The Future We Choose: My Thoughts On Education

I wrote this post in response to everyone asking “what about school?” over on our challenge Facebook page. I thought I’d sit down and try to explain what education means to us. I hope this gives you a slightly different perspective 😊

For us education is about so much more than just schoolwork, it’s the way we choose to live our lives and the future we choose to build for ourselves and others. It goes way beyond the confines of 9am-4pm, five days a week, beyond classrooms and books and screens. I’ve often heard the quote ‘if you feel like you don’t fit in this world, it’s because you’re here to help create a new one’ and I think education is the same – if we don’t fit into the system (and who really does?), maybe it’s because we’re here to help shape the world we really do want to live in. It is the choice and responsibility of us all to play a part in creating the future we want. 

Because of their own life experiences, my Mum and Dad decided to home educate us because they wanted to raise us to value things like community, hospitality, individuality and collaboration. They are not professional teachers or academics who thought they could do better than the education system, they’re just people who want their kids to care about others – not as an afterthought, but because life is not always about just personal gain and success. By trying to make a difference and by connecting with others doing the same, by talking to people and hearing their stories and perspectives on life, we learn what’s important. 

Being educated in this way, I feel like I have control over my life and my future. I’ve felt like I’m missing out before, like people at school have something I don’t, like their education and lifestyle is some elusive prize that’s just out of my reach, but when I talk to my friends and they tell me that being surrounded by people all the time just makes them feel lonelier and doesn’t necessarily equal good friends and that they’re not motivated to learn any of the material they’re taught because they don’t see the relevance to their future, when they tell me how restricted and stifled and moulded school makes them feel, I realise what a privilege my education is. Tell me, is education supposed to stifle young people and squeeze them into a box they don’t fit in or is it supposed to prepare them for their future? 

My education is preparing me for my future. Maybe not the future everyone else is aiming for, but the future I want and am trying to create, a future that looks brighter.  I can equip myself with the skills I need, pursue my passions and work on my weaknesses. And I want to be a voice for all those other young people too and bring them with me into that brighter future. 

The honest truth is that we definitely haven’t got it all worked out, it’s not easy doing things differently and we’re all constantly learning and failing and growing, but we make it work because we believe in it. 

As for the practicalities, life on the road teaches you a lot in itself, as well as all the opportunities to learn that trying to rebuild community and give a voice to ordinary but amazing people making a difference presents. When you listen to people of all backgrounds, cultures and walks of life and join in conversations, when you step outside of your comfort zone to go somewhere and meet people you’d never normally interact with, when you have to motivate yourself to make things happen every single day, you learn pretty fast. 

To give you a bit of an idea of what our education has looked like recently, my sister Irys wants to be a marine biologist when she grows up and so she has got in touch with several rock pooling projects on the South coast and has met up with two of them over the last week or so. She’s been rockpooling with two different experts, asked questions, taken loads of photos, learnt about a ton of different species, gone back and researched them all and then written about them on her wildlife and photography instagram account.

My brother Evan has just started writing his Junior Survival manual to share what he learns about the wild and inspire other kids to get outdoors. He’s currently working on a chapter about attitude, reflecting on his own struggles, talking about the importance of remaining positive in all situations and including the thoughts of several people that he’s been in touch with, including Craig Mathieson – an explorer who started Polar Academy, taking young people on expeditions to make a difference in their lives, which is something Evan is aiming towards for his future. 

I continue to do all our social media, writing and communications for this challenge and for our CommuniTea events, as well as organising visits to community projects. I am also constantly trying to be a voice for my generation through making connections with individuals and organisations empowering young people to be leaders and change makers, through my writing, through my blog and through pursuing my dream of working in sail training because I’ve experienced how it changes lives. 

This is on top of the conversations we have daily with a wide variety of people on a wide variety of subjects and all the day to day challenge stuff, from finding places to ask for water to exploring a different local area every day. 

And then people say “well, what about exams?” and yeah, it’s a good question because surely we can’t get anywhere without the stamp of approval of the education system? I consider life to be our teacher and life to be our exam, the experiences we have test us and teach us and at the end of the day, they are what we have to show for ourselves – what we’ve experienced and what we’ve learnt from it. 

And if my very unique ‘exam’ results prove that I can talk to just about anyone, understand the importance of community in our society today, am compassionate and can see things from other people’s perspective, have the motivation to make things happen and knowledge of the world around me (good and bad) then I’m happy and if an employer doesn’t want to take me because I don’t have conventional GCSEs then that’s not the path I want to go down. 

And now the big question – will this put food on the table? Well, my education has taught me to be resourceful, it’s taught me that a family of five can live on a tenner a day and travel the entire UK coast on that budget and yeah, maybe I won’t live in a huge house when I’m older, but does that mean I’ll be any less happy? We’re all so conditioned to think that money equals big house and nice car which equals happiness, but I’m learning is that no, it really doesn’t. Contentment and materialism are not the same thing. However, contentment and community are always connected. 

Our education is far from perfect and it’s a constant learning process for us all, but when you put yourself and what you believe in out there for everyone to see, you do start to find your place in the world.

