This is a question that comes up frequently when parents are considering home education rather than sending their child to school. And often one of the reasons they feel they couldn’t consider it as an option because they’ve jumped to the wrong conclusion that only qualified teachers can take on the role of educating children.
But ‘qualified’ doesn’t automatically make a person a good and effective teacher – as some of us will have experienced through our own schooling.
This isn’t meant to devalue the hard work, training, higher education, specialism and dedication of the many teachers who carry the label of qualified teacher status and do an excellent job under very difficult decisions. It’s to raise the point that many adults who are unqualified or untrained as teachers often have the skills, gifts and personality to do the job just as well.
There have been some great articles around this site in the ‘Tips For Tutors’ series, many of which discuss ways of improving teaching and tutoring. Interestingly, many of them support this point in that they discuss attributes that we all have as people, certainly as parents, as we raise our children. I’m talking here about personal qualities such as patience, empathy, understanding, insight into others’ needs, the ability to inspire and encourage, good communication skills, behaviour, respect, care, humour and attitude.
In particular the article about passing on values talks about fostering self-awareness, positivity, and being a model of the sort of people our youngsters can become through our own values and behaviour.
These are the things that anyone can do – that parents can do – qualified or not.
And it is personal – it’s about the person and personality more than it is about strategies for teaching. And it’s this aspect of educating our children that has as big an effect on our children’s achievement as anything else we may need to teach. The personal effect is greater than the content. Personality greater than any teaching strategies you could learn in a college. Personal touches greater than schedules or schemes of work. And as for facts; they can be Googled!
This personal approach derives from our attitudes towards our children, towards education and learning, our attitudes towards life. This is not something you necessarily need a degree for or teaching training, it is something you can take on and improve for yourself through self awareness and examination, through observation of the young and what they need in order to progress. Through the respect we have for them as people, rather than learners who we think are inferior.
A positive and encouraging approach towards learning and education, one that demonstrates its value and worth, that is humane in recognising these are human beings we’re dealing with not robots we’re priming, is an approach I believe anyone can adopt, qualified teacher or not.
So you don’t have to be a teacher in order to home educate successfully, as many, many non-teaching parents are proving. In fact in order to successfully home educate myself and other ex-teachers all say that we needed to un-learn the blinkered and inflexible style of educating we’d developed through our own higher education and training.
In fact, we would all do better for understanding that actually we are all teaching already, whoever we are, in that we all influence young people by our example; who we are, what we do, how we behave, how we inspire, stimulate and encourage. And it’s these things that make us good teachers, not merely qualifications.