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In The Name of Allah,
Most Beneficent,
Most Merciful

Home Educated Founder of a Computer Software Company

Interview with Hamza Khalid

What do you think were the benefits of being home educated?

Home comforts for a start.  The place you spend most of your day in should be happy and welcoming and make you feel safe.  Clean as well is a big thing for us as we are Muslims, so I don’t think I would get on too well having to use the same toilets as outside people.  I hate it when I have to go to the loo outside anyway, so can you imagine having to use a public toilet every day!  Having a snack in the middle of doing things is also very important to me!

Most of my friends went to or still are at public schools and they never talk about what goes on there, as if they black out that part of their day.  For myself I love to talk about what we have been doing as it’s always interesting and usually something I feel passionate about.

Being at home made it easier for me to learn as I have a slightly one tracked mind so it would be very hard for me to fit into a school routine.  A couple of years ago we discovered I had Aspergers syndrome, and some things have been quite hard for me to cope with along the way.  Although we did not have an idea what this was when I was growing up, there were always difficulties which I think would have been badly handled by anyone other than people who loved me and wanted me to overcome. I had more time to do everything at my own pace and do the things I liked.

If you only study things you like won’t you miss out on other things that are necessary for you to learn?

In my case my mum made sure that we got all the things we needed by making lessons out of our own areas of interest.

For myself I was always mad about lego and star trek so if we were doing spellings my list would be something like:

borg            legoland

clingon         motorbike

vulcan          vehicle

spock           brick

enterprise    block

starfleet      base

command       wheel 

If it’s geography, it is very necessary to know where is a good place to land your spaceship.  You don’t want to land in a mountainous area or in the middle of an ocean now do you?   

Also the natural resources of each country are a very useful thing to know if you land somewhere and need a mineral or fuel of any type and the quickest way to find the most abundant source! 

Or maths could be numbers of crew members on each flight deck, numbers of beings in each species or hundreds of other different combinations so you can learn all the concepts you need and still stay interested, like distance through galaxies in proportion to speed. 

Science is always fun on its own so you don’t need to dress that up too much!  Especially as you come to realise that the Muslims had all the ideas and the rest of the world pinched them! 

History could be the time line from the start of star trek to modern day through different ages and captains.  After that you would have an idea of time and the concepts associated with history and time.  This is the most important thing about history, that you can think in a time frame and grasp an overall picture. For us we always related to Islamic history because it is so fascinating and even more exciting because it is real.  You know that when you study the truth it is not going to change and then you’ll have to learn something else.  From my mother’s work as a writer and researcher I know that not all history put about in schools is real history and sometimes even it’s a lie, so how are you going to know? 

Why do you think you completed your work before each age level time?

Well of course it may take as much time as in school, but you finish quicker because you can wake up in the middle of the night and do work you want to finish.  Can you imagine getting your teacher out of bed at 3 am in the morning!  Your parents don’t mind because they are up anyway. In our house there is usually someone praying in the night or making suhur or doing some sort of other emergency. 

What was or is the downside of home education?

Can’t think of much for this except that, people were always asking what school you go to, and I got fed up saying I don’t go to any school, and even though I had completed everything years before they still think you are somehow deprived.  They would have long conversations with you about the things you were doing at home and seemed to get the idea, then at the end they would say something like “It is a pity you don’t go to school especially as you are so bright”.  I would like to make people understand that the reason we do so well is because we are not going to school, but that is hard for most people to understand.

What advice would you give to parents thinking of home educating but who can’t stand their kids being round their feet all day? 

Well they are probably round their feet all day because the children are used to having a grown up telling them what to do all the time and they can’t think for themselves.  If you took them out of school and taught them how to rely on their own initiative and talents then they would go away and leave you alone! 

OK on another track.  If you were in charge of providing education for everyone how would you do that?

(This is the summary of a discussion we had in our family recently on this very question). 

Well, first of all I would make a clear statement of what I think education is.  I think it should mean learning the things you need to achieve the purpose of your life.  You see each individual person is part of the Master Plan as I see it.  We have all been created for a purpose.  Initially your direction should be to discover your purpose and then train for it so you can do it the best way you can.   

I think this would work in an opposite way to schooling because when you go to school they do not try to discover who you are or what you are for they just assume you are all the same and teach everyone the same things.  I would try to arrange for kids to try out different life choices and see if they like it then if they liked it as an overall idea they could go into a program designed to make them expert in that field.   

As an addition I think everyone should have some basic training in life skills which I have found quite useful.  I would let say groups of children all live together with one house manager who is an adult who actually likes the company of children and respects their individuality.  In these living together sessions the children would run the household as a collective and all take turns in having the shopping money, budgeting and cooking etc.  Bad choices of food would be a lesson in themselves when there is too much of something and not enough of the other so they would soon realise the need for budgeting and portioning things per person. 

I would have some growing going on also and different households growing different things to trade with each other, so you could always get something to eat if the budget manager was inefficient. 

There would be surprise drop ins from guests etc. and the house manager would advise on the hospitality to be shown to them, just like real life, so you learn to cope with the unexpected.  People of different faiths would all have households each and people of no faiths would have the choice to either choose to be guests of other faith households (where they agree to join in the running and managing in the way that faith operates) or have a household of no faith for themselves and others who had the same ideas.  Just like in a real Muslim State.  I think the no faith people would be quite curious to see how others operated and likewise there could be exchanges between faith households so everyone learned respect for things that are different from your own.  When you had learned how to cope properly and were very proficient at everything you could leave.   

In our family we have a computer person, a weaponry historian, an artist, a potter and a couple of undecided at the moment.  But even if they have such varied lives they can all at least do all the practical things to live and cope when it is necessary.  

At what ages would these programs be put into use?

From 7-14 only.  Islam says your child must be allowed to play until 7, be taught things for life from 7 - 14 and be your friend from 14 - 21.  I think this is very sensible because there is no pressure on little people.  I was reading when I was 4 but I know that is quite unusual and I have brothers and sisters who did not read until past 7 so in a family you have the whole range. I remember the room I used to have in our old flat and it makes me feel warm and comfortable so it was obviously nice there whatever my mum used to do with us!  She said she used to read to us a lot and do fun games and we just picked up from that.  My other brothers and sister had more or less the same things I think and some picked up and some didn’t, so they should be allowed to take it or leave it until they are 7. 

Hamza Khalid (Home educated person of 16 years)

Director of Waste of Ink - first computer software company established without copyright on any of its products. Website to be launched soon, watch this space Insha’Allah.

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