Tag Archive | TV

Calling Home Educating families

I’ve been contacted by a researcher looking for information about home education with regard to making an informative programme about it. They’ve sent me this poster to share around in the hope of hearing from anyone who’d like to get involved.

Take a look at Blakeway North here

And get directly in touch with them if you’d like to help further understanding about your home education. The more the merrier!

Home education – can you only live it to understand?

Learning about the elements of the world

Whenever another researcher rings me up to talk about home education I face the same dilemma; how to explain the complexity and diversity of this approach to education when their thinking is so conditioned by the concept of schooling they cannot identify with the fact that schooling and education are different things.

The caller was doing some initial research for a potential informative programme about homeschooling. That would be nice!

“A programme to dispel the misconceptions” he said. That would be nice too.

But when the questions came I realise how far removed he and I are in the way we think about education as opposed to schooling.

Education, to my mind, is the ongoing personal development of the individual, a building of skills and knowledge, as much personal as academic as one’s no use without the other, that will enable a person to understand the world, find their way to fit into it and contribute to it, alongside others, in meaningful ways. Ongoing – as in its progression continues throughout life.

Yet education to most people seems to be the grooming of children towards a finite qualification, by any means, the measurement of which being the only important outcome.

Where to begin to open the mind of researchers to education as something broader? How to describe an approach that has the interest of the individual at its heart, rather than the commercial and political perpetuation of the establishment? Where to begin to describe the natural and organic way in which most home educated youngsters learn through the unmeasured interactions and experiences they have? And how this often unstructured, unprescribed, unpredetermined, child-led, approach leads in many cases to conventional results in the end, usually decided by the youngsters and not enforced by adults.

Enthusiastically, I tackle some explanations. Then realise, when I stop suddenly fearing I was gabbing on too much, that he wasn’t really listening anyway because there’s an embarrassing gap of silence before he responds. I sense he was busy reading a screen instead.

He wasn’t interested in explanations – he was just filtering everything out whilst looking for the right answers to his prescribed questions, as no doubt his own education had told him to do.

Maddeningly, being too busy answering the questions pumped at me, I didn’t get the chance to talk about the best bits of home education; the sheer wonder of seeing your kids blossom and grow, of seeing their confidence and their knowledge and their skills develop beyond what you might have taught them, or your delight in their social competence which seems to exceed your own, or their general wisdom about the world which they’ve acquired without you. Neither did I get the chance to talk about the joy home education brings to the household – not sure school ever did that when ours were in it.

But I suppose the researcher wouldn’t be able to take that on board really. And I remember that this is telly we’re talking about. And few people want to make a programme without salacious nuggets of drama in them how ever informative they promise to be.

And, just as happened last time, they ring off with profuse thanks that really doesn’t mask the fact that they’ve no idea what I’m on about and I didn’t give them the right answers.

Like with most things, home education is something you have to live to understand. But the more we do talk about it, the more you record all your adventures and approaches and ideas like some of you do with your great blogs and posts, the more that will hopefully change.

Passionate parenting and Maverick TV

Passionate about education? Me? How did you guess?

But there is perhaps one thing that I’m more passionate about even than that: Parenting.

And I’m passionate about parenting because parenting, like education, has the power and the potential to make a difference to the world.

How? Because the way children are parented reflects throughout the world. It’s like an infectious smile where you smile and people smile back at you, it then makes them feel happier, so they pass a smile onto someone else, and so on.

As a parent you have the chance to make your kids smile about life, to be caring and respectful, to be loving and conscientious. And you do that, not by some kind of external disciplining processes or strategies you hear about in nanny programmes, it’s simpler than that.

You do it simply by making sure that you are loving and respectful, caring and conscientious. Always. No half measures. No cop outs thinking that your kids have to do what you say rather than what you do. They notice what you do. What you do counts to them more than what you say. Your behaviour is what parents your children – I believe it’s that simple.

I just wanted to pass that tip on and get parents to believe in the importance of their parenting. Because I think it’s hard parenting in today’s world where so much of the parenting wisdom that was passed on through generations and through communities doesn’t exist any more – and it’s a tougher and more complicated world!

