Tag Archive | schooling

Beware contracting comparison-itus

What a indispensable tool social media has become. How lonely and isolated we would have felt during the Lockdowns, if we hadn’t been able to connect in this way. It offers us comfort and support, communication and connectivity, inspiration and help when we need it, the facility to share and exchange ideas. To feel less lonely. And of course to learn and educate.

It also provides the opportunity to show off, seek endorsement, criticise and slang off others, bully and torment, and become addicted to unfortunately. Plus the danger of perpetuating a disease as harmful as Covid; Comparisonitus!

Social media wasn’t a thing when we very first began home educating. In fact there was hardly any opportunity to see what others were doing. Support and communication with other home educators came through joining one of the support groups like Education Otherwise and then it was a question of cold calling someone listed in the organisation and finding local meet ups.

What a long way we’ve come since then and what a plethora of amazing supportive forums, groups, resources and facilities there is now to dip into and connect with.

But it needs managing. Because, as with all communities, there is a risk. The risk of comparing yourself to others and feeling like you’re not good enough.

You have to remember that sometimes a rosy cameo of perfection, which is how photos and shares on social media sometimes appear, can mask the reality of day to day grind and the tricky bits everyone always goes through. No one will be doing it perfectly whatever images on social media show. Whatever anyone else would have you believe.

In fact I have also been accused of it; of writing about home education so positively it gives the impression of never having got it wrong. I did (as illustrated in my books). And I’m truly sorry if anyone felt inadequate as a result of reading anything I’ve written. But I do want to be encouraging too. It’s hard to find the balance sometimes. Finding your balance through social media in relation to your home education is just as important.

Nothing is ever as perfect as it seems – a quiet studious moment among the majority of others not so!

Another thing to remember is that many Apps are designed to be addictive. And it can become an addictive habit to be constantly seeking endorsement about what you’re doing, notching up Likes and approvals. Beware that’s not what you’re using social media for in relation to your home educating.

Outside of the home school community there’s also the risk of comparisonitus with schools and their approaches. School approaches to education are designed not with the child’s welfare in mind but with results in mind. Schools have to produce measurable outcomes. And in the pursuit of them real learning and growth and development of the individual can be lost, often along with their potential. Not to mention their health and mental wellbeing.

Forget what schools are doing. forget what ‘results’ other kids and parents are bragging about, or tests they’re being put through as if that was a valuable part of their schooling. Don’t doubt yourself because of other kids ‘going back’ to the school regime and fitting in with that norm. Get on with educating your way.

Look and learn from others – that’s important. Share and support one another. But keep it all within the perspective of the fact that no one is doing it best, better, or any more perfectly than you are. This will help immunise you from comparisonitus. Check you’re not addicted to constantly seeking approval. Be bold and confident about this amazing thing you’re doing and hold your nerve – true to what you’re doing it for. Keep real.

I’m always saying, yet still finding it needs saying again; we’re all different. No one will be home educating like you do, no child will be like yours, learn like yours, or other parent do it the way you parent. You do not need to compare yourself with anyone else. You only need to keep your integrity with what you think is right for you in your circumstances, keep researching and connecting, keep your eye on what’s working and what’s not, keep flexible and open minded.

This is the way to keep yourself well – well away from comparisonitus. You need that dis-ease about as much as you need Covid!

Take care!

Why home ‘schooling’ doesn’t fit!

I get really taffled up with words sometimes. Being a writer I know the power – or confusion – they cause.

The word home-schooling is one such term.

I’m loathe to use the term and much prefer to go with home-education as it far better describes what I think most home educators are about. As I’ve blogged about before, here.

But does it really matter?

It seems it certainly does. A friend and fellow home educator has recently pointed out to me why we should avoid using the term home-schooling for deeper political reasons that we should perhaps be aware of.

