Tag Archive | teaching

Frustrating teaching and listening to our kids

Frustrated doesn’t really describe it! My friend is seething.

That’s because she’s spent some tedious hours stuck listening to a guy who is supposed to be delivering a course on computers for business. Instead he’s been indulging in the sound of his own voice, his own anecdotes and his own ego.

“Now I know how the kids in school feel,” she ranted. “It’s hell being stuck listening to someone who is not sticking to the subject and waffling on about pointless trivia that’s off topic; it’s driven me nuts. I haven’t learnt anything new.”

I bet it drives children nuts too – although they of course are not allowed to have an opinion on such things!

What made it worse was that she’d had a taste of how it could be. Part of the course was delivered by a brilliant tutor, who was right on topic throughout, who didn’t fill time with irrelevant tangents and selling himself, who responded to the learners requirements.

“But today’s guy today was gruesome!” She went on.

“He kept asking patronising questions for something he already had answers for, making us kind of guess when I wanted to shout ‘just give us the bloody information’. He didn’t seem to be aware of our irritation or whether we were getting a good experience from him, he was so in love with his own agenda. I have complete sympathy with the kids in school. Why should they put up with idiots like him?”

Why indeed! It also struck me as I listened that most of us are prepared to listen to an adult friend ranting about a tutor on an adult learning course, yet we’re not prepared to take seriously the fact that some kids are enduring the same thing.

The thing about qualifying teachers is this; getting a degree doesn’t make you a good one.

A good one starts with a good person. A person who cares about learners more than themselves – this guy didn’t seem to. A person who can give up their own ego for their learners’ needs – this guy didn’t do that either. Who can identify needs which are different from their own, who can put themselves in others’ shoes, who are empathetic towards others’ lack of knowledge rather than patronising. And who understand that they are there for the learners, not for their own glory.

But how do you qualify for that? It’s less about academics and more about being human.

Her final remark on the subject:

“I think every teacher should be made to sit through the same teaching as the kids do on a regular basis and see how mind-numbing some of it is. Just imagine enduring that day after day for ten years.”

Yea – just imagine! Imagine what some kids go through in schools. I know we have many brilliant and inspiring teachers doing a very tough job and much of what they’re required to deliver is already boring and not their fault. They’re at the mercy of the system both training wise and in classrooms. But kids know who can make good of it – or not!

And I find it hard to understand why parents expect their children to tolerate it and don’t credit them with knowing which are which.

For, just like my friend, they usually do!

A stab in the enthusiasm

The prick in the arm is nothing compared to the prick at the university.

The prick in the arm is for a blood test and is quickly patched with a sticky plaster. The prick at the university has a much more lasting effect.

A story that was related to me recently tells of him more or less killing the student’s enthusiasm for their subject by dismissive, offensive and ineffective remarks disguised as critiques.

Anyone who has any idea about teaching at all knows that critiques need to be as much about encouraging the student to take the work forward, rather than making destructive and in this case petty criticisms about what’s already been done.

But then there are ‘professionals’ who are so unprofessional and so up their own arses they think that students should be grateful for anything that comes out of their esteemed mouths.

I don’t think so! And disrespectful behaviour towards students disgusts me beyond words.

And here we are encouraging our enthusiastic and motivated young people to go to university because we think that for £9000 a year they’re going to get some professionalism and raise their game. For, pardon my naivety, but I thought universities were supposed to be somewhere our young people could rely on for professional guidance and inspiration. That appears to be an assumption we can no longer make.

I am hoping that the good outweigh the pricks. Although from these stories – this isn’t the only one I’ve heard – I remain concerned. I hear of grade ‘A’ students leaving University because the quality of the teaching and tutor support is so poor.

We have become so used to not questioning professionals, both in schools and Unis, that maybe we are settling for less than we should be. And perhaps students who experience anything less than professionalism need to start complaining and asking for their money back! For after all, they are paying HUGE premiums for a service in return – a service some are not always getting.

