Back in 2010, when I first wrote about this, I thought things would improve. But with the constant education shambles I’m still weeping.
Weeping for the young people who have been let down. Weeping for the kids who started life as bright, motivated, interested children, who become disengaged and apathetic because of schooling.
That’s what I see happen to so many youngsters after spending their youth shut up in institutions.
That’s what I see happen to so many youngsters in areas where you cannot buy the kind of stimulating education you get in fabulous private schools and where the large proportion of kids who disrupt learning, probably because they’re bored, taints the experience of the rest. Where the enthusiastic teachers leave or become sullied by the challenges of pupil behaviour. Where the problem of building the right educational experience for these young people still has not been overcome.
When we started home educating right back in 1999 we doubted we were doing the right thing – course we did. And many of the parents around us did too suggesting that our kids needed to be in school where they would get decent teaching, revel in the relationships there, gain the grades. We lost friends over it.
Now, some of those parents see it differently as they see the damage to their bright young sparks school has made. They see that our kids didn’t need to be in school to learn. They see that the relationships in schools are not always good ones. They see a system that doesn’t work for many of them, that fails to accommodate the needs of many and makes them into failures. And even in some cases treats them like criminals.
If there is anything criminal here it lies at the door of system that fails to do what they are supposed to do; support young people’s educational development.
I know teenagers are not without their blemishes. Children are not angels or perfect. And other circumstances play a major part. But given all that, given that circumstances are as they are, I would have thought that the first duty of any school was to provide what a kid needed to successfully learn. To provide for the child’s learning, whatever the circumstances or difficulties may be.
But the ethos of schooling seems to be to manipulate the child into acceptance regardless of what’s been offered. To make kids learn what adults want them to learn however dull. To make them learn it in a systematic way that suits the institution however deadly boring that is or what children’s needs require. And it doesn’t matter how disrespectfully staff behave, some humiliating learners who don’t ‘fit’, the kids are supposed to take it passively.
All these years later the comments made to us about kids needing schools for an education are being retracted by those parents who used to have unquestioning faith in the system and the professionals in it. That faith has now been dashed.
All those years ago these parents had bright eager and motivated kids. That changed as they struggled to just exist in the system, let alone be motivated by it.
And these families no longer believe that schools do the best for the child. They know that schools do the best for the politics; they have to, to survive. I hear damning examples of that scenario from both parents and professionals.
Some of these parents now believe something different after their children have experienced schooling. They believe many schools have no interest in kids who won’t get them the good grades that improve their league table position. They believe politicians make policies that will win votes, not enhance a child’s educational experience. And like me, they see masses of disenchanted teenagers who have no interest in learning because the learning on offer is as far removed from their lives as eating cow poo is from mine.
You may think this is a cynical picture. Perhaps unbelievable to those of you for whom the system works well, whose kids achieve well because they happen to tick the right boxes. But whilst we home educated, and our children and the other home educated children around us have retained their lust for learning whilst some of those other families went through schools who failed their kids miserably, we see how it is more truth than imaginary.
It is a true picture for thousands of families in less well off areas, tucked away out of sight as far removed from Westminster as the afore mentioned cow poo is from politicians shoes!
It’s not only youngsters who are disengaged; it is the politicians from reality.