29 July 2017
Today, I attended a homeschool seminar by the well-known homeschool consultant, Martie du Plessis, in Hermanus. I have attended her seminar before and heard many of her talks at the various homeschool expos over the years. Each time, I come away with a new perspective on something that she shared. Today was no different. She put my focus on a couple of gems of information, which are now suddenly freshly relevant and have a new significance in own life and for others that I reach, especially homeschoolers.
One of the things she often speaks about is preparing our children for life in the digital era, an era where they have to learn to thrive amid chaos, an era where they have to learn to focus amid a multitude of distractions and the era of information, where it is no longer the ability to read that is important but the ability to discern WHAT to read.
She also shared testimonies of grown homeschoolers in their 20’s who are now successful in their own businesses and careers. Without fail, they all said that they are successful today because they had TIME…time to spend pursuing the things they loved, TIME with their parents who mentored and encouraged them and TIME to discover who they were, where they belong and how they can serve their community professionally.
Suddenly, I realised that I have been underplaying some of the most significant advantages of choosing to do the GED® credential as an alternative to a traditional matric.
A traditional matric demands that students spend a large amount of time working through an extensive syllabus, learning facts, information and in some cases, a bit of thinking and writing skills in order to pass traditional pen and paper exams.
Most of the service providers offering recognised matric courses, offer courses that replicate the text-book based school system at home – a system that is considered by modern educational experts to be an outdated remnant of the industrial age – a system designed to raise factory-workers, who all shared the same knowledge and clocked in and out and worked on a time-table …and a few became academics or other professionals!
While this kind of system may develop patience, perseverance and diligence in some children, even at home, it robs them of a lot of TIME that could be spent on other pursuits – other things that develop them as a person in ways that time with text books never can, time doing things that might become the basis of a future career path, time learning other things that are much more relevant to life in the 21st century.
The GED® on the other hand test SKILLS in (only) 4 subjects – skills which are considered to be essential for success in the workplace of the 21st Century – maths, reading, writing and a huge emphasis on reasoning and critical thinking. The tests are presented mostly in comprehension test format, so no wasting time cramming obsolete facts and information you will later forget is required. The tests are done on computer – the tool of the future!
Homeschooled students who have had a good, solid education in the 4 subjects of the GED® tests, up to about grade 10 level and beyond, can usually quickly develop and improve the SKILLS that they need to pass the tests.
During this preparation time, and after achieving their GED®, they then have much more TIME to spend on hobbies, new interests and 21st century skills that could become their sources of income in the future.
The successful people of the 21st century need to have a completely different skill set from the academics or factory-workers of the previous century– they need to be creative, innovative, collaborators, good communicators, cross-cultural, computer-savvy…these are skills that are not found in text books or even online courses. They are skills that you can develop only by living life, doing new things, working with people, taking risks, working on projects, learning to use new technology and learning from mistakes.
We have to change our thinking and our children’s thinking and help them to understand that they need a much wider range of skills than a traditional matric will ever give them, in order to be successful in the milieu of 21st century.
So the next time someone asks, “Is the GED® a real matric?”, I will answer – “The GED® is not a matric, it is an alternative foreign grade 12 equivalent* that has the potential to set your child free from the outdated educational system of the industrial era, to equip your child with more relevant skills and to launch your child into a new dynamic way of learning, that can bring success in the modern economy!”
It’s a stepping stone on a new path to a new future.
*SAQA (the South African Qualifications Authority) has evaluated the GED® and found the National Senior Certificate as its closest comparable qualification. SAQA evaluates each submission of a foreign qualification on a case by case basis and therefore students with a GED® are eligible for SAQA Foreign Qualification evaluation.