Education in St George: Insights into Homeschooling

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Joanne Rossbridge, 2017

Interviewee: Joanne Rossbridge
Date: 11 July 2017
Subject: Education in St George/ Homeschooling
Interviewer: Birgit Heilmann
Transcript: Hurstville Museum & Gallery staff

For further details regarding this recording, you can find the recording in the Georges River Libraries Catalogue under Education in St George: Insights into Homeschooling



Joanne Rossbridge JB
Birgit Heilmann BH


This is an interview with Joanne Rossbridge, conducted by Birgit Heilmann on the 11th July 2017. The interview is conducted in Oatley for the museum gallery project, Education in St George.

And first up, having some personal information just to get some orientation.

Biographical information

[00:26] Can you please state your full name and address?

[00:28] Mm hmm. Uh, Joanne Rossbridge. Oatley.

[00:32] What is your date of birth?

[00:33] 1970.

[00:34] Where were you born?

Um, I was born in Sydney. In which suburb? I think it was Canterbury hospital actually (laughs). And how long did you live where you grow up? Um, I lived in the Cronulla, Woolooware area until I was about 16 or 17 and then I moved to Sutherland with my parents. Yeah, that was probably till I was early mid-20s, I think. And then I basically have lived around Oatley since. 

[01:21] Can you briefly tell me about your own school education?

Ok. I went to a public primary school and a public high school. Woolooware Public, Woolooware High School. Um- It was in the mid-70s  going into the 80s. I – – liked school but I didn’t like school and probably my earliest memories are primary school where I remember  a Korean girl arriving when I was in Year 6 with no English. So this would have been probably 1981, 82 and no one knew what to do with her (laughs). She was very clever and could do Maths ten times better than anyone else and I spent most of Year 6 in the library reading books to her. 

Oh, that’s nice. I was just thinking when I interviewed the other gentleman about- how migrants came into to the schools and it was kind of not many English speakers (interrupts) No, not then and certainly not in that area and probably still today to some degree, yeah. High school- I didn’t like at all (Laughs) (Laughs). Yeah, I think it’s just that age you’re at and so yeah. So- but primary school was more favourable than high school. 

[03:04] Did you then after school did you go to uni -?

Yes, I did teaching which was always one of those funny things that people who do teaching either love school or didn’t like school at all. Primary teaching and then I travelled overseas for about a year and a half when I graduated and then I, what did I do? I did casual work for a couple of years and then I had a permanent job at Harcourt Public School, which is in Campsie. Which at the time, I was an ESL teacher, so English as a second language and there was a lot of newly arrived Chinese and Korean students at that point.

[03:48] So I guess that’s also besides learning and teaching the language also the cultural awareness and (interrupts) Yes. how to (interrupts) yes, yes. integrate them into school? Yes, yes that’s right. Yes. 

So in a school, and other schools I’ve worked in, a lot of new arrivals at that time and quite a diverse community and so on. I also worked at Belmore South for a little while before that too.

[04:12] Can you also give me an overview of your family and who lives here?

Ok, so there’s obviously me, Greg is my partner, he’s also a teacher. Grace is 14 at the moment and Lucy is 12, so the 4 of us. Thanks. 

Homeschooling experience

[04:36] So I’m here today to learn more about homeschooling. And I thought maybe you could just start with talking about the current situation- just what you do?

Yup, ok. So, for us, um we’ve only have been homeschooling for just over two years. -So, we’re- I don’t think anyone is representative of homeschooling, it is quite a diverse group of people. We started homeschooling because my daughter was having difficulties at school. And I couldn’t see her getting the support she needed and as she got older, we became more and more worried. So it was just a kind of a whole lot of things just lined up at once and we found that we could do it. So it has been very interesting and we met lots of people in the community. I was quite shocked to find out I think in my first week that there was a group that met at Oatley library. I had no idea and that’s become a really important group in our week. Well, in our life actually. That group’s grown substantially in the last two years as well. 

[05:54] How many members are there? 

