Thursday, 28 October 2010

Dancing pigeons and tv programmes

I'm starting this blog entry without knowing what to write about.

I'm reading the above sentence.

Now I'm thinking isn't that what home education is all about?

A lot of finding out and muddling along until you look back and say that everything turned out all right?

That's how I do home education.

I'm not organised into 'Well, let's all learn how to teach a pigeon to dance today' because I wouldn't know where to start, and my young people (after laughing) wouldn't wish to spend their time teaching a pigeon to dance.

Would yours?

But my young people learn their own things, teach their own version of pigeons to dance, and check in with me to chat about it.

And now I've got to go watch 'Have I Got News for You' to keep E. company. There's nothing like sharing jokes with another human being to make you feel like you're bonding with them.

Which you are.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Free education?

At dinner last night, I had an image of free education (as you do).

It was rather like those wild-eyed and enthused people who stand on soap boxes and talk at the tips of their voices about something that is meaningful to them.

I think my vision involved Socrates; although it could have been Plato or another of the philosophers who spent their time down the Forum spilling out their wisdom, without pay. Doubtless, they were wealthy because your average slave wouldn't have survived the trip down to the Forum without being carted off by his master and because, other than lifetime-taught knowledge, they were kept ignorant.

Post-image I did what I often do. I went surfing. Not the kind with big waves. The kind with radio waves or microwaves or whatever the net uses.

"The word 'education' is derived from the root word 'educare'. Education refers to acquiring information from outside while 'educare' means to bring out or to elicit that which is inside. Man should bring out the sacred qualities latent in his heart and put them into practice. The worldly education that you pursue and the jobs that you undertake are related to the head. They are subject to change. But the human values like compassion, forbearance, truth, which originate from the heart, are changeless."

I am always thinking about this, but seldom organising the words to say it. If you do not have a moral and spiritual base on which to stand, you are an animal. A sentient animal, maybe. A clever animal, perhaps. But still an animal. Inhuman and inhumane.

From home educated roots grow values like compassion, forbearance, truth, vision, enthusiasm and empathy as well as spirituality. That is, I believe that home education is the one sure place where young people can grow into themselves and grow into their humanity.

" Education should transform man into one of compassion. It should not make him stone-hearted. Once a Britisher found Mahatma Gandhi in a very dejected mood and asked him for the reason. Gandhi replied, "The hard-heartedness of the educated makes me feel sad." He was worried about the current education system, which was making man stone-hearted. True education is that which fosters compassion and love and ultimately leads man to divinity. Such education is the need of the hour.

Can one be called educated just because one knows how to read and write?
Does mere acquisition of college degrees make one truly educated?
Can that which has no moral and spiritual values be called education at all?
If education is meant only for a living, don't we find the birds and the beasts living without any education ?
(Telugu Poem)"

Looking at our world, we can see why Gandhi might be depressed with the hard-heartedness of the educated. We know he wasn't speaking about home educated people - he spoke of the products of 'free' schools.

"When, on seeing someone in pain, you feel the urge to relieve it, when your heart melts at the misery of your fellow beings, then you are a true human being."

Are we now true humans? Are we? There is a government in power now seeking to reduce the deficit, and reducing so many people to despair and illness for which they (the people) alone will be blamed because, if you are poor, it is your fault in the view of our leaders. If you are poor, you must be punished. If you are poor, you must suffer for your poverty, as if poverty were itself a religion.

"Modern education has become artificial. True education is that which inculcates in the students the noble qualities like truth, devotion, discipline, compassion and sense of duty. What is the use of possessing high intelligence if one lacks virtues? Mere intelligence is not enough. Is not a fox also intelligent? Intelligence should be coupled with virtues."

What is the use of being human if we treat our fellow humankind like secondary citizens? What is the point of having a brain and thinking if we label our co-travellers on this earth as losers or scroungers? There is so much plenty to go around everyone yet most people struggle and strain to live a reasonable life, not even a good life.

Why do we elevate the pursuit and conquest of money to the status of a god while abasing and debasing mankind?

All quotations from
True Education Leads to Divinity

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Girl guidance?

As a lot of you know, the hush-hush department of home education has recruited two? people to write guidance on home education for the poor struggling local authorities who apparently cannot understand a little case law and a few sentences of law.

Think of the consternation in Whitehall. Think of the look on Penny Jones's face.

I think I'll think of Penny Jones a bit longer.