For unlike my blood test, a prick like this takes some getting over. And as parents we perhaps need to stop taking the professionalism of universities as a given, and weigh up carefully whether university debt is worth it, whether we want our young people to endure unprofessionalism like this just to jump through hoops, or whether other less expensive routes might serve them just as well.

Sad days of sheet ticking

DSC_0592 My blood pressure was high but I could see the nurse’s rising like red mercury in her face as she turned to the computer.

“We’ll let your pressure settle a bit and do another check in a minute,” she said. “I’m sorry but I have to ask you all these questions now when you come for your BP check”. She gave me a kind of sideways look; the sort you give to indicate hypocrisy.

She squinted at her form on the computer, sighed, and read me a load of drivel asking on a scale of hours how much running, skipping, aerobics, etc, did I do per week?

She looked at me. I looked at her rising red face.

“None,” I said, “I do other things”.

“But I haven’t got to that yet” – I wasn’t on her sheet. I was never one for fitting into statistics.

After another deep breath she went on; “On a scale of ….. how much …..”

It took ages to get it all read. We pressed on patiently. We both felt it was becoming farcical. Then she broke away from her form in a little rebellion.

“The thing is,” she said holding her hands out in agitation, “I’m spending all this time looking at this computer, filling in forms about your fitness instead of looking at you. By looking and listening to the patients I can soon assess how they’re doing.”

Sounded exactly like teachers and pupils to me. I totally sympathised.

More questions; “Now, about your work, on average do you sit….”

My work’s changed recently. I used to be on my feet with kids all day doing crazy things like searching for creepy crawlies in the undergrowth or going on adventures. Now I tend to sit and write about it.

I told her this. She silently went on filling in her statistics.

I thumb twiddled until she came to the end – ages later.

“Well … according to this you’re only moderately fit.” She made ‘moderately’ sound like an irresponsibility and I should be doing more to take care of myself.

“But I do yoga at least three times a week.”

“That’s not on my sheet.”

“So despite the fact that I walk for at least 30 minutes every day, cycle regularly, and do yoga your statistics suggest I’m not really fit?”

She looked miserable.

“Yes, according to this. And I know that’s stupid because from looking at you I can see you’re fine but that’s what the government is doing to health care. It’s preventing us from doing the real work of caring by keeping us busy collecting data that’s inaccurate and totally useless.”

But no doubt useful for the government to be able to quote for political purposes, I thought. Definitely like education. It seems it’s not only the teachers’ time that’s being wasted by sheet ticking.

And after all that, when she took my BP again it was even higher. Goodness knows what hers was with all this frustration.

I got on my bike and cycled home so stewed up I could feel my pressure rising all the time.

Is this what our caring professions are being reduced to? Nurses and teachers so busy taking care of sheet ticking they don’t have the time to care for the people!

Sad days!

Less of a freak – thank you Rosen!

Isn’t it wonderful, when you’ve felt like a freak for years because of your weird and radical thinking that no one seems to get, about an issue fundamental to all our lives that no one seems to want to think about, to suddenly find a like mind!

This is me with education. And it seems like Michael Rosen thinks pretty much the same. Watch and listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=DOrd-VaLy7A

(Thanks Michael for making me feel less like a freak).

He’s been speaking out about the increasing flaws in our education system for ages, identifying, like me, the way in which so much of it is failing to provide what was supposed to be a universal education for all.

As he says, it no longer is a universal education; it is one that is divisive and discriminative.

This happens because its focus is now on league tables and competition between schools. Therefore many schools are reluctant to take learners who will not make them look good result-wise, or who need a less result-orientated approach to achieve and they are segregated off into other institutions and labelled. This system is making ‘failures’ of pupils, parents and teachers and belies the obvious truth that if there was a ‘universal provision’ for all needs maybe there would be no failures at all.

It is NOT children and teachers who are failing, it is the other way round; the system which is failing them.

We’re also getting it completely wrong in terms of curriculum. Instead of curriculum being a democratic provision of whatever our children need to live life beyond school it has become a dictate of subjects which are useful only in that they can be measured – but which are not particularly useful for life. And they are decided upon by a dictator who has no experience of educating children and who disregards the advice of those who have. Does that not seem bizarre to you?

