Tag Archive | politics

Another bit of me shrivels

I’m shrivelling from reading the new proposals from the education minister. I initially had hope but now reckon she’s no better than Gove with a handbag after hearing yesterdays news on her intentions.

Read the report here.

These people have about as much insight into the needs of real people and real children as my dog. Actually, I think that’s maligning my dog; she seems to know when things aren’t right and is more attuned to human beings than those in Westminster appear to be.

Those in Westminster appear to have no idea what it is that human beings (and all those who live in the rest of the country) need in order to develop and learn.

How can they disregard the professionals, disregard research and disregard the growing body of people like home schoolers who are abandoning the schooling system because it stinks? Are they blind?

More tests and more rigorous academics is not the answer to helping children learn because these things don’t. Inspirational humans do. And even the idea of more ‘good’ teachers makes me cringe because their definition of ‘good’ refers to nothing humane, but is about how ‘good’ they are at forcing children to perform like robots churning out robotic results for the good of the establishment.

The answer is and always has been people with time to inspire and care.

Give any child a caring humane adult who can inspire them in their innate desire to learn and they will. Stop testing them then we can stop prescribing what they learn and their desire to learn won’t then be trashed as the system is doing. And give every teacher no more than ten kids and freedom to inspire them then those kids would probably flourish. Stop treating kids like a product in mega industry that’s to be moulded into industrial shape and we will have young people who have something individual and creative of benefit to the developing world.

As home educators are. Home educated kids are rarely tested yet they still get grades and develop into productive members of society. Testing is just a tragic waste of everyone’s time.

The educational system is designed for its own perpetuation and not for the good of real people.

If you look at every policy recently made that becomes glaringly obvious. The elite who make the decisions are perpetuating the elite. And trashing the education – and lives – of all the rest of the population in doing so.

And another bit of me shrivels at the blatant ignorance and arrogance of it.

Do you ever think about your values much?

004I’ve been writing some stuff about Values recently, although I suppose values are embedded here in everything I write really.

It’s just they’re not labelled as such or at the forefront of our thinking, so I’ve been giving them some focus.

They have been bandied about politics recently and the prime Minister has been going on about them – not that I listen to him often! And they’re also being implemented into the National Curriculum in schools.

So it’s started me questioning (doesn’t everything I hear you ask?).

The biggest question it’s thrown up is ‘what are they?’ What does it mean when we talk about values? What do we value? And what values do we actually uphold ourselves?

Big questions!

I’ve discovered as I’ve started writing about these things that they provoke even more, without many concrete answers.

But one conclusion I have come to during this valuable enquiry is that our values enhance our lives in innumerable ways we perhaps don’t realise – I didn’t.

And another thing I discovered is that you don’t have to be rich and famous to be worth anything, to make a huge contribution to the world, or to make your mark in your own small way.

Upholding your own special values can do that. And passing them onto your children.

I’m aiming to explore these ideas a lot more as I write, so I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, do chip into the conversation and tell me what you think. I love to read your comments and ideas.

Perhaps we’ll have better ideas than the Prime Minister who I suspect may be more focussed on votes than values.

But who am I to go devaluing him!

Who’s Not In School?

My new book on sale 27th May

Have you ever wondered what a home educating week is like?

Every wondered what a home schooling family is like and what they get up to?

Or, if you’re a home educating family, have you longed for a book that you can share with your little ones that actually has a home educated child as the star?

Later this month there’ll be one to fulfil those briefs!

‘Who’s Not at School’ is a picture book about Little Harry and his family and what they get up to in an ordinary week, from an ordinary swim to some not quite so ordinary experimentation!

Because, actually, that’s what it gets to be like when you’ve home educated for a while – ordinary! And there are so many thousands now, so many who are making such a brilliant job of educating their kids outside of mainstream school, that it’s beginning to seem an ordinary choice to be making. Especially in the light of current political events.

What’s politics got to do with it?


Politics should have nothing to do with our children’s learning, but I have the feeling that the education of our kids is more about political popularity and vote winning than it is about what’s good for a child. And no doubt after the next election there will be even more disruption as another wave of changes hits the system and leaves children and teachers floundering and pressured in their wake.

Home schooling gives parents the opportunity to educate their kids for education’s sake, not for politics’ sake.

You can keep politics out of it and get on with the proper job of learning. Which is probably why so many now choose to do it.

So, who’s not in school? Far more children than you probably realise!

Pop over to the publisher’s site where you can pre-order: http://birdsnestbooks.co.uk/

(And there’s also a home educating story for the grown-ups via my book; ‘A Funny Kind of Education’. It’ll change the way you view education forever!)

Education is for living – not just for politics!

Is this all that education is about?

