I hated school.... was quite good at it but HATED it. Fit into the mold or be bashed and squashed to fit ~sigh~
By the time I was on child number 3 and had noticed how my older children were "changed" by school and how they became conformist to "normal" made me sad and despite how much I encouraged them to be themselves and to question what they were told it made no odds... My husband and I looked into alternatives and having known a number of home educating families decided this would be the route to go for us.
We read numerous books and I still yes STILL think the best place for children to be educated is in the home, learning about real life with the people who only want whats best for them but alas I don't think J and myself are compatible for him to have a really rounded education. Not right now anyway, maybe there will be a time...
So a couple of months ago we viewed a Steiner school... I had read a bit of steiner and his education philosophy, I had also read a bit more about him, not all that I liked but I thought I would take the school as I found it. Mr Unconventional and I were simply blown away! It was fantastic! So today we went back....
J went into a taster session for his age range (almost 5) he eagerly went off with the teacher and pulled out logs and wooden blocks... abandoning them quickly for the rocking horse and made a friend within minutes!
Mr Unconventional and I went to speak to the teachers and had a tour.... the children were all engaged and animated with their education. While a teacher was talking about the types of mammals to the 8 year olds pieces of antler, horns and hoofs were being passed around to they got to see and feel them, they were encouraged to compare them visually and texturally, all the children were involved and were obviously engrossed... when the teacher asked where the pig should go (in which mammal group) a cheeky member pipped up in a pig sty which was met with good humour.... the children were relaxed and looked happy.
The older children (teenagers) were doing their physical activity to awaken the body, as teenagers struggle to do big thinking in the morning so the school engages them with physical and artistic stimulus. Some were making baskets outdoors, some were in the workshop carving longbows while another group were working their way through screen printing... it was wonderful to see them working at objects that were wonderfully crafted and showed true ability and determination.
Once we had been bathed in the schools atmosphere we headed back to the staff room for a chat with the teachers and then on to collect our son and what had his class of almost 5 year olds been doing? well exactly what children of that age should be doing really. He had been pond dipping and finding tadpoles, pulling radishes in the vegetable patch (which he ate) and climbing trees, generally getting muddy and dirty and engaging with nature! He was sooooo happy, sat at a little table with his new found friends eating an apple, he cried when we had to leave.
So who would have thought school could be so lovely, so child led and so engaging? not me!