I was asked recently to write a blog post for Streams focusing on community with particular reference to how this developed as we wrote “Another Way to Learn?”. For those of you who read this regularly, you’ll have got a feel for how ideas flew and and friendships grew during our collaboration, so I won’t bore you by reiterating it! However, in the process of writing the blog for Streams, a new concept came to me; of further friendships and networks developing over book clubs. Local communities are so important and we need friends with whom we can chat over a mug of tea at the kitchen table as well as those which survive and even thrive over distance and time. So, I wondered if, just as new friendships developed in the writing of the book, more might grow through reading it together. Here are a few paragraphs adapted from the Streams post which I hope will explain further.
“Deep within most of us, I believe, there is a yearning for community. To be part of a group of people who do life together; who “get it”, who can empathise with our struggles because they also have them and who can celebrate our joys because they understand how hard won these are. Despite being surrounded by people, home education can often be a lonely journey because, although fast increasing, there are still relatively few home educating families around.
Our early years of home education were, on one level, quite lonely for me. We live in a small rural community and when we started out (our eldest is now 21) there weren’t many other home educating families around. We have some wonderful friends in our town, for whom I’m ever more thankful as the years pass by, but all their children were at school so it did feel like we were going it alone. Gradually we began to build a network around us and even gathered enough families to hold a monthly home ed group for a while. However, as any of you will know who’ve been home educating a while, we’re a diverse and strong minded bunch, and while this can be a strength of our UK home educating community, it doesn’t automatically lead to deep soul sharing friendships. It was not until a particularly tough season where our ideals for home ed came under increased pressure, that I stepped out again and joined the Bristol Christian Home Ed group. This was a turning point for us. We were welcomed with open arms, and to this day I’m grateful for the warm friendship that was offered to both our children and myself. Finally, it felt like we’d found our tribe; people who understood and encouraged.
Sometimes community will come to us, but in my experience more often it’s developed as I’ve reached out to others. Here is an idea in which you could do just that. “Another Way to Learn?” is divided into eleven chapters, plus an introduction, conclusion and afterword. Helen and I are going to be discussing each chapter in turn on our podcasts over the next few months. Why not form a book club with some others in your area and read along with them? All you need is the courage to reach out with an invitation and the ability to make some hot drinks! It could be an evening event, but as this might be harder to arrange, you could just get together for a play date and grab what snippets of conversation you can while the children do their own thing. Who knows what friendships this might lead to?
In the same way that new friendships flowed out unexpectedly from our collaboration, so it would be lovely to learn of new friendships and support networks being built through the reading of “Another Way to Learn?” We’d love to know how you get on!”
We all need others around us, and maybe this is especially so over the long winter months when, as the nights draw in earlier and the days get colder, we spend less time lingering over conversations with neighbours and acquaintances. So, maybe you could start a book club. It doesn’t have to be around “Another Way to Learn?”. All you need is a place for a few people to gather, some warm drinks and snacks, a good book and a desire for community.
Happy reading friends!
PS I also had the delight of being interviewed by Leah Boden on her podcast Modern Miss Mason about the book. She asked some great questions, so I hope I did them credit. Have a listen!