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Sophie's Way

by D. S. Francis

'Lessons, what are those?' she demanded.
'You've never heard of them either?' I was in the saddle again.
'Well, I know that if I hang onto a weak tree branch, and I fall and hurt myself because it breaks, I've learnt a lesson. Does your governess make you fall out of trees?'
'No silly!' I laughed, getting up from my knees. 'She tells me facts that I have to memorise and recite.'
'Yes, she asks me questions the next day to see what I've learned.'
'Even what you don't want to know?'
'Well, yes', I said, feeling more and more like a bug under a magnifying glass.
'Gee, that's worse than falling out of a tree,' she said, with a concerned expression on her face. And if she started to suspect that this funnily dressed girl, in my person, came from a different planet, she wasn't far from the truth.
We stood there, measuring each other up from our own unique perspectives. Although both on the same planet, we lived in two very different worlds.

Twelve years old Flora Balston, due to some rather fortunate circumstances, recognises the duality of her upbringing, the conflict between her own nature and the expectations of her father and governess concerning her education. She fights for the freedom to follow the guidance of her inner voice, develop her own wisdom of life and discover the wonders of learning, with the help of some truly amazing friends. The question is: will she succeed after years of suppression, or will she join the countless children who grow up only to live a pre-designed life?

Grown up Flora ' s memoir takes us back, not only to her childhood to discover how differently every child learns, but we also travel to Victorian England's countryside. Although the story is historical, the human spirit has not changed since those times and the issue at hand is just as true today as it will be tomorrow.

When children spend most of their childhood years in school, constantly being told what to do and think of; when compulsory school subjects and grades become more important than the unfolding of a growing child, it is not surprising that the world is full of unhappy and unfulfilled people. If children don't have the freedom to explore their own inner world uninterrupted, and discover their relationship with their surroundings through their own eyes and experiences before their academic education begins, their artificially delivered knowledge will only be second-hand and therefore disconnected from the self.

What use will our society have of adults who don't have the chance to realise the core of their own being, what they are made of and what they are capable of achieving (in real life, not by school standards)? What good can come from learning to live up to what is important to others but foreign to our nature?

The author of this book, D. S. Francis is a home educating parent and an enthusiastic advocate of child-led learning. She strongly believes that children (and adults!) learn best when they are allowed to follow their own, natural interests.

Having recognised the negative impacts of school on her own emotional, intellectual and creative development, and in contrast, witnessing the wonderful discoveries and the natural learning process that took place in her own child, she was dumbfounded by the incomparable differences between what society calls 'schooling' and the 'true education of a human being'. Such insights inspired her to write this novel.

Her sole aim with this story is to encourage parents of young children, to look into their own heart if in any doubt and see if they can find that long lost innocent and carefree child within they once were, who can relate to their own children's reluctance to 'get schooled', and help them realise that spoon-fed knowledge is not for everyone.

"'My mother says that nature is my classroom and curiosity is my teacher.'"

Sophies Way is available from the author through her Facebook page:

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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.

Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine

The information on this website is of a general nature only and is not intended as personal or professional advice. This site merges and incorporates 'Homeschool Australia' and 'Unschool Australia'.

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