She is one of the members from the initiative of ‘National Community Learning Hubs‘ who have come

together to provide a holistic, nurturing, self determined approach to learning, within environments that enable everyone to thrive and achieve in a way that suits them best. And she related to me a discussion within their groups about the use of the term home-schooling and how it may affect our right to home educate in the future. She’s kindly given me permission to copy part of the discussion here:

HOME EDUCATION is the correct term in the UK, the reasons why some of us long term Home Edders battled to ensure that it was the term used by the DfE are many, but to give a few: Schooling is a very different thing to education. Mothers and Fathers or educators are the ones who educate the learners. ‘Home schooling’ implies a school at home. LAs increasingly try to force school at home and that will destroy the ability to home educate. ‘Home schooling’ can be a block to moving from a school mindset. ‘Home schooling’ is picked up by the media and used to compare home education (currently) to school children educated at home. In so doing, home educators are being pushed toward being lumped in with them. The public body narrative and that of those who want to regulate us has been INTENTIONALLY used over the last several years to move the idea of home education in the mind of the public closer to school, how better than to wholesale change to ‘homeschool’ wherever and whenever they can. The media follows and circulates that narrative. Why would this be used? Easy, because by changing the narrative in subtle steps, public bodies make it easier to persuade MPs to vote to regulate and the public to cheer them on. If members of the home educating ‘community’ follow suit and use the term, we assist the narrative to grow and we support the subtle version of the huge attack on home education freedoms. Why do it? To bring it home more personally: ONE word changes lives. In September last I took some time contacting education psychologists to ask their experience of home education. Every one of them claimed to have plenty of such experience, but none was aware that home education was not EOTAS (education provided by the LA, often in the home) and that was where their experience lay. Each one of those experts had no expertise in home education, yet any one of them could have ended up in a court room as an expert in home education. Lives damaged by a word. Do you want your child to be judged against school standards? If not, remember home EDUCATION.

This has certainly made me think and question and I’m grateful to have those points brought to my attention. I actually feel quite shocked at my own ignorance about the effect these terms have.

Personally, I have never been comfortable with the term (or the concept) of schooling – it certainly doesn’t fit with my idea of true education. However I was aware that home-schooling was a familiar term that could also help people find support, so have used it quite liberally in balance with home-education.

Perhaps I need to rethink, since it has such a political impact.

I know that not everyone sees it in political terms or wants to be involved in the politics of it. But there are many who are fighting politically to maintain your right to home educate and we should support them by being aware of that and by the terminology we use.

What’s your view?

A wider educational perspective beyond school propaganda

I’m really feeling for parents.

Whatever your youngsters are doing; school-at-home, home educating, further or higher education, or working, it’s worrying. For all of us. Everyone is suffering from anxiety over the unprecedented crisis the pandemic has caused.

So I kind of feel it’s unhelpful to suggest that one group, whether that’s the tiddlies or the teens, are suffering more than anyone else. It’s hard for all in different ways, adults included. Each group has their challenges. Everyone needs compassion right now whatever stage we’re at in parenting or education, work or family.

However, I do have particular compassion towards those parents who have dutifully invested in an education system via schooling, now taken away, that had become increasingly flawed. And that was before the pandemic and school closures even started. For those flaws are showing up now more than ever, the rigidity of it most of all.

Parents have been driven to believe that schooling is the best for their youngsters’ education. Urged to believe that a rigid structured approach to learning, with targets, tests and continual measurement is the only way to educate. In fact they’ve been hoodwinked into believing that, without it, their children will be failures with no hope of a successful future. Sold the idea that without endless grades their young people will never be employable.

Parents have been sold these ideas through powerful educational politics and emotional propaganda that keeps parents subservient to a system that suits the government. This is not because it’s best for the learners. But because a subservient population is easier to manage.

And currently parents are bombarded with statements about how this time without school will have a dire effect on their youngsters’ long term future, especially if they don’t do what the school wants.

None of this is helpful. And not actually true anyway.

Let’s face it; this crisis is going to have an effect on everyone’s future, not just the school kids. Whether it will be dire or not depends on how we respond to it. It will be different certainly, but different doesn’t necessarily mean dire.

However, I can understand parents’ anxiety about it.

Maybe what would help is to take a step back from this emotional bombardment from schools and see it from another perspective.

Firstly, success does not necessarily depend on grades. There are both employees and entrepreneurs out there who are proof of that, Richard Branson among them.

