Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Society of Unexperts

I was speculating earlier today on how much I'd like to see a Society of Unexperts formed.

I visualise unexperts proclaiming on all sorts of areas.

Something along the lines of the 'reasonable man' referred to in law. He's deferred to as a sort of everyman expert or unexpert and his opinion is a measure for courts and juries to consider in trials.

Experts probably have a place in our society, but not the place they currently occupy.

You see, experts are prejudiced. They see their specialty everywhere. They are a little like Dr. House in reverse. He is the doctor who tries everything (including the kitchen sink) to find out what the tricky patient is actually suffering from. Experts reduce anything their patients are suffering from to the realms of their own speciality.

So the dermatologist thinks the blotch on your neck is just up his street. And the Ear Nose and Throat guy is determined that it has a connection to the sinus infection he's just uncovered. Then the psychiatrist writes a report stating that it came from the hours you spent in the front room with your completely daffy Aunty Rosa as she fed you with bovril and chips when you were nine and a half.

I wouldn't want anyone off the street to rewire my house of course. That would be taking the SOU (Society of Unexperts) too far. Yet, isn't it true that talented amateurs can accomplish wonders? After all, Leona Lewis and Joe McElderry and Susan Boyle were amateurs until recently.

But, unexperts can see from other than their pre-programmed viewpoint. They can examine evidence and understand the rationale behind it. They can employ their own point of view to inform the problem.

You can be an expert unexpert too. After all, there are dozens of areas that we're all competent in without passing an exam or writing a conference paper. We don't need the outward awards to know that we can do something. We know that we are unexperts in many things.

I more or less learned to type by - well, typing. I did it because I had thousands of words saved up on paper and I got tired fingers and sore hands. So I typed. And because I typed a lot I got good at typing.

I haven't bothered to go in and take a test, but I could probably do quite well. I'm an unexpert at typing.

I'm an unexpert on the world of my children too. I feel fairly confident I could go head to head with the big black chair in the Mastermind television show on the topic. I know a lot about it. My view of my children is unique; it spans quite a few years and experiences. Since before they arrived in this world actually. My eldest hiccoughed every so often while she grew inside me. My youngest pushed an arm and a leg right out of my side (at least it felt that way) about two weeks before she was born while I was watching an exciting film.

No stranger-expert will ever know what I know about my children.


That's why I think we should have a Society of Unexperts.

Experts can be downright dangerous. Recall the doctors who attended trials of distraught mothers as they explained that their most precious babies had died and they didn't know why. But the doctors knew why. They were experts. They knew; that's why they were called to give an opinion because they knew these mothers were killing their babies, and the mothers went to gaol because - gee whiz, gosh - Dr. Expert MUST know best.

Dangerous. Fortunately, unexperts were ploughing through evidence that said if one baby in a family died of cot death then it was possible that another child from the same family could die of the same cause. The babies had shared genes, didn't they? What was more likely that you'd share some deleterious (dangerous) genes? Had the experts thought of that?

Why, no.

Experts see what they are expert in.

Local authority representatives see school as the pinnacle of society therefore they want to see school impressed on every child, even if that child is home educated. They are the experts.

Badman, as we know from his blog* is an expert in education or what passes for education in this country. He is a school/schooling/schooly expert. He likes it. He lives it. It is the ONLY way to educate. For him to open his mind and accept that there are other ways is impossible for him, I think. That would be admitting that he and all his fellow experts were wasting their time in an impotent and impoverished system, and he isn't about to do that. Same with Mr. Balls. You can tinker with a ruinous and collapsed school system. You can throw at it years and years of money, and fiddle with its huge capacious illiterate innumerate monstrous growth of a body but you can't make it work.

It doesn't work because it isn't the only answer. It isn't even the best answer. It never has worked. It never will work. Those who succeed, succeed in spite of it, not because of it and we'll never really know what those who succeed (however they define success) would have been like if they hadn't contracted state school.

There is no single right answer for an education, and that is what the school system offers. It holds out 'the right way.' When you consider carefully you'll understand that there is a range of answers - the best ones are shaped to fit the person who is educating. There is no one 'right way.' The way that school takes is one way and that is one that fails so many children rather dismally.

School does not work for every child. I'm sure any unexpert could tell you that.

*The blog I refer to here is a satire and a spoof, and can be found at:

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Dumbing, dumbing, dumber

I'm listening to dreamily Christmas music on the CD which came off the front of the Classics magazine. It's sheer loveliness.

What I have to write is hard sloggery.

Santa dropped into my life the book Dumbing Us Down by the sainted John Taylor Gatto, and I have to - yes, I just must - type some quotations from it. The book is like a long cool drink of common sense in the desert of despair that we have been wandering and wondering in for what seems like all of the now-dying year.

From whence to quote? Pick a page, any page. Lovely, lovely, difficult words shattering more of my illusions and making sure that the shards are kicked around until they are mere tiny pieces of my once-accepted ideas.

"Private time is absolutely essential if a private identity is going to develop, and private time is equally essential to the development of a code of private values, without which we aren't really individuals at all. Children and families need some relief from government surveillance and intimidation if original expressions belonging to them are to develop. Without these freedom has no meaning."

That's from page 69. Rising up now is all my belief that young people need time away from school and the doings of schooling. My own children told me many a time. "Mum," they said. "We need time to be relaxing, time to be practicing piano, time to be thinking, time to play..."

How disastrous a society are we constructing if we don't allow the young time to leap about in play, and to stare out of the window without being criticised or controlled or stopped.

Just to be themselves. Not the pretend selves that they have to put on like a stiff uniform every school morning. Just who they are like the old clothes that they don in preference to any others when they are lounging around hanging about not doing much.

I recall conversations from the school gate where parents told me proudly that little Ellery was tired out from ballet rehearsals the previous day (a Sunday) when she'd been called in at 11.00 and let out at 6.00, and then there was the drive back of an hour and a half.

Something's got to give. Something. And that something will be Ellery. Never alone Ellery. Always surrounded by a crowd of strangers all dressed up the same and screeching for attention.

No wonder teenagers like to hang about on street corners moodily staring at the strangers who left them no time to watch the stars in a state of wonder.

Biometrics can describe a doll. Biometrics can describe the outer man, but what's that man really? Who is that man? Does he have an ego, does he have six wives, nineteen children, was he once a monk then he woke up in the middle of Central Park and wanted to be out of his cell, is he a frustrated actor rehearsing the words of Hamlet in the empty theatre he has constructed in his mind? Does he love a woman? Is she interested? Does she know him or he, her? Have they had children together? What's his faith? Does he believe in something greater than him or is it all grab because this is all we get and you'd better get it now and get as much as you can because everyone will think more of you?

Who is he, beyond the mere appearance and retina and fingerprint?

Is he anyone who has had time and put effort into defining himself?

Does he care that his fingerprints are stored to be fished out by a complete stranger, a bureaucrat? Does he care that the bureaucrat will never know the private him? Just a bunch of lines and codes? Is that all he wants to be?

Time. Time. Time to develop. To think about self. To extend self. And question self. And become self.

Is life getting quicker? Is it racing? Is it all things and getting the things done and buying things and buying more things because we define our lives by things.

Time. Time. Time to build a self and refine a self and learn how to be a self.

I've known people who cannot be alone. Not for a minute. They can't bear it. They can't become themselves because they won't be alone to develop a self. So they swim in people and blast their ears out with noise to avoid the need to be.

And all that from a quotation on page 69.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Almost Christmas

Hi everyone,

I'd like to wish you all a comfortable holiday with lots of congenial times and good entertainment, stacks of filling, tasty food, and pleasant mood music. Then good sleeps and lovely soothing dreams.

In other words, take a break from thinking about Badman and Balls and the creaking tumbril of government as it wends its way through the streets to oblivion.

If you have snow, get out there - fill your lungs with healthy fresh air, and shout with your children, if they are so inclined.

Enjoy yourselves.

I'd like to thank all those hardy souls who have followed me around peculiar routes of my sometimes convoluted logic and put up with my annoyance at the government and agreed with my feelings that home educators will win any battle thrown at them.

Thanks to everyone on all lists that I visit and thanks especially for the privilege of being able to listen to fascinating conversations and follow interesting points I hadn't thought of.

May your holiday give you everything you need, including time to kick back and relax with your youngsters.

And let 2010 be the start of a decade dominated by common sense and a repeal of the robots who wish only to apply their sad, sorry pathetic rules to other people who aren't robots.

Let the new year be one where people start to respect others. Let it be filled with exciting learning and increasing health for all. Let it be OUR YEAR.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Select Committees and all that jazz

The trouble with Select Committees... well, there are a few troubles with Select Committees. The first is that they are made up of a bunch of people who – er – want to rule the rest of the population. That is an odd thing to want to do. Personally, I don't seem to want to rule anyone, except myself and I have a darn difficult time doing even that on occasions being as I'm so multi-layered and mysterious.

Another trouble with Select Committees is that they have to read a tremendous amount of information in a fairly short time. How can they sort out the chaff from the wheat? It would take me a couple of years to properly digest what some interesting and erudite characters have had to say in support of home education and some fascinating points they have raised too. I'm proud to call myself a home edder.

