Preparing for their Future

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IMG_8476I have been submersing myself in the fringes of education over the past few years, starting literally, in the soil, as a garden teacher, uncovering the many layers that go into teaching children. Then I incorporated the many varied theories of teaching through University. It seems there are as many different ways of teaching as there are of being a parent. Now, I have found myself teaching School Of The Air (SOTA) to my own three children in our desert home.

Our schoolroom is in the ‘entranceway’ of our grand old stone house. We have double doors that open onto a patch of grass, a hills hoist and a steel fence, which attempts to hold the desert winds and dust at bay. Sometimes curious emu heads poke over and black kites wheel overhead. My role is to deliver and teach lessons as given to me by the Broken Hill School Of The Air. When our satellite dish is installed, the kids will also have a lesson or two a day on-line, learning everything from PE to maths.

The support and resources we are given by SOTA is fantastic. As every teacher knows, an enormous amount of effort goes into the designing of lessons that will help kids want to learn, and to make sure they learn it well. I find myself battling the clock each day, trying to ensure that each of my children has learnt the vast amounts of what they are required to each day, produces meaningful work, and has fun!

The respect I have for the people out on properties has reached new levels. Besides the full time job that the teaching is, there is still childcare for the little ones, looking after the property and house, chasing away snakes.. It is so much harder than I expected, I have to sit on my hands at times to not pull my own hair out, but on the other hand, the opportunity feels like such a gift. I can see where my child needs help, and I can help them. I can see where they can thrive, and I can let them go for it.

The trick will be, for me, to ensure they understand what a fraction is, can write a report, while understanding how to tell which animals have passed through a sandy creek bed in the night. I want them to do long division, and spell correctly, while knowing how to ride a motorbike and use a UHF radio. I want our kids to have identified a snake from it’s scales, or to be able to call in an apostle bird family to play at their feet. I also want them to have time to just play!

Many of us have so much opportunity for choice – mainstream schooling, private, home-schooling, school of the air. How do we give our children the best possible opportunity to have meaningful, happy lives now and as adults? Do we want their lives to be more meaningful or happy than our own? Are we setting them up for a world like the one we have known, or one that is vastly different. I don’t know the answers, but I do know that they deserve to have the very best that we can offer them. Right now, that means to go and have a picnic under a gnarled old redgum. The redgum is on the edge of a dry river bed, it’s branches support the remains of a wedge tailed eagle nest, and it’s roots sink deep into the red soil that has known the steps of parents before me for many thousands of years, all of us trying to prepare our children the best we can for their own unknown future.P1080693



  1. Susan Munro
    Susan Munro11-23-2015

    Karen your writing is beautiful. It brings vivid pictures to my mind. You are an inpirational mother, writer, teacher. If we could just bottle you and spread you far and the wide the world would be better of.
    Keep writing and enjoying picnics.

    • Karen Harrland
      Karen Harrland11-28-2015

      Thanks Susan, you’re very kind. I wish I could sit down and talk education with you!

  2. Siri Anne Bjorhusdal
    Siri Anne Bjorhusdal11-24-2015

    Beautiful Karen!
    You make me feel so happy for you and I feel so happy inside to be allowed to read your honest story.
    To find the answers by yourself and follow your own heart is such a scary and amazingly blessed choice and feeling. It touches your soul. I recognize feelings, reflections and experiences from my own life through your story. Through my home schooling period and in the way I’m living now and with no family around me. To be sure one is on the right path in life even if it’s bloody hard in the moment is answered when you give yourself a breather in a peaceful natural space where your overall question is ‘what am I doing??’ and what comes to you after those brainstorming seconds over looking your life situation is that fluttering feeling from tip to toe of Joy! with often or sometimes no logic behind it 🙂 ..I’m learning to listen and trust that intuition even if I’m questioning every stand of it, and I say to myself ‘keep on going it’s more to come!:)

    • Karen Harrland
      Karen Harrland11-28-2015

      Thanks Siri, I agree. Sitting under a tree is where the best decisions in life are made. I often have your wise words about home schooling echoing in my head when I’m trying to make sense of it all.

  3. Julia Harrland
    Julia Harrland12-01-2015

    Its as if you planted that tree and nurtured it – you have the right to sit in its shade.