Saturday, 26 June 2010

QUIET, PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

People have commented to me on my children. They usually don't say "What erudite youngsters you have given birth to, and how intelligent they are." Equally, they don't say "Oh, my, how attractive these young people are. Of course, they take after you, Danae."

Those comments would, of course, be true. Valid. Positive. Uplifting. Pleasant to listen to.

No, what has been said is this: "Your children are so quiet."

Being fond of analysis, my mind goes into overdrive when something like the above statement is uttered. I think, "Oh, sweet cauliflowers, my children are quiet. They are not noisy. They do not yell, swear, scream at earth-shattering levels of decibels, they do not feel the need to communicate with people five kilometres away by shouting full-out at them. They do not grab every opportunity to have every stranger stare malevolently at them because they are inappropriately LOUD and riotous. They take after me. I talk when I have something to say; although I have been known to rattle along or indulge in a hefty rant. I listen. I use inner and outer ears to listen.

My children have moments when they talk and it's when they want to talk. I applaud the fact that they aren't like our neighbours - thankfully, they're moving - whose (large) garden abuts onto ours and who have raised two children to scream unmercifully at the top of their capacious lungs at any and all stimuli, bang bin lids and any other intensely loud objects together, and act as the local drop-off point for what seems like thousands of other immoderate kids who are overpoweringly, head-thumpingly, gratuitously and achingly and consistently noisy.

We are generally quiet people. The world does not like quiet people. It respects listeners, but not much. It reveres shriekers and yellers and dinners (those who make a din). A favourite saying in my part of the world is 'Shy bairns get nowt' and, by the sound of it, there aren't many shy bairns around now.

When some woman says "Your children are so quiet" I know that she is making some kind of complaint. Why? What is to do with you if my children don't sound and act like yours, Mrs? I don't complain that your children are vying with the local busy airport to pollute the world with more racket so why comment on my children's peacefulness?

Really, we'd be better off living in another part of the world. Somewhere where thinking is respected and peace is encouraged. Where you yourself are valued, not for how much clamour and uproar you can funnel into other people's ringing ears.

I'll tell you a little secret. In school reports, my child was said to be quiet. I reacted with annoyance but I should have held my peace. I should have said, "Yes, I'm sure you are thankful for the thoughtful ones. They are models of good behaviour for your inconsiderate, annoying, abrasive other pupils, aren't they? Be glad that they are in your class."

Cherish the tranquil non-screamers for they will inherit the world because the government, sooner or later, will find a way to bring in a noise tax.

Until then, if you, Mrs, are tempted to criticise my children because they don't sound as cacophonous as a henyard, I say one thing to you and that is "BE QUIET!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Saturday, 19 June 2010


You'll have heard about the OFSTED report on how LAs deal with home edders. That was its supposed aim; however, it said very little about how LAs deal with home edders and some LAs are just dreadful.

They want you to let them know what your child is doing. They want you to know what your child has done. They want to know how you are implementing your educational philosophy. They want to see your child to catechize him or her as he or she takes a test in English, Trigonometry and Ancient Botswanan while writing an essay on the recent lessons learned by the three main political parties on the hung Parliament, and, at the same time, signing copies of his or her new book (one of a trilogy) for a fervent and grateful public.

They don't notice the flush of health on your child's glowing cheeks. They don't see your baby's twinkling eyes as your little one realises that she can go to the toilet when she needs to (no matter if inspector is 'monitoring' or not). They don't understand the liberation that comes from no pressure and no stress when you are programmed to learn and someone forces you to learn something that you wouldn't have chosen to look at. They think that punishment drives children to receive an education when, actually, enjoyment and interest engender education in a child who chooses to educate him or herself.

Really, I can't get over the nerve of it. The LAs don't suffer any form of punishment for allowing any number of children who sit in class (or don't) and exhibit not a jot or a tittle of learning through ten-fifteen years of various teacher information-donation or other type of schooling. Yet, they demand to come into our houses and see everything that is wrong with what we do which they will then put right by returning your child to the one education - the schooling.

Where is their commentary on how badly some home educating families are treated by LAs? Where is their report on how people have had to flee the country because of the absolutely diabolical demands and bullying from the LA? Where is their acknowledgement that LAs generally have no clue about laws in place around home education? Where is their lambasting for representatives of a public body who repeatedly harass and upset families whose only fault is that they have chosen to act responsibly and take their children away from failing schools or the torment dealt out by bullies, child or adult?

OFSTED had the opportunity to tell some truth. They failed.