Of course, I've had a tremendous advantage. I belong to some lively and thoughtful lists with some incredibly dedicated folk adorning them so I've been able to sharpen my little Shrek pencil as I've watched their amazing contributions to the outstanding learning opportunity afforded by home education to even the parental contingent of the home educating family. Me, in fact.

Yet another concern of mine about Select Committee is that they employ discreet language. I want to shout Balls is a moron and Badman is a (er, I cannot think of a suitable thing to shout. Perhaps the DCSF would like to consult on that. Suitable names for Badman. It would probably be as meaningful as consulting on a suitable education).

Then, again, there's the fact that people sitting on a Committee are not exactly unbiased. They are biased in many different ways, but one specific way is that they will be biased towards state schooling. If you skin the average person you will find state schooling writ large upon his or her heart. It's a strange thing how something so potentially damn dreadful, and no matter what atrocities of either the educational or bullying kind were perpetrated upon you, you STILL insist that 'they were the best days of mah life.' What PR school has enjoyed. How deep it has sunk into the societal bedrock. What crap it is! So much so that, if someone brings up all the terrible, soul-destroying happenings in his school, he finishes by wiping a tear from his filling eye and blowing his filling nose at the very thought of the old alma mater.

It's like the most insidious of abuse cycles.

So, we have those worthies of the Select Committee, all with their various Party lines, and their multitudinous prejudices listening variously to the rapidly sinking and almost incomprehensible muttering Badman (an upstanding representative of their kind of man) and the bright, inquisitive, alive responses from home educating children and their families.

What is a man constrained by the likes of Ed. Balls to do?

How are they to look their leader in his dark eyeballs if they deploy the nukes on the pathetic heap of prejudiced garbage that is dignified by the name of the Elective Home Education Review.

One of my first thoughts on sighting the Committee report was that they still have not realised that parents are the best ones to parent and are best placed to decide which form of education suits their own children and that local authorities underlying remit is to destroy home education and get those children into school.

So we have home educators – totally committed parents – and we have local authorities, some with fine representatives but others, a lot of others, with no darn clue about any kind of an education at all and a serious blind-spot which makes them avoid the facts looming up to crash into them. The facts are that the school system does not work. I would say it does not work for everyone but the longer I live the more I believe (there's that word again) that school DOES NOT WORK because it is predicated upon force.

And, however men like to spin it, force does not conquer all.

Overall, it's a 50.3% from me for the Select Committee Report. They criticise Badman, yes, they'd have to be blind, deaf, dumb and living inside the mountains not to know that Badman's so-called report is fit only to line our budgies' cages. Yet they haven't caught on that it is the parents' duty to choose the mode of education for their children. The parents' duty. Not the government's, not Balls', not Badman's, not Barry Sheerman's, not the MPs', not the paranoid LAs'.

You know it's practically impossible for a child to avoid getting an education. They're born to it. They question as soon as they wake up and talk. They do it because it is an instinct. You cannot deny a child an education, but you can choose which education – in accordance with their wishes – that they will get, even if that's one that they select for themselves (this is called the autonomous way).

That's the kind of Select Committee I approve of.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Home education less lethal than expected

Following Thursday's headline in the Guardian which was 'Swine flu pandemic less lethal than expected', I'd like to travel forward in time to view the next big headline that will catch our attention.

'Home education less lethal than expected

Reporter: Polly Dolly, Everypaper

Expert examiners yesterday confirmed that the fears of DCSF staff and ex-government Minister, Ed Balls, were groundless.

A re-examination of local authority statistics by independent professionals from Statistics International has found that, rather than being more likely to hurt their children, home educating parents are indeed much less likely to be guilty of child abuse.

Betty Wetty of the DCSF says, "We made a few assumptions about statistics that were perhaps incorrect, but fifteen months after we insisted on a new monitoring system, we discovered that the local authorities' facts were not as robust or rigorous as we were assured."

The situation for home educators is summed up by Diana Sminer, a home educator with three children and seven years experience. "We have wasted several years effort trying to point out that they are squandering public funds on a non-problem. We have advised ministers and the media who ran with prejudiced reports from a so-called expert who was no expert on home education. Our children have lost confidence in the political system, except for a handful of individuals who helped us, and have been terrified of being forced into failing schools by local authority Stasi-like representatives. And we don't even get an apology."

The Society of United Home Educators (SUME) is considering legal action. "We believe that government should be held responsible for mistakes of this nature," said Julian Bloomingdale, Vice President of SUME. "They cannot be allowed to ride rough-shod over home educators in this manner and escape consequences."

The DCSF made no further comment'.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Erin and John Holt

Erin Brockovich and John Holt.

They would get along, I'm sure.

Erin is and was an individual. She didn't change her 'potty mouth' for anyone. She didn't change her rather uproarious clothes style to please others.

She had principles and she stuck to them.

John Holt in How Children Fail says this:

"After all I have said and written about the need for keeping children under pressure, I find myself coming to realize that what hampers their thinking, what drives them into these narrow and defensive strategies, is a feeling that they must please the grownups at all costs. The really able thinkers in our class turn out to be, without exception, children who don't feel so strongly the need to please grownups. Some of them are good students, some not so good; but good or not, they don't work to please us, but to please themselves."

Students working, not to get a reward from teacher or approval from the school, must be a nightmare for the state schooling system.

School is unmitigated stress for some children. Damned if they do well, they are told that they must do better. Slated if they do poorly, they must do better, even if that is better than their best and how can a person do better than their best? When Shelly is compared with Polly, who is the class genius, how can Shelly feel but inferior and how does that help Shelly or Polly. Shelly may give up trying for that non-existent approval from teacher. Polly may be coasting along not exerting herself because, after all, she is effortlessly clever.

John Holt again: "The trouble was that I was asking too many questions. In time I learned to shut up and stop asking questions, stop constantly trying to find out how much people understood. We have to let learners decide when they want to ask questions. It often takes them a long time even to find out what questions they want to ask. It is not the teacher's proper task to be constantly testing and checking the understanding of the learner. That's the learner's task, and only the learner can do it. The teacher's job is to answer questions when learners ask them, or to try to help learners understand better when they ask for that help."

I am interested in the way that teachers think because I make it a habit not to teach. I am not a teacher. If pressed, I would say I am a facilitator and an education enthusiast. I believe that all people should educate themselves, if they can. The key words there are 'educate themselves'. People can learn from me if they wish and I will impart my knowledge when they ask me for it, but they must ask me. I will not teach anyone voluntarily. I do not believe in teaching learners. I believe in empowering learners to find out for themselves and, if that involves finding out from me, that is fine.

I think there is something rather arrogant about another human being presuming to 'teach' me. It implies a one-way process. It implies that teaching leads to learning whereas we know instinctively that to learn one has to be ready, willing and able to learn.

As John Holt says: “The very natural mistake that Bill and I made was to think that the differences between the children in our class had to do with techniques of thinking, that the successful kids had good techniques of thinking while the unsuccessful, the 'producers,' had bad, and therefore that our task was to teach better techniques. But the unsuccessful kids were not trying, however badly, to do the same things as the successful. They were doing something altogether different. They saw the school and their task in it differently. It was a place of danger, and their task was, as far as they could, to stay out of danger. Their business was not learning, but escaping.”

I would respectfully suggest that John Holt has used an incorrect word there. I suspect that the word he might have used is 'surviving.'

We survive school to go on to our real lives having played the learning game or not, depending upon which survival strategy we adopt during our school years.

Wouldn't it be so much better if we were left to learn in peace, at our own leisure, untested and unmolested? Wouldn't it be so much better if children were all educating at home (and all the other places they educate themselves in?)

Or is that too much to ask?

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Erin Brockovich and woman power

My eldest has just asked me if I want to watch the film 'Erin Brockovich' with her.

I said yes.

I've tried to watch it a few times but only managed to see a few minutes at different points. So it will be interesting...

Erin was a legal assistant in America who brought a power company to book for polluting a town's water. Originally, she was an unemployed single mum. The film is based on her story. A real story. About one woman who single-handedly brings down a huge corporation.

Erin is one of my heroes.

She is a magnificent woman.

We can all be like her.

We can bring down liars and cheats and politically motivated quangos and people making money out of other people's misery.

We can.

You can.

I can.

It can be done and Erin did it.

Now I'm off to see the whole dang movie.

To remind myself that there is an Erin in each one of us.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

A blissful afternoon...

We've just got back from seeing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

An afternoon of swing and sing and dancing. A time of clapping and emoting as Joseph got sold into slavery by his brothers (ah, that sounds familiar. Wonder where I've heard that before?). But Joseph, he rises again, even higher than the heights of being his father's favourite sonhood.

He becomes Pharoah's favourite Minister. He practically runs Egypt because Pharoah is so busy being an Elvis Presley look-alike.

I bought the tickets some weeks ago. I was asked how many adults and children. I said I didn't know because some people call a sixteen year old an adult and some say people that age are still children. The nice lady on the desk said, "If they are under 18, they're children to us!"

Thank you, Playhouse.

A row of schoolchildren sat, wriggled, talked and laughed behind us. I wasn't asked for my CRB check or tapped on the shoulder and told to move because I was seated near our fragile young and I might be one of them. (Home educators or paedophiles)

There were elderly people swinging their canes, children in school uniforms, middle-aged folk munching on scones and sucking drinks through straws and all of them, jigging about, singing along and clapping their 'ands orf.


