Made In Dagenham

I’ve been to see a great film over the weekend. It was ‘Made In Dagenham’ and was about the campaign by women workers for the right to have the same pay as men for the same work. It was so uplifting to watch the courage and conviction of the women to stick out for something they believed in, despite some heart wrenching challenges.

It’s hard to believe nowadays that something so unjust and outrageous as not paying women the same as men for the same job could have been accepted as the norm as one point in time. Just as it was accepted as the norm once that women couldn’t vote. It is unimaginable now that we would ever allow things to be so. And truly incredible how we can have a complete turnaround in our thinking about something we once accepted as ‘normal’ and right.

I hope that one day the attitude of acceptance many people have to the way we process our kids in the name of education will also completely turn around.

It is only when you come away from ‘schooling’ and see your children grow and develop in intelligence and skills and maturity without school processes, as we have done through home schooling, that you really begin to see how totally bizarre some school practises are. How totally outrageous it is that we try and force all children to fit into one style of schooling whether it suits them or not. Then, even more bizarre; we actually label them as failures when they do not.

To me, that is as bizarre as trying to maintain that all of us should be size zero regardless of our bone structure, genetic makeup or dietary requirements. We know it is physically impossible for us all to be size zero, mentally and spiritually too.

But why can we not also see that it is just as impossible that all children should fit school? Why can we not also see that it is equally wrong to make children suffer bullying and shame (at the hands of staff as well as pupils), and failure through inappropriate academic hot-housing, just for the sake of making schools look good?

I appreciate that the majority of children do okay in school and many are happy there. They ‘fit’ well. But even some of those are turning up at work and universities with great chunks of their development missing. Things like initiative, common sense, people skills, personable skills. Academically brilliant they may be – on paper – but there’s a big chunk of their education lacking.

Many parents are choosing now to home educate; to not send their children to state schools. There are also increasing numbers of parents who home educate who could afford to send their children to private schools but choose not to because they recognise that through this academic hot-housing something is lost. They are realising that a clutch of A*s is not the whole story where education is concerned.

It is bizarre to think that an educated person is simply a person with a lot of academic qualifications. That is only one small part of an education and it is no longer acceptable that schools concentrate solely on that purpose to the exclusion of everything else that a person is.

Films like ‘Made In Dagenham’ bring to our attention how warped accepted attitudes can be until someone challenges them.

Home educators are now challenging our attitude to the process of schooling our children at the expense of truly educating them, and showing how bizarre it has become and how ‘failing’ children can succeed out of school. And hopefully it is because of them that changes will begin to take place.

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