Secondly, education is not only about schooling, curricula, how many worksheets or work books you’ve filled, about targets, academic exercises, test passes, graded subject matter and the rest of the school strategies used to so-called educate. It is about developing a broad, cultured, inquiring mind that is curious and keen to develop the skills to learn. It requires far more personal skills than the academic – skills which are equally dependent on being learnt out of school, like motivation, communication, intuition, responsibility, independence, for example. (How can school kids develop independence when they’re constantly coerced into shutting up and doing as they’re told?)

And, thirdly, if you take a wider perspective, success is not confined to what happens between the ages of six and eighteen. Not confined to qualifications. It is a life-long, ongoing process that can be constantly developed and updated – independently of an institution – as much as in it. At any time.

Fourthly, youngsters are not necessarily going to be scarred for life by this disruption to their traditional, systematic schooling any more than any of us are. In fact, you could argue the opposite view, that they may benefit from it, as I hear on social media that some are.

We are all having to diversify, be inventive, manage our well being (particularly tricky with being so confined), whatever group we’re in, to get through this. But they’re good skills to practise!

So it may be wiser to adopt strategies to calm the worrying about how to prop up a system that is outdated, consumerist, blinkered and damagingly conservative anyway, ignore these horrible emotive threats from schools, keep in touch with other parents so that you can question and rebel against the abominable practise of fines against those parents not keeping in line. They can’t fine you all. And besides, how did threats and fines and bullying ever become an acceptable approach to education?

Be bold. Do what your intuition tells you is best for you and your family. Question why schools ask of you what they do. And develop a wider perspective on this out-of-school time, the most difficult of which, for the time being, is looking after your mental well-being.

Learn to look at education differently. Look up how experienced home educators have done it so successfully over many years, resulting in intelligent, productive, qualified and successfully working young people, who mostly ignored school practises and did it their way. Look at their approaches and philosophies (Read mine by scrolling down the ‘About Home Education’ page on this site) and develop a different perspective. Take charge of your children’s education for now. Your child doesn’t need to be fodder for school stats.

Try to encourage your youngsters to be busy with a wide range of activities which interest them, which they may never had time for before. Variety develops intelligence and skills far more than a narrow curriculum does. Hang in there until better times are here.

I very much doubt that in twenty years time anyone is going to look back and say I’m a total failure because I missed a year of schooling. Because by that time they won’t be total failures anyway, they will have adapted, updated, found other ways forward, made a different success. Your child’s success isn’t determined by their school years alone. Have faith. Success is a long term thing often based in an ability to diversify and be resourceful, just as we are doing now.

Better times to come!

Then, maybe, as Spring approaches and parents question and demand changes, not only will you see bulbs blooming, but also the burgeoning of a better education system than the restrictive, inhibiting, coercive, political one we have now, a new one that is not just there to serve the politics, but that actually serves our learners well.

Random scary thought on education!

This may sound scary and radical, but it isn’t really.

That’s because everyone starts out with a creative mind. It’s just we’re generally educated out of it – did you realise? (The inspiring Ken Robinson explains in his talk here)

When I say ‘creative’ here I’m not necessarily talking about artworks; rather the creative thinking we all employ – and need – all the time, for living and surviving and being resourceful, one of the most important skills we can have. We’ve certainly had to do that lately! And I worry that the system is squeezing that out of our youngsters. (More on why creativity is so important in this blog here). It’s numbing them with endless irrelevant tests and targets and political objectives that have no use in personal development and are making failures of intelligent children.

Parents should pay attention.

You can build your own family education, aside from what schools do, by taking charge of what you do – randomly – whether you home educate or not. By encouraging learning of random things at random times, instead of succumbing to numbing media-festing or confining learning to the usual objective-led academic things. By paying less attention to academic results and more attention to ongoing personal development, creative thinking included. By learning stuff just for fun. This can happen whatever age you are.

A creative mind is the best tool to have for that. It helps develop resourcefulness and resilience – ever more needed in current climes! It’s likely to be creative minds who save the planet, find the Coronavirus cure. Minds who can think in diverse ways, rather than be squeezed into conventional boxes.

So have a think about what it says on the poster, about developing an ongoing and personal education through interests and activities. And don’t let traditional education condition you or your family out of your creativity.

Not forgetting that home education gives you the ultimate opportunity to do so!