Great musical. Great cast, full of energy and enjoying themselves.

Great audience. All ages, full of interest and wanting to enjoy themselves.

Not a suspicious glance around. No police. No bother about tickets. No worrying whether or not we were going to be picked up as those weird home educators and returned to our home because we were AT LARGE and we should be ON THE EDUCATIONAL PREMISES.

Great afternoon.

So, you see, it can work. This being in the world and not checked or stopped or shown disrespect or hassle.

We can be normal. Life can be good.

Life is good.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Dare to tell me...

If you dare to tell me that school is good for most (all?) children, I will spit feathers and turn purple, green, orange and blue like a demented chameleon on a multi-coloured tablecloth.

This mother's story about her lovely artistic son is worth reading:

It has brought back to me all the essential wrongness that I remember about schools.

The twenty-seven Year 5 kids pushing one way out of a set of doors and the thirty pushing the other way. The doors bulging and twisting under the force. No teacher in sight. Me, with my hand to my mouth, across the playground, watching frozen in horror and waiting for one or more of them to be knocked to the ground and trampled upon. Waiting for the blood. Waiting for the death.


School is safe? School teaches you? Teaches you how to be a barbarian maybe.

School is a place of no choice. School is where you dread to go and hate to be. OK, not all children (maybe in a tiny few cases, school is actually a step up from home) but to young'uns who are loved and respected in their homes?

Is it really what we want for our children?

Having to hide in the toilets away from the three mean and radgy girls who always make you miserable?

Being told you should 'stand up' to them while knowing they'll beat you to pulp if you say A WHISPER to them?

Adults do not know or they conveniently forget how damn dreadful it is being powerless and humiliated and shamed and laughed at and ignored and hit and punched and poked and having your favourite gel pens nicked on your first day at a new school and seeing your best jacket on the floor having been trampled all over with muddy boots.


My children, and yours, deserve to feel safe every day, not just the day when they have to go to the dentist and so not to school. They deserve to feel secure, not to have their little hearts pumping so fast they can feel sick and dizzy because they see some big kid in the schoolyard who stole the lunch money Mum paid for out of her crap job and who is coming THEIR WAY.


They steal your fingerprints. You don't give consent because who tells a big tall hard-faced teacher, "No, this is something I do NOT CONSENT to" because it's all "do what teacher says now". But fingerprints - you must have done something pretty bad to be fingerprinted like a criminal but what was it? No one tells you which adds to the confusion and hurting stomach and sick feelings and lightheadness.

Every night you try to sleep to escape the deathliness of your days but you stay awake because you don't want to sleep because that will mean you wake up and it's SCHOOL again and you've just got away from the torture and the hell and the noise and those kids following you around and giggling at something behind your back, but it's not at something else it's at YOU.

God help us. We are spirit-murderers.

God help us. We think this is normal.

In the future, we will look back and cry for what we have done to children.

God help us, but God help the little children first.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Choice that is no choice

Every day, in hundreds of ways, we all make choices.

To get up or lie in bed, what to wear if we choose to get up, whether to turn the heating on or off, what to eat for breakfast, whether or not to have breakfast....

Thousands of choices, not hundreds.

Some choices are no choices. I choose not to hurt my children. I choose to listen to my children. I choose to treat them with respect and consider what they say as worthy (as, indeed, what they say is worthy).

Often I will act upon what they say. They are privy to my thinking about what they choose to tell me and we share a lot of information and knowledge.

Choice should have a choice.

Choice should not be made under duress because choice made under duress is no choice.

Choice should imply that one can limit or, in fact, choose not to choose to choose.

A man who leaps out of a bush and demands that you hand over your cash or he will shoot your dog leaves you with no choice.

' The common English usage of the word "defeasance" has also become acceptable in law, referring to a contract that is susceptible to being declared void as in "immoral contracts are susceptible to defeasance."' (Duhaime)

Immoral contracts are susceptible to being declared void.

Immoral contracts are ones in which we have no choice. Immoral contracts stem from a misunderstanding and misapplication of the word choice, and from a source which sees people as counters on a game board.

A choice which is no choice is force.


The review written up by Badman and so enthusiastically embraced by Balls has advocated 'choice' for no one. Children caught up in this conspiracy of choice are sold a piece of swampland in Florida. They are offered a voice which implies choice. They are told they will be listened to. They are not told that they will be listened to and then ignored.

It is an immoral system based on immoral targets.

It contravenes so many of the United Nations Rights of the Child that Britain has signed up to.

"States Parties shall respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents or, where applicable, the members of the extended family or community as provided for by local custom, legal guardians or other persons legally responsible for the child, to provide, in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child, appropriate direction and guidance in the exercise by the child of the rights recognized in the present Convention."

Article 5

From the same:

"1. States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
2. States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.
3. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others."

Article 14

Naturally, we can be respected in that the government can tell us that we are respected, and yet they can behave as if we are anything but respected. I can hear what you say but I don't have to act upon what you say or change my mind about what I think you might need or want or deserve. However, when we treat a minority group like home educators differently to any other group in society, then we are being flushed out into a vast sea of moral effluent. We are going wrong. We are taking heed of our prejudices and our misconceptions to affect other people's lives and that is a serious undertaking.

"What is not acceptable is arbitrary application of law so that some people end up being treated more badly than others where objectively the circumstances do not warrant such treatment."

European Convention on Human Rights, Article 14, from the book Unlocking Human Rights, page 385

Home educators are subject to the arbitrary application of law. We are being treated worse than those people who school their children. As home educating families, we are subject to more intrusion and intervention than any schoolchild's family has to put up with.

Lastly, the circumstances do not warrant such treatment.

To choose to implement laws that place a blameless and caring group of parents in a no-win and intolerable situation is the work of evil. The circumstances do not warrant it. Home educating parents do not warrant it. Home educating children do not warrant it.

Home educators may be forced to undergo a series of malevolent changes in the laws that affect them. They will have no choice but to obey these laws unless they realise that, to bend to accommodate a bad law, goes against their very nature.

Home educators will still have a choice.

To obey a tyrannical law or not.

To choose or not to choose, that is the question.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Demands to Parliament

This government is overly attached to making demands of it's citizens. So it's time to turn that around and make some of my own.

These are my demands:

I demand the investigation of the damaging practices imposed by power-mad local authorities upon a powerless group of women and their children who are coping in the impossible position of assault and battery from this government.

I demand equality of arms, considering that the government has all the might of the state behind it and home educators have a handful of honourable human beings like Mr. Graham Stuart.

I demand a cessation of this war perpetrated by people in positions of power who are abusing that power to obliterate one of the few valid educational choices which works well for children.

I demand respect because we, home educators, are worthy of it and are telling government that we will no longer be abused by the prejudiced and biased whims of officials in any form of government who seek to violate the rights of law-abiding people and their innocent children.

I demand that the government stops criminalising parents who are doing their best to provide a decent safe and reasonable environment for their often-already traumatised and hurt children of the United Kingdom in preference to attending to the misery and anguish suffered by hundreds of thousands of children undergoing all forms of bullying in the schools of this nation.

I demand that the government cease and desist from using its position of power to spread upset and shock and cause injury to decent, kind, loving and ordinary people in preference to looking after children that it could look after but neglects.

I demand that government stop mangling and perverting words such as safeguarding and support.

I demand that government stop inciting the media to repeat slurs and slanders against the home education community.

I demand accountability from what are public servants to serve the group of their masters called home educators who contribute to their exorbitant salaries and ample retirement benefits.

I demand that politicians refuse to make changes in laws until it is perfectly clear that changes in law will do the maximum good and the minimum damage.

I demand that home educators are left alone to pursue their lives ensuring that their children receive a superior education when it is amply clear that the schools of the nation are largely unable to provide an education of any kind or to keep the nation's children safe.

Friday, 20 November 2009

You have to be justice if you want justice

I've been thinking about the depths of corruption that individuals and governments can descend to. Not pleasant thoughts for someone who didn't sleep well at all last night.

I've also been thinking about how much I put my trust in other people. Politicians. Bureaucrats. People.

Then I chatted with my youngest daughter, and I said this: "Where is the justice in it? Where?"

She fixed me with a measuring stare and replied: "The people are justice. It is not merely something outside them. It is in them. You have to BE justice if you want justice."

I could only think "WOW!"

I also thought, "That is it. It is that. All the individuals in the history of the united kingdom have made the law what it is. Many of them have striven to give birth to justice, to be fair, to be even-handed, to remedy the hurt that one person can deal another.

It is inside us. That's what I've been feeling all along. How absolutely wrong I've felt. How twisted up and how I wanted to shriek "That is not right. You cannot do these things. You don't understand," and I have tried to explain and reason and tell and demonstrate. I believe that this is the nature of women and it is held against us because, as is pointed out by Baroness Helena Kennedy in her excellent book 'Eve was Framed' Eve was not part of the law-making brigade. Law was made up by men.