And another valuable aspect of education that is disregarded in this commercial race for league status is the fact that it is NOT the results that make an education, it is the PROCESS and APPROACH. Education for results is an education quickly forgotten. An uplifting, creative, explorative, investigative process of learning brings a learner understanding. And it is understanding which makes a person educated – understanding how to apply education – not just results.

Education is of no value whatever results you have if you don’t understand how it’s applied to living. And it is within the process of learning that this understanding happens. The system is prostituting the approach (and consequently the needs of kids) in a greed for competitive results. And politics.

Michael Rosen can see this. I can see this and have done for years, right from seeing it beginning to go wrong in the system when I was teaching years ago with the first nail in the coffin; the National Curriculum. Many, many teachers and heads can see this. Many parents can see it and believe it so strongly they are abandoning the system and home educating very successfully through an approach to learning that equips children with the skills they need to live their lives later on.

It seems the only person who can’t see this is the minister who is doing the dictating. Which leads me to believe that his narrow and elitist education – which he’s trying to push onto every other child regardless of whether it suits them or not – didn’t educate him at all!

If a child can’t learn…

I’ve been sent a poster on Facebook. It reads;

If a child can’t learn from the way we teach, maybe we should teach they way they learn’.

You couldn’t get closer to the heart of the education system’s biggest problem than this. The problem being that because of silly bureaucracy, admin and politics, inspirational teachers don’t have the opportunity to teach in the way many kids need to learn. That is; in a variety of ways to suit our variety of children.

It was my youngest formerly home educated daughter who sent it to me (she’s nineteen now).

“Are you hinting that I didn’t manage it with you two?” I teased, confident that it wasn’t the case.

“No, not at all!” She was quite indignant. “I just thought it was something people who read your blog would like.”

Aw! I really didn’t think she noticed my blog that much. Obviously, I’m quite wrong about what she notices!

We’d been talking about their home education days recently. And the way she’d been able to learn.

She told me “I had more chance to be who I wanted to be and behave how I wanted, instead of always having to fit into other people’s criteria. The way you taught me wasn’t oppressive.”

She’d only ever spent one year early on in school and already it had felt oppressive?

Is education supposed to be oppressive? I always was under the impression it was supposed to be liberating.

And I hadn’t noticed that we’d taught exactly. We more guided, encouraged, stimulated, inspired, directed a bit and provided a mass of interesting activities and opportunities some of which I definitely didn’t want to do! But it seemed to work well. (Read how it happened in ‘A Funny Kind Of Education’)

We also tried to liberate the kids from the idea that you have to stay in predetermined tramlines. For you don’t always. And surely it is education itself that helps you broaden your world enough to come to that understanding.

Well, she obviously noticed that education should never be oppressive. And she learnt that through being taught the way she needed to learn. As indeed all children should be educated.

So, what’s wrong with school?

10mm x 10mm front cover There are good reasons for sending your kids to school…so we are told!

I was always sceptical – there seemed to be far too many good reasons not to send them too. But they’re usually swept under the carpet along with children’s feelings.

So I’m thrilled that someone’s actually unearthed them and outlined them in a book.

‘So, what’s wrong with school? 125 reasons not to send your kids’ by Jessica Mwanzia is a fascinating, thought-provoking, but very readable book that slaps your consciousness with all the hidden truths about the schooling system which most people would rather not face up to.

I’m so excited by her work that I asked her if she’d like to tell us how it came about and a little more about it.

Below is what she says. But the book itself is even more fascinating – you so need to read it for yourselves! (There’s a link following). Here’s Jessica…

“I came upon home education as a last resort 14 years ago when my young son and school were incompatible. I had been institutionalised to believe school was a good thing. Aren’t they supposed to be the best years of your life?

I began reflecting on my own involvement in classrooms, from both sides of the desk and the observations I had made of my child’s experiences. I was shocked by the gap between what we are led to believe happens and what actually does.

So I gathered news items, jotted down my thoughts, observations and recollections, searched for statistics and read and read. Soon I could think of hundreds of reasons why school was a bad idea. It became a cathartic unpicking of my own prolonged involvement with the education system. And it became a book.

