Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Fifth Discipline

It's a book. The Fifth Discipline.

Published in 1990, and it's about business. And life.

A lot that goes on in business also goes on in life.

Here's a quote from The Fifth Discipline:

"Learning any new language is difficult at first. But as you start to master the basics, it gets easier.
Research with young children has shown that many learn systems thinking remarkably quickly. It appears
that we have latent skills as systems thinkers that are undeveloped, even repressed by formal education
in linear thinking."

What is systems thinking?

Again, from that book:

"The essence of the discipline of systems thinking lies in a shift of mind:

*seeing interrelationships rather than linear cause-effect chains, and
*seeing processes of change rather than snapshots

Things aren't always straight-forward. Learning isn't. Life isn't.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Local authorities who want to monitor home educators

More than 360,000 children are injured in school each year
450,000 children are bullied in school EACH WEEK
16 children commit suicide each year because of school bullying
An estimated 1 million children truant each year
1 in 6 children leave school unable to read, write or add up

And local authorities want to monitor home educators?

I don't think so.

Figures from 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

On Knowledge

"Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad."

Miles Kington (1941-2008), journalist. Quoted in Woman's Weekly, 11 February 2014.

That seems to encapsulate for me the difference between schooling and home education.

Home educators have the time and the space to develop wisdom.

Friday, 24 January 2014

I bet you thought I'd gone

I haven't.

Here's a thought from Augustine of Hippo that I came across while wandering around on a forum discussing money.

"In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity."

Not a bad maxim to live by..

Sunday, 17 November 2013


It's probably something you've all realised, but home education is a natural extension of the family and day to day life.

It takes effort to pack one or more children off to the care (sometimes dubious) of schoolkeepers.

It's natural to flow through a day as if there is no curriculum, and, actually, in our house, there hasn't been one at all.

To me, curricula are forms of control. Someone somewhere has decided what all children will be taught and will (not necessarily) learn.

How do we choose what we want to learn, how do we choose how we want to learn?

Natural questions that rise up as we breast the waves of the day.

I would rather trust my children's instincts as to where they will spend their time (and it is their time) and their energy (and that energy can be stolen by society rules) than think that strangers - strangers, moreover, who have probably moved on from the education system - will be telling my children what to do every day.

And what to think.

I find it infuriating when outsiders try to say that children are indoctrinated by their home educating parents. It's rather two-faced to have a curriculum that denies choice to every schoolchild then complain that non-schoolers are being taught what parents want to teach.

The pot and kettle are both vying for the title of 'deepest shade of black'.

As a young person, when you leave school your day might well revert to your control so why do parents not allow children to control and manage their days as soon as they can?


Tuesday, 5 November 2013

I can genuinely say....

I can genuinely say, looking back on the past few years - is it seven or eight? - that we've been home educating that I have changed and been changed so much by the whole process.

Long ago, I accepted what newspapers told me, what the neighbourhood gossip conveyed to me, what the internet induced me to read. Anything and everybody had a naive listener in me.

What has changed?

Me, for one thing. Having the time and the ability to question, to advance my understanding, to dig a little more, to apply logic and theory, to consult those home educators who strode across the largely untrodden terrain of home educationland before me. The giants who have gone ahead.

I've delved into subjects I never even heard of at school. I've read about really difficult concepts and re-read the words until I thoroughly understood what was being said.

I have become sentient and aware. I have become ever more thoughtful and empathic.

I think I have started to see the fully actualised person, Danae, emerging from her shell of self-induced hypocritical beliefs and society-induced coma.

My eyes are open, and can use the sparkling new spectacles that I never knew existed.

My children have led the dance, and I've cavorted alongside them, and also alone along merry alleys and paused in colourful colonnaded courtyards.

I'm me, yet I'm different. Improved, I hope. Always ready for the next bout of incomprehension on my way to the aha! moment of comprehension.

I've learned that freedom isn't just a word, it's life's breath.

I've learned that nurturing yourself isn't selfish, it's society's saviour.

I've learned that home educating isn't just a thing to be done, it's everything and it's in everything.

And - ah, bliss - there's still more to come.

Monday, 14 October 2013

How teachers treat their students

Hello again,

I thought I'd try to let you in on some thoughts I've been - er - thinking.

I belong to a few groups, and regularly people join to say that they and their child or children are HAVING TROUBLE WITH SCHOOL. It's rarely about school stuff like little Piers can't 'get' Geography. It's often about how their children are treated.

In case you are in any doubt - and if you've been kind enough to read my blog in the past you probably won't be in any doubt - I don't think that schools, in their present form, should have anything to do with children.

As I've mentioned, the Geography, History, Languages, etc. aren't often the cause of concern. The teachers and how they react to one, a few, a bunch or all of the pupils in their classes are.

Now, it's many many years since I was at school (as a young person) and only a few since I was in an Adult Learning GCSE class to support my daughter by taking the course with her. During the science course, I was shouted at, by the teacher. Normally, I can establish a reasonably good rapport with people who are imparting their knowledge to me. I had done so with this teacher. But she shouted at me for putting two sheets in one of those plastic files the wrong way. 

Yes, I got it wrong. But I was already pulling them out to flip them over and start again.

I looked at her and I thought, 'I no longer allow anyone to so disrespect me for committing the heinous crime of making a simple and undeadly mistake, especially one I'm already about to correct'.

I nearly challenged her.

Something stopped me. The wild, stressed look in her eyes. The exasperation on her face. The response to the too-much-all-the-time that teachers are faced with.

So I kept quiet. I forbore to let rip at her during the class. I made a choice not to correct her.

Later, I did have a gentle word, and she apologised as one adult to another because we respected each other and were, largely, equal.

What happens, though, to young people who are 'slagged off' in a class full of their friends, schoolmates, enemies and who are not equal and not able to have a reproving word after class.

What happens when the balance of power is totally unequal? As in school. All day long. Every day.

Teachers should never abuse their power, not to seduce, nor to reduce those under their care because they will never know what type of damage and what sort of anguish the children in their power may endure.

When you get a parent who is responsible for providing an education to his or her child or children, the sheer knowledge that parent has about his or her offspring can inspire and improve every day they learn. I'm not saying it's always easy, but I am saying it's very likely to be respectful.

Respect for the learner is surely a building block of learning success.

That's what I've been thinking about during these rainy days of autumn.