Now, we abide by laws because we are good little ladies (mostly) trying to please our other halves, our fathers, our brothers, our police and all the other men who have contributed to our lives. Yet, those men can be wrong. Laws can be poor laws. Men are frightened and weak and prone to desiring to control the uncontrollable world (to be fair and even-handed so are some women).

Laws can be wrong. Men who make them can be wrong. They can mistaken. Or they can be rotten and corrupt. But, throughout history, the law is, was and ever shall be 'us'.

We uphold it. We pander to it. We complain about it.

There is another law. There is the law of rightness. That absolutely uncompromising feeling or persistent thought or still small voice or loud yelling screeching voice that never lets you forget when something is WRONG.

Changing the law as it is to mold human beings to your will no matter what they say, how they protest, how they reason, how they are consulted, how they yell in anger is simply wrong.

The legal principle of calling someone innocent until he or she is proven - beyond a shadow of a doubt or beyond reasonable doubt - to be guilty has passed our internal censor. It has stood the test of time immemorial. It has the force of custom, of fairness, the odour of violets and the approval of consciences far and wide.

The next principle - Nemo judex in causa sua - is neatly summed up in Latin; the all-but-moribund language that still can dance and sing so lyrically. The phrase means 'No one shall be a judge in his own cause'. In other words, no one can judge a case in which he or she is party or in which he or she has an interest (

It is a principle in natural justice, and underlies the doctrine of reasonable apprehension of bias. It states that someone who has a bone to pick with someone else cannot try the someone else and be unbiased.

It's like being judged in your divorce suit by your hostile mother-in-law who will decide how much money you're going to get off her precious son who has never, in her eyes, done anything wrong.

Judges who have an interest in a case recuse themselves. They disqualify themselves. They might declare a vested interest. They should do this to answer the call of fairness in themselves.
They cannot judge without bias if they have something to gain or lose in the case decision.

Graham Badman did not recuse himself. Ed Balls did not ask for fairness or even-handedness or care enough about basic principles that most people live by: he does not deserve to be in such an elevated position and in charge of so many vulnerable people.

It is wrong.

No mangling of parlous words dreamed up by slimy-souled men in grey pinstripe suits can alter whether or not something is right or wrong. They can only confuse and confound your brain. They cannot subvert that part of you, the knowing part of you, that recognises the truth and the right.

Home educators are correct to refuse to be confused and confounded. They are correct to say no to the gamesplaying and the endless drumbeat of unprincipled men.

We are right to believe that we are right for we uphold justice. They - the pinstriped - have lost their way. They are soon to crash and burn in their flight because we are justice. We are the just. The right.

We are justice.

We have to be justice if we want justice.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

So they've announced it

Here we are, folks.

"Safeguarding the vulnerable – strengthening the powers of local authorities and others with regards to registration, inspection and intervention will mean effective systems are in place to protect those that most need it. The Bill will introduce a new home educators’ registration system and take new powers for Secretaries of State to intervene in youth offending teams that are failing and potentially putting young people and their communities at risk."

They've announced it. They have. The nerve, the unbelievable cheek of including us under 'safeguarding'. The Queen's Speech. I'm surprised her Majesty's lips didn't fall from her face and land in her lap. I am not a monarchist but you cannot say she wasn't told. You cannot say children did not write to her and tell her. So she is complicit too.

The gloves are off now.

We're away to the races. We're sure to win. Because we care more. Because it's our children. Because it is OUR country and we don't want this vile evil bunch shoving us full of a load of complete pablum that is designed to keep us quiet. IT WON'T.

We don't want you, BALLS. You can't keep anyone safe. Just the opposite.

We don't want you, BADMAN. Creating your own little tax haven and promoting your wickedness.

Do you hear me? I'm not shouting. I am stating. GO. NOW.


You have wasted my time for years. Your day is over. Your extinction is here. NOW.



I used to believe in the system. NO MORE. I used to think they were honourable. NO MORE. I am sick of their slimy ugliness. So GO-BALLS!

See him run in his patterned underwear, eyes popping and bulging, screaming and shouting... See him run.

Run, Balls, run.

We're after you.

You will wish you never heard of home educators. By God, you will.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

In the eye of the beholder

For some unknown reason today I decided to surf the net and chanced upon 'terrorism' as a subject which interested me.

Mostly terrorism doesn't interest me. That is to say, it does, but it scares me stupid (which takes some doing!)

Today, though, I lingered. I found out some fascinating facts.

First of all, there is no specific widely-accepted definition of terrorism. No, none that everyone agrees is fitting.

I think that terrorism or fear of it is an excuse to pass draconian laws against what is not, and will not be, a grave threat to anyone.

Oh, I have no doubt at all that there are people called terrorists somewhere who find that all their political arguments, all their religious zeal, all their so-called rights count for nothing against the might of the state or a group of states or the world generally.

It's all in the looking.

So, one man's terrorist may see himself or herself, or even be, another man's freedom fighter. Possibly it's a great shock to find that society feels you are such a threat to them, or you have such a poor reputation, that you need to be locked away or merely just monitored, but you can bet that your freedom to speak, act and feel as you deem you should will be compromised.

Here we have a few definitions from eloquent men as to the meaning of terrorism:

"Terrorism is the deliberate, negligent, or reckless use of force against noncombatants, by state or nonstate actors for ideological ends and in the absence of a substantively just legal process."
David Rodin (Oxford philosopher)

Deliberate use of force. How do you define force then? Is it the making of someone or a group do something that they find offensive and repugnant? Could it be manipulating home educators into believing that a faulty and ridiculous court of the Badman review has found solid evidence against them and means that their right and proper educational freedom will be curtailed in future because some bureaucrats do not, and refuse to, understand the meaning of education?

By state or nonstate actors for ideological ends. In home education, the state itself has taken up our case as being 'not us' and is fairly determined that we shall be forced to accept registration, licencing and monitoring for no justifiable reason.

The absence of a substantively just legal process. As home educators have grown to realise through all our channels of heart-rending appeals and thrashing about attempting to get someone in power - anyone in power - to cancel the abysmal review of home education, there has been no just legal process here. There is nowhere to go, no-one to whom we can explain our case (as yet) and assert our innocence.

Other definitions of terrorism:

"Terrorism constitutes the illegitimate use of force to achieve a political objective when innocent people are targeted." Walter Laqueur

If you take 'the illegitimate use of force' as smearing and defaming home educators, and continuing to discriminate against this minority group then, yes, I think Walter Laqueur's definition is a dandy one to think about. Especially, the 'when innocent people are targeted' bit.
We are certainly innocent. The clearest and most accurate figures about home educating adults show that they are probably much more likely to be trustworthy with their children than are the rest of the population. So innocent. Yes.

"Terrorism is the deliberate use of violence aimed against civilians in order to achieve political ends". Boaz Ganor

Once again, violence can be seen from the beholder's viewpoint. From mine, I can see the many hours I spend - and so many good and true home educators spend - attempting to shore up our rotting and disintegrating civil rights and maintain the status quo as a form of violence against us. That status quo which was illegitimately stripped from us when Graham Badman - the cheerleader of the dodgy review -told a home educator "The status quo cannot remain".

"Terrorism is the premeditated, deliberate, systematic murder, mayhem, and threatening of the innocent to create fear and intimidation in order to gain a political or tactical advantage, usually to influence an audience". James M. Poland

I think we can say that our situation was premeditated - how many consultations have we ploughed through in the last four or five years? Deliberate? It is hard to see how this constant barrage from the heavy guns of government could have been an accident. Threatening? Well, the final and inconceivable threat is that we will lose our children to a callous, vicious system. Our children will be wrenched from our arms by social workers or government officials simply because we are anything but compliant. We are not the norm. We do not think that the government's sanctioned morass of half-baked theories and hothouses for bullying called schools are good enough for our young. So fear and intimidation is a technique you use on a segment of population who fail to conform. You frighten them into submission. You coerce them into letting their human rights evaporate like the shimmering mist of truth and freedom that we thought we knew in our country.

The influencing of an audience, of course, goes on daily. Mr. Brown cannot spell or write properly because he is blind in one eye. Poor Mr. Brown. The old I-feel-sorry-for-the-lad feint. Re-direct your opponents' rational and natural anger by playing the sympathy vote.

There's the sickly-sweet 'we must safeguard children' song soughing in the background too. All very plausible until you realise that the children the authorities could have safeguarded were left in unsafe conditions. It rather falls apart then.

Darul Uloom Deoband said at the Anti-terrorism Conference in 2008, "Any action that targets innocents, whether by an individual or by any government and its agencies or by a private organisation anywhere in the world constitutes, according to Islam, an act of terrorism".

According to Islam, we have the case of the home educating community, milud. Accused of incubating a terrorist cell in one (mythical) Islamic home educating family, turning our beloved babies into domestic servants, being involved in child trafficking, abusing our young, and being so mentally ill as to wish to subject our offspring to extreme medical procedures in order to have some attention for ourselves (Munchausen's by Proxy, anyway), I think we have been targeted and we have been threatened and we have suffered acts of terrorism.

The General Assembly resolution 49/60, titled "Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism," adopted on December 9, 1994, contains a provision describing terrorism:

"Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them".

Incubating a state of terror in any one group of citizens in a country is unjustifiable. This terrorism of the UK government is totally without foundation and is not to be justified under any consideration.