So, what’s wrong with school? 125 reasons not to send your kids is a resource to strengthen the resolve of home-educators in those dark moments many of us have when we wonder if we should stop fighting the world and just send our kids. I see it as a tool to convince the doubting with statistics and information for worried grandparents and partners who think our kids are missing out by being at home.

I asked myself many questions, which became the focus for the chapters in the book:

  1. What do we learn and fail to learn in school? The overt and covert messages shape a lifetime of thinking and non-thinking, obedience or rebellion, of belief in ourselves as failures or failures-in-waiting.
  2. What are the many schisms that school creates? Separation from our own needs, goals, feeling and desires sets up fragmented lives. By taking children away from parents and adults other than teachers and by age-segregating, schools ensure we stand alone.
  3. What impact does the culture of school have on children and wider society?  From bullying to injustice, dishonesty to deferred gratification the myths and environment of school create many distortions.
  4. What about the teachers? Undermined and overwhelmed, sick and stressed, the strangers we hand our kids over to are not in the best of health. Some are bullies and many want to leave teaching if only they could find other work.
  5. What is the impact of continually measuring and labelling children with a number or a grade? The numbers harm and deceive, while disregarding those things we cannot measure.
  6. How does school affect the health of pupils? Lack of exercise combines with sick buildings and unhygienic toilets and kitchens to make schools unhealthy places for the inmates.
  7. What about their mental health? Schools play a role in creating depression and anxiety, damaging self-image and forcing youngsters to do too much too young. The increase in pharmaceuticals to drug bored and stressed children is also examined.
  8. Are particular groups more at risk of harm in the school system? Boys have a tough time, “under-performing”, labelled with special needs and existing in an environment that shapes a particular brand of masculinity. Girls fare no better in the sexually charged environment. Many subgroups in society fare badly: the poor, the summer born, those with SEN, ethnic minorities.
  9. What is the true cost of school to individuals, society and the planet? I argue that schools are expensive, damaging the environment, individuals and societies the world over.

I conclude the book with a look at ways forward, with many links to organisations and further reading. My website  http://sowhatswrongwithschool.wordpress.com/  aims to gather more examples under the Discussion – The way forward page. On the website there is a complete list of contents – all 125 reasons – and extracts from the book. For those inspired to buy it, simply click on the book cover for a paperback via lulu, or use the contact form for a PDF copy. (Can be converted to Kindle for free once you have received it.)”

Gove’s ghastly discrimination against non-academics

If Gove can disregard professionals telling him that he’s making a big mistake with the curriculum, what the hell effect can I have? (see this article)

But I can’t be silent; his blinkered approach to what’s needed in education is too dangerous to ignore.

When he says that kids need more academia – which kids is he talking about? The kids of the elitist upper classes like him or the rest of our children?

We used to need academia. Back in the dark ages when peasants couldn’t read, write or understand numbers beyond bartering.

But we have a different culture – with Internet now – has he noticed? Has he noticed that the destructively prescriptive curriculum is the very reason that thousands of parents, teachers, other professionals and children, are leaving the system?

And he thinks making it more prescriptive is going to help? Ask any teacher – he’s got it so wrong.

By forcing more academia on kids we are failing to address their wider needs as real people, not elite people. The world is full of very real and ordinary people making extremely valuable contributions, living their lives in hard working, moral and principled ways, managing to be independent, house and feed their families on an income too small for politicians to even imagine. For many of them, academia played no part and their children are probably not interested; more of it will drive more from education and we’ve enough disenchanted youngsters already.

And anyway is education only about academia? Because if it is, then it’s extremely narrow and disrespects and even discriminates against all those who lead lives through other approaches.

Not everyone needs academia to go forward to a fulfilled and productive life. But of course, that depends on your definition of a fulfilled and productive life. Is the only life Gove sees as worthwhile the sort of elitist, academic life that he leads?

There are youngsters who go on to lead fulfilled, productive, wage earning lives that are equally valuable and contribute something without academia. Who live these valuable lives without being posh, rich, academic or political.

