There is confusion about the basics of education so this is worth exploring a little.

Contents: Defining Education - Education in our experience on the land as a grazier, a shearer, or in the corporate world, as a software engineer, an educator.

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What is education?

Education is probably commonly understood to be formal education as in a formal setting. However there are other opinions on the matter.
As a starting point, consider the term Education in wikipedia
Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. Educational methods include storytelling, discussion, teaching, training, and directed research. Education frequently takes place under the guidance of educators, but learners may also educate themselves. Education can take place in formal or informal settings and any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts may be considered educational. The methodology of teaching is called pedagogy.
This definition covers both formal and informal education. This means that education as a learning experience can happen in any setting.

In our experience ...

  • Children brought up on the land such as my husband are likely to acquire many skills from a young age such as observation of their surroundings (eg checking for pasture, dam level, danger), respect for the land, livestock, and wildlife, appreciation of the law of physics (eg the effects of gravity, usage of pulleys, crowbars to facilitate moving of equipment), understanding of the origin of food and harvesting of water...
    These skills are not necessarily taught in a formal setting; yet they are an important part of the education of the child.

  • I graduated as a Software Engineer in 1992 although personal computers (PC) were not widely available. So I managed to graduate despite limited access to PCs; I graduated in the same manner as all other computer trained professionals who adapted and learnt at an age older than primary school! So I definitely do not believe that a laptop for a child is an essential element of quality education despite what the politicians have been chanting in Australia for years now.
    I also trained and worked as a trainer and educator in Australia and I definitely do not believe that a laptop is necessary for a child.
The foundation skills which I believe are important to find a place in our world include:
  • Learning to observe, listen, ask questions, work with others, and experiment. Try without shame or fear of embarassment.
  • Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic are usually taught in a more structured fashion although preferably initiated in very early childhood in the family setting.
  • Problem Solving is essential in all aspects of life. One needs to be able to identify a problem, break it down into manageable steps for resolution, and work through each step re-assessing the situation on the way, and pursuing until resolution of the problem.
  • What I particular appreciated as a child educated in France in the early 1970s were the stories instilling values.
    After lunch on every school day the teacher would read us a short story and there was a value attached to the story.
    This taught me what was acceptable or not in our French society, it taught me the rules of the society I lived in. It never taught me to accept such rules blindly. It taught me that every society runs by a set of rules. Growing up I learnt that such rules change over time and that knowing such rules makes it easier to understand and find a place in the system. Understanding the rules also allows to discuss them and contribute to changing them for the purpose of hopeful improvement.
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