"Hence depending on the perspective of the state a resistance movement may or may not be labelled terrorist group based on whether the members of a resistance movement are considered lawful or unlawful combatants and their right to resist occupation is recognized. Ultimately, the distinction is a political judgment".

In other words - the words of Edward Peck, U.S. Former Chief of Mission in Iraq (under Jimmy Carter) and ambassador to Mauritania:

"And so, the terrorist is, of course, in the eye of the beholder".

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Poppy generation

I must bow my head now. I confess that I missed Remembrance Sunday.

Normally, I don't miss it. I've been known to sink my double chin to my chest to honour the dead of the two World Wars, and the dead of every other war and the survivors of all misbegotten deeds. But this year has been different.

This year, I feel their pain deep in my aching bones, and I have their screams echoing endlessly in my ears. They are with me, those violated creatures mired in mud and filth and the scarlet of their blood and that of other humans, knowing that the end of their lives - and such short lives - was a millisecond away.

You rest now, beneath the poppies. You sleep and wake to heaven now. You have passed the baton to this generation - these ones now quick and breathing.

And how we have failed you, our dear dead; how we have failed to see that discourse fills the airwaves now and not truth that you put your shaking hands to the guns to protect. We bow our heads at the thought of the comfortable dreadfulness of those days wherein you gave your future and your dreams. It is a cosy feeling that we have, snuggling up in our coats and jackets, watching the march of the handfuls left of the few who made it back alive but not unblooded and not unchanged.

We remember on November 11th (or the nearest Sunday) only to forget on the day after.

How much you must long to shriek at us. How much you must wish to awaken us. How much you try to warn us.

"This too can happen to you..." they whisper from their scattered graves. "Beware. You too can lose your freedom. The poppy can be your symbol as well as ours. Beware".

A million bombs fell upon our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents and they clambered over the bodies of the beloved, the children, the families, the friends and the unknown to reach the haven of freedom.

But there are other ways to destroy a man or a woman: it can be done without dropping a bomb or pointing a gun. The new times have more subtle deaths for us.

"Beware. You too can lose your freedom at the behest of vile men. Beware. The poppy can be your symbol as well as ours. Beware. Oh, please, beware".

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Whoever cares the most...

"Whoever cares the most, wins" is a quotation from the episode called 'The Son Also Rises' from the series Battlestar Galactica.

It is a delicious saying, isn't it?

Whoever cares the most, wins.

We care the most. Savour that feeling. We are winning. We will win. It is inevitable.

I do not doubt that determined and confident people can make the difference. They can climb the mountain. They can even move the mountain.

It will happen. Everything has gone too far in the country, but it is our country and we will have it back. We will make our poppy generation proud of us again. No dictator, whether he be German or English, will EVER enslave the hearts and minds of Britons, of steadfast, clear-thinking home educators.

We care the most, we will win.

Believe it. Feast on it. Know it. Let your bones declare it for it is so.

Wherever the wave of probability is now it will break in our favour. Whichever lever must push forward to reinstate and, in fact, make home education grow exponentially is being thrust forward now. Our momentum is unstoppable. We are the force of nature that no mere weak and puny men can oppose. We are creation. We are creators. We are the guardians of tomorrow. We are the keepers of such precious cargo. We are the beginning of our future. We are parents. We are mothers and we are fathers.

Whoever cares the most, wins.

We have already won.

Friday, 6 November 2009

War, I cry war!

Home education has been issued a death threat. Or a death promise.

A lot of people have been trying to interest journalists in the civil rights side of it. Very few have responded. Most have not.

More people have attempted to speak to their MPs. Again, some have listened and understood and acted. A lot have listened and dismissed us.

So what is there to do in a war when the enemy has an overwhelming advantage in arms? Keep talking, keep explaining, keep heartened, keep up the pressure, keep screaming "NO!"

Here is something practical I can suggest: you might write to a Lord or Lady.

If the legislation to put shackles on home education gets through Parliament - which is possible since Labour are a majority there - then it goes to the Lords. The Lords have struck down, or watered down, many an insane, immoral proposal of the government's before. However, if they don't know about it, they may not understand the underlying thrust of the recommendations which are specifically designed to rid this country of home education.

One way or another, the government will stop people home educating. A clue to this was the mention of Germany, in the beginning of the Badman Review. The laws there are from 1938 when Hitler was in power. Now that we are - happily or not - going to be dragged into Europe, having donated our sovereign power to the other countries of the EU, we will likely have to come into line with policies operating in other EU countries. Home education is illegal in Germany. A home educating family fled to France to find that German police came to their door in France. Another home educating child was removed from her family and put in a detention unit simply because she was home educated.

This, put quite starkly, is our future.

It is not a question of whether or not we are registered and a few lovely LA people approve of us and give us (what we should have already) exam centres and other sweeties. This is the outright survival of home education or not. This is war. THIS IS WAR.

Badman said we had to come out of the trenches. He recognised that this is war. He stated that it is war.

It is reinforced by the fact that, although the Badman review was completely and fatally flawed, it has not been shoved in the nearest incinerator. It has been taken up by an odious Secretary of State. It has been followed by a 'consultation' - yet another misuse of a word -since they consult ONLY to say they have consulted but THEY DO NOT LISTEN and they do not change their pettifogging minds.

I am not trying to offend anyone or place blame, but we really must open our eyes. We need to wonder why a PUBLIC authority -bought and paid for by US - needs to inspect us. We need to think about why the government is so keen to impose more restrictions on home education when the existing laws are more than adequate to deal with ANY problem in home education should it arise.

We need to ask ourselves why a group of people in charge of a country seem to be so deaf, so intolerant, so incapable of listening, so intransigent, so prejudiced, so convinced that they are right that they are determined to enter our homes - our private places - and interrogate our children ALONE.

Is that the action of a benign group of people?

Is this what we want for our children? To be under the jackboot of people like these who DO NOT CARE ONE STUFF for our children/any children unless those children are being perfectly groomed to produce money for the economy (meaning themselves) as proper economic units should be.

If they cared for children, NO CHILD in their care would suffer. No child would have a poor outcome. No child would leave their care lost and lonely and labelled as human refuse.

No child in a dangerous situation would be left to die or to be grievously wounded - no matter what time of year it was or how many parties were planned. If they cared, they would protect. But they don't care. They just do not. Only enough to manacle home educators who are producing children with inquiring minds and questioning but loving hearts.

They care about putting your home educated child in prison.

They care about that.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Actually, Mr. Badman, we're ALIENS (or don't call me earthling or I'll set my perconchel on you!)

No, Mr. Badman, we don't practice the dubious and rare - if it exists at all - Munchausen by proxy habit. To start with, I don't drag my children to the doctor unless they absolutely have to go. I haven't thrown my babies into operating rooms or complained about all kinds of symptoms that they may or may not have.

So I think we can discount this mother being disturbed by Munchausen by proxy.

You have accused us of child abuse. Nope, not guilty!

You have suggested that we are terrorists. Nope, again, I enjoy being law abiding, thank you.

Now, it's the Munchies - again another accusation of child abuse. As I said, my children are relatively free of hospital and medical visits.

Ok, Ok, I'll come clean. I've had enough. Stop... Just stop the questions already. I confess...I am really an ALIEN from the planet Honour.

Before semiantain years ago, we didn't exist on your blue and white planet, but with my incredible changeling machine I shrank all of my family members to fit into one of your disgusting meat sacks each. It was quite claustrophobic at first, but we're used to them now and we can even make them work well. Nobody knows that we are from the planet Honour. That planet is famed for exracterating reports that stand up to rigorous scrutiny from twenty calazecs (that's roughly times one hundred) statisticians, then the reviews and recommendations are robustly examined for vested interests from the authors, and then the reports are put through a truth machine (rather like one of your old-fashioned mangles) which squeezes out anything that will harm another Honourable. Only then will a report be allowed to pass to the second level of test - the SATT. Sequestered Antipathy Thematic Test. I won't explain it because you, with your enfeebled sense of honour, wouldn't understand it.

So there you have it. Not criminals. Not mentally ill. Not trying to extort anything from the system. Not thieves. Not liars. Not with anything particular to gain from educating our young, except educated young. Not anything else that will come to light as more information oozes from various sources.

We're just aliens. We must be aliens because I certainly cannot understand why, while following our duty to provide an education for our children and doing our best to raise honourable human beings, we are under such sustained and deliberate attack. You would think these humans have abandoned the Human Rights Act. You would think public servants were masters of the public. You would think we've landed on a morally dessicated planet.

Maybe, fellow Honourables, we should secede from the planet Earth and declare that our homes belong to the high and exalted planet, Honour.

Lord knows, we need more Honour here.

Monday, 2 November 2009

The case against home education

The case against home education

You really should be out working. How can you do that if your kids are at home?

Should I be out working? Maybe I work extremely hard in my house, maybe I run a business, maybe I don't wish to make bloated cats much fatter by putting more food in front of them. Maybe I enjoy spending time with my children before they are not children and go on their journeys into life. At any rate, it's none of your business what I do or don't do.

How can you teach anyone? You don't have a teaching qualification.