Did the people who do valuable work like emptying Gove’s dustbins need academia? Because they are doing relevant and important jobs without it. Did the people who care for the elderly, clean hospitals, build roads, produce our food, cut cabbages in all weathers, work on production lines – did they need academia? Or those creative people who build new businesses? Not everyone needs or wants academia to lead valid and fulfilling lives.

Not everyone needs curriculum either.

So what do youngsters need?

They need experiences. They need to be inspired.

They need to feel what it is to be motivated. They need to understand that their world is such a rich and wonderful place it is inspirational to learn about.

Do they feel that now? Is more academia going to help? Doubt it.

They need to experience what it’s like to be fulfilled by what they do. They need to feel what it’s like to create life by their own hands and their own work. They need to find their strengths through a broad range of experiences that give them confidence, courage and self esteem. They need to understand how vital are good connections with others.

You don’t get any of that through contrived and disempowering curriculum.

Our young people need respecting for not wanting to be academic if they choose. Through respect they learn respect. Not through a curriculum that disrespects the fact that we are all different and makes failures out of those who don’t fit.

Academia as a basis for education is past its sell by date. What we need for our kids now is to ignite them and show them how they can make a valid, productive and rewarding contribution, whoever they are, academic or not.

The point is proved by the thousands and thousands of families now opting to educate their children outside of schooling and some without curriculum too. Very, very successfully. And many teachers are home educating too, not because as teachers they can teach – as teaching isn’t always required really. It’s because these teachers have seen what damage an overly prescriptive curriculum does to kids – it switches them off to learning.

Education will continue to be poor as long as it is governed by politics and politicians far more concerned with winning votes, and using children as pawns to do so, than the development of the young.

Until we make education politics-free and bring it back to a humane level – i.e. the development and nurture of human beings and all their idiosyncrasies and needs – it will continue to worsen until we have squeezed all the good professionals out of it and squeezed the last droplet of enthusiasm for learning out of our children.

It’s time to stop using education as a means to produce vote fodder through a prescriptive process akin to factory farming. And start educating in a broad experiential way that heralds what it is to be diversely human, academia being only a very small part.

The slaughter of good teaching lambs

I met a new young teacher the other day. She had only been teaching a few years and was fresh with the fire of enthusiasm, love of children, and her new job.

Why then did I have that sinking image of yet another lamb going to the slaughter on the altar of the education system?

Because I’ve seen it happen so many times. And because only a few minutes into our conversation she’s voicing her shock and dismay over the incessant and destructive testing of children, the disruptive effect of SATs and learning objectives wasting their time when all she wants to do is inspire kids to learn. She also talks about the awful pressure teachers are put under, often bringing out the less pleasant side of personalities, in their fear to survive.

Since she and many, many other teachers think that schooling is totally losing its way with the education of the young, since thousands and thousands of parents are opting to home educate, since parents of school children are becoming increasingly anxious, and since many teacher/parents are also taking their children out of school because they know that what goes on there is not good for kids’ development, it beggars belief that the politicians who’ve created this increasingly damaging system can remain so staggeringly blind and ignorant to what’s really happening

What’s really happening is that parents and teachers and children are leaving the system in droves. You’d think politicians would at least be intelligent enough to ask why that is.

I worry this new teacher will be another one, poor lamb! I wonder how long her enthusiasm and passion will last before it’s tarnished by the pitiful processing of kids that politics demands of teachers and another enthusiastic teacher is lost.

A good teacher can ignite the fire of learning passion.

I see too many ending up doing the opposite because, so sadly, their own fires inevitably become extinguished.

Education – a matter of heart!

Valentine’s Day. It seemed a good day to say this again because it’s all about a HEARTfelt education and why happiness is so important to it…..

….But what’s happiness got to do with education?

Well, everything:

Unhappy children do not learn well. What’s worse is they begin to develop an unhappiness about learning itself. An unhappy association with learning can become a stumbling block that can carry on throughout all of a life.

To have that happen is a true impediment or handicap. And it is truly sad for it doesn’t have to be like that.

