Looking Down the Mountain – Reflections from a Homeschooled Graduate

I originally posted this two and a half years ago when Zana was in her second year of university. She graduated at the end of last year and this week she started teaching a Year 6 class. Well done, my lovely girl. You\’ve worked hard and will make a wonderful teacher!
Looking down the mountain after a hard climb – Mt Kosciusko, New South Wales

  An unedited post from my 19 year old daughter, Zana, our third child:
So I have just finished uni for the semester and my mother has finally managed to corner me into writing something for her blog. Looking back on my home-schooling experience is interesting now that I’m in my second year of uni. I guess now I’ve had a fair amount of experience with something other than being home-schooled to give myself another perspective. I’m studying primary school teaching which is somewhat ironic considering my own education, but it’s what I enjoy and feel called to do. 
The thing I loved most about being home-schooled was the freedom to focus on the aspects of learning that I loved. An example of this was my music. In year 12, I was spending around 15hr a week on average either playing or studying music. If I had an HSC work load, this would have been very difficult. I also really appreciate the fact that I was encouraged to read and to love books. I didn’t do much formal history throughout school. Instead, I just read books…probably hundreds of them all up…simply because that was the way I liked to learn. I’m doing an English major as part of my uni degree and I love it. I find that even if I absolutely hate a text, I can still enjoy studying it. I also appreciate the fact that I never thought of friendships as being ‘restricted’ to my own age group like many people I know did while school-aged. My best friend is a year & a half older than me and my friends are a wide variety of ages. On the more trivial side, I am not a morning person at all…so not having to get up early to go anywhere was definitely a positive!
My mum is not the most organised person on planet earth. Throughout high school, I scheduled my own work and managed almost everything for myself. I was also encouraged to think for myself and not accept things at face value. I liked this sense of independence, and it’s served me very well at university. A lot of my friends who went to school complained about it being hard to adjust to uni. I haven’t had any issues with the workload or style of learning and it really hasn’t required a lot of adjustment. I may have been the ‘most hated/envied’ person amongst my friends for not doing the HSC, finishing school 6 months earlier than everyone else, and studying online uni units for the rest of the year. I think the HSC places far too much stress on students and I have no regrets about not doing it!!
I do think that home-schooling parents have a tendency to shelter their children from the real world to a certain extent. However, if they make that extra bit of effort with social activities, I think home-schooling can be very positive. There are a lot of things about school that I’m not sorry at all to have missed out on. I think I would have enjoyed the social side and things like group sports; however, I got involved with similar things outside of my home as well. Personally, I think I might have disliked home-schooling if it weren’t for the fact that we have a big family. However, that may have something to do with the fact that I would probably go mad having all the attention on just me all the time. I like my independent learning!
There was a stage in my early teens when, if given the choice, I would have picked going to school over being home-schooled and if you’d asked me whether I’d home-school my own kids the answer would have been no. To be perfectly honest, however, that was more to do with the social side of things, and once I joined an orchestra, started playing futsal and started going to a youth group, that desire disappeared. 
I am thoroughly enjoying my teaching degree and I am looking forward to teaching in the school system. I have no intention of being a conservative teacher and I may turn a few heads with my ‘interesting’ ideas, but if anything, I think that my lack of ‘school experience’ will serve me very well. I don’t feel the need to teach in certain ways just because that’s how everyone else does it. What I want is for kids to come away from my classes with a love for learning and for books and the recognition that school doesn’t have to be a boring place to be.
So, would I home-school my own kids in the future?? I would definitely consider it. I think there are inherent issues in the way schools are run and how students learn & are taught in them. However, I am not anti-school. Personally, I think it’s more an issue of the teacher.

6 thoughts on “Looking Down the Mountain – Reflections from a Homeschooled Graduate

  1. It is so lovely to find the blog of a fellow Aussie AOer. Especially one who has taught through high school. I have just read every post on this page and I'll be back.This essay by your daughter is just wonderful – inspiring, balanced, positive. Thank you both for sharing it here.I'm trying very hard to include my Aussie version of AO on my blog. Alas we're only up to AO5. Don't know how many of your kids are primary level, but you may find something useful.


  2. Wow, what an encouraging story. I loved hearing your daughters perceptions, how they changed, and what has always stayed strong and how you have been such a wonderful mom and teacher for her.


  3. Lovely post Carole. My eldest has just been accepted into a Uni enabling program. He is a very organised young man so it will be interesting to see how his homeschool experience has prepared him for tertiary studies. We have some very strong opinions about the HSC in our house! I bet your daughters students will love her!Margaret.


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