What are your thoughts on education? Do you go to school? Are you home schooled? Pros and cons? What do you want for YOUR future? How are you working towards that? Tell me everythinggggg💙💙

23 thoughts on “The Future We Choose: My Thoughts On Education

  1. Gracie I’ completely agree with everything you said in this post. I, myself, want to home educate my future children and know one agrees with my statement. I go to school myself but i can see the Ben if it’s of home education. One day whne i have a wife and kids I’d like them to be cultured, and I’d like them for visit festivles, and to see how others live in their communities. But some argue that they’ll have no friends but friendships aren’t just made in school, yo u know.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a wonderful explanation of what ‘school’ means to you Gracie. I am a big advocate for home schooling as I think it really brings out the best in children as individuals. So many children find normal schooling difficult and detrimental to their emotional and mental health. It’s a box that not everyone fits into.

    Keep doing what you do, you’re doing an amazing job and will more than be able to put food on your tables. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much. I totally agree that school is a box so many children and young people just simply don’t fit into and trying to squeeze them in instead of letting then grow naturally is not doing them any favours. Lots of love xx

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  3. You are so wonderful and I completely agree with every point you’ve made here. You are living proof that you don’t have to have a conventional public school education in order to be “educated” – you are so incredibly smart and more importantly just as you said, you know how to talk to people, have empathy etc. I think your parents’ decision was an amazing one and they should be so proud of you all! And more importantly, you should be proud of yourself. Brilliant post Gracie 💛x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. acoustic education ftw *high fives*

    honestly, i feel you. i haven’t been homeschooled as much as i have been unschooled, and i’ve had to just figure things out as i go, which i guess, is where reading and writing came in handy. it’s given me the ability to travel places and still be studying, every new thing is a concept to be learned. very few people get that :/

    here in the philippines, education is a huge deal– if you don’t do well, you don’t get off the islands. but i’m looking at these kids and looking at how hollow their eyes are, how they feel like they have to do this even though they don’t know if they want to, and i feel really sad for them. i’ve been reading a lot on waldorf education and i wish we as a society took steps to reach that level of learning– where everything is intentional and has a purpose, without forcing kids and their parents to have to spend money. i mean, the government has taken it upon themselves to educate their kids, they can at least try to improve the system a bit.

    that was a rant. my apologies.

    thank you for sharing what you did and not being scared to stand apart. know that i and a lot of other kids are standing with you too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jo, thank you so much. All the love ❤ its great to hear your thoughts so no worries about rambling.
      It breaks my heart to hear about those kids in the Philippines and yet I can understand that for them, education is a pathway, but education is supposed to fulfil us and help us succeed as human beings (not just contribute to the economy). Education is not supposed to make us feel hollow or empty, it’s supposed to be empowering.

      Alternative education is really fascinating. Maybe we could collaborate on that sometime? ❤💙

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  5. I started learning when I left school .
    Life is the teacher .
    ……… ” the more I see , the more I know ,
    The more I know , the more I see ” ………… ,
    I fink I got that right . !
    I left school with 5 rubbish GCSE’s or whatever they where and I have muddled through life . Lifes a good leveller , we all get there in the end ,
    Whereever there is .

    Bob .

    Liked by 1 person

  6. gracieee, your posts are some of the best things ever. i love how you create and inspire a sense of community through your own experiences and motivate others (meee) to do the same. it’s absolutely amazing!

    what you said about the typical education system rang true for me and it’s pretty similar in america. school seems completely and utterly consuming and has been the root cause of a lot of my problems, sadly. for me, that’s where home-schooling seems like a much more appealing option. (if you couldn’t tell, i seriously dislike my education system!) like the way your education taught you to prepare for the future, i think that this needs to be a priority for… well… everyone! instead of competing for who has the most perfect exam scores and what one’s GPA is, being more open to your community and actively striving to make the world a better place seems like a much better way to learn. and in the end, the number of red marks on a paper doesn’t determine how smart or qualified someone is. thank you for talking about this!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ohmygoodness Vaishnavi thank you so much. I swear your comments are the best thing haha. That’s pretty much the aim of my blog so that means a LOT and makes me really happy 💙
      I 100% agree that understanding the importance of rebuilding community in our society, having compassion and knowing how to make things happen is so important and just because you’re not so focused on academia, it doesn’t mean you’re not smart because we all learn, grow and succeed in different ways.

      Thank you so much for this comment ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Excellent post. I’m an Education Coach and I work with Schooled and Home Schooled Children, enabling them to achieve the best they can.
    You are right about Education being more than just four classroom walls, and I think there is definitely more to learn out there in the world, however I also believe there has to be the right balance between Academic Education and Life Education and which is why as a Coach, my team and I aim to create a whole learning experience where there’s a balance between the two.

    There needs to be a transformation on how Education is perceived around the world, and slowly but surely I think there is a change occurring.

    Keep up the good work.

    Falguni

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh for sure. Life is certainly all about balance and I totally agree with you that we need to change the way education is perceived. Education is not simply academia and exams, it’s preparation for our future – the future we have to build 😊 thank you for your comment.

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