Um- we meet every Friday, it could be in terms of kids it could range from 10 to 25 depending on who comes and what the weather is like and so on. Yup. Yeah, so when I first started, coming 10 to 12 yeah it’s quite a big evolving group. 

[06:18] Our- do you want to know what’s our week like? YESSS. Yeah, (hands clap together) so- I should also say my elder daughter does go to school. I think, I dont know looking back I think if I would have known, I would have home-schooled them- from the beginning, if I had known earlier on or even saw it as an option. Um, so Grace goes to school every day. Lucy typically, you know, gets up, (swifting noise) we work at this table by about 11 o’clock on the Monday it’s just a total mess (Laughs) with things. We – we kind of have a little bit of an organised way of doing things while other people don’t. There’s a whole range  of different ways people organise homeschooling. So we, you have to register with the Board of Studies and so on. So we, you know, English, Maths, Science, History, Geography, we do most of our work around those and you also need to do PDHPE and – what am I missing? Oh, and Creative arts, Creative and Performing arts.

[07:28] So Monday is typically a home day. I also have an aunt who kind of helps out as well so we kind of share it in a way. Tuesdays pretty much the same, Lucy goes to Arts after – we work on Monday so we count that as what we do. That’s at the Pole Depot, Yup, in Mortdale? Yeah, I forgot what they call it now, it’s got a new name. Yup. Yup, Tuesday is typically at home. Wednesday we have choir and dancing which is at Carlton and that’s a massive homeschooling day, it goes all day. There’s all sorts of things, all sorts of kids take part in. We just do dancing and choir and they do a big concert at the end of the year as well. Which is amazing- yeah just amazing. 

[08:26] And this is organised by- (sigh) it’s parents, so I think the person who organises it, she’s just kinda over her time. It’s just, you know things just gather momentum they get bigger. Yeah, it’s an amazing, I was blown away when I first went. So that’s pretty much Wednesday. Thursdays is usually at home and Fridays when we meet with the group which is usually something at a park or sometimes we go to an excursion to a museum or something like that. So that’s generally what the week looks like. 

[09:01] And when you said ‘we are doing this’, so is your partner helping with that?

He does abit. Yeah. He doesn’t work Fridays so he’s, if I maybe work on Friday, he might take her to the park and so on. He’s- what would you say- less patient (laughs) perhaps. He’s a teacher as well (hands clap) but it’s really different working one on one and its very different if it’s your own child as well. So, it’s a different relationship. Yeah. That’s sometimes very easy and sometimes more difficult. Yeah, I might come back to that later (laughs). Yeah, yeah (laughs).

[09:40] Just from the organisation point of view, you have to register? Mhmm. Do you then have to report back?  Yeah, they come every two years- and I think your first registration I think they give you either 6 months or 12 months. I think we got 12 months, some people only get 6 months and you have to show your planning and so on and you’re actually doing what the Board of Studies requires and so on. And then they come back (coughs) after that first registration, they come back in two years’ time and just monitor and look at what you’ve been doing and so on, which you know it’s fine. Yup. You do keep  a lot of records for one child. 

[10:27] And do they give out support material?

No, and that is part of the contention, I think. I mean I’m probably don’t know as much as people who’ve been homeschooling for many years. But this could be something to look into, there have been certain discussions in the last few years with the government about what homeschoolers should be entitled to. There’s also been modification of the process for registration and so on. There’s a whole lot of information around that as well. That’s quite interesting too. So its a constant um conversation Yes I think, yup.

[11:09] And also New South Wales has got different (interrupts) each state is different -yup, yup. But its kind of school system anyway.

Yeah, so it’s each state- yeah that you go through so it was the Board of Studies, now its called NESA, which is oh, I can’t even remember the acronym now they’ve changed their name. So, but yeah, there’s, it’s you know- I’ve never had any issues with the process, some people do. -But yeah, it’s one of those (interrupts) 

[11:44] What do you- what documentation do you need?

I have a big folder, with, you have to have a timetable. You need to show a brief program kind of thing. When they kind of come back, you show work samples, you show what you have been doing, I usually just lay out. I keep a day book so I document everything we do, each day. So there’s actually a lot of evidence, photos of everything we do, her books, all sorts of things.

