As I understand it, education is all about overcoming ignorance.
Yet it seems home educating families are falling foul of those who are personally failing to do just that!
I’m talking about politicians here. Politicians who’d like to force home educating parents onto a register and consequently have their provision monitored by a bunch of people who are already failing to make schooling work for many. And who have abysmally failed to educate themselves to understand alternative approaches to learning, how they work and how successful they are.
I thought education was about opening minds. But it seems home schooling* families are up against minds that are closed.
Closed to the fact that home education already works without monitoring; thousands of young people graduating from it are proof of that.
Closed to the fact that learning does happen without schooling, youngsters DO become educated without following the usual doctrines associated with the system like testing, being measured, meeting set targets at set stages in set ways, without the National Curriculum sometimes, without timetables some of them, without classrooms and teachers and the school community. Without the prescriptive oppression of a child’s natural instinct to learn for themselves.
Closed to the fact that these youngsters go on to achieve the same outcomes as their school peers (qualifications, employment, businesses, intellectual and social competence and make a valid contribution to society) even through diverse, unmeasured, untested, often autonomous, certainly consensual, approaches to learning that may not be understood yet are still successful.
So why is registration and monitoring necessary?
Of course closed minds are generally a sign of fear. And politicians are clearly fearful of this minority community who are making a success of their children’s education without their intervention – which is probably what this initiative to get everyone to register is all about.
Most parents who home educate are already registered as such anyway, often having used school. Most parents are conscientious, responsible and caring adults; why would any of them undertake this mammoth step to home educate if they weren’t? I ask you: why would you give up on a provision to educate your child – if it was working? However, there are many teachers also unhappy with school practices among those parents who’ve aborted the system, celebrities too (Charlotte Church, Emma Thompson, Nadia Sawalha to name a few). Wouldn’t it be better to be asking; what’s happening in the system that drives so many to abandon it, rather than asking home schoolers to register?
And why would the government want to undertake such a costly procedure if it wasn’t for their desire to control what the populace are doing? And to redirect attention away from the deficiencies in the system which home educators successfully bypass?
They cite safeguarding and the potential for radicalisation as reasons. However, there is NO evidence of safe guarding issues among home educating parents. There is NO evidence of radicalisation among home educated youngsters. But there IS evidence of both within a system that is already monitored. Ironic that!
Money would be better spent providing help and support to the children falling through the net in schools. And acknowledging the fact that, although school works for many, it doesn’t work for all, and supporting those who decide on alternatives.
It’s about time politicians (and perhaps the public) sought to understand and appreciate home education and its diverse and successful approaches to children’s learning, rather than using it as a mask for their own failure to mend a system that so many feel is radically breaking down.
There is no way to adequately ‘monitor’ home schooling because there is no way to monitor diversity. It generally is not a structured, target lead approach as school based education is, so cannot be measured by the same benchmarks. Its success can only be measured – as indeed any of our lives are – through being able to lead happy, productive and integrated lives with a sense of care, respect and responsibility towards others and the planet. That is about behaviour, not ticks on sheets, and measurement could only ever be ongoing, long term, measured perhaps at its end – whenever that is, and never accurately predicted. How can you monitor that? And who is actually experienced, knowledgeable and wise enough to do it justly?
Diversity is what helps species survive – it needs applauding. Surely educational diversity should be encouraged rather than controlled?
I implore those people and politicians who don’t understand home education and its proven success to seek to educate themselves further; to overcome their ongoing ignorance, seek to meet and learn about the home schooling life, to open their minds to alternative approaches to learning other than the archaic tradition of schooling that is so culturally out of date, and to stop discriminating against this minority community just because we’re successfully doing something that is beyond their limited comprehension!
Please feel free to share, tweet, reblog, show to MPs or media contacts, and generally circulate this piece wherever and as much as possible to help educate those who are yet ignorant!
*I use both terms; home education and homeschooling, lightly here (even though most home educators understand them as different) explained in this post here.