And in the hope of indirectly supporting other parents I also want to pass on another message. It’s come to me from a TV producer at Maverick Television. They want to make a programme about parenting – no small job! So if you’re a ‘larger than life character’ who’d be interested in passing your parenting expertise or style onto other parents then they’d really like you to get in touch.

Here’s the message they’ve asked to be passed on:

Maverick Television is looking for inspiring mums.

Do you have a particular parenting technique or method that you believe works well?

Are you proud of your style of parenting and believe others could learn from you?

We are developing a parenting show and want to hear from strong mums who would be happy to talk about parenting and what works for them. We are looking for mums with two or more children.

If this sounds like you or someone you know, please email s.carty@mavericktv.co.uk

So – anyone reading this fancy a go or know of someone up to the job?!

The Best Start In Life? – Are you joking?

If you are a parent you need to watch this programme then do some serious thinking: The Best Start In Life? http://www.itv.com/itvplayer/video/?Filter=327517

After I watched it I want to scream several things:





When I watch this kind of pressure put on kids to get grades (at the expense of everything else) I could weep. As the psychologist in the programme suggests it’s damaging. It destroys happy family lives and relationships. And it doesn’t necessarily get people where they want to be. It is all a huge political con.


Well, politicians want votes don’t they? They get votes by pleasing people. The majority of people are parents so they have to try and give parents what they want. Parents want their kids to be clever in school; they’ve been led to believe that this will get them good jobs and lots of money. Many of them also want their kid to beat the kid next to them and get grades they can swank about in their social circles. So the politicians can please parents by making kids seem clever by getting lots of grades. They do this by manipulating the education system so much that it no longer resembles education but more of a sausage machine that produces grade-getting sausages at the expense of children’s needs. So then we create lots of obedient little sausages with the grades to get good professional jobs, except there aren’t enough jobs to go round professional or otherwise. And anyway, as many rich and successful people find out, having lots of money doesn’t necessarily make you fulfilled and happy – other things in life do and they need many other skills now excluded from the sausage making machine in the race for grades. Grades may make kids seem clever – but the kind of clever you need to be in the outside world has nothing to do with grades. Yet the politicians don’t care about that because they want people making money, because money making voters promote industry and pay tax to the government and so on and so on.

It’s a vicious soul destroying, planet destroying scenario. It destroys souls because it makes people who don’t achieve it believe they are failures. It destroys the planet because it buys into the idea of money and consumerism being the ultimate goal.

And it all starts by parents putting pressure on children to get the grades.

As an alternative, there are thousands of parents – increasing all the time – that have decided to take another route. They remove their children from the sausage machine scenario and educate them outside in the real world, with real people, giving them real experiences that teach them real life skills. Some of them don’t even do tests and exams of any sort. Yet they go on to live productive and happy lives, thanks to a real life understanding, as ours did even without the GCSEs that politicians hold up as magic keys to the parents and the parents hold up as magic keys (or rods!) to the kids.

We have a massive employment crisis in this country. We have a massive crisis with children being so switched off to education by schooling that they cannot even see how it would be of benefit. We have a massive crisis with so many kids who feel that no one even cares – so they stop caring too, about anything, even themselves.

And this grade-getting approach to education is one of the contributing factors to those crises. Because it prostitutes real education for political purposes.

We need to educate our children to have diverse, entrepreneurial skills, to be rich in experiences and therefore understanding, to have care and interest, to be flexible and adaptable, to have well practised social and communication experiences – the kind they’ll need to make themselves employable not the kind they need to survive school, to think broadly, extensively, globally.

A single-track, grade-getting education with a political agenda won’t do this.

But home education does!

(To learn more about the way parents home educate visit the brilliant blogs on the Home Education Blogs Page. Or you can read my guide to home education; Learning Without School, and of our personal journey in A Funny Kind Of Education. See the My Books page)

Consumer Kids

View the book on Amazon

How much screen time do we allow the kids? I blogged on about this issue a little while ago – here.

What we didn’t mention is the insidious influence on our kids of the advertising, commercial, materialistic and celebrity worlds portrayed on screens.

