‘I like big parts, I like talking a lot and I like using complicated language.’  

This marvelous quotation comes from a conversation among a family and their friends as they were trying to decide which Shakespeare play to perform together. They settled on Romeo & Juliet, and Zachariah then volunteered himself for the lead role, on the grounds that “I like big parts. I like talking a lot and I like using complicated language.”  Such a breezy and fresh perspective on what a big Shakespearean role involves and such confident ambition.

This was in the documentary Etre et Devenir (Being & Becoming) by Clara Bellar, made when she was about to become a mother and wanted to talk to people who had chosen to home-school their children.  t cleared up some misperceptions on my part about the nature of home-schooling: it doesn’t mean that parents are expected to do most of the teaching themselves; it doesn’t mean kids are socially isolated; and it doesn’t appear to mean you need plenty of money.

An interesting angle explored in the film was the degree of self-directed learning allowed, with children going at their own pace rather than being held to a curricular schedule. It involved trusting the child to tell you when they needed more help. It also meant that much of their learning was incidentally acquired in the pursuit of other interests: maths via the measuring done for cooking, or through working on projects that enthused them.

The children interviewed appeared tremendously articulate and well-adjusted.  It appears that the home-schooling world includes family camps and other ways to team up, avoiding the isolation that the term ‘home-schooling’ can imply.

Although its focus was on the experience of home-schooling, I found it more interesting in terms of how its apparent benefits could be transferred to a school system, allowing that most parents may not have the will or other resources to educate their children at home.  This wasn’t discussed in the film, that wasn’t its purpose, but I would like to see it explored.

Caveat: I am neither a parent nor a teacher, and have no strong view on home- versus school-schooling. However, I think a great deal about education and learning, including my own, and often envision a dream school – the one I would love to have attended, or might create if I were wealthy enough.


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