Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Where's the evidence?

'The idea is to try and give all the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another.' Dr. Richard Feynman, quoted in Bad Science.

So we cherry-pick information. We tell people all the good things about what we do in order to overcome their prejudices and sway them to our side of the argument.

I see that every day now that we are home educators. I see home edders saying that their children are happier and healthier being home educated. I hear that children enjoy being home educated. The other side says, well, it's hard to hear what they say because they don't reply in a meaningful way. They won't engage in any useful 'dialogue.'

Is home educating happiness a delusion? There's quite a lot of evidence. There's a group of home educated children going to university, for example, after making the choice to go there, and some are starting up quite perky little businesses.

There's something else. Home educators actually mention the words 'happier or happy' when talking about their kids. People who begin home educating come on to various lists to say, with a tone of disbelief in their emails, 'I've got my child back. My little boy sings about the house now... When I think back to a few months ago...'

The local authorities might brush this kind of evidence aside, but, for certain, no one can learn if he or she is terrified. If a child is waiting every day to be bullied, or to be told that their work isn't good enough, or that he or she didn't try hard enough how can he or she take in anything else? What's the point of doing anything when whatever you do isn't respected or recognised? Constant rejection, constant failure breeds helplessness.

In the Psychology labs, many of my friends used lab rats. The student experimenters shocked the little fellas when they tried to do something and watched them lie paralysed on the floor, terrified to move. Those poor little creatures were in a terrible state - the rats, mostly - but sometimes the Psych students were cut up about it too. (Incidentally, before you call the RSPCA to complain, this was years ago when Psychologists couldn't experiment on humans and had to experiment on something. I argued against picking on animals myself, even when I was really shy and not the argufying kind).

Anyway, I have seen learned helplessness myself. Heck, I've even experienced it. You're damned if you do something and you're damned if you don't. So you lie paralysed.

We have lots of those terrified children on the floor in schools. They're the quiet ones who usually do their work because they're too scared not to. You can't always tell that they are deeply unhappy unless you look into their eyes.

But who has time or energy for looking into the eyes of a child in school?


  1. So true. Well written; I'm going to enjoy your blog ;0)

  2. not sure what to say . . . . . .snothing like starting as you mean to go on ;-)
    thrilled you're blogging , may I put your blog on the foc blog page?

  3. Great going to use that as was meaning to say something very similar!

    I often feel that readers who are unfamiliar with HE will not believe the testimony in our blogs, but as time goes by, I am becoming increasingly sure of myself, having seen yet more and more evidence that our children so often really are healthier, happier, and more clear-sighted, and so feel increasingly confident that I can honestly say that we aren't making inflated claims for ourselves in our blogs and elsewhere.