We all need to learn, grow, develop, and change constantly throughout our lives. Life throws at us constant challenges most of which require us to learn and change in some way, even if the tiniest ways. If we cannot do this comfortably, if we cannot do this learning and changing comfortably and happily, it sets us up for unhappiness on and off all through our lives.

For really that’s all education is despite schools having us think otherwise; it’s simply about learning and growing and changing. For all learning changes us a little as we assimilate new ideas and skills into our lives and let go of old ones. Education is as much about growing and changing as it is about academic learning. And it starts from the minute we are born (probably even before) to the minute we die. We learn and change throughout the whole of our lives.

So education and learning do not only start and end with school. A child learns enormous amounts before he even goes to school. He even learns one of the most complicated skills of all – the use of language through speech. And how many times have you heard people say that they learnt more when they left school than they did when they were there. We all certainly learn more of the valuable stuff outside of school – the stuff that gets us through our real lives.

Think about this for a minute. Dynamic thought isn’t it? The fact that education is taking place in our lives long before school years start and after we finish as well as during that time inside it. It’s so obvious really but many people never even think about it. And that pre and post school education takes place without teachers or classrooms, tests or curriculum or schedules, and even without being between the ages of four and sixteen.

Being comfortable with the idea of learning and changing throughout your life is one of the most important things that will make your life happy and successful. The two go hand in hand. For I don’t call an unhappy life a successful one however wealthy one becomes.

And to be happy with learning should be a crucial part of any education.

Education is actually the mainstay of our whole lives but the academic education that takes place in schools is the only one people tend to focus on and value. And sadly it is the one that seems to have the most devastating effect on all our learning after it and that is going so disastrously wrong for some children. And I believe the reason it’s going wrong has to do with one vital element; happiness.

It’s because education in schools is tending to make children unhappy with learning. In fact I would go so far as to say that it is making them unhappy in themselves, as well as with learning.

If our children are not happy in school they do not learn well. They do not realise their best potential. They do not have happy lives or begin to understand what will make their lives happy in the future. And that’s really important because our children are our future, both personally and globally.

I’m not interested in happiness because it’s all twee and rosy and unrealistic. I’m very, very realistic and down-to-earth. And realistically I know that happy people make a much better society than unhappy people. Because generally speaking happy people do not violate or abuse one another, they do not commit crimes or vandalise, destroy or disturb. Happy people feel good enough about themselves to care for one another, care for the community, their environment, the planet. This is why happiness is so important. Happy people make the world a better place in all respects, corny though it sounds. And happiness is a matter of the heart.

My heart, and the hearts of many other parents and some teachers too, tells me that education in schools is not working because, despite what schools tend to make us think, education is a matter of heart as much as it is of head. But education in schools has become only that – a matter of the head.

The only concern the educational system seems to have is children’s heads. Most particularly what they can stuff into them, without any regard for their hearts.

I’m not saying that all schools are unhappy places. What I am saying is that there seems to be an awful lot of unhappy, unwell, disheartened, unmotivated, academically failing, even suicidal children between the ages of four and eighteen.

What happened to these children I wonder? What happened to their hearts and their heads? For I bet they started as bright and happy toddlers, investigating everything, into everything, intrigued by everything, nosy and inquisitive and desperate to learn as all children are.

We watched it fade in our children. I’d already seen it fade in some of the children I taught in schools. I saw it in the boredom on their faces. I saw it in the resentment in their eyes. I see children who are humiliated and shamed by a curriculum that isn’t suited to them and staff bullying to teach it. I see children who are disruptive from not having their educational needs met. I see children who are withdrawn and depressed from not having their hearts attended to. I see children who are apathetic with lack of fulfilment. And I see children who truant from a system and environment that is totally inappropriate for them.

I see it in all these children who are having their heads stuffed without regard for their hearts.

It seems that what happens to children is that once their learning gets controlled by the politics of our current educational system they no longer receive the heartfelt education with which they started their lives.