What’s the point of education?

I suspect that millions of parents send their children off to school without ever really asking that question. Or believe the accepted view that education – and school – is to teach kids the stuff they need to pass exams, get good grades and consequently a ‘good’ job.

That’s how most see it, without ever stopping to examine the details, or define what a ‘good’ job is within the context of a fulfilling and happy life with warm loving connections – the best bits.

When you home educate and remove yourself from predetermined approaches to predetermined outcomes which is how the system operates, you have to think really deeply about those details. Because the children’s education is in your hands, in their hands, and you can literally design your own. And I suspect current circumstances have made parents question quite rightly what exactly schools are educating for. (Earlier post here)

But any time is a good time to question.

Question what is the real point of education, of school, tests, grades, or home education – whatever you’re doing. Because the real point of it all doesn’t discriminate between school or home education – it’s all LEARNING – that’s the point, not all the other systemised stuff.

And it’s the learning, and what you do it for, that matters.

So, what do you do what you do for? What’s the point?

I reckon:

What do you reckon? Something to think about over the holidays. Do let me know in the comments below.

And share or use the poster as much as you like!

Are you discombobulated about your children’s learning?

If you’re struggling with your children’s education right now, being mindful in the way you think about it might make you feel a little easier.

Whether you’re doing school-at-home or home educating many of the same issues arise in ‘doing the work’, creating pressures in family life that make everyone feel discombobulated!

I love that word. Discombobulated describes very succinctly what we’re all feeling during this corona crisis. It’s defined as confused and disconcerted. Fits the bill, doesn’t it?

And I imagine many parents are discombobulated about their children’s education right now, both those doing school-set tasks at home and those who were already home educating for whom the lockdown is just as inhibiting.

Some of our feelings are caused by the pressure that we put upon ourselves when we’re not mindful of the way we think about it.

For example; think about the school day. Parents tend to think about kids in school doing useful stuff from 9 am til 3 pm but it doesn’t exactly work like that. During those hours there is a lot of moving about, messing about, distractions, disruptions, wandering attention and general procrastination and time wasting. I averaged it once in a classroom; the children actually only get about 7 minutes an hour of constructive time! So if you’re pressurising your child to do 9 til 3 non stop ‘work’ because that’s what you think they do in school I should stop. Whether you’re home educating or doing school-at-home your child will work more quickly through stuff and will have a lot more time for other valuable pursuits which contribute to their educational advancement in ways you’d never imagine!

Another example, thinking about the basics; the maths, english and science done in schools is designed to be done in schools and in such a way it can be measured. This can make it dull and the children switch off from seeing them as interesting subjects. However maths, english and science come up in everyday life at home all the time in much more relevant ways. For example, budgeting (maths) is a constant consideration (and essential life skill). Messaging, searching online, reading anything, comics, any form of writing like lists for example (not forgetting drawing and colouring are excellent for practising skills involved in writing) all increase the use and understanding of vocabulary and language as do discussions and chats – all useful literacy practice. And we are involved in science all the time in everything we do if you just notice – and use it as a starting point for investigation. We have bodies – biology. We use stuff and live in stuff which all originated at some point from the earth (materials, properties, sources etc). Not only do we have a virus crisis (what’s a virus?) we have a planetary crisis – the planet being one of the most important subjects for scientific research. Do you see what I mean? Scientific questioning and discussion develops a scientific mind as much as anything you might do in a workbook – and it’s real. Making maths english and science relevant to the youngsters’ lives through real stuff is as valuable as the maths, english and science you do on the curriculum. Be innovative about how you tackle it; relating it to life makes it more interesting and doable.

And finally be mindful of the idea that everything you do has the potential to be educative; your family interaction, discussions, contact by tech, cooking, organising, getting your exercise, playing, looking after yourself, managing life together, clapping the NHS. All builds skills, mental, physical, life skills – all has a worth.

This is a time of trauma for everyone. No one needs added pressure brought by needless worry about ‘school work’ or dull academic exercises.

We are all discombobulated! Many of our comfort blankets are gone and we’re all having to work life out in new ways for the time being. Fretting about academics will not help. And is not necessary for I bet that when the kids are in their twenties you’ll never even notice the school days they missed or this time of home schooling – however you’re doing it!