[12:19] So, no support materials so you have to purchase all the books.

So, and again this is where homeschooling is really diverse so you can have- people who- there is like a- I’m thinking what the word is- I guess it is concept or approach of un-schooling which I don’t know a lot about. There’s people who have never been to a school so I think their way of doing things is probably less formal, sometimes as well. For us, probably for two reasons because Lucy did go to school and kind of was- in a way, moulded around that and because we’re teachers as well and that’s our background we’re probably a little bit more traditional. Actually, I wouldn’t- that’s not a right word, structured, perhaps. However, we and this is because of well, what I believe and also Lucy’s needs, we don’t use textbooks or pre-written material or anything. I do everything myself. So some people would kind of move in and out, there’s a whole lot of stuff available online that people will use. They’ll purchase, there’s a lot of stuff in America, in particular. A lot of people kind of go with what their kids want to focus on.

[13:49] So it can be quite fluid as well. But in terms of support from government authorities, there’s not, only what is I guess open to anybody if you went online and searched. Which is different to say you know in 20 years ago, now there’s a whole wealth of things out there that won’t there (hands clap) before, so I think that’s helpful for some people.

[14:20] So do you think you can continue homeschooling until the end?

I think with Lucy, yep, definitely . She’s really  just coming together now, it has taken two years and people did tell me this. Um, and she is in  technically in year 6, at the moment. I look at my own daughter going to high school – my other daughter rather, I couldn’t put Lucy in that – situation. It seems to be fairly horrible …..highschool  generally(laughs). So year, I think that’s what we do. 

[15:00] So, what are the possibilities then how to graduate?

So, um you can go through to year 10 and you get a, there is a certificate you get. It’s not school certificate, c’ause that doesn’t exist anymore. There is like a finishing certificate that they give you when they come out and look what you have done. Um, you can’t get a HSC by homeschooling, which again is kind of contentious; um you could go on to TAFE though. So there is a lot of avenues through TAFE that even alternately could get you into university. But you won’t technically have a HSC through schooling. 15:42 

Which might be a problem –  What you have heard, from your experience, if then you are trying to get a job of further education, how this leaving certificate for homeschooling is seen compared to the HSC?I guess – Yeah, I don’t know enough at this point, I haven’t been in it for long enough.  The people I know who, um, I haven’t heard anybody say that, whether that’s because I don’t know any homeschoolers in their 20s or whatever. Um, but – there is other avenues. I mean I know somebody who left school in year 10, so effectively the same thing, went to TAFE, um I think did a Cert 3 and 4 or something in nursing and ended up at UTS doing nursing. So it is just a different pathway. And I think, um, generally the public thinks homeschooling locks you out of everything. You know. And I think sometimes they think everyone wants- homes schoolers want to be locked of everything. But that’s not the truth at all. Um, there is different avenues, and there always has been. But people, in this – and this is a bit of a culture thing about Australia, I think, people or NSW in particular have always thought the only way to get anywhere is through your HSC. [16:59] But, it is not necessarily – I think it is not only here (laughs). And I think, maybe, overtime, that might change a bit, um, yeah. So I don’t know. 

And it is a good point that you just said that – how the general public sees home-schooling. Can you maybe explain about what  you think the general public thinks and what the reality is?

[17:31] yes – (laughs), um, so to kind of capture that, see I work as a consultant training teachers in schools, so when I first decided to do it [home schooling, BH] I be honest and I felt, I couldn’t tell anybody. I went through this whole sort of process that if people I’m telling how to teach in school knew that I am home schooling, I’d loose all credibility. Ok, or it would be like a, I am being critical of teachers, or whatever. Um, so there was probably six months where I couldn’t actually say it. I never lied, but I never offered the information. And sometimes I did get myself into a pickle, where they ask the right question where I actually had to say it. And the response would be – a stare, and then —uh that’s fantastic (raises voice), I can tell you 100 percent of the time. So there is this kind of ‘oh my goodness’ – and then this over positivity, which you could tell people were just thinking ‘I don’t know what else to say’, and you know,- so I think there is a whole range of reasons, I think people – the  second thing that  usually happens after that, is what about the social aspect, that’s people’s concern. Um, and again for us, and I have seen plenty of home schoolers who have been just fine socially, you know just like in school, there is the whole spectrum, um, for us the social outcomes are better from homeschooling than being at school. So you kind of weigh that up.

