in education parenting ~ read.

Call for (not only) parents

I would like to create a community dedicated to:

  1. find out what's the most effective way of educating our kids (not on the whole society level, but literally, e.g. my daughter)
  2. creating a group (groups?) of likeminded people locally or globally who are willing to coordinate from theoretical (e.g. how it works legally or creating "curriculum") as well as practical (e.g. providing the content or support to kids, sharing resources on tutors, ...) perspective

What am I looking for

I have spent a few intensive weeks (besides a few years before :-)) researching childhood education and mapping the situation here in Czechia. Even though the results from the first point above are not fully concluded yet, I am almost certain that I don't want to enroll my daughter into any state-approved school (for daily attendance). I don't know for how long exactly I want to avoid that yet, as that depends on how the situation develops over the years and also on my daughter's own choices. I am quite committed to doing so though for at least until the 3rd grade (~8-9 years).

What I wish for my daughter is not set in stone (and never will be), but it is true that based on my findings and experience, I have some specific goals in mind. There are also things I do not wish for my daughter and I suspect that it's highly likely to happen in the regular state schools. Let me start with them:

  1. I do not want her to lose or suppress her curiosity (which she clearly demonstrates)
  2. I do not want her to waste time on learning something:
    • ...she doesn't have a mental capacity for and could learn many times faster in the following years
    • ...she is not interested in at all
    • ...that is totally useless
    • ...that is delivered/required in a way which is not in sync with the latest findings on how to teach or learn effectively and meaningfully

I do want her to:

  1. acquire meta-learning skills making learning easier and self-directed, such as understanding her motivation or basic concepts useful in learning like free recall or concept mapping, so she can learn what she wants and when she wants
  2. be happy and enjoy life, understand what it is to be a human (like, emotions exist and you can learn from them or deal with them). Understand learning as part of life and pursue her inner motivation to learn things. I also wish she finds our world exciting and interesting (like, we don't need magical flying carpets, we got airplanes).
  3. understood the society and people around her, the bad as well as the good

It's hard for me to imagine that she could acquire those in a regular state school (I am happy to be shown otherwise - it would be awesome). Unfortunately, I can see how these are actively being suppressed instead. For example, cramming 30 humans of the same age into a room, where they are expected to mostly just sit, listen, and accept orders from above or having to ask for being able to eat or go on a toilet, is very much not how the society works. At least not the one I live in.

Similarly, I don't think that having 45 minutes of focus on thing X, and then being forced to stop caring about it because there are another 45 minutes of focus time on Y, is a good way how to create excitement and build knowledge.

I realize that these may sound a bit harsh, but I do feel strongly about that and I do care about my daughter's education. I am not imposing these onto anyone, nor I am judging any parent for the path they have chosen for their kids (as many can't even choose, being less lucky than we are). Lastly, I am genuinely happy being challenged on any of these ideas and I would be grateful for anyone willing to get me closer to the ideal state by pointing to errors I have made or providing me with the information I am missing.

I have been able to pin down more specific areas of development and concepts I wish my daughter knew. She has picked some of the basics already and it's already paying the rent. The holy grail for me would be to provide an environment that would:

  1. be affordable (e.g. I would have resources to support it, such as financially by splitting the costs of tutors or attention/time of parents)
  2. mostly nourish the self-directed approach of learning for kids but at the same time...
  3. ...would incentivize learning about areas which I found more important than others (and yes, this is tricky to get right)
  4. would show how awesome the world around us is, and how great it is to understand how it works
  5. would follow a "scientific" approach to finding the truth about the world
  6. also had some nice features such as being international (preferably in English), safe, fun, close, friendly, open, no bullying, ...

That said, I am more than happy to change my mind under new information. Maybe we'll find that the above is not the best thing to do or that state schools are really the best thing. I don't aim for "non-state" or "alternative for its own sake", I don't want to choose Montessori over Walsdorf just because. I want to hit the above goals as well as possible. I am happy to accept whatever is the most efficient way to attain it (...assuming I have enough resources for that).

How could it look like?

I believe the options vary and I don't have very specific roles in mind.

I need some people that would help me with the research on everything mentioned above. That doesn't mean necessarily having to do that by yourself, you can contribute by providing a good social network or financially to be able to e.g. hire some Ph.D. student doing that for us. A similar applies to either cooperate on getting things right legally or hiring someone to do so in bulk for all of us.

Obviously, being able to spin up a homeschooling group that would follow the above "principles" would be great. For that, I need to get more parents on board and then do all the negotiation and agreements on how to actually lead the group. Based on that find a place, tutors, time commitments, materials, resources, ...

Organizing resources would be also helpful. For example, the Prague homeschooling group has a very similar post every second week: "How could I homeschool my kid"? How come this is not somewhere comprehensively written yet? Additionally, I started to collect lists of information I find valuable, such as:

  1. people who are willing to organize activities for homeschoolers/groups
  2. homeschooling-friendly communities and groups
  3. schools open to accepting homeschoolers (or even unschoolers)
  4. laws, legal materials, and paperwork
  5. ...many others

I also hope we could find some friends and have some fun :-).

Is this for you?

Well, do you roughly agree with the above, and are you still interested? I do think this is for you. Feel free to just drop me an email anyway if you are unsure, I will get back to you. I don't think you need to have a kid you would consider to "join the group" at the moment, as you can contribute differently (e.g. is too young or old, or not having a kid at all and you just find this interesting).

Is this guaranteed to succeed?

Of course not. Maybe the initiative will die in a few weeks. However, I am strongly motivated to do whatever I can so it does not disappear, but this is experimental and I can't guarantee anything. I may just find out that no one actually shares these views in Czechia and elsewhere and I will be back where I am now, which I won't regret anyway. I also commit to giving this at least a few hours of attention per week at least or balance that financially.

Where do we meet?

I have created a slack group adeqed (adequate education). Feel free to contact me with your email you want me to use for the invite in case you are interested. I am aiming for rather a smaller set of highly involved individuals than hundreds of low involved ones. It's not that I wouldn't value even small contributions, but simply because the organization overhead is already quite hard. Additionally, I also think that existing e.g. Facebook groups work well for the en masse purpose.

Why slack group and not Facebook?

  1. I expect to get more people on board, but ideally not more than what we can reasonably manage on a personal level. I.e. the reason why not to (re)use existing Facebook groups is that there are quite a lot of lurkers and people I know literally nothing about. Given that some of the topics may be sensitive, I would like to keep it rather closed. I expect to crosspost some stuff here and there though.
  2. Why not create a new Facebook group? I do think it would be easier, but at the same time, my "wished" initiative is about more than a single purpose thing. I also believe that the extra incentive bump of having to sign in slack shows at least some work one signalizes that they are willing to invest in this somehow (compared to just clicking on "join group" :-) )