Education! I’ve been going on about it a long time, even if not the education other people think of.

When I talk about it I mean education for life, not schooling, that’s something different. And I’m still being educated now. We all are, even if we’re not aware of it.

I suppose my awareness started way back when I was in school. I wasn’t very old when thought; ‘this is crap! This is so not for me’! But I didn’t believe myself back then; after all, what do kids know?

Moving into teaching I began to see it wasn’t good for a some others either, pupils nor staff. And I also began to see that schooling was not for true education, it was just for schools. For the big industrialisation process that schooling has become.

We went on to home educate partly because we didn’t want to force our children to fit that industrialisation process. We wanted their education to be for living their lives, not for perpetuating school lives and school businesses. We saw education as the personal developmental process of an individual – not an industry. Or an establishment.

Admittedly, we wanted our youngsters to grow and develop towards living and working as part of a community. But that’s about community more than industrial cloning which the government has pushed schooling towards. Communities are about people and education is about people too.

Education is about learning how to live together, how to communicate and contribute, how to further both our individual understanding and world understanding too.

And there are many young people now who have grown their education in individual ways through home educating – or self education as it more accurately is – towards that outcome. Although outcome is the wrong word because education doesn’t really have an outcome, as in an end, it is ongoing and has continuing new, updated outcomes throughout life. This is what we need to understand about education. It doesn’t have limits.

Education is not only about schools.

Education is not only about the short space of time youngsters are in institutions, or about institutionalisation.

Education is not just a political tool which MPs are wielding at the moment to gain our votes.

Education is for life not just for politics. And that might be a good thought to keep in mind when you try and weave your way through the confusion of policies and promises politicians are bandying about in order to tempt our vote.

Education is for life, not just for votes!

What kind of education – and life – would you really like for your child?

Monitoring – a very sensitive issue

There was a report in the press at the end of last year which raised the issue of monitoring and registering of home educating families with the Local Authorities.

Westminster council wants to impose annual visits to home educating families which some believe infringes their rights as parents. (Read it here)

This has always been a sensitive issue for families who home educate.

The government has long been trying to enforce registration of all home educated children so that numbers and whereabouts are known to authorities, citing ‘safeguarding’ as a reason for doing so.

But many families feel that the welfare of children is not the government’s primary purpose; their real purpose is to maintain control, rather than acknowledge the success of parents educating differently. After all, home school success throws into question the value of schooling.

It’s an issue I’ve often pondered.

I can see how some, ignorant of home education, would feel that home educated children could be in danger of being isolated and their education neglected, even be at risk of being abused in this scenario. But this kind of isolation is extremely rare. Yet there are cases of children being abused who are known to the authorities, who do go to school, so the safeguarding issue is hardly a valid argument. And if those involved would do some deeper research into the practises of home educators and the outcomes they achieve it would become clear that the education of these children is not a matter for concern. Overall, home educated children develop into skilled, social, intelligent young people who go on to work or higher education just as others do.

The real issue here is one of the authorities wanting control.

Education, ever since it became formalised through schooling, has become a strong political force. It is a way of controlling what people think, what they do, how they organise themselves, how they live their lives, how and what they earn and how they operate within the big machine of industry and consumerism – which of course lines the pockets of the government. And education is also an emotive lever politicians use mercilessly to win votes.

Schooling has become a political tool – which it never should be. It is tightly controlled by narrow, restrictive outcomes – which are not needed. Tested and inspected by people making heinous judgements to an agenda that has little to do with the individual’s needs and more to do with institutional needs.

It is the thought of these school-conditioned, result-blind, narrow minded and often bigoted officers coming into our homes and making assessments about educational approaches of which they are totally ignorant, that home educators abhor.

Home educators are successfully operating and educating outside those governmental controls and ministers don’t like it – that’s what their registration argument is really about.

Home education success shows up the enforced schooling processes as not the only approach to developing intelligent, productive and valuable members of society. It also demonstrates that parents, not politicians, can make intelligent and valid choices about the education of their children without elitist ministers – who have absolutely no concept of how the majority outside their wealthy little enclaves live – taking control of it.

Home educating families have already proved that we don’t need to be monitored or registered for children to be safe, sensitively and intelligently educated. Something that schooling doesn’t always achieve!

The right to educational freedom

I thought I’d respond to Jax’s call for posts about educational freedoms.

The freedom to educate our children outside of the school system is a topic dear to my heart, having had two children who were failing to thrive both educationally and personally within it.

I’m thoroughly suspicious of politicians who try to control our home education, pretending they do so for the good of the child. What do they know about it?! And I’ve seen too many children in schools when I worked there who were not having any good done to them at all for me to believe that.

