Norfolk Home Learning
The Story of Steven
and why I believe in home education
The seeds of my preference for home education were sown about 45 years ago. I was a young schoolteacher coping with an unruly class of 10-year-olds in the shadow of Leeds jail. When alarm bells rang they thronged the windows to see if anyone's dad was making a break for freedom. (Quite a few families had moved from slum to slum in order to stay near dad.)
One day, a lovable urchin called Stephen turned up late explaining that the police had called on him and his mum in the derelict warehouse where they lived. He'd been caught stealing dog food from a neighbouring warehouse to keep them going for a couple of days.
He said he'd got it by picking a padlock. I turned my teacher's table round so that the locked drawers faced the class and Stephen showed how skilled he was: he had them open in a couple of minutes.
The impact on me was enormous. Here was a virtuoso locksmith - a ten-year-old with a trade in the bag, which could carry him into crime or employment.
I don't know where Stephen had learned all this. It wasn't at school, that's for certain. And six more years of school wouldn't mend his miserable life or his 'discipline issues.' I'd love to know what happened to that amazing boy. If he did become a master locksmith he won't owe me or his school any thanks.
But I owe Stephen a huge debt of gratitude. It was his example and examples (happy and sad) in other children's lives that led me out of the school classroom into lecturing, children's authorship and private tutoring.
We can't all be locksmiths, poets or composers but we can all be skilled creative selves, if we have the chance.
Tony D Triggs