I don't pretend to teach anyone. I think that is overwhelming hubris really. Somehow my children managed to utter words and then string sentences together without me coaching them. They stood up and walked and then progressed to running without me showing them how. I trust them to find out what they like to learn and learn it. If they need help, I'm here to give them the benefit of my many years of experience in learning.

How can you get them to behave at home?

My children are not barbarians. They are sensible, interesting, decent human beings and I do not need to make like a lion tamer to have them do what seems to be the right thing in any situation. Again, if they have difficulties I am around to give them advice. Other times, they give me advice. It's a whole advice-giving thing.

Don't you want time to yourself?

If I do decide to be anti-social, I can withdraw into a room not tenanted by anyone else at the time. Or I just ask for some space please. It doesn't happen often because, unlike what seems to be true for so many of the population, I thoroughly enjoy being with my youngsters. They are magic, wise, witty, understanding and helpful.

Can't you let go of them? Is that why you home educate?

We home educate because school was not good enough for my children. They were given no respect there - not even for their natural bodily functions. They were abused in school. They were not allowed to be their unique and wonderful selves. I can testify that they are not abused at home and they are always respected, listened to and deeply and absolutely loved. I can let go of them when they wish to fly away. I know that they are learning and growing and readying themselves to become airborne. When that happens it will occur because it is part of a natural unfolding and the timing is right, and not because they were chucked out of a nest prematurely.

Can I home educate? Me?

Yes, of course. Just begin and let your instincts lead you. We are accustomed to ignoring our deepest intuitive voice and the warmth of knowing that we have developed through generations. Allow yourself to feel what is good for your child and yourself. Your young one will guide you too. Go now and be with your child. They are only babies and youths for a moment of time. Savour it, for that time will never return.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Visitors on October 31st

We normally don't get anyone on Hallowe'en which pleases me because when I lived in Canada Mother and I had to work in shifts to cover the constant assaults on the doorbell.

We do, however, buy in some little treats in case the ghosts and ghoulies come a'calling.

Saturday evening, we had visitors.

H opened the door to three witches whose pointed hats were bigger than they were. The tiny wiccans were accompanied at a short distance by an adult. The three short broomstick-jockeys were sweet, happy, friendly and pleasant, and quite obviously pleased with their gifts.

Later I swung the door ajar to see a werewolf and a shorter girl dressed up as a teenager would be for a night out. Both lovely, charming in fact. They giggled delightedly at my aghast face, and kept giggling as I chatted to them. Nary an adult in sight.

Then I thought 'Hey-up, why are these childer - none of whom I recognised - actually visiting my premises, speaking to me - an unknown adult and taking sweets from my possibly dangerous hand? Shouldn't I be CRBed or ISAed or something'.

Quick, call the government! Ring Ed Balls! Tell Badders! Call the emergency services!

Protect me from the children.

Then I thought 'Oh, you're all right, Danae, and they know it. They can tell good guys from bad. Besides those wands look rather lethal, and I bet the littlies can run much faster than you'.

So I went down from high alert to enjoying myself in our community, and I thought that it isn't all gone. Those children didn't see me as anything other than an adult to giggle at and who would provide them with perfectly sound sweets.

I must be OK.

When you let people be people with other people. When the community gets communing. When people trust their instincts and get about their day to day lives, all is well.

It's when we sow evil thoughts in their precious minds that the trouble begins to bubble in the cauldron.

Maybe Hallowe'en Saturday was meant to show me that all is not lost.


Friday, 30 October 2009

Plans, schmans...

Honestly, I had a plan for today. I did. No, sorry, I didn't get to writing it down. It was in my head.

My plan for Friday October 30th, 2009

Go for a walk with the dog.
Visit mother.
Transcribe the tape of an interview.
Wrap some presents for a person who is going to have a birthday soon.

So, LAs, that was my plan. The reality was a little different.

I missed the dog walk because my left foot was extremely painful for no obvious reason, but I could scarcely hobble on it.

New plan: add yoga to the to-do list for this evening.

Cross out the go for a walk with the dog entry.

Decided to change the order so I fetched the tape recorder and began to listen to the tape while thinking I would visit mother after finishing a half hour of transcribing.

The tape was impossible to decipher - there was a loud hum on it, and a hissing. I told H. who went to check that one of our other phones would work with the tape recorder. To do that, he had to 'phone a friend' and get her to chat to him. So I couldn't transcribe the notes I had taken because I was reading them and typing a copy on the computer. My computer clacks loudly. I had to stop. Meanwhile the dog needed attention.

After the phone situation was resolved, I went back to transcribing my scribbled notes - the interviewee was lovely but a very fast speaker.

I finally completed my transcript at 17:02.

Should I wrap presents? But the place I wrap presents in is being used as an office at the moment and I can't disturb those people who are using it.

Maybe this evening. If I am not too tired after a visit to Mother.

Meanwhile, there's dinner to see to, and the dog to move from his flake-out on an electrical socket. He just loves to lie there, where his rear end might be engulfed in a blue light at any time.

New plan - move dog.

Still have not visited Mother, walked dog, made dinner or wrapped a single present.

And, whoops, forgot that important shopping I planned to do earlier.

Plans, huh!

So, if the LA was judging me on my plan for today, I'm sorry I would just have to be sent off to school.

Plans never go to order. Never. That's the nature of plans (says E) and I agree with her. A plan is a mere guide. It should never be slavishly adhered to. What if you planned to watch t.v. and your house caught fire? Would you sit on your comfy chair while your toes charred and burned? Or would you flee like a mad thing?

Of course you wouldn't stay in your comfy chair.

You cannot count on plans. They are not dependable.

They are from the machine world and helpful when you are building a house. They have their place, I guess, but you can't rely on them.

Like the Local Authorities really.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Reflections on a home

My home is not just where I live.

It is where I laboured to bring forth my always cherished, magnificent, beloved babies.

It is where I dream and create my future.

It is the place I feel safe, and can relax my tense jaw and wriggle my toes.

It is where no one can get at me; unlike in the rest of the world where someone could get at me.

It is where I gobble down the books I re-read and the latest books I discover.

It is the fortress of my life and I sing in it and dance in it, and no one laughs at me because I haven't a voice like Leona Lewis or a body like Katie Price.

It is where my children hug my around my ample middle without anyone criticising them for being Mummy's girls.

It is where they feel safe and cherished and they can laugh and chaff and chatter and stay up late discussing the law and computer games and their future and their past.

It is where they can plaster make-up over their sweet faces and make mistakes and cream off the errors.

It is where they can don their faded, torn jeans and not have someone decide that they are neglected.

It is where they do not have to be on show or talk about age-specific things or talk at all if they don't want to.

It is so much more than a building. It is where we are happy and free.

It is not an educational institution.

It is a sanctuary.

And I will fight to keep it that way.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Are Local Authorities fit for purpose?

Sale of Goods Act. The Act specifies that any product sold must be fit for purpose. This means that a product must conform to its description and be of a certain quality.


OK, now. We are consumers of the LAs duties. We consume the declarations they make, and we have to jump to their demands.... They like to make the rules, and they love to make the running. They demand, and we may find ourselves shaking in our stylish but affordable slippers.

However, what if we turn the idea on its head and see what it is the LA near you is supplying you with? What are you getting from the enormous amount of council tax that you are paying these – er, hem - public servants?

Is the service they provide you with fit for purpose?

What is the LA supposed to do? Well, it has a duty of care to any child in its schools. Does it indeed fail that duty of care? Does it provide an education: a sufficient and efficient and effective education? Does it to every child?

When you meander or flee out of the school gates at the end of the very last lesson in the top class of school, do you feel that you can learn no more, that you are replete with learning, that your education is complete and rounded? Are you ready to take on any job? Climb any mountain? Bounce from school to the hallowed halls of university or academy of excellence? Fly to the stars, touch them and come back with a handful of sustaining starshine?

In all my years I've yet to meet anyone who thinks that their schooling was 'fit for purpose'.

You are a pupil in a school. The school ignores the fact that you are bullied pretty continuously and nastily even though your mother has complained forever and the school has told you – to shift the blame and to perpetuate the bullying -that it's your fault. The bullies are made librarians and your secret sanctuary has been busted and the other bullies get you outside and kick you in the crotch. Then they have you up against the wall and lay into you.

Does the LA get involved? Do they say sorry and that they will defend you from now on from the bullies? Do they assure you that the duty of care they have to you will now be executed carefully and to the best of their ability? DO THEY GIVE A BURNING CIGARETTE BUTT?

So are the LA services fit for purpose?

Would they pass the 'fit for purpose' test?


So what are they good for? Like war, they are good for absolutely nothing.

If they are already good for absolutely nothing, why are they there?

Why do we support a system that is so bent and twisted?

That we have to look at being CONSUMERS to receive what we are due as human beings tells us that there is something wrong with our society. When we buy an item, it must be fit for purpose or we have the means for legal redress. Yet when our freedom to home educate as we will and as our children will is under threat, where is our legal redress? Where are our knights in shining armour? In any kind of armour?

If, as I argue here, the local authorities cannot defend the weak in their care, cannot oversee and guarantee a reasonable standard of education and cannot do anything for home educators beyond cause them anguish and agony, are they in fact FIT FOR PURPOSE?

I will leave you to answer as you see fit.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Sell your children's freedom for a shamisen lesson

Sorry, I just cannot keep quiet about this.