[19:24] In saying that though, I mean Lucy goes to art Mondays, she goes to a creative art stay on  Wednesday,  she has the park on Friday, she sees kids, you know frequently and has to learn how to play with them and all that sort of stuff. So she is not locked up in a room five days a week and not able to talk to anyone but me, sort of thing. And I think socially, she has actually improved in this environment. So that’s the thing, you get the ‘oh, that’s fantastic’, the ‘what about socially’, – I mean even our local GP went through exactly the same thing. I got to that six months and could predict people’s reactions, which actually should made it easier for me to handle. Um, so I think that’s the general perception, sometimes some people believe it is a particular Christian choice, or religious choice and in some cases it definitely is, but then there is other cases where it’s not. It can be for a whole range of reasons, so from ‘I thought this would be good’ and ‘it has gone well from the beginning, so I just kept going’ a lot of people had thought that they’d send their kids to school but they just never did, because they didn’t feel the need. It could be because they’ve had bad experiences at school or like us, child was having bad experiences, so there is a whole range of reasons people do it.

[20:53] – which I don’t think people are aware of either. I actually, I don’t know how relevant this is, I was actually listening to the ABC on Friday and they were talking about  Bernard Tomic at Wimbledon, did you see that? Where he came off the court and did an interview and said he was bored – oh I saw parts it, yep…. Yep, so all that thing, so on the radio they were interviewing people about it, and um they interviewed John Alexander, who was a tennis player, Australian, quite famous in the past, he is now a member of Parliament, and he was talking about and bababa, and then he said, about them being spoilt and you know, wrapped in cotton wool and whatever, just like home schoolers he sees everywhere. And it was this massive leap from these tennis players to this, and I never do this, so I actually sent a text just voicing my outrage and I thought ‘what’s that about?’ – So that’s just kind of – you know, that’s in the media. Really random major leaps to things like that, which I don’t think most people would go, ‘oh yeah, that’s probably the case’. Yeah. It’s interesting. um – however, there is more and more home schoolers all the time and there is probably a whole lot of people who aren’t even registered. So the actual potential of how many there is I think people would be quite surprised anyway.

 22:33 Why do you think from your experience now is the number increasing? (Laughs) –Again, there would be a whole range of possibilities here,  people who decide to from the beginning who haven’t had the school experience, you also have others who have had the school experience and have opted out. I can probably only can comment on that one um, I think (hmhm), and this is where it goes into my beliefs and my job, I think schooling, – teachers are overworked, they can’t cater for a range of students, to get support in school, you basically have to be diagnosed with something, and it is quiet easy to be diagnosed with something if you want someone to diagnose you and that’s problematic in itself. And the huge emphasis on testing in education currently, I think has changed teaching and how students and particularly what students learn, so it’s very narrow. So if you have other ways of showing what you can do there is little scope for that. Yes.

[24:10] Yep. (Laughs) It’s a tricky question. Just having a look at my questions- Maybe we can just be ……… the challenges. 

[24:23] So what are some of the challenges you currently face compared to when you started homeschooling two years ago?

Ok. Um challenges are actually less. Maybe improvements? (laughs) Improvements? Yeah, definitely. banging noise in the background). So I had a child who was totally not wanting to learn. Wasn’t reading, not doing anything, totally unhappy to take on anything. That’s changed dramatically. Her language has developed dramatically. I catch her reading now although she still doesn’t want me to know that she’ll read. That’s a bit of her thing there. Writing is really starting to pick up, maths is still a problem. At that level, we’ve had change, rapid change in some areas, not always, in most I would say. Challenges are around juggling everything. Yeah. And time, so I do work sometimes and- but it’s not too bad because I got lots of support, lots of family and everyone’s sort of the whole kind of she’s been brought up by the village kind of thing is happening. So for us, that’s not a bad thing for other families though if you even monitor homeschool I think there will be lots of challenges if you don’t have support around you.

