Excerpts from an interview on Enough Rope with Andrew Denton:
ANDREW DENTON: You mentioned that you’re home schooling them, what do you teach them?
MICHAEL LEUNIG: Well, they learn, you see, children want to learn. I think healthy children just, you can’t stop them learning and so you’ve got to provide, it’s a matter of provision. You create an environment where they are keen and eager to, and curious, and so, for instance, my daughter, Minna, loves her horses. She has a couple of horses and the horse is the teacher at that point. When they’re walking across the paddock, paddock is the teacher, the snake that crawls in front of them is the teacher. When they’re helping fix a fence or fix the pump, that is the teacher. Children’s eyes go to things, they sparkle when they see something, so you say, “OK, we’ll go there. We follow that”. You follow things.
ANDREW DENTON: Do you worry that you won’t be able to give them a broad enough education beyond your and Helga’s view of the world?
MICHAEL LEUNIG: Well, you couldn’t control the situation to that extent. The world just comes in on top of you. It creeps under the door. It falls out of the sky. It’s all around. I mean, if you love your children you’re not wanting to see them become ignorant and narrow and if they want to go to school, fine, you know. I they want to, if there comes that time, they can go.
ANDREW DENTON: Aren’t these things, though, that as your children move into a broader world as they get older, they’re going to have to find a way to deal with them because they’re, you can’t close them off.
MICHAEL LEUNIG: No, you’re opening them up. No, you can’t close off these bad things. Absolutely, and that’s why I’m home educating them so that at the centre they’re strong because it’s a big, wild world out there. See people would caricature this as a narrow, parochial view. I see it as the opposite. I think it’s trusting that the child has a soul that wants to open up to all the world. Make it strong, let the child be strong at the beginning. Let the soul centre be happy and solid and strong and it can cope with whatever comes. Creativity is the way through and I think so much creativity is crushed in education.
Some interesting thoughts here. Children do want to learn – on weekends, evenings, ‘school holidays’ it doesn’t matter what the time, I find that my children want to learn all the time. They’re often uncousciously learning through all sorts of life happenings.
For me home education isn’t about protecting my children from the big, bad world as Michael Leunig says it’s about seeing them grow up strong and resilient.
They’re at the age where they’re choosing what they believe and who and what they’re going to live for. They’re both developing a relationship with Jesus and it’s exciting to watch them learn and grow.
I think it takes more than creativity to base their lives on however I have also seen creativity crushed by en masse classroom schooling.