Christian Travelers Guide + state

Why am I questioning our decision to educate our boys through the state system?

A post from Plan B got me thinking recently. She's recently moved up to Scotland and one of the reasons was for the better state schooling it offered than the London suburb alternative. But somewhere, in her privately educated subconscious, she's still worried about sending her children through the state system.

I hit my first moment of the state/private educational divide the other day. Adam and Luke go to the local state school. We are extremely lucky and have 2 'Good' primary schools within walking distance, and we opted for the smaller one, feeling that our shy boy would benefit from a cosier environment. Our instinct has been proved right on that front and we are watching him bloom, particularly in a social environment. Overall, we are very pleased with the school, the quality of education and the depth of support the school provides.

We went for tea the other day with some friends who have opted to educate their children privately. I suddenly realised that we are living in different worlds.

Her boy is miles ahead of Adam academically. Adam is in Year One, and I feel this is quite early for a state/private divide to have started, after all it isn't going to decrease with time. But this child has so much homework and spelling learning and reading practice to do that he doesn't do any playing with other kids during the week just so he could keep up. He's 5. I thought that was shocking. Then the times that he isn't doing academic activities he's involved in very structured adult led stuff. I thought that was worrying. Where is the time spent pottering about doing not very much? Where is the time spent learning social skills within their own peer group? Where's the time spent learning how to create separate worlds? Surely primary school should be about learning the basics, reading, writing, numbers and learning about how to function socially? Secondary school is about learning actual stuff whereas primary should be for getting the basics right.

But even thinking that, I started to worry. Had we made the right decision? By sending them to state school was their education going to suffer? Rationally I knew we had made the right choice for our boys, but irrationally (and as someone who has to work hard to curb an unhealthy competitive streak) I had a brief moment of worry that they were not being pushed enough. Fortunately common sense took hold and I remembered that schooling should not be measured solely on an academic basis (see Nappy Valley Girl's recent post on more on this front). But it was illuminating for me. For all my bravado, I'm not as comfortable with the state school system as I should be.

I was privately educated at secondary level, and arrived from a state primary. The secondary school rather snottily said that I needed extra coaching, Mum and Dad sensibly ignored them thinking that was really the schools job. The school was unbelievably academic; we were asked, aged 12, whether we would be applying to Oxford or Cambridge - and in a separate occasion and in all seriousness asked us what we were going to win our Nobel prize for as the school hadn't had one of those yet. I hated it with a passion and I don't think it did me any favours. But I find it interesting that I can't quite shake that sense of belief of having a 'superior' education and of wanting to give that to my own children.

I know that the state school they are at is the best place for them. In every way it is proving to be an excellent school. I just need to work out a way to trust my gut instinct on this one and to stop feeling panicked that I am somehow depriving them by not going private.

education, health, private, schooling, and more:

Why am I questioning our decision to educate our boys through the state system? + state