Family harmony, security, nurture and getting through as happily as you can are more important than academics right now. Far better the children remember a happy time of family learning together than the pressure of being forced to do stuff that’s less than relevant in this discombobulated time. Not forgetting that even discombobulated, and how you tackle it, can be educational!

So I suggest you take the pressure of yourselves – and the kids – and rethink it!

How do homeschool kids learn?

Following on from last week’s post I thought it might be helpful to talk about this.

It’s such a huge question. How does anyone learn? How do you learn now you’re a parent?

Discounting any specific academic courses you may be undertaking I think you’ll agree your learning otherwise, (say about your new technology, or looking up how to fix, cook, parent), has little resemblance to the way schools do it – you probably do most of it online and by asking around too. Yet it will be just as effective.

School learning structures are the way they are because the learning there has to be measured – not because they’re the best way to do it!

However, learning doesn’t have to be measured in order to be successful. And for most home educators it isn’t measured – it’s just experienced. Families just encourage, prompt, provide resources and engage with what their learner wants to learn, along with essential skills to do so, and find ways to facilitate it, practically, physically, mentally and most importantly interestingly!

They do it through a multitude of ways; online, out and about, through meetings and sharing learning with others, in the local community, museums, galleries, sports and play centres, libraries, workshops, visits to various sites, nature reserves and places of interest, all so the learning experience is as first hand as possible, along with practice of academic skills and study at times.

But it’s very hard to get your head round those unfamiliar approaches that home educating families take to their learning. So I’ve written a whole chapter about it in my guide to home education; ‘Learning Without School Home Education’ which may help you get to grips with it. (For more details scroll down the ‘My Books’ page above) If you haven’t got a copy and prefer not to buy, you can request that your library do so, then others will be able to access it too.

The chapter looks at both a traditional view and a broader view of how children learn, what they need in order to do so, how they learn without teaching from everyday experiences including play, and then goes on to look at different approaches families use in more detail, the pros and cons, along with some suggestions on how to choose an approach that’s right for you. The chapter also talks about motivation and about children having charge of their own learning which may be a really radical idea for some, but is still doable and effective.

From the book; Learning Without School Home Education

Learning and educating are such a personal experience – although schools tend to generalise it – every learner is different and everyone’s circumstances are different. But despite these diverse and idiosyncratic approaches which families take to their home education the young people all seem to end up in the same place; intelligent, articulate, socially skilled, and mostly with a portfolio of qualifications in line with their school contemporaries.

Don’t be daunted by an unfamiliar approach to learning that’s so different from the traditional. Traditions always need challenging to see if they’re still worth hanging onto, although I guess you know that already or you wouldn’t be challenging the tradition of schooling! By opening your mind about how children learn you will be able to give your youngsters a much more pro-active and enjoyable experience of learning that will set them up for life.

‘School at home’

When we were home educating I often got asked the question, by people unfamiliar with home schooling and the variety of approaches to learning; ‘Do you sit the children down at the table at nine in the morning until three in the afternoon?’

It doesn’t always look like learning but all sorts of approaches work!

That is the only vision some have about the way education and learning works, so it was a common one.

The trouble with this, if you’re asked it regularly, is it makes you think that perhaps you should be!

Doing ‘school at home’ or an impression of it, is something that many home educating parents can become anxious about. The system leads us to think that children have to be coerced to learn, that they’ll only learn if sitting still at a desk, that they have to learn certain things at certain times in order to succeed, that they have to be in a ‘classroom’ environment or similar, that they need teachers to learn, that there is no other way of learning except this schoolised way.

In reality none of this is true. And in most schools that’s not the reality either but some people are stuck with that age-old vision of classroom learning.

Neither is it the reality of home educating, as many experienced parents will tell you.

Children do not need to be coerced – they’re actually fascinated to learn – if they haven’t been put off as schooling sometimes does. They don’t have to be sitting, still, indoors, or be taught, learning can happen naturally without any of these structures, with encouragement and support from an engaged adult, and sometimes even without that.

