you a little secret. They haven’t given up their lives just for you, no. They are awesome, whole, creative and well-educated people. They may be figuring things out or looking to reconnect. They may be weighed down with responsibilities or flustered from the pressures of day to day. What we see on the surface is very rarely a true representation of the layered greatness that lies within. These folks have a vision and you can bet they are working towards it, in the early hours when you sleep soundly after they’ve prepped your lessons and packed your lunch. For every day that they help you to grow, they grow a little more themselves. They broke free from the mold because they want to see you thrive but they too, have a unique contribution to make. They are pioneers, they are revolutionaries and they expect nothing less from you too. It’s not a road that all will dare to travel but through the myriad of twists and turns it’s sure to be a great adventure.