You will probably have given your baby and child a heartfelt education when they were at home with you. You will have nurtured and taught and encouraged and developed skills within them without even realising, that will have suited their needs and their characters, their gifts and their strengths. You will have made them feel important and loved and valued. You will have done this simply by parenting them in an attentive and respectful way.

Then they go to school.

All of us all of our lives need, and have a right to, an education that is close to our hearts. That develops our heart’s desires as well as our heads. That starts from our individuality and builds on it. That values us as people for who we are and what we can do.

It is not really possible to achieve this with a tightly prescriptive National Curriculum which requires targets to be met or an institution with an agenda that has little to do with an individual and a lot to do with political popularity.

It is possible to do it through home educating though.

Education is essentially about people, the development of individual human beings, who should have their individualities respected. Not disregarded.

To enable this to happen for our own children we removed them from school, just so they could continue the type of education with which they started their lives, before they were totally and irrevocably switched off to learning for the rest of their lives like so many young people that I see.

During the time they were learning out of school we were forced to think very hard about education. For once our children’s education was no longer wrapped up in curriculum and tests and outcomes and strategies and exams, that someone else designed for some other need rather than those of our individuals, then we had to think what we wanted it to be without all that wrapping. We had to think what education really was, underneath all that.

We have learned and changed much throughout our children’s education. For as I’ve said education goes on throughout our lives, both ours as well as the children’s. What we learned most of all was that

education is for life – not just for schools.

 Now that our children – or young people as they have become – have been involved again with the education system, albeit higher education, I see that ugly agenda of politics and grade winning overtake the real important education. But being older – and wiser – they can manage it better.

Younger children can’t.

If you want to consider educating your children’s heart as well as their heads, if you want their education to be a happy one as well as an academic one, then think about home educating as the serious and successful option it is. And join the community of thousands of others who now believe that happiness has a lot to do with it.

Or fight for something better in schools.

Whichever path you choose, your children deserve it.

My book ‘Learning Without School’ has lots of information about home education starting with help in making the decision.

For a real life look at what it’s like in a home educating family try ‘A Funny Kind Of Education’ Listen to an extract here; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7PRuMTYP8E&feature=youtu.be 

Click on the My Books page for more…

I wanna break free…..

…Free from an idea that has plagued and held back children’s education for decades. The age old, out-dated idea that the more qualifications you force children to do the more educated they become.

And I want us to break free from that idea because it just doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t matter how many qualifications a kid has they are not worth anything unless they know how to apply themselves to living a life.

I also want the world to break free from the idea that the more qualifications you require of teachers the better their teaching will be. That doesn’t work either because grades don’t make good teachers; caring, empathetic and engaged people do.

Yet it said on the news that teachers are going to face tougher tests http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-20083249 in the hope of making better teachers.

What blinkered thinking!

Because the problem is that still focuses on an end result – grades – whether in teachers or kids. As if grades were the answer to everything. And as long as we think that we are going to train our teachers to train our kids for that end only.

But grades don’t make an education. EXPERIENCES do.

We don’t need teachers who’ve been drilled through grades themselves and therefore will drill kids to do the same. We need inspired teachers who can engender understanding in children of themselves and the world.

We don’t need teachers pumped full of facts who will then try and pump our kids full of facts to regurgitate on demand for test passing. We need people who will nurture a sense of care and responsibility in our children for self, others and the earth. Facts and figures and exam results are no good to anyone who doesn’t have a sense of care.

Care makes an educated person. Care of themselves. Care of how they relate to others. Care of the way in which they relate to the earth.

In fact, we need to break free of our idea of education as examination and see it as a caring nurturing of the young.

So don’t think you’ve got to make your home educated child do masses of exams in order to make them educated. Exams are just an end result and only prove what is true on ONE day. What makes them educated is their experiences. And how much they care about the way in which they use what they learn to make themselves a better person, improve their lives and make a contribution.

They will be far more educated if they can understand that than by educating for exams.

So that’s what I wanna break free from. Free from these antiquated ideas that were set up before the world could read or had the Web. And initiate a new way of thinking about the education of our kids and the training of our teachers.

A new way that’s based on an experience of care, not on an end result.