So don’t fret about doing ‘school at home’. Instead place your focus on your children and how they learn best, what you feel they should achieve both in skills and knowledge, and then think about the multitude of ways there are to accomplish that – the more pro active the better.

For example, take reading. Schools tend to practice a very structured approach to reading, using a graded scheme of books, that children are meant to stick to. But this isn’t the only way to learn to read. Children can learn to read just as effectively through incidental reading, through being read to and enjoying books, through picking up on the reading that others are doing, by deciphering the reading all around them, through all sorts of materials; comics, posters, online, gaming, etc, even by attempting much more difficult texts than we’d probably recommend. This incidental and unstructured approach can be just as effective as a schemed approach which risks taking away the children’s enjoyment of books. The most important aspect of learning to read is to keep the children’s love of books alive along with their desire to interpret them.

Using workbooks is another example. Workbooks can be a useful tool to help you keep to a certain pathway of subject matter and skills practice. They can also be extremely dull in that they are second hand, academic practice rather than a first hand stimulating experience. For example it’s much more exciting for a child to be cutting up the pizza, cake, sharing stuff out, as first-hand fraction practice before they get to the computation of it in a workbook. Far more exciting to be experiencing science than filling in sentences about it. Finding interesting ways to tackle subjects and skills practice keeps the learner engaged – keeps the learning going. And is far more effective in that it’s more likely to be retained.

Using a curriculum is another aspect of ‘school at home’ that some parents worry about. Whether they should be following one or not.

Any curriculum is simple a tool, a tool to support learners in reaching certain subject objectives and it is simply that. It is not a guarantee of an education. It can be useful; it’s a useful way of covering subject matter, particularly if you want to stick to that which is covered in schools and use the National Curriculum. But it is not essential. It’s not an education in itself. You cannot follow a curriculum right through and then proclaim the child is educated. For if you think about it, that’s what schools do and there are far too many children come out of school with an uneducated mind. And lacking personal skills. But then you have to think about what an educated mind is! (An interesting view on that here)

Education is far more than a course, although a course helps you reach certain objectives and can be useful as such. But it’s important to think out for yourself what education is, (some thoughts here) and what schooling does, and most important of all what you want for your child and what approach will mean that they reach those objectives – many of which may be personal as much as academic, like confidence for instance. Keeping them engaged with learning by providing varied, stimulating experiences is probably more likely to do so than doing ‘school at home’.

There’s a detailed chapter on how home educated children learn in my book ‘Learning Without School’ (See the My Books page for more) But one of the best ways to find confidence and develop your own approaches is to be in contact with the home educating community, either online or through meet ups, listen to the experiences around you and do what works for you, ‘school at home’ or not!

Are we really crazy to home educate?

I’ve been considered crazy at times! Crazy to home educate that is. And I still get people looking at me, when it comes up in conversation, as if I wasn’t quite in my right mind.

In response to that I’m reminded of this little story I did a while back:

There he stands all smart and sparkling in his new too-big uniform, looking too small for school but with a sparkle of enthusiasm in his eye.

He’s excited; everyone’s told him what an exciting place school is with lots of nice people and great activities he’ll love doing. He’s very keen – everyone’s been so nice each time he’s visited…

A few lessons in and the sparkle goes out his eyes even faster than it goes off the uniform.

His first lesson is that not everyone is so nice, not even some of the people who smiled before. They’re too busy. Too concerned with having to do other things like keep control and make kids do things they’re not really interested in doing.

His next lesson is that you rarely get exciting things to do. In fact, you never learn about things you want to learn about because you have to learn what the learning objective says. He doesn’t get what a learning objective is but writes it down in his book like he’s told to do.

And the third lesson he learns is that, despite the fact his mum shouts and gets cross sometimes, it’s nothing compared to being humiliated by the teacher. And the worst thing of all is that at least he knew what mum was cross about. The teacher just seems cross all the time and about things he doesn’t understand.

And he begins to learn that he doesn’t actually like school that much but that doesn’t seem to matter.

Over the years he learns a lot more about school but only a little about the world outside.

He learns that test results and grades are more important than learning about the world outside. In fact, they are so terribly important that if you don’t get the right ones, he’s been told, you won’t have a life. They are so important it makes him and some of the other kids ill trying to get what the teachers want them to get. They try so hard but still some of them don’t manage it. Those kids are disregarded. Or worse.

