The issue of registration is back in the news again. I sense the whole of the home education community cringing in response.
Not necessarily cringing at the thought of registration – that’s not the real issue. Rather, cringing at the barrage of inevitable accusations about us failing to provide ‘adequate education, or potentially abusing our kids, or generally neglecting their progress by not giving them tests every five minutes.
In other words all the lame and totally inaccurate and ignorant excuses those in high places trot out each time as justification for trying to regain control of what is a fairly uncontrolled but nevertheless SUCCESSFUL approach to educating thousands of children in this country. Children who are turning out to be intelligent and productive members of society; the graduating home educators are proof of that.
So why do we need to control home education if it is already working? Other than for state dictatorship of course!
The ironic thing is, home education is working well exactly because it is not controlled; not controlled by idiots in councils and parliament who are ruining education in schools by their obsessive, stats-driven desire to monitor, measure and standardise and present league tables. The success of home schooling is based in its flexibility, one that’s in tune with the child’s learning needs, needs often neglected in the system.
According to this recent report Local Authorities are calling for laws that make it compulsory for parents to register their home educated children, citing safeguarding as their main concern and suggesting that parents who don’t want authorities to know what they’re doing should be watched.
In my experience it is not that home educators particularly want to keep what they’re doing from the authority; most of the genuine parents who choose home education instead of school are open and deeply conscientious about their child’s welfare and education.
However, what they’re trying to avoid, by being shy of the authority, is the type of interference from the dictatorial approaches to education that is ALREADY RUINING IT IN SCHOOLS. That is clear from the constant flurry of articles from those in the profession like this one which says that children are treated as statistics.
And this one that suggests the child is the lowest priority.
And this one which illustrates teachers’ feelings that testing is so inappropriate we should boycott them.
Further irony surrounds the fact that the practice that’s doing the ruining is exactly the one Local Authorities want to put in place via registration: the monitoring.
But monitoring Home Ed would be a disaster, for who’s going to judge and what? And how are they qualified to judge if they have no experience of home schooling from beginning to end? And on what grounds will they judge, with what benchmarks? And how can ‘standards’ be applied to the individualistic and SUCCESSFUL range of approaches home educating families use to facilitate their children’s learning? You have to have done it to understand. It would be like trying to monitor and grade the diversity of parenting – of course that may be next!
I am totally convinced that the call for registration has LITTLE to do with the good of the children, just as the teacher in the article suggests children in school are little more than useful statistics to LAs and politicians. (No disrespect to the hundreds of caring teachers intended here – it’s just I know your hands are tied).
The call for registration is instead all to do with authorities gaining control over something that is beyond their comprehension, because most are ignorant, blinkered, institutionalised pawns, who have no first hand experience of home education, and who are subservient to the bigger establishment. An establishment that is becoming increasingly afraid of home educators because they indirectly challenge their failing policies by their very success in choosing to do without them.
The monitoring, measurement and testing of children and schools is RUINING the educational experience for many – children and teachers – that is increasingly clear. It may work for some, but not for all. Thankfully there’s the option of home education for that minority. But if we try and measure home education with the same benchmarks that’s ruining schooling, we’ll ruin that too.
No wonder home educators don’t want that.
Most home educators are intelligent people – we can make assessments for ourselves and see beyond political manoeuvres and don’t want our kids used as pawns in a political game. We care deeply for our kids – why else would we opt for such a demanding choice – has no one thought to ask that question?
Einstein is often quoted as saying that ‘if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing it is stupid’, an image that marries so well with the system’s monitoring systems.
Apart from the wider issue of the state wanting control over all we do, this is what the registration and consequential monitoring of our kids would do, as it is doing to children in schools, where many come away believing they are stupid not because they are, but because of the system’s stupidity in measuring every differing individual’s ability with a benchmark as singular as climbing a tree.
And this is exactly why many home educating families want to choose an alternative. And in most cases like to remain private about it.