I am completely shocked. Knocked sideways.

I guess I have realised today how naive I really am.

It's about this. Some home educators are glad to have the 'extras' that the LA and government have promised that they will provide once our children's names are on a register and we have handed in and had approved the plans for the year's education.

As my savvy little Y would say, "This is all kinds of wrong".

For a start, although the money that the LAs will receive for monitoring home educators and nodding and shaking their heads over various plans and progress made or not made will undoubtedly appear, it seems a fair bet to me that the money for all the juicy lovely bits will be lacking.

Why is that? Well, I think that because the government is riding rough-shod over a group of innocent people - nay, not innocent people - innocent children in the name of caring for them.
And they have been known to lie. Yes, tell untruths. Twist the facts. Their pants are well and truly on fire. In flames of the most shocking orange.

They lie. They lie because they can. They lie because they are allowed to. They lie because - thus far - no one has challenged them (and now home educators are challenging them, by God, they are). We let them get on with their little politician things until a huge great stink arises from their corporate pan and then we jump up and hit them with a jet of cooling, refreshing water.

But because no one has taken any notice of the awful things they have been doing as they chew the fat and smoke the peace pipe, they aren't used to this kind of - er -anarchy. They are losing face. Face it, they are losing lots of faces. Faces and jaws are dropping all over Westminster and Whitehall and, probably, Buckingham Palace.

So, apparently one thing they haven't been lying about is that some home educators are dying to get their hands on the trifles and pretties that the LAs are about to donate to them. Little Ethel will go to the school library. Tiny George can toot away on the shamisen at the local music lessons.

The fact that these lessons will appear for home educators, if they do at all, with hosts of strings attached and some of those strings will be likely used to cut the throats of home educators seems to have escaped them.

But, hey, if you are structured and you have a good relationship with the really sweet lady at the LA, what do you care? It's all good, isn't it? I mean, you'll be fine. Your children are doing what they are supposed to and no LA officials would dream of assaulting your throat with the strings attached to the presents? Would they?

Then, the nice lady disappears to another country where she can breathe free air, and you're left with Graham Badman for an inspector and Graham loves school. He loves it so much he desires that everyone shall experience it, just the way he did. He demands that your child recites the meaning of carbon sequestration (and, oops, you didn't cover that particular subject) and then he turns to the test about Chinese History. What? Only scored four points and that was for spelling Chinese correctly.

Well, so sorry (not really sorry, but that's what people say sometimes when they're not sorry), but Ethel and George will be going back to school.

When you protest, you say it isn't fair. You say school doesn't fit all. My children won't like school, they won't thrive.

He'll just laugh. He will turn on you a huge laughing triumphant grin, and he'll tell you that music lessons cost money and the cash for the school library books must be paid for.

With the souls of your children.

I hope you'll agree it was a good bargain then.

But I doubt it.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

We have to be better than all the rest

Don't know about you, but I see a pattern developing in the Home Education Review Select Committee commentary.

I see the same old problem pattern. It's one we women should be draggingly familiar with. One we've been raised with, our mothers and grandmothers have struggled to correct, and one that we see raising its butt-ugly head again.

Are you better than your comparative male, woman? Are you twice the man that a man is? Can you cope with twice as much stress, do twice as much work, give everything to everyone and come up smiling and being pleasant? (And create and look after children, and a household too)

Well, now, we might hire you. Just for a trial. Until someone better comes along, of course. Someone male.

Here it is again. Home educators must be twice as good as teachers, twice as good as students in school. A child failing in school, once home educated, should be up-to-scratch before a year has turned and outperforming all his peers. Under new recommendations, all the matters that school has not addressed or helped will have to be sorted within months of home education beginning (and that is a generous estimate of the time the local authority will kindly allow you as you strain to erase the bad habits that school may have inculcated).

You might arrive at the situation, like many parents do, where school bullying has totally demoralised your child; then the local authority begins on you and on your young one, bullying again. Before you've found your feet, the tsunami will sweep you away.

It's like cutting a person's legs off then expecting them to not only run in a race, but to win it too, AND in half the length of time it takes for all the competing runners to cross the finish line.

Schooled children can fail. Yeah, well, the school tried everything, didn't it, to 'encourage' them and 'support' them. Schooled children can flunk out of courses, make Gs in their GCSEs and snort with laughter at higher education. But not home educating children. THEY have NOT to be NEET. They don't have the leisure to be people or to be themselves. They have to run full tilt, scramble over hurdles that would faze others, dash to the finish, end up with the biggest, shiniest trophy or it's "Oh, they home educate, you know. Huh, they get no education. Hang about all day. Don't do anything. It's an excuse to avoid truancy and shouldn't be allowed, I say".

So, home educate your children, that way your children's attainment will be spelt out to you. Be the best. Not the best you can be. Just BE THE BEST. OR ELSE.

OR ELSE we'll send you BACK to the FUNSHACK which failed you the first time and where you can enjoy being yourself just like all the others.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Pearls before swine

"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet".

Good and honourable words from the Bible, Matthew 7:6.

In other words, don't hand over those most precious gifts - your children - to those who do not appreciate them, who seek to treat them like pieces of meat to be measured, who will stamp all over their spirits and their lives and their freedom.

You are the protectors of the gifts from life.

You will stand before them to answer for your treatment of them. Let their lips speak of your guardianship of them. Let their eyes praise you for your help and defense of their freedom.

We have a moment upon the beauty of this most magnificent earth.

Don't throw away the precious gifts to be trampled by the ignorance and rancour of careless men and women who would wound and destroy in the name of safeguarding.

Honour your holy visitors from beyond time. Give them the strength to become everything that they will be, those most brilliant gems.

Cherish them. Love them and protect them as they polish their skills and their souls.

Oh, cherish them, beloved.

Then, let them go to shine forever.

A new regime for the youngest one

I was sorry, but it had to be done; I had to sit him down yesterday to lay down the law.

"I know you have rights, buddy," I said in my this-is-me-at-my-limit voice, "But this will not do. You are seven years old now. You're not a baby any more and this is not acceptable."

He looked up at me with appealing brown eyes. That doesn't pull the wool. I am doing this for his own good, and he has no say in it - no choice at all.

"You did not conform to what we discussed you should do, the other day. Now, I've been patient. I thought it might take a few days to come out the doing-exactly-what-you-want-when-you- want-to mode. Other people, I may say, would have been FAR LESS TOLERANT than me when you deviated from the plan I made for you".

He turned his head. It was quite hard for me to judge whether or not he was listening. "Back to the plan. It was explained to you. Twice. And I cannot abide this behaviour. I instituted a wall chart with boxes to tick. I delineated how we were going to measure your actions and reactions. The plan is robust and it is rigorous. Boy, you have a RIGHT to this plan, and, by Badman, you are going to follow it!"

He yawned.

"Do you realise that if you DO NOT conform to the plan I have made up for you then there will be consequences? You will probably have to attend school. You will have to be drilled in various aspects of your behaviour. You will have toys removed, and treats withheld. YOU MUST FOLLOW THE RULES AND OBEY ME".

He had put his head on his arm by now; his eyes were closing and he was patently ignoring me. I stood over him. "If it gets too bad, I will have you taken away by the authorities. Are you listening to me?"

Like the government, he paid no attention. Or maybe he was paying attention, but nothing came of it. There was no change. Whatever he had decided to do, he was going to continue doing it.

"You will do what I say. You will be socialised. You will learn correct behaviour. I want to see results. I want to see changes. I want to see your behaviour improve month on month or there will be serious consequences. There will be progression and you will demonstrate improvements! You will be a success whether you want to be or not!"

He got up, tail in the air, defiant to the last. I shook my head. You simply cannot make a golden retriever do anything he doesn't want to do. No matter how much you threaten him.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Select Committee hears weird evidence

Sir Paul Ennals, chief executive of the National Children's Bureau, said a register needed to be a "proportionate response to the problem".
"The registration system should only be a light tool, not overly elaborate," he said.

That's from the BBC's unbiased report of the proceedings today at the Select Committee who are currently charged with determining whether or not to murder home education in the heretofore amazingly liberal and freedom-supporting country of England.

And what has the National Children's Bureau to do with my children, you may ask? Nothing, I answer. Do they pay for tuition? No. Do they accompany them on outings? No. Do they sit anxiously at my child's side when that child is unwell? No.

Do I know Paul Ennals? No. Does he know me? No. Is he competent to judge how my family relates, how I help my children, where I might fail and where I might succeed? No.


A proportionate response to the problem, Paul? (I feel that I know you ever so slightly because you are engaged in a process that might smother all home education in England within months)

What problem would this be then?

Sorry, I've looked at it a few times. Can't see it at all.

If there is no problem, and I cannot see one and, believe me my dear readers, I am good at finding problems, why should there need to be a response? There shouldn't.

The only problem is you. You bloated enormous cats sucking down money and you other bloated Children's Services types, Peter Traves, who are trying to protect your ass in case, which has happened quite a few times in other cases in similar organisations, you're too busy having parties or sticking up Christmas wreaths to bother about little folk you might actually help.

The problem is you.

Not home educators. We take responsibility for our children. You do not.

At least now we've found a problem.

