Sunday, 16 October 2011

Character building

My kids have never had to put up with testing.

They have never had to be judged by some external person who has an abitrary set of rules to apply to them.

They have never had to suffer the humiliation of school team sports (paritcularly being picked last for the team).

They have never had to pretend that coming last was a valid reason for someone else to treat you badly.

Of course there are some who think that this is what school is all about.

'It's character building', they say. 'Competition is important, it makes you who you are.'

Yes, testing and grading and competition make you who you are. i.e. they either tell you you are a failure (according to someone else's judgement) or tell you that you are a currently a winner (and must therefore never fail or else).

But does my kids' lack of experience of competition and testing and grading leave them floundering when faced with a competitive environment?

Well, after today I would say a resounding NO.

Today my two boys attended their first fencing competition. They have been fencing barely a year and are being taught by two amazing young men, themselves home educated. Today my boys faced opponents that they have never seen before, in an environment that they were totally unfamiliar with (the sports hall of a grammar school). They fought children, who in some cases had been doing fencing a lot longer than they had, or were a head taller or 18 months older than them.

They held their nerve in the face of some pretty sloppy and occasionally silly fencing behaviour, kept calm, refused to be intimidated, remembered what they were supposed to do, kept on fighting back and didn't give up even when their opponent was close to winning. They didn't sulk, or make a fuss, or blame anyone for their mistakes.

They didn't win medals. We didn't even stop to find out where they were placed, because it really wasn't that important. But they learnt new fencing moves and even more importantly they learnt a little more about respecting themselves and others.

Home education has given them a strong inner core. My kids know that they have many and varied skills, not all of which will be recognised or valued by others, and they know that this is ok, because it is ok to be themselves. They know that they have lots of friends, and will be loved, respected and supported whatever they do. They know that they are more than simply the outcome of a competition.

I'm proud of them. For all the right reasons.


Anonymous said...

Fencing seems a very noble kind of sport to me and all the skills and attributes you just saw in your boys are those which so many humans value.

It's all good :)

Carol said...

Home Educated children just stand out like that! They have an inner self confidence that shows through. Jo does Kung Fu now - it just so hppens there are other home educated kids in the group. I was able to pick them out just by talking to them (not about school incidentally!)

Well done to your boys. You rightly deserve to be proud!