[26:03] And I guess you said if you’re having a structure, that also helps, I guess to structure the day and how (sigh) you juggle your other commitments. 

Yeah. yeah, but then sometimes being- I can plan things I think will going to be fantastic and within ten minutes it all just falls apart and you kind of have to, you know. So with a class of 30 kids what you planning on what to do and they’re pretty accommodating but when you’re one-on-one and you go ‘I don’t wanna do this’ everything can- so you can kind of go, ‘Oh look at all the time I’ve spent and its not actually-‘ so I have learnt to be more flexible let’s say as well.

[26:43] That’s also the opportunity the one-on-one teaching yeah to be more flexible yeah ……… and then a better outcome? 

You have to be and that’s something I’ve learnt. I probably wasn’t flexible enough at the beginning. I felt like ‘we gotta do this, we gotta do-‘ but now I’m far more relaxed. And when she takes control of it, that’s when the good things happen- yeah but you gotta let that happen. 

[27:08] And so what do you think, I guess that’s also another point when you work one-on-one with your daughter, it’s a very different experience while going to school, having a teacher. So what do you think- can you tell me about your relationship? Has it changed with Grace?

With Lucy? Lucy. Yeah. Definitely, it’s probably made us a lot closer which I was worried it wouldn’t. I thought it would be really problematic possibly but it’s actually better. Yeah, she’s really a nice kid actually she’s really yeah, just- I don’t know why it has though because- sometimes I wonder if she would like to go to school-. But I know if she did, and I think she probably knows too but she’s probably just not mature enough to be able to talk about it I don’t think she’ll cope at all.-Yeah, purely- she’s little and cute and she can walk in a room and everyone will go I’ll help you and that was how she was from birth and I don’t know why.

[28:23] So I had to really make her more independent and be quite strong about that. And it’s, it;s, it’s two steps forward one step back which all learning is anyways and sometimes you can’t see where it’s going and then, like, at the moment I think because we’re on holidays and she’s had a break, all this stuff just come together. Just in this last week and a half, you can tell. So you know something you just talk about 7 months ago and you think ‘well, that’s gone nowhere’ actually will come out down the track so it’s interesting. Hmm. You get to know, I guess you get to know somebody much closer then you would in a school. Yeah. -and their interest and you can see them develop and more forward and back and forward again and its ………

[29:12] So how does find is Grace that she’s going to school, is she fine with that?

She is because she said I couldn’t stand being home (laughs) with you all day, you’ll drive me crazy. And because she’s a different personality I think she’s probably right. We just, we’re too much alike and kind of (makes noises) we will clash, I think. So she’s happy going to school- yeah and she’s in Year 9, she’s too far along that path to be- cause like Lucy has taken 2 years to really kind of settle and if you pull out in Year 9, I mean her schooling’s nearly over. Yup. So yeah.

[30:04] Um— maybe come back to — , I find it’s really interesting because as you said that some people think homeschooling is kind of isolated and you’re just by yourself but as you said that’s a lot of support, lots of groups. Um— can you tell me a bit more about the groups you (coughs) currently joined.

So there’s the Wednesday group, they— I don’t know how many families are involved but there’s lots. There’s kids running around everywhere all day from, you know, babies really, 4-5 to teenagers 17-18 year olds so it’s the whole age range. They bring in teachers like really, (claps) really good teachers. Lucy used to do dancing before we did homeschooling and it was I use to feel terrible dropping her off all the time because it was horrendous. They had this wonderful dancing teacher, they’ve got an amazing choir teacher, they’ve got drama teachers they’re just fantastic. There’s not the competitive stuff that goes on with schools. Yup. Kids are more supportive- they’re unlikely to be bullied or picked on, that’s a significant difference we noticed straight away.

