Sunday, 12 April 2009

Make voluntary a redundant word

I should be in bed. I should be asleep dreaming of the Scottish countryside where I long to be.

Unfortunately, it'll be a while before I calm down enough to drop off.

A question: what does the word 'voluntary' mean to you?

The free dictionary says all this:

"1. Done or undertaken of one's own free will: a voluntary decision to leave the job.
2. Acting or done willingly and without constraint or expectation of reward: a voluntary hostage; voluntary community work.
3. Normally controlled by or subject to individual volition: voluntary muscle contractions.
4. Capable of making choices; having the faculty of will.
5. Supported by contributions or charitable donations rather than by government appropriations: voluntary hospitals.
6. Law
a. Without legal obligation or consideration: a voluntary conveyance of property.
b. Done deliberately; intentional: voluntary manslaughter."

Voluntary. Something you do of your own free will, without expectation of reward, that shows you are capable of making a choice.

The government obviously haven't seen a definition of the word 'voluntary.' They have now decided to co-opt free will, or, at least, our children's free will to make 'voluntary work' into 'compulsory work.'

Headline: PM plans to compel community work

Not only are children compelled to receive an education (usually at school), often to wear a uniform (like prisoners do to diminish individuality), to swallow hour upon hour of ideas that OTHER people think are good for them, to endure acres of homework after school thus making it impossible for them to have their own lives, but also they're going to be forced to do community work.

Isn't that what the law punishes some transgressors with? Community work?

What have our children done to be so punished?

Why make them do community work? (By the way, AFTER school as part of their 'Citizenship classes)

Brown said:
"It is my ambition to create a Britain in which there is a clear expectation that all young people will undertake some service to their community, and where community service will become a normal part of growing up in Britain."

It is Mr. Brown's ambition. Oh, fine. That's all right then.

My eldest (E) has been deliberating about doing voluntary work for some time. She wants to. She probably will do it when she decides what she will suit and what will suit her best. I told her about the compulsory community work that Mr. Brown would have her do, if she were still in school.

She said disbelievingly: "Does he even know what the word 'voluntary' means?"

Another quote from the article: "Mr Brown said the work would also be linked to a "clear system of accreditation" so that young people would be able mark their achievements gained through volunteering."

I mentioned all of this to my younger daughter (Y). She said with an airy wave of the hand: "That'll be a piece of paper meaning nothing, then."

Service to their community? How many young carers are there in this country? Do you think they know about service? I think they do. Many of them are the sole carers for disabled parents. Many of them struggle to meet everyone's needs, and are genuine heroes of this sorry society.

It's odd, isn't it, that home educators have been accused of leading their children into domestic servitude by this government. Oh, sorry. The detractors of home educators have said home education 'could' be a cover for, among other unsavoury things, domestic servitude.

Now the government wants to press school-age children (up to 19) into community service. So we're supposed to rescue home educating domestic slaves to send them to (or back to) school where they will be compelled to enter - er - community slavery.

A touch of irony there somewhere.

The article about Mr. Brown and his National Youth Service can be found here:

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