The end of Bloke School?

When my friends decided to return their kids to school, my eldest boy was angry and upset. His (probably legitimate) complaint was that we would never see them again. This is not the first friend he has lost.

His great friend who he has known from birth went to school at the same time we started homeschooling, and just kind of disappeared. With his friend going to school during the week and doing extracurricular activity during the weekends, they hardly ever see each other any more.

His best friend who he always talks about, moved away a while ago. The boys parents, appalled at Australia’s politics, took their levels of disgust as far as packing up and leaving the country. In the relatively small circles we move in, three friends is a lot to lose.

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The subject of friendships has been a recurrent conversation over the last couple of months. This is not something I feel capable of helping with very much. A memorable workplace appraisal in the not too distant past saw me described as ‘prickly,’ ‘intense,’ and ‘difficult to approach.’ Truth is that I have always struggled to enjoy being in other peoples company, and it shows that I have largely stopped trying. I just don’t have it in me to model good behaviour in this regard, and it is a major challenge even to set up conditions where the boys can work it out themselves.

At the same time this was happening, a cluster of interesting, well paid jobs came up at work which I was unable to apply for, due to homeschooling the boys.

I have spent a large section of my adult life trying to follow my dreams and not be boxed in by the system. While such behaviour brings a certain kind of reward, life is definitely far easier and more profitable when you just do what everyone expects you to.

I was brooding rather resentfully over all of this when I started searching the websites of schools in the local area. For the most part, they seemed worst than I remembered them, but there is a Steiner school within reach which held out some promise.

Despite having worked as both a homeopath and a biodynamic market gardener, I am not entirely sold on Steiner. Still, I know a few sets of parents from that school, and while they all do different things, they also all seem to do it with a purpose, which I found encouraging. I booked an appointment for a tour.

My wife and I, along with both the boys, spent a couple of hours being shown around. Although both the adults went with something of a negative eye, we all actually found ourselves loving the place. Physically, it is a beautifully built area of stone and timber on an amphitheatre like ground. The classes which we saw were all small, very relaxed and humanised. Of course there were no uniforms. Despite my boys being dressed in literally the first clothes I grabbed, which was then topped off by ugly crocks and daggy hats, what struck me is that they completely blended in with all the other kids there.

The Stiener school ampitheatre

I took a look at the curriculum, obviously. It always surprises me just how simple the expectations are with school kids, especially given how much time they devote to learning it. Still, what I would see as dead time elsewhere, here seems to be spent in a fairly open ended and artistic environment. I was frequently criticised for being a dreamer as a kid. It is an attribute I would like to encourage in my own children.

There is a lot of musical and artistic expression at this school which, I have to admit, is something of a foible for us. In a sense, I am not so concerned about English, Maths, Science and History. Whatever the boys don’t get at school, I know it will easily be covered at home.

After a biggish pile of paperwork, we enrolled both of them. My youngest boy starts next year, and my eldest begins in a few weeks. He is wildly excited by the prospect. The rationale for Bloke School disappeared instantly and, it seemed, almost by accident.

It has left me feeling strangely nostalgic. The hard times of the last year and a half don’t seem that hard, and the good times seem fantastic. For all the complaints that I had about never having any time to myself, I am already missing the time we spent together with just me and the boys.

I am very glad to know that our homeschooling adventure was something quite achievable. It was often messy, but in a relaxed manner. In many ways, the boys learned far more than they otherwise would have. I am confident that should circumstances change again, we could easily return to homeschooling.

My wife and I always maintained that we were homeschooling the kids, not for any abstract reasons of idealism, but because it seemed the best option available for them. Suddenly our options changed, and we need to acknowledge that.

How long things remain like this is anyone’s guess. One of the best and worst things in life is that nothing is certain.

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About Blokeschool

I am a homeschooling dad with a wife and two boys. I'm not quite sure what I'm doing, so I feel compelled to write it all down. In my spare time, I work as a registered nurse, drink too much coffee, and intermittently renovate the house.
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21 Responses to The end of Bloke School?

