So I’ve been lucky enough to be given the chance to support Ross Mountney’s Blog Tour. When we first started researching home education we came across Ross, her writing and her YouTube video. Ross’ experiences and the information she shared definitely played a part in our final decision to home educate.
Now being a home educator myself I wanted to take this opportunity to pick the brains further of someone that’s been there and done it all. Information via real life experience is invaluable, here’s what Ross and I discussed…
1 – You’re a parent that has been through the entire experience of home education, early years, primary age, puberty, teenage years and exams, to name a few. Which part would you say was the most difficult and why?
I think the beginnings and ends were the most difficult. The beginning was when we were making the decision – once that was done we felt an overwhelming sense of joy and rightness that stayed with us throughout. As the children grew into teenhood, relationships become trickier! But that’s to do with parenting and normal growing relationships rather than home education. However, there came a time when we sensed their readiness to move on and college came into the equation which required a lot of letting go on our part. When I look over the experience in general it’s always with fondness and a sense of delightful adventure I miss now. We do still maintain a treasured relationship with the young people too – in case you were wondering!
2 – Over the years you’ve been home educating, what are the most notable changes you’ve seen, from both within the home education community and from ‘outsiders’?
There have been remarkable changes in awareness and attitude – both much improved. The development of online access to information and support must count for that increase – this was all still in infancy when we started and the public rarely came across HE kids, so they were generally suspicious. The coverage it’s had now means that understanding is growing and this means tolerance and interest is too. Online contact also means that the HE community can communicate easily and instantly which is of enormous benefit. And because we can all be in touch the ‘powers that be’ will find it harder to divide and rule!
3 – Do you see a future where the stigma around home education no longer exists and is accepted and appreciated as an equal form of educating children?
Graduating HE kids are proving that they can become educated, qualified and productive members of society without school doctrines and that’s increasingly going to be noticed and respected. Whether it ever becomes valued as ‘equal’ to school who knows – it may of course appear to be better than school to some! So, as home education becomes more popular, understood and practiced this is bound to impact on attitudes to the education system because indirectly HEors are challenging whether we need schools at all – proving that some don’t. Also, online learning is instantly available, so do we need classrooms? However, most families need their kids minded – this is what our economy is based on isn’t it? But as an article recently suggested maybe schools need to start allowing learners to have more say in their education, like Unis or HEors do. So I’m hoping home education may eventually help change what goes on in school as well as attitudes to education. Dream on…!
4 – Was it your intention from the beginning of your home education journey, to become a blogger/author of the subject and share your experience to help others? Or did this evolve over time?
I didn’t start out writing about HE. But quickly noticed that help and support was very thin and non-existence. I remembered how much I’d wanted some sort of guide when I started, so wrote the first book to try and fulfil that brief. I started to blog to get this support out to HE communities. Then, I wanted to get ideas about education in general across to those parents who wouldn’t necessarily read a text book, so landed on the idea of writing our story in an entertaining way people would enjoy, so I could slip some ideas in there. Sneaky, I know! Then it just seemed to evolve from there.
5 – When we first started home educating, we wanted to share our experience but was met with a lot of negativity as a proportion of the more experienced home educators said we knew nothing so shouldn’t be sharing our experiences. Have you ever come across this type of thing over the years?
Certainly did! Some very bitchy comments spring to mind which I won’t repeat! Happens in all groups though, not just the HE community. But I was also my own worst censor, fearful of what you outline above; if I wasn’t at the end of my journey, and the kids had turned out ‘okay’ (whatever that is), how could I qualify what I was saying? Writing as we home educated I was always very wary about saying anyone should do as I do – that’s not my style and avoid that now. I just like to offer ideas – it’s up to people how they respond to them. I try never to preach or suggest I have the answer for everyone – I certainly don’t.
Generally, I feel now that everybody’s contribution is useful in some way and the current bloggers are offering such a treasure trove of experience, wherever they are on their journey or however experienced, that parents can dip into, filter, and learn from. Like with anything on the net, we should always be discerning! But bloggers are building a real picture of the diversity of HE life which is surely going to further understanding and awareness and create a fantastic resource. Would have loved that back in the day!
If any of readers here want to know more, do pop over to my blog where you’ll find details of my books and hopefully some other articles to inspire; http://rossmountney.wordpress.com And do leave me a message and let me know what helps so I can continue to offer support.
The books by Ross that Bird’s Nest Books has published (‘Who’s Not In School?’, ‘The Wrong Adventure’ and ‘A Home Education Notebook’) are available from our website www.birdsnestbooks.co.uk.
A fascinating insight from Ross. I’m really glad I was given the chance to ask my questions, thanks to Ross and Jane Levicki – Bird’s Nest Books. I have read all of Ross’ books and highly recommend them, a more in depth review to follow.
See you online… @dadvworld