[31:32] Why do you think is that? Is there an explanation? Umm, I don’t know, I think it’s, they don’t, they’re not in that (sighs) -it’s almost like a fighting ring at school and it’s like who can- and I’ve noticed at particularly with high school it’s like survival of the fittest, I think. And I think there’s something in our schooling culture that’s probably got worse overtime. Technology probably has a lot to do with it. So a lot of these kids don’t carry around their phones. My eldest daughter has her phone glued to her hands, Lucy doesn’t have a phone. Whether she wants one down the track I don’t know but they’re not texting each other every 30 seconds so I think that has a bit of a role. They go they come home, in a different environment while with technology they’re never alone. Mmm. There’s always that voice coming in and be a good battle or whatever.

[32:46] Yeah, I just think it’s a very nice feeling and a very nice culture that’s fostered. Yup. On Friday, you are meeting at- we tend to go to different parks and so on. Yeah.  So we’ll go to Carrs Park or Oatley Park or sometimes at Lugarno, I can’t remember what that one was called, Evatt Park. Or  we’ll do other things, like they went to Kurnell a couple of weeks ago and to the- Cook’s landing site yup. and things like that, a whole range of things. Again some of those people are common to Wednesday but not all but a really nice group of mothers who are very supportive, there’s no judgement- maybe some of this has to be taken out but (laughs)

[33:32] I know when I use to go up to the school playground, it was just like the you know the competition was kind of reflecting the competition between the parents. It was just (make noises) over the top, so I just withdrew while there’s nothing like this. I’ve never met a more supportive group of people and they’ll say ‘have you looked at this’ or ‘have you used this?’, or ‘I do this’, they’ll comment on each other’s kids, ‘ oh, look at’ they’ll always been great ‘Oh, look at how Lucy’s changing’ and so on. So really nice group of parents that don’t seem to judge. Mmm. I’ve never found that before. 

[34:16] -There’s also, do you know about there’s other, have you look online about homeschooling at all? Yeah, a little bit, yeah. There’s sites like all organisations like HEA, Home Education Australia, I think that is. I think that’s like the national site and they have a lot of resources and things. They have newsletters and a lot of things that support people and if you need support with you know registration or anything they’ll do that for you and so on. And there’s also SHEN, S-H-E-N, Sydney Home Education Network, mhmm which again has resources out there too but- they organise excursions and so on. So we every year there’s for instance Opera Australia puts on an opera for the kids and that’s organised through SHEN, so you just pay online and groups come from all over the place.

[35:18] So there’s a whole lot of-, you could, you could go to different things once a week easily, if you wanted to there’s a lot of opportunity for mixing and meeting up and different groups that meet, I know there’s one at Sutherland, there’s a Marrickville one, there’s pockets everywhere. 

And once you’re into it you can get know all the different people yeah ……… yeah, yeah. You get to know, like I know where the others are and initially I thought we should go here and here too but I found that what we (background noise) do do is, is sufficient and it’s enough and it’s nice and it’s a good group. [36:00] But yeah if you wanted to, you know, if you wanted to be out everyday mixing and going to places it wouldn’t be difficult to do. People don’t do that but my point is there’s lots of opportunities yup to do things so generally any kind of major event, any exhibition or anything on that’s on in Sydney, somebody organises a group and you can sign up and go to that. 

How do you go about, if for example you think that’s a good event to go but then Lucy doesn’t want to go?