‘Consumer Kids’ is a book attempting to raise awareness of that very issue. It’s by Ed Mayo and Agnes Nairn and is a rather scary and shocking insight into the way businesses groom kids through screens of all sorts for a materialistic and consumerist future.

I’ve often had the feeling that schooling plays a part in this grooming. It grooms kids to the idea that education is just another materialistic acquisition – something to get, i.e. grades – rather than being a process that is lifelong and has other more valuable elements. And the culture of comparison and competition in schools, which influences their image, possessions and lifestyle, sets children against one another rather than uniting them.

There are efforts in schools to make kids ‘media literate’ as they call it, to help kids see through advertising strategies and the consumer culture, but the authors suggest that its impact is far outweighed by the power of marketing. Besides it’s a bit of a double standard if on the one hand schools have ‘media literacy’ on the curriculum while on the other they host vending machines for commercial purposes that are full of junk with little nutritional value to the child.

Yet another advantage of home education; better control over this commercial and materialistic influence, an influence which also harms the planet.

While home schooling you can discuss issues like advertising and spending when they arise, raise awareness of the impact of big businesses on our lives and the earth, and encourage your kids to make independent, informed and personal decisions about what they like, rather than decisions made under peer pressure. There will always be peer pressure but it is never as great as it is within a school.

And if your kids are used to deciding what they like and what to choose independently, that skill of knowing their own mind will stand them in good stead all their life.

Among the concerns raised in the book there’s a beautiful piece towards the end about what they think children need:

‘…children need inner strength and understanding to flourish – not materialism. They need warm bonds of friendship with their peers – not competitive consumption. They need strong relationships with their parents – not the alienation that can be encouraged by marketing. They need to be occupied in projects which work for the common good of a community. In a commercial world, the odds are stacked against achieving this.’

But maybe not so much in the home educating world, don’t you think? And something for your home schooling to work towards perhaps.

Do you ration your kids’ ‘screen time’?

“Can I put the telly on?” my youngster would ask at various times during the day.


“Doh! Can I go on the computer?”

“Not now, darling.”

“Can I play on my DS, then?” She was never one to give up easily.


It’s not that I was some kind of Hitler when we were home educating. It’s just that I felt the need to ration the kids’ ‘screen time’ otherwise they’d overdose. And with them being at home all day it was very easy to give in to it for a quiet moment.

There was a debate on The Wright Stuff this morning (I’d given in to some telly time myself!) about whether as a parent you’d rather your kids watched TV or played computer games. This was the result of a piece of research that stated kids were more creative if they played computer games.

I can be a cynic about some research. Big businesses can pay for research to come up with any kind of finding they like as long as it enhances their big business. And I didn’t rate this finding at all. So I wondered what the outcome of the discussion would be.

The panellists battled the issue about for a while before they came up with the obvious; it’s not so much about which your children do, it’s about the important fact that they do it in moderation. And even more importantly in balance with a whole host of other things that involve them in a variety of activities, from reading to running, computer games to tiddlywinks, telly to exercise.

When the kids are in the intense environment of school all day it’s no wonder they need a bit of down-time in front of a screen. We all do. When you’re home schooling it’s more tricky to keep it moderation which is why I resorted to setting a limit on ‘screen time’.

That wasn’t too bad for me; I’m not much of a screen junkie. My partner found it a bit more difficult as he enjoyed a bit of telly on his days off and the kids enjoyed grassing him up. We used to explain that since he was out most of the time working he was allowed to catch up on his screen ration. Yes – we were rationed too. We believed we should also practise whatever we asked of them. Because the biggest influence on what your children do is what you do yourself, which is a bit of a sod when you’d like to finish work and crash out in front of the telly or computer all evening.

But being parents we need to take responsibility. We should check out our own life/screen time balance.

Because it is our responsibility to moderate our behaviour so that it gives our kids the best example we possibly can. Hard work sometimes. Absolutely worth it in the end. Parenting is SO important you have to make an effort. Always. It’s no game. And there are no short cuts.

But it’s the best thing you’ll ever do. Much, much better than gaming or watching telly!