Interest-Led Learning for Teenagers: An Interview with Thomas

Describe how your school has changed over the past few years?

It has become harder as we have approached IGCSEs.  We have to set our own goals and fulfill them.  It was waaay more hands on when we were younger, now it is less so.  I like a balance of hands on and book study.

Has this been a welcome change?

Yes and no.  No because it means we have to do more thinking work and hard work towards our goals, and yes because we are embracing our future now and that is exciting.

You have individual conferences with your mum each week.  Are these helpful?

Yes they are. We discuss and set goals for the coming week as well as check over work for the past week, giving me accountability.

What are your long-term goals for your future?

I want to work towards being a live sound engineer, which combines my love of music with my love of technology/science.

What is the next step in achieving these goals?

I want to be accepted into the ACM (Academy of Contemporary Music) to study for an extended diploma in Music Production, after which I am automatically accepted onto their degree program to study for a BA (HONS) in Music Practice Industry

Academically speaking, how are you ensuring you have what you need to follow your dreams?

I am making sure I will have enough IGCSEs to meet the college entrance criteria

Non-academically, what are you doing to help you achieve your dreams?

I do live sound for our youth group at church; I am on the tech team for a Christian drama group, which will include sound for production in the local theater; I have been on the rigging team for a fund-raiser gig at our church on a few occasions; I have been able to observe and help the set up from start to finish of a well-known Christian band (led by Tom Smith) and I have been investigating live recording of myself and others, but I am only just starting this at the suggestion of the college.

Do you have a back up plan at all?

No but I have chosen my IGCSEs with Engineering in mind which would allow me to progress in that industry if the music doesn’t work out.

Are you enjoying everything you are studying?

To an extent, yes.  Because I find writing physically difficult, this takes the enjoyment from the subjects away a little bit.  To be honest I enjoy the practical side of things far more than the exam-taking subject.  The exams are a necessary evil because they will open the doors to my future, and so I am willing to work hard at them.

How do you motivate yourself to do the work, even when you don’t want to do it?

I know I need to do these exams for my future and that is what helps me when I do not want to do the work.  Setting goals during our individual meeting with mum helps me to keep my focus for the coming week.

Do you set daily/weekly goals?

Just the weekly ones mum and I set together.

What stops you just sitting around watching tv all day?

I would get bored doing that all day (and my eyes would go square!)  If I don’t put in the work now, I will not have a future to look forward to and feel excited about.

Are your parents happy with the choices you have made for your future?

Are you? (I nod) Yes.  

Do you find being a teenager hard?  What specifically makes this age harder than previous ages?

It is harder, because we have more responsibilities and more pressures upon us, in terms of our future.  It makes life more interesting.  I like the freedoms which come with showing responsibility.  (Freedoms are not a done deal in our house.  We earn freedoms by showing we are mature enough to handle them.  This means we will not have to handle anything before we are ready for it)

What has helped most in combating the effects of hormones?

As a teen boy – exercise and supportive parents

Do you regularly set goals and not reach them?

Not often.  Very occasionally.

What do you do when you are struggling to complete something?

Often when I am struggling it is because I have focused on one thing/subject for a long time and find I need to clear my head.  I go for a skate or a bike ride to do this.

The only other reason I would struggle is because I am tired.  When this is the case I consume a hot (caffeinated) drink and will often take myself off to bed early.

Do you feel more self-motivated because your goals (exams/adult life/jobs etc) seem much closer now and you’re more aware that it will be more down to your hard work as to whether you succeed in your chosen path?

Yes.  I don’t LOVE some of the subjects I am taking, for example English, but it is something I need to do because the college I want to go to requires I have an English IGCSE.  This means I will work hard and apply myself even though I don’t enjoy it.

Do you look forward to your future with excitement?  If so why or why not?

Yes!!  Because it is my life unraveling in front of me and that is exciting.

Is there anything you would change about your home school journey so far?

No, nothing.

Do you have anything you want to add?

No, because I need to go to work! (He currently works in a bakery in the village 🙂  )



  1. Sound engineer because of dual passions of music and technology/science! That’s my goal!! Sounds like Thomas and I are both left AND right-brained! It’s a fun combo, but the writing part that everything requires stinks. (Right there with ya, Thomas!)
    To Thomas: What kind of engineering degree would you be interested in pursuing? My stepfather is a civil engineer and it is SO COOL, but mechanical engineering is something I am very interested in too.
    Loving these interviews! 🙂

    1. I am going to do (hopefully) a degree in Music Practice Industry: Technical Services, which helps build career options for live events promoter, sound/light technician, or (as they said) a general roadie in music, theatre or any other entertainment sections. If I were to do any other degrees it would either be in mechanical or electrical engineering.

      1. Wow!! That sounds like it will really suit you, and God can easily use it to open up doors for you to serve. Very cool!

  2. Thanks, Thomas and Claire- I enjoyed this very much. Good luck with the exams! Sounds like you have some great strategies for keeping everything in balance.

    1. Thank Lucinda! How is your daughter doing with her IGCSEs? Will she be taking one this summer? I often wonder if I will bump into someone I know when we go to the exams (most are home schooled students) xx

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.