[36:35] She’s generally alright, I’ll just say ‘we’re going here’ and she’ll usually  say ‘ who’s going?’ and I’ll say ‘they’re going too’ and she’ll go ‘Oh, ok’.Yeah and look that’s another thing that’s changed she never wanted to go out but now she’s driving us crazy these holidays, I wanna go somewhere, so that’s been a huge change as well, yeah. So there’s actually lots, there’s lots. There’s probably more things I would like to go about then I have time for. Mmm. So to think that you could choose to be isolated certainly but I don’t think people do and there’s no reason why you would because there is a lot out there but it’s really the community that supports it, not- not you know government or education authorities or anything like that. So- which is a bit sad (laughs) yes cause we’re saving them money because we don’t pay, we don’t go to school so that’s been something I think in the past about should homeschoolers be funded as well so, yeah. Yeah. I don’t think that will ever happen. (laughs) Unless you get enough- yeah, to have it as an equal system, besides— Yeah, yeah yeah. Because it is, um a very valid – it is a valid form of education, and any research basically says – although, how valid the research is, ’cause a lot of homeschoolers don’t want to get involved in that sort of thing – that homeschoolers are equal to or above academically where kids are in mainstream schools. So I don’t think it’s detrimental at all, and I think they’re more creative, generally, kids who aren’t in that box of schooling, mm.

[38:32] Do you also have, I mean of course, your neighbours might have kids that are at school. So, is this, not a problem, but is there any differences between those kids, and then your daughter?

Umm, no, no, umm – there are plenty of kids around here that go to school, but it’s not a big deal, we actually, Lucy did actually go to [Name of school deleted] which is just up there. She still sees one friend from there, and this took us a while, because, and again this was more about me than her, when we first started I avoided driving past, and that kind of thing. Um, but every few weeks, every couple of weeks, we actually walk up there and wait on the corner of the school, and pick [name deleted] up and [name deleted] comes over, and that’s when everyone’s coming out of school. Lucy’s not bothered by that. Parents, and I don’t recognise many any more, but those I know walk past and say ‘hi, how’re you going?’, so it doesn’t seem to be an issue, yeah, no. Not that I’m told, anyway, or I’m aware of.

[39:49] Yeah. Just came to my mind, when you first started, so were you a bit scared of doing it? What was like, the decision, ‘okay, we are starting taking Lucy out of school, from next week?’

Okay, look, yeah. The decision was, she was in Year 4, she’d done the first term, I don’t know, within the – and I’m probably making this up to some extent – but within the first three weeks, I think she’d had eight teachers. She has very high anxiety, so that wasn’t working. Then she ended up with two teachers job-sharing, which I didn’t have a problem with, that was okay. But towards the end of the term, one of those teachers left again, which meant another one coming in, and then I’d heard by the next term, it was going to be two different teachers again. And by the time Lucy got to the end of that term, she was just- it was just horrendous. So it was not only unpredictable, who would you have, and sometimes you would think you’d have on one day, so for a kid like Lucy, she needs to know that on Thursday and Friday she has this. They’d be mixed up. So she’d turn up and it’d be somebody different. So that was just awful, and it wasn’t going to get any better, and I had heard, the whole year went on like that. Which I think for someone like Lucy, that would’ve been just sending her way back. I could just see her just going backwards in that term. So that was — Look, if we’d, I don’t know actually, if we’d had a stable teacher for that term, maybe we wouldn’t have done it. I don’t know, actually, I hadn’t actually ever thought about that, mm. I felt like we had to do something. We couldn’t go on like that, and she wasn’t equipped to change school. She wouldn’t have coped with a school change. So this seemed to be the other option. 

[41:53] And you now are very happy about it?

Yeah, yeah, I don’t regret it, I don’t regret it. I mean it’ll be interesting to talk to Lucy in ten, fifteen, twenty years, who knows what she’ll say. But I think for her long-term, it was probably the best thing to do. At this point in time, that’s what I think anyway. Yeah, yeah.

[42:18] I think I’ve covered quite a few of my questions. Do you have anything you wanna to talk about that we haven’t touched?

Umm, not really. Just again that I think homeschooling is not understood, generally. Again, in the future it will be interesting to see what happens. It does occur in the media more often, probably in the last twelve to eighteen months, there’s been a few things on TV and so on about it, but yeah, it would be nice if people were open-minded and saw it as another option. Because I think for some families it might actually be a good option, but then for other families it would just be completely difficult. So it’s a choice. Mmm. Yeah, it’s just a choice people make, and it’s not good, bad, or whatever, it is what it is, just like any other choice, without judging. So yeah. I think that’s all. 

