Homeschooling Harry: Questions

SAM_9593Some people have asked me recently how Harry can learn without being taught. I’m a bit baffled by the question since, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, it suggests the person asking can’t think of a single thing they’ve learned since leaving education, but I think what they probably really want is practical examples of how Harry is learning. And mostly it’s by asking questions.

The other day, we were in the car on the way to the cinema and Harry asked, apropos of nothing: “Why do we bury dead bodies?” He didn’t mean us as a family, honest, but it led to a discussion of burial versus cremation, decomposition, funerals, what to do with ashes, what the ashes are made up of, even about town planning (“Who first thought of putting someone underground?”)

At the cinema, we saw The Lorax, which I wasn’t expecting to like, but actually loved. All three of us did. On the way home, we talked about some of the themes of the film – the environment, animals’ habitats, responsible business practices. When we got home, I looked up the study notes to The Lorax and found we’d pretty much touched on it all (apart from the film-making aspects) without even really thinking about it.

A few days later, in the park, as I took the photo above, Harry mentioned a camera we’d seen an advert for. It was by Sony. “Do Sony treat their workers well?” he asked, referencing the conversation we’d had after The Lorax and leading to a further conversation about cheap labour and exploitation.

On Sunday, at South Lakes Wild Animal Park, I bought Harry a set of Guatemalan Worry Dolls. He asked if Guatemala is where the guinea pigs come from and so we looked it up. In an Illustrated Atlas, on Google Earth, on Wikipedia. We found a photo of a Maya child selling worry dolls in a market and learned that the median age in Guatemala is half that of the UK (and I learned that I’m now on the wrong side of the UK’s median age – argh!), we read about the country’s civil war and genocide, natural disasters and recent democratic elections.

And then, because we were in need of cheering up, we watched this. (Completely unrelated to the above but if, like Harry, you’re “just very interested in technology”, rather fab.)

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10 thoughts on “Homeschooling Harry: Questions

  1. Oh, it all sounds brilliant. What a clever, caring, questioning boy Harry is. xo

  2. I genuinely hope that I can find a way to un-school our future kids!

  3. Hats off to you for teaching him about genocide. What did he make of it? This may sound like a stupid question but is the home schooling just for primary years and then will he be tootling off during secondary?

    At my secondary school, there was a guy who was two years above, yet he was my age. His parents home schooled him during the primary years and he was so clever they introduced him to secondary school two years earlier than normal. He eventually did his GCSEs in his Y10 as apposed to Y11 and went to Uni 3 years before everybody else. He eventually got a PHD in Maths and Physics.

    His mum was actually my form tutor and she told us that when he was about 6 they labelled everything in the house, it was like living in a word museum. That way he was so far advanced with his English, he took the learning of greater subjects and more intense modules onto himself.

    • Thanks. Oh it was only very vague re genocide – I’m trying to teach myself not to tell him too much and overwhelm/frighten him. If he wants to know more, he’ll ask more.

  4. You are so right – children learn so much just from asking questions and conversations. Sadly they don’t have much time for that sort of approach in school! Ironically I was doing a blog post today about that idea which might be of interest: http://rossmountney.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/how-can-kids-learn-without-school/ When you think about it – it’s a real weird idea that we could learn nothing outside of school! :)

  5. I think it’s all fabulous! And so wonderfully individual. I can’t see any problem at all and feel it’s high time some people opened their minds and realised how good homeschooling can be, in the right hands. That’s what makes all the difference – and I think both your children are in the very best hands. :) xxx

  6. It would seem that Harry is learning at lot more than some children could ever learn throughout their time at school.
    Surely I must have been in a grump or something on the day I saw The Lorax because I keep thinking about it and the bits that made me smile.

    • I don’t know if it’s more or just different, but I’m happy that he’s not learning less!

      Yes, sometimes you just might not be in the mood for a film – you can watch it again on DVD :)

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