  1. KT Brison says:

    Oh! I’m so happy that your boys are excited about this new path in your journey, but I am sad, too, to say goodbye to Blokeschool. You’ll just have to keep posting interesting stuff on the blog to help me guide my own littles. Because you don’t have enough to do. 😉

  2. hicamie says:

    I’m glad there was an acceptable school to enroll your boys in. In fact, it sounds promising. Best wishes to you and your boys as you all embark on new adventures. You did well with Blokeschool. You should be proud of all you accomplished with your boys. 🙂

  3. Carolyn says:

    Wow, what a big change! Congratulations on finding a school that you all liked. Friendship is really important in life, I’m glad you valued your son’s input.

    • Blokeschool says:

      I cant quite believe we did it, but definitely we would not have changed for any school which we did not think was a great one. Still, its important to us that the kids get as large a say as they can in what happens with their lives.

  4. barnraised says:

    Wow. What a change! Keep us posted. Personally, I love Waldorf education. It’s a beautiful curriculum.

    • Blokeschool says:

      I think I will stop writing here. It seems a good place to leave off.
      Yes the curriculum the boys are going to certainly does look beautiful. There is a lot about it which I like. Good luck in the stables and with your homeschooling adventures.

  5. Your children may go off to school, but you will never stop home schooling them. It’s what we do as parents-we teach. 🙂 You have had a terrific journey and I hope the excitement continues. I have enjoyed reading your adventures through your blog; I do hope you continue to write (in your spare time…smile).

    • Blokeschool says:

      I think that is a very valid point. I cant really see myself not teaching the kids, as long as they at a school of some kind. I certainly have enjoyed homeschooling them, quite a deal more than I realise, perhaps.

  6. Tasmanian says:

    Thanks for a great blog. All the best to your family!

  7. Helen Hunter says:

    I haven’t been reading Blokeschool all that long, but have been really inspired by your approach to homeschooling and the blog. I hope the boys have a great time at Steiner & that it satisfies their search for lasting friendships. I agree that life can be less complicated if you conform to society’s expectations. Can be hard being a fringe dweller and sometimes isolating if you can’t find your crew. I appreciated your honesty on the topic of friendship & socialization, as it can be tempting to sugar coat these Q’s in the homeschool world. Would love to read one or two more updates to hear how you guys like the change over to Steiner…but understandable if it seems like time to wrap up the blog. All the best!

    • Blokeschool says:

      Thanks very much. I am glad you liked it and got something out of it. What I always intended to get out of this for myself was a degree of self reflection, so to achieve that, it had to include the ups and downs in a realistic measure. Good to remember that there were far more ups than downs.

  8. Lin says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. All the best with the next chapter of your family’s journey!

  9. Wife of Homeschooling Dad says:

    While I am in incredibly happy for you, I am also sad, particularly as I read this one Father’s day. We started homeschooling around the same time you did. Being in a part of the country where there are few homeschooling dads, it was wonderful to read about your journey. Homeschooling is never easy, and there are always these questions in the back of your mind, moments of doubt. We are incredibly happy for you and the decision that you have made for our family, but nostalgic that you are leaving us.

  10. You gotta’ do what you gotta’ do. Thinking of starting a school myself because an alternative has not presented itself. Just remember, you can always change your mind if you must and you now have the experience to do it. Best wishes for the boys and for yourself!

    • Blokeschool says:

      Wow. Starting your own school would be awesome, and you clearly have both the experience and passion to give it a go.
      Just because the boys are enrolled in school now, it is not a given for the duration of their education any more than homeschooling ever was. I think it would be quite easy to return to homeschooling again. As the boys get older, it would probably be easier the second time around. Certainly I have lots of confidence in its success.

  11. lucy76green says:

    Wow, what a momentous decision! I will miss reading about bloke school though 🙂

  12. Seeking Joyful Simplicity says:

    It must feel bittersweet. I know how I felt (and still feel) as I gave up our homeschooling lifestyle to enroll my children in a wonderful liberal arts school. They spend a great deal of their days outside in the fields, woods, gardens and greenhouses, making music and art, and learning in an environment that values community. But I miss our days together, and having family as the center of our lives.

    I wish you and your family all the best. And I am happy that you are remaining open and flexible for the future.
    Michelle

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