As of a few weeks ago, Maryam and Danyal are done with their Physics iGCSE. During the last 2 weeks I took them to cafe after cafe, moving on once getting bored – I’d do my work and they’d do physics past papers. I wanted to make sure the last few weeks would be as intense as possible, for reasons highlighted in an earlier post.
Towards exam time they were both averaging around 85-90% in their exams – the A* mark is 77-83%, so hopefully they’ll get the grade, but of course anything can happen.
The way the kids learned Physics iGCSE was, from day 1, by doing past paper questions. That was it. For each question when they got stuck, which at the beginning was pretty much all the time, I explained all they needed to know to do the question. They then moved on to the next question, and by doing questions after question they eventually understood all the concepts. In fact that’s essentially how I was taught at university. The benefit of this is that all learning is done with a purpose – which is to answer the question at hand – and that makes one focused and it also sticks in one’s mind. It’s also a bit more like life – you have problems – and you just need to solve them – you don’t need to understand everything around the entire subject.
For their A-levels instead of teaching them I’ve decided to let them start learning things on their own, a skill which is perhaps more important than the knowledge gained from any iGCSE or A-level. I think they’re ready for it. I’ll set them past paper questions every week, they will do the research from a text book and the internet, they will then mark their own work as the exam board provides answers, and when they don’t understand I’ll explain it to them in the evenings and weekends – I doubt it will take more than 10 minutes a day.
I have also adopted the same system for my youngest daughter, Sabeen. She’s just doing foundation level Maths iGCSE past papers, hopefully moving onto higher level in a few weeks. I just set her work which she needs to finish. Whenever she gets stuck she’ll ask either Maryam, Danyal, or her mother, Isabelle.
This is pretty much how it works at my company, LaunchPad. Deliverables or targets are set and I do not care when people come into work or when they leave – I care about those deliverables or targets.
Anyway, so with me no longer teaching, I’m a retired teacher! How am I taking advantage of my free time?
I am focusing my time on business – it’s beginning to take off and I don’t want any distractions – I want my energy and mind to be intensely focused.
5 thoughts on “Retired teacher…”
You do seem to have a pretty adventurous vibe here. I wonder if teaching was an enlightening and relatively enjoyable work, or there was more of a utilitarian “at least we can exploit talents unlike regular school” mood? Did you expect at the very start that it will require lots of patience and preservance, that it won’t be about throwing some workbooks and some barking? What did you learn while teaching as someone with no prior pedagogical background?
I know several people who were traumatised by their attempts at teaching and began appreciating their white-collar jobs much more after these attempts. Teaching is certainly not a clubby-clean-room kind of work.
I don’t teach much – and neither does my wife. But I find it fulfilling. I just make my kids try things, when they can’t do it find out themselves, when they still can’t I help them.
We thought we’d outsource everything when we started – we ended up doing a fair bit ourselves.
No traumas with teaching!
I would definitely classify making kids learn themselves teaching. However, there definitely limits to this, and very different ideologies to yours.
For instance, one of my teachers blatantly refused to explain what was wrong with my essays, as I supposedly have no language talent and her job is to objectively grade essays – teaching essay writing is not part of the curriculum. That teacher was replaced for the last year with a slightly more approachable one, but she lost hope after I got 40% in a test paper a few months before the exam, with a horrific essay. I ended up switching to self-studying. After intensely practicing for a few hours every day, I ended up getting 80% in the actual Russian language mandatory 17+ exam.
Do you think the first teacher just wanted me not to waste time? Was there a crisp ideology?
Inspiring blog – my wife started homeschooling after pulling the kids out of a Montessori school in Jan this year. They are 10 and 8.
Having literally just read your blog, it makes SOOOO much sense ma sha Allah:
– start early in the day
– do intense study of one/two subjects rather than 10 at once
– focus on life skills not academics
– focus on business not career
– etc. etc.
Am an accountant myself (now a CFO). I actually know of your other half as we both were at PwC at the same time and I think she was teaching at the CityCircle Sat School I was too. My wife knows Isabelle from uni I think.
Anyway – question for you – am thinking of pulling the plug on our current education plan (which is send them to secondary Islamic school) and flip to this.
So wondering about what GCSEs to go for with the 10 year old first. Am thinking to not do a core school subject just in case we change our mind and second them to school.
So thinking Arabic, Urdu are options. Any other thoughts/ideas?
I think you said accounting was hard (although I could teach that to my kids I imagine).
Computing any good?
Also, why don’t you do English? Important for job apps no?
What do you do for religious studies?
Salaams Umar, hope you’re doing well! Nice to be connected again!
We don’t do English because it’s evident as soon as you chat to my kids that their English is fine! And we’re not training them for jobs – but for entrepreneurship.
I’ve always thought languages are harder to get A*s. I would suggest you still do the core subject, maths. It can only be a good problem that he/she has done Maths GCSE very early.