And it's you.

Mr Traves again: "I'm held to account for children's welfare, and I think not to know there are children living and being educated in my area is actually unreasonable if I'm being held to that account."

No, you are not held to account for children living and being educated in your area. You should be held to account for children who are in your remit which is school and you obviously don't give a flying damn for them. I'll prove it, Mr. Children's Services.

Look at these numbers carefully:

450,000 children are bullied EVERY WEEK in school. EVERY WEEK. Not every year. It is incomprehensible, isn't it? How many a week? 450,000 children.

What are you doing about that, Mr. Traves? Nothing. You're responsible for them, you say. But what are you doing about them? We know the answer.

360,000 children a year are injured in schools a year. Well? Did you hear me? That's a lot of pain.

Saddest of all, 16 of our dear young people feel so battered and bruised by bullying at school that they choose to kill themselves. No home educated child has been so deeply injured by life that he or she has felt compelled to leave it.

Are you sweating yet, Mr Ennals? A little uncomfortable in your cushy seat, Mr. Traves? Or still bothered about the public humiliation you might suffer if you fail in your cushy job?

Then, there are the Children's Services and the National Children's Bureau staff who sit by as 1 out of 6 children march out of school not knowing how to a) read, b) write and c) add up.

That's a lot of children to fail. A lot of young people to add up.

Want to do your jobs yet?

What about the 1 million - yes, 1 million - children who truant every year? Are they part of your job description? Do you want to register them and monitor them? Or are they just collateral damage on the job?

No, you just send their parents - usually mothers (funny how it is usually mothers) to gaol. That's the ticket. Kick the mothers in the teeth to show the children what's what.

What sterling work you are doing for the majority of our nation's children, Mr. Ennals and Mr. Traves. The ones you are responsible for, you don't give a flip chart about, and the ones you are not responsible for, you cannot wait to tag their little ears.

What have we got in this Britain?

People of rare ability and quality indeed. People who will demand to register my children then go back to protecting their money and their keisters while avoiding the avalanche of human misery in the schools that they are actually responsible for.

You're not responsible for my children. I owe them a hell of a lot more than that.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Children's right to speak

We're all so big in society about letting children speak.

That probably starts in the family. Do you take your child's view of what your family does into account? Do you ask them what they think?

Then ignore them.

It's the same tactic that the government uses on everyone in society. We'll consult you - they say- then they ignore your opinion and employ tactics that put Hitler to shame to get what they want.

So, Mr. Badman, yes, my children are periodically asked whether they still would like to be home educated. I get various answers from 'Yes, of course' to 'What do you think?' accompanied by an is-she-serious roll of the eyes.

I do admit to a failing, of course. When I trotted them off to school every day, before I saw the home educating light, before I saw what I was reluctant to see, I didn't ask them if they wanted to go.

I didn't ask them if they wanted to go to school to be bullied and brutalised in the name of socialisation and conformity. They've had all that, thank you. But in the home-educating-Now they use knives and forks and fail to speak with their mouths full at the dinner table which is one up on many teens in our society, I guess.

My children do not aspire to be part of the local terrorist gang shouting abuse at old ladies fetching their pensions or carving up one of the few play spaces left for small fry in the area. They aren't among those parked outside the library entrance enjoying themselves hassling library visitors and being warned by the police about their anti-social behaviour. They don't cat about or seem keen to mix it with the stalwart youths to have babies and get flats of their own and a 'life' of that kind. They have aspirations - pretty interesting high aspirations - to be the best they can be in their chosen areas.

So home education has obviously failed them.

School meanwhile scythed them down to the lowest level because everyone who sticks up is hammered down but all pupils must do their best and get good exam marks because the school wants to stay open because all those people who receive their money from it would be out of a job if the school didn't look good.

And we're so effective at being a democracy in this state of chaos, aren't we?

A majority doesn't wish to be part of the Lisbon Treaty. There have been polls. Ignored.

An astonishing amount of people don't want Labour in power. We know that. Ignored.

I'm sure you can think of more examples.

I ask my children - "Do you still want to be home educated?" They say yes and I take notice.

I wonder how many people have asked their schooled children, "Do you still want to go to school?"

It's not a question that would even cross your mind, is it?

So to have Graham Badman banging on about asking home educating children anything is rather amusing. Why should home educating children have the pleasure of choosing their lives when schooled children do not?

Why are we listening to a pathetic group of toothless elders, and robotic youngers, who tell us they are listening to us when it is patently apparent that they listen in order to tick a box to say that they have listened.

It's all so silly, isn't it?

Whatever the Select Committee says, good or bad, I shall expose it to the government's own trick. I shall listen and ignore it.

The government does not hand me my rights like a bunch of sweeties at Hallowe'en. I have rights because I am a person over 18. My children have rights through me until they are old enough to choose their own lives in whatever way seems good to them.

I am hear to listen to them. I will give them the benefit of my opinions, if they wish to have me do that. Otherwise, it is their lives. They will do with them what they will.

I am here for my children. That was the unspoken bond we made before they emerged into the world, before they were conceived, before they were thought forms. I am here for you - with all my faults and all my good points - I am here for you. And I hear you.

Everytime you speak.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Independent review of Elective Home Education - DCSF page

The DCSF says:

"All children and young people are entitled to a good education. This doesn't necessarily mean children have to go to school: many parents choose to educate their child at home'.

I have to take issue with the first part of this. According to Protocol 1 Article 2 of the ECHR 'No person shall be denied an education'. OK, a person should not be denied an education and nothing is mentioned about a good education. The state provides an education but scarcely anyone agrees what a good education is and many voices would howl me down if I said the state provides a good education.

How do we actually know what a good education is? Other than some helpful judges with an almost impossible task, no one can define what a good education actually consists of. If I were like my father, I would say everyone should have an education in the classics and in Maths, and maybe have a run around a football field once a week for a bit of a diversion. If I were a P.E. teacher I would probably say that English is a natural thing for English people, and we should be doing more push-ups, football, rounders, cricket, cross country running, ski=ing...

I would hate both definitions of a good education because I am not good at Mathematics - oh, I can get along and I can excel myself if pushed, but I'm not a cleaving-to-numbers-natural mathematician. As to P.E., I was one of those children who dreaded the lesson, unless it involved dancing, and hated the idea of being at the mercy of several bullies who knew how to take advantage of the opportunities advanced by the myriad wonders of Physical Education, indoors or out.

So, for me, unless you're a budding Steve Cram or you loaf about doing Calculus in your fun time, don't ask me to vote for at least two members of the National Curriculum.

The convent school I attended had Sewing classes (don't laugh, it did). Oh, the humiliation. The pricked fingers. The continuing and absolute hatred I had for my kit, my uselessness and the horror of having to 'make a dress' for the 'fashion parade' at the end of term. It was a term already contaminated by the terror induced by the prospect of having to emigrate to unknown Canada at the end of it. I laboured: I did labour on that darned dress. I learned to detest the material I'd bought - the cheery bright yellow mocked me, the patterned yellow leaves and flowers irritated me. I heaved at the thought of more endless, boring tacking. In the final countdown, my dear aunt who was a dab hand with a needle took pity on me and finished the garment. I wore it on the catwalk. Everyone was underwhelmed. I was embarrassed. I was sick at heart, but relieved to get the ordeal over and relieved that I wouldn't be 'tested' on something so foreign to my nature again.

So what makes a good education? I think it comes from inside yourself. I think it's your motivation. I think it is what interests you, and what interested me was reading, reading, reading, other people, history, French, reading and writing, more reading and, gradually, even more writing. In my adult life, people now pay me for my writing. Putting pen or word processor to work was an 'out of school' habit. I didn't write at school. I did the minimum amount of writing I could do at school because my writing, my real writing (my love) was private. It did not belong to the school, it belonged to me. I didn't want my adoration of the written word to die prematurely because I was forced to write.

So it was a secret. All those years ago it wasn't ready to flower and grow and be stomped upon by the foot of criticism it would probably have received in school. You get very little encouragement in school, I found. It was all 'Well, you should have/could have done it this way' Or 'that's wrong'.

Or even, once, after one of my short stories was marked, I was asked, "Did you copy? Is this your own work?"

Mrs. English Teacher, no, as I told you at the time I didn't copy. I read everything like a pig enjoys truffles and I got good because I did what I enjoyed doing and enjoyed getting good at, and your severe, distrustful look and your swingeing insult could have blighted the little plant beneath the bushel but, thank the universe, it didn't.

It was mine and you didn't put your big feet all over it while it was growing - my talent was buried under a bushel until it was ripe and until I felt confident enough to let it try itself in the full glare of light.

Then it flourished. As all true real passions have the ability to flourish when they aren't trampled all over by strangers with gigantic damaging assessing criticising destructive unsympathetic plates of meat.

I gave myself the best education I could give myself. I gave me the education I would wish schools had given me. I did what I was good at and I wasn't put off what I loved until what I loved became what I was good at.

Most of what school gave me was heartache. Years of time wasting. Hours of droning boredom.

My life gave me my education.

How do you deliver an education? You are fooling yourself. You cannot deliver an education. You can help someone through their thoughts and emotions and finding out information, but never ever stomp on their little talents.

Those little talents might, one day, save the world.