Homeschool material

[43:28] Thanks. (laughs) I’ve got another question. I’m planning this exhibition 2019, so exhibitions always planned two years in advance. I’m hoping to include some of the homeschooling part and your story in the exhibition. Do you have any, can you think of any items you could lend me for display?

Well, I was thinking that, actually. See these cupboards, it’s full of stuff [Going through cupboards behind the kitchen table, BH]. Oh, okay. That’s something else we had to do. I had to buy all these cupboards. This table was just getting piled and piled, and we just had to deal with it. So that’s a problem, that’s a challenge, what do you do with all stuff? (laughs) Yeah. I mean there’s stuff like, this is what I show -(Joanne brings folder to table to show content) you know timetable you have to have. Some of this, this is downloadable, science units and so on, you see I document excursions, what they relate to, you can see I’ve got every learning area, I mean there’s stuff like that, but, I don’t know what’s — I mean this is our publishing book that we’re going to start using next term, and the fact that it’s decorated means she might actually have a go at it. But every day, I keep a page or a couple pages like that, that details what we do. 

[45:44] So the kitchen table, and this is kind of the classroom.

Yeah, yeah, here’s another challenge, it’s generally not clear, so eating dinner at the table together is a problem (laughs). But every Friday, we clean up. But it does become a mess. So, there’s that kind of stuff, I mean that’s all this year. I don’t know, what else would be —

[46:18] That gives me a good idea, I might replicate a kind of a cupboard with stuff in it, for example. Oh, okay, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, there’s also – there’s books everywhere, this is her writing book, that’s all the writing she’s done so far this year, that book’s finished, actually, which I can tell you doesn’t happen in school. Mmm. Cause I work in schools, and if they’ve got that much so far this year, that’s a pretty good year, which is a real issue, isn’t it? She couldn’t write anything, at the beginning, when she came out of school, couldn’t, wouldn’t write, and now, there’s still issues with it, but you can see there’s a whole lot more going on. Yeah, I have just, just stuff. Work samples, and yeah. Yeah, that’s I think that gives me a good idea of content and- I mean, you can see there’s puppets and play-dough, and we’ve got lots of, um actually, because I could never, and I don’t really agree with it anyway, use a Maths textbook. Maths is probably the one area where people are more likely to buy a textbook or a program on something, if you do that with Luce, she just goes ‘Nup, not doing it’, so I’ve got a whole lot of games and stuff in here, Mmm, yeah, because that’s the way we tend to get involved in Maths, and a lot of those, I just print off line. There’s lots of places, there’s lots of homeschooling sites where people put up quite good things. Yeah, so that’s Maths and Science, that’s all our textas and highlighters, yeah. Yeah, good. There we go. Yeah, does that give you enough? 

[48:24] Yeah, I think that’s a good idea of what I could use.

I mean, I think particularly – and again, you can see things like this, that’s just a unit of work off a State Library site, sometimes I write things myself, but I think these are quite a nice example of what we’re required to do, as well. Because because I can tell you the requirements, what we produce, or certainly what I produce, is far more than what a teacher produces in the school. And they would be quite shocked to know that. I mean, that’s for one child. That’s a lot. Yeah, yeah. It’s not like, you just kind of colour-in all day, or anything like that, it’s well-organised and so on. 

[49:26] Do you want to add anything, or otherwise I’ll just close the interview?

I think that’s all, I think I’ve probably covered pretty much the main points along the way. 

Thank you very much for telling me this. That’s alright. It was really, didn’t know much about it, so thank you. Yeah, I mean, are you interviewing any other homeschoolers? Not at the moment, because I want to, at the moment, do a broad range of different things, but, yeah, in the future, it could be a different perspective. 

Because it could be interesting, purely because it is very diverse, and I know that my story is very different from a lot of others. So maybe someone who has done it always, rather than come out of school, Yeah, maybe that’s a good idea, I think you’d get perhaps something a bit different. They could also talk about the changes from ten years ago to now, I think that’s a good idea. ‘Cause, I think, different stories. Thank you very much

[Recording stops].