And the grade getting does something to the teachers too. Where once there was a glimmer of something warm in their eye, this is wiped out by tests and by the word Ofsted.

Ofsted makes the teachers very impatient, very tense and very stressed. Except the day when someone sits in the classroom and watches them. Then they behave differently. They’re not impatient or humiliating that day.

As time goes on and the sparkle is long erased something else becomes erased too; parts of his personality.

He no longer has a personality truly his own. He has a school persona, one that enables him to fit in. Fitting in means not being who you want to be but being the same as everyone else.

Not fitting in means braving an emotional and physical pain far, far worse than falling off your bike or Gran dying. This pain is intensified every day by the group you don’t fit into sticking knives in the wound of who you are and twisting them. Telling the teachers makes it worse because some kids have control over the teachers too.

Even human kindness is secondary to fitting in.

I sensed similarities to the education system in this novel!

Fitting in is the only way to survive. Fitting in with the teachers. Fitting in with peer groups. Fitting in with what you’re supposed to learn however irrelevant it is to your normal life. And fitting into the big institution that is school which to him, now he’s studied Aldous Huxley is worryingly similar to ‘Brave New World’  where everything is manufactured, even people.

You have to fit in with that. If you don’t, you won’t get an education.

But finally he realises that even fitting in doesn’t guarantee an education because, on the whim of an adult who sometimes abuses their position of power, you could easily fall out of favour and fail to get the scores. He’s seen that happen to his friend. His friend’s done for. He won’t have a life – he’s been told.

So he doesn’t think about being an individual. In fact he doesn’t think at all. No one wants him to. They just want him to do the work, fit in and get the grades, whatever the cost…

Crazy to home educate?

Well, everything is relative, and compared to the insanity described above – exaggerated though it might be in places, home education seems to me to be a relatively sane, natural and appropriate way to educate our kids.

And maybe we’re contributing to creating a brave new way of doing so!

Qualifications don’t automatically make you educated.

Or put it this way;

I don’t call someone educated if they behave in an irresponsible, pollutive, offensive, inconsiderate, uncaring, selfish, discriminative, bigoted or racist manner, however qualified or titled they may be.

Do you?

I know to most people education just means qualification – the more you have the better educated you are. That’s what the system conditions us to believe.

But it’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you do with what you’ve got that is the test of a truly educated person.

An educated person is far more than their grades. And we must guard against a dated and deteriorating system making us judge our youngsters by what scores they get.

This can be done by lessening the importance attached to grades and increasing the importance placed on other skills in life. Make sure our youngsters know they are more than a score and that we’re proud of what they do, (inside and out of the system – whatever you’re doing). Particularly what they do independently of formal education, things like making films, gaming, martial arts, volunteering, sports, campaigning, whatever interests them. These activities grow life skills that develop an educated connected person far more than qualifications do.

And we should be aware that the government has developed this system of incessant testing and qualification because it suits the government. Not because it’s good for young people’s development. Governments use this constant measurement for their own political gain, consequently the youngsters become voting fodder to feed that system. Parents and young people should kick back against it.

And also guard against the systemic propaganda that threatens there’s no decent life without decent grades. That’s false. The truth is, as many successful people without them prove, home educators among them, how you behave brings you a decent life because it makes you decent people who can connect in a humane way with other decent people – who don’t give a s*** what qualifications you hold. And it’s relationships with other people which brings us happiness, not tramping on them to get to the top.

Our youngsters need to be decent people with compassion, inclusion, care and broad mindedness, among other personal skills, in order to be truly educated, even if a sprinkling of qualifications become part of that.

But there are far too many bigoted, small minded, unimaginative and discriminative people who’d like to think they’re educated simply because they hold a bunch of qualifications.

They’re not!

Read more of what I mean in this post about my educational philosophy here.

And make up your own mind about what makes a person educated and resist automatic and conditioned thinking on the subject. Be more proud of who your youngsters are, how they behave and what they contribute, rather than what grades they’ve got!

And do all young people a favour; pass the thinking on! And share the poster wherever you like.