I also see that, although ministers cite ‘safe guarding’ as an excuse to do so, there are as many safe-guarding issues already existing with children known to schools and other services and they can’t seem to get it ‘safe’ for them, so that reason doesn’t ring true. What it does do is deflect attention away from the impingement of our rights by their ‘concern’.

I believe it is more the case that politicians are simply using that as a strategy to control and mask the rising dissatisfaction so many parents now have with the school system.

Calling home education ‘elective’ is the best mask of all. For I would say that in most cases parents do not ‘elect’ to home educate, they are driven to it in desperation by the failure of schools to provide children with exactly what home educators are by law supposed to provide; an education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude. Consider this; if there was a place where our children could go to be stimulated and inspired, with adults who respected and encouraged, supported and nurtured our children’s individuality and education, where they had real choice and the experiences were such that the kids were gagging to go, how many parents would opt to home educate then?

Home education is growing because politicians are failing to provide what children need. Any attempt to limit the educational freedom it offers is in my view a corrupt strategy to deflect attention away from that failing.

Educational freedom is not really freedom in the real sense of the word, although home educators are freed from the inhibiting structures of a school system, which is a good thing as most impair learning rather than aid it (testing and Ofsted are good examples). However, none of us are truly free in that we want to fit into the social world that surrounds us, we want to earn and work, eat and survive, enjoy life and have friends, and all those things come with responsibility which we choose to take on.

Nearly all the home educating parents I know take on that responsibility extremely conscientiously by demonstrating that to their children though encouraging learning – in fact most of the kids do it for themselves. It’s just they choose to use other approaches. And that’s where we really need the freedom. Freedom to choose approaches which suit our individual children better than the system does. Freedom to work to the needs of the child, rather than make the child fit the needs of the establishment as schooling does.

As home educated children grow up and begin working as generations are doing now they are proof that other approaches work, that educational freedom and independence works, that we don’t need a government to do it for us. Proof that we don’t need registering, testing, watching, examining, controlling of our approaches, or telling how to do it for it to work. It’s working fine already!

In fact, when I think about it, I can’t help feeling that it is in breach of basic human rights to be told what you must know, how you must know it, where, when and at what age you must know it, that you must not question what is done to you in the name of knowing it, that you have no choice in the matter and if you don’t comply you’ll be a failure. Is that not totally bizarre? Where else in life are those freedoms for choice and preference taken away from us – except in prison of course?

It’s almost as if the powers that be would control our minds by controlling our education. Not forgetting that if politicians can control our minds they can control our votes.

But maybe that’s just me being extra cynical!

Is school really educating?

When you’ve been through school yourself and it was a successful experience you’d probably never think about it?002

And some people prefer to be silently led and feel part of an institution without challenging traditions, or ‘being difficult’ as it’s sometimes labelled!

I think I must be one of the ‘difficult’ ones. Because I’ve suspected from the outset that school doesn’t really educate as we need it too. In fact it inhibits the kind of thinking required for us to develop and progress.

Thankfully I’m no longer alone in those thoughts. And it’s really wonderful to find others who think, like I and other home educating parents do, that school is beginning to look more and more like a farming process for the benefit of the institution – and politics – than it is about the education of individuals.

Ken Robinson is another of those who also challenges this cloning of our children and their diverse talents, increasingly neglected in the laboratory of controlled experiences for a narrow set of outcomes, as schooling has become. (Find him here)

He talks about schooling in his book ‘The Element How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything’ and how he feels it is outdated. He raises three key issues.

Firstly, he says that schools are preoccupied with specific academic ability rather than the broader intelligences that each human being is capable of. So school can become a narrowing experience rather than an developmental one.

Secondly, he says that the hierarchy of subjects, with maths, sciences and language skills at the top, humanities in the middle and arts at the bottom, neglects the fact that it is diverse thinking developed through creative practises which help the world progress and which are at the forefront of human progress (like the Net for example). So we desperately need the creative subjects that are becoming squeezed out along with the more physical and practical.

And thirdly, the obsession with particular types of assessment, via a narrow range of standardised tests, negates the developmental progress of an individual and essential creativity of thinking.

The result is a narrowing of intelligence, capacity and talent, rather than a broadening of it, and a complete dismissal of all the more human elements like relationships, character, emotions and expression, which are an essential part of our intelligent growth.

He goes on to explain how ‘getting back to basis’ is far from a good thing because we need new ‘basics’ for our new world.

We basically need new thinking, both educational and personal, for our new world. But schools are not supporting that need as their goals and targets become narrow and political.

It makes for fascinating reading. And I applaud his ideas; it’s so comforting to find others thinking the same.

So if you’ve never looked at schooling like this before his book will ignite some exciting thinking! Excited thinking being exactly what we need to help the world progress.