OFSTED had the chance to rebuke and reform the LAs. They failed.

OFSTED had an occasion to shed some light on the dark corners of LA bullying and misunderstanding of home education. They failed.

That's an 'F' from me then.

Further reading:
OFSTED report link and MP Graham Stuart's blistering response

Thanks to Maire whose timely blogging in a wonderful way helps to keep me connected and calm.

And please check out this excellent expose from

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Tell me

Tell me stories.

Tell me stories.

Tell me of the brave and true.

Tell me stories.

Exciting stories.

Tell me stories.

Tell me stories to let me find you.

Do you tell your children stories? Do you explain yourself through tales? Do you sit with a book at bedtime, making sense of the world through the dramas inscribed inside the covers?

Are your children yawning when you tell them, again and again, how you met their father or their mother?

Do they turn away when you ramble on about Grandpa's habits and little old dog that followed him everywhere? Do they listen politely when you tell them about your mother's jig in the front garden when she saw you taking a quick, sneaky photograph of her. Tell them about your triumphs, your failures, your happy times, your grey days, yourself.

Do they know where you went to school, how you felt walking up to the entrance, what you did there, who greeted you, who ignored you, what you learned?

What can the young know about you from your stories?

You give of yourself - your very deepest self - in your stories. You tell your children who you are, who you know, who you love, despise, respect, find attractive, see as humorous... You tell them more than your stories, and those stories will illuminate the love you bear them and crowd out the boring, silly, mediocre times for them.

You will be illustrated in story-form. You will pass into fable as your children tell their children the stories about you, and the stories you told them.

Wouldn't you like to be remembered in this most powerful way?

Tell them stories. Fill their ears and imagination with your stories.

Tell them stories.

Tell them stories.

Tell them about the brave and true.

Tell them stories, powerful stories.

Tell them stories to illuminate you.

Friday, 4 June 2010

The decision

Phew! Hot it is outside, but, with our sort of upside down house, it's quite cool in the dining/sitting/Danae's office room.

The dog is plastered over my right foot keeping it at a reasonable temperature.

Oh, and you can tell it's half-term because it's so noisy out there.

If it were not half-term I would be feeling desperately sorry for all the poor little boiled people sat on their hard seats, taking in scorching air, attempting to stay awake because extreme heat makes one a bit sleepy.

I remember my two emerging from school wilted. Properly drooping from a place where the paint-caked windows were nailed shut against potential vandals. (Where was 'elf an' safety then, I wonder?)

I recall a friend saying that her small pre-school son slept all afternoon and that the beginning- school deadline was racing towards her and him and she didn't know what to do to keep him awake in the afternoons because he needed so much sleep every day as well as every night.

Now, of course, I'd casually suggest home education and listen to the protests and keep schtum. We'd part until the next time when she'd ask me if it was legal, how was he to be socialised, did I get any time for myself, how could she do it because she hadn't had the best education and was rubbish at Maths, and you needed to be a teacher or have a degree or... don't you?

I'd answer patiently as if it was just an ordinary conversation.

She would go away again.

Then she'd come back and say that she was considering it but what about...?

More questions and answers. A few suggestions on my part of blogs to read. A time to join a home educators' meeting. No pressure. No hard sell from me.

I don't know if E ever did think of home education for her little sleepyhead. I may have thought of it wistfully on the odd hot afternoon for my daughters. Little did I know that I'd lose friends, acquaintances, respectability, the tacit approval of authorities, the seamless flow of an average life, time to myself when we did go for it. Little did I know how a single person, with totally committed people around her, can flourish and thrive and become more, and morph into selfhood.

I knew little then.

Luke Skywalker knew he wanted to leave his home planet. He hadn't realised that he'd lose his family, friends, daily life and gain notoriety as someone different. He didn't cotton on to the fact that the authorities would endlessly mark him as a rebel and have him on one of their lists as enemy.

Would you have made that choice again, Luke Skywalker, had you known the cost?

Would I? On one of those hot afternoons, when sticky, furnace-cheeked girls slowly ambled towards me on baking asphalt and heaving little doses of intense wavy air into their lungs did the switch lie deep in my brain ready to flip?

Was I ready then to step out of 'normality'? To face down LAs? To argue with politicians for the basic liberty to educate as one sees fit? To remove my family from the flow of the average?

Yes, I was. But not quite then. It wasn't just one thing that was the decider. It was a thousand.

The decision to home educate is not usually made in a twinkling of a petulant eye but it is a long complicated process.

I'm glad we made that decision. Despite everything, I'm glad.