I’ve got an interview for you today, but it’s a bit different from my usual blogger of the month series.
I can’t remember why or when I started following Gracie’s blog, but she has always struck me as someone who writes well, with passion, and a strong commitment to changing the world around her for the better.
As I read more of Gracie’s articles, I learned that she is being home-schooled, and I had to admit that this is something that I don’t know very much about.
There is a whole community of children and young people who are experiencing a completely different kind of education to the one that I received, and as most of us never come across these young people, mainly because our paths just don’t cross, we don’t know anything about them.
So I decided to ask whether Gracie would be willing to answer some questions – here’s what she said:
1. What’s a typical day for you like as someone who is home-schooled?
In my family we like to say that for us everything is school, everything is a learning opportunity – real life situations, books, the internet, documentaries, conversations, being outside, helping someone else, just living our lives. Therefore, we never really have a typical day!
However, on most days we do our school work which is a curriculum we’ve devised for ourselves based on what we’re interested in, what we’ll need in the future and what we think is relevant to our lives.
2. I think you said you have younger siblings – do you learn together with them, all do your own thing, or do you teach them sometimes?
Yeah, I have a brother and a sister. When we were younger my parents would teach us a lot more often and so we’d do more projects together. Now that we’re all older and have different interests we tend to get on with our education ourselves, though it does sometimes overlap. A lot of the time I teach my siblings things I’ve already learnt or help them out if they’re struggling with something.
3. What are your favourite subjects and why?
My favourite things to study are socio-anthropology (the social study of humanity), sailing theory and navigation, spoken word poetry and science of all different types. I just have an interest in learning new things and these are all things I’m working on for my future. I do think it’s good to learn a diverse range of subjects and skills that will allow you to live and make a difference in this world.
4. How much input do you have into what you will study? How do you decide what you want to learn about and what kind of projects you will do?
I have a lot of freedom over my education. If there’s something I really want to learn, am passionate about and that will benefit me in the future (because essentially that’s what education is – preparation for the future) my parents will support me in studying it.
5. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love sailing, writing, having conversations with my friends, swimming/lifesaving, blogging, cycling, being outside, performing spoken word poetry and cooking/baking!
6. Have you read any good books lately?
I do really like to read. I have a love of and a fascination for words and stories so, in my eyes, books are a whole new amazing world just waiting to be discovered. Some of my favourites are The Secret Life Of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome, Where I Belong by Gillian Cross, Artichoke Hearts by Sita Brahmachari, The Order Of Darkness Series by Philippa Gregory and the Cherub series by Robert Muchamore. I recommend all of them!
7. What are three important things that you have learned since you became a blogger?
1. How important it is to be honest and open.
2. That you really can make a difference and meet like-minded people through blogging.
3. How important it is to have something to write about – to live an interesting, meaningful life.
8. Languages were my favourite subjects at school. Do you learn languages? If you wanted to learn a language that none of your family or friends could teach you, what would you do?
I have been learning Italian on and off for a couple of years now, but I’m still not very good. I’ve tried a few different methods of learning, but I still need to find one that works for me (and probably to put a bit more effort in)
9. Is there a community of young people who are being homeschooled, or do you create your own community using your blog?
I know LOADS of homeschoolers both on and offline. There is a huge, thriving, worldwide community of us – all with different views, ideas and ways of doing things. It’s so interesting and encouraging to interact with them all.
10. What is one common misconception that people have about homeschooling, and what would you say to give people the facts?
Haha, this is a good one. There are lots of misconceptions that people have, but the two main ones are probably that
1. we get to sit around at home in our pyjamas watching TV all day and
2. that we have no friends.
Both of these are completely uneducated assumptions that come from people with little or no knowledge of the lives of homeschoolers. I usually just explain the truth: we work pretty hard on our education too and, believe it or not, school isn’t the only place you can make friends!
11. I read somewhere that the idea with homeschooling is that students study things that interest them. This sounds like a great way to get students engaged, but how about those things that you don’t enjoy, but have to do anyway? I’m thinking about my job – I love my job, but there are bits of it that I find a bit boring. I can think of situations at school when I knew I just needed to get things done. How does this work for you if you don’t have to study subjects that you don’t love? I wasn’t a big fan of maths, but do see why it’s useful!
It really depends on your outlook, but for us…yes, there is a lot of emphasis on studying what you’re interested in, but we do also have to do our daily maths and science and writing and other skills that are necessary for us to thrive in a modern world.
12. Does any of your education take place outside?
Yep, lots! We live on a farm/campsite and over the years a ton of our time has been spent in the fields, rivers, woodlands, tracks and farmland that are our backyard. When we were little we’d play out in the dirt and explore, then as we got older we’d grow vegetables, look after animals, learn about nature whilst in the very midst of it, cook out over campfires and even just use the outdoors as our classroom – a place to read or study.
13. What’s an interesting place that you have visited recently?
We recently travelled up to Scotland for one of my sailing trips. It’s just the most beautiful country. We camped out for a few days on the edge of this loch where we could wild swim, watch otters, harvest and cook shellfish, create artistic masterpieces from shells, pebbles and seaweed, hike up mountains, go for stunning early morning runs and meet interesting local people all within walking distance!
14. Do you have to do tests or the same exams as people your age?
As a homeschooler, you don’t actually have to do any of the exams that school kids do. Some of us choose to do them and some of us choose not to. We can do them whenever we like, at whatever age, so whenever we feel ready. Personally, I haven’t decided yet. I feel like these standardised tests are something everyone has and it doesn’t set you apart like life experiences or an alternative education do. However, they might be a good thing to have, just in case you ever need them.
15. Do you have any pets?
We have a rescue partridge 😉 We’re just looking after it until it can be returned to the wild though. Then there’s loads of dogs, cats, chickens and ducks on the farm.
16. How important are the internet and online resources for your studies?
I do a lot of learning online. There are many resources out there and if I ever want to know something or learn about it, I can. However, it’s more important to me as a tool of communication with my friends as most of them live all across the world (America, Canada, Scotland, India, Dubai and so on)
17. Do you have any opportunities to take part in group work?
I am really into sailing and go on quite a lot of voyages where you’re on a boat with somewhere between 10-20 people who you live and work with 24/7. It’s a very intense experience and teaches you a lot about teamwork, tolerance and social situations. There are also a lot of home-ed study groups where people come together to learn something together.
18. What would you say is the main advantage of homeschooling?
The freedom to be yourself and think differently without being forced through a system which is turning you into a product of modern society. Look around and you’ll see so many young people failed by the system which is supposed to prepare them for their future. Homeschooling shows you a different future, doesn’t pile on the unnecessary pressure and allows you to flourish with your strengths and work on your weaknesses without being branded a failure.
19. What is something that you would like to learn more about in the future?
I want to work in sail training (charities that take young people sailing) when I’m older so I’d like to continue with my learning and understanding of everything to do with that. I’d also like to work harder on my Italian and to get better at performing spoken word.
20. Is there anything else that you would like to add/tell us?
I don’t think so. Just thank you for reading and to Kirsty for hosting me. If you have any more
questions about homeschooling, please let me know, I’d be happy to help out!
So, thanks again to Gracie for answering my questions. I know I learned a lot through reading them. If you have any questions, post them in the comments. I’m happy to discuss the different ways of doing things, as long as the comments are respectful.
Also, why not pop over to Gracie’s blog A light in the darkness and read some of her articles?
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