Penny Jones, ardent supporter of children's rights and what they say (as long as they kow-tow to government edicts, of course).

How dare home edders squat on Penny's turf? She's the one who will be cheerfully toiling away in the high-status cupboard she has earned from many years of government service. She's been done out of her job. What should she do now?

Since a lot of my friends are being made redundant... No, scratch that, since a lot of friends are being kicked out of their jobs without being made redundant and getting compensation for losing their jobs, I don't really care if this concludes Penny's no doubt stellar performance as chief bottle-washer to Sir Graham Badman (approaching journalist or government marketing minion be aware that Graham Badman has not actually been knighted except by mistake by his master Ed Balls) and she ends up in the washed-up end searching for another post.

I would just like to link again to the post which shows Penny Jones being trounced by a bunch of non-schoolchildren:

I look at it now and again to remind me that there might just be a God.

"JASPER GOLD: I’d just like to say, that, it may be a small number of cases, within home education, are maybe ending in abuse, or whatever you’re trying to suggest, but if you look at the number of cases in private, and independent, and state schools which end in abuse, it’s over twice as much.
GARETT ROSS: I have the statistics here.
JASPER GOLD: We have less things to worry about. We have less than half the national average for abuse. So by mixing up saying that we’ll need to register a curriculum, in the same report as saying something about right of access to the child’s home, is completely inappropriate. You’re mixing the educational aspects, which are not [inaudible] in any way by the governments [door slams] with the rights of the child and the protection of the child, when it’s actually not home education that’s responsible. Do you really think someone who had abused their child cares enough to take them out of school and educate them on their own?"

Brilliant logic. And no, an abuser probably wouldn't take a child out of school because any abuser would realise that that would draw attention to his (or in a tiny minority her) family situation.

You may as well put a neon-coated board up next to your front path with "THIS WAY TO THE ABUSER'S HOUSEHOLD" in flashing lights on it.

Anyway, if you're feeling a little blue about the whole guidance being written behind your back situation, then take a read or two of that magnificent day when Chloe Watson ably supported by the lovely boys and girls at Home Educating Youth Council left poor old Penny flat on the floor.

Come to think of it, we should've asked the HEYC to write some guidance for LAs? Wouldn't that be more in the spirit of home education. Let the children lead...

Friday, 8 October 2010

Great Balls of fire

"...Morley and Outwood MP Ed Balls, who along with his wife was tipped as possible shadow chancellor, becomes shadow home secretary."

Labour's new leader, Ed. Miliband, selects his shadow cabinet by picking from Labour's old line of favoured MPs.

Mr. Ed. Balls (remember him?) has been made home secretary of the shadowy kind.

"Mr Balls said he was "surprised but pleased" to have been given the home affairs brief.
He said: "Obviously the economic argument has been very important to me - that is why I stood for leader of the Labour Party. But to me it's never been about the job you are doing and the particular personality, it is about winning the argument. For me, this home affairs brief is very important."

If my crystal 'balls' are performing correctly, then home educators can expect to be picked up by truancy sweeps and grilled about their terrorist leanings as Balls takes charge. We home edders shouldn't expect to travel abroad on holiday any more (no passports) and Mrs. Balls aka Yvette Cooper is now matron at the Foreign Office so she'll turn the other countries against us.

"Home Office:- immigration - passports- policing- crime prevention- drugs- counter-terrorism- ID cards "

Oh, yes, look for ID cards to be promoted for home educators and their children too. Just in case you were relaxing when Balls got the chop along with his socialist party in the last election.

A final word from the commenter, failed law student, on

"The thought that fascistic Balls could ever be home secretary scares the crap out of me. He scares the crap out of me, full stop. He is everything that is wrong with the way Labour operated when in power."

There's no shadow of doubt in my mind that you are right, failed law student.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Quick, intervene

We may as well not have an economic crisis on.

Everyone is desirous of taking lots of money to intervene in families.

I mean, families!

Once upon a time, you might say a cheery hello to the bobby on the beat, you might give the bin men a pound or two at Christmas, you might thank your lucky stars that the street lights were shining through the darkness of winter.

Now it looks like the latest buzzthought is that, by INTERVENING in families, the world's evils will be swiftly brushed away.

Expensive? Yes.

Involving armies of box-tickers? Yes.

Legions of social workers, school nurses, doctors, police? Likely.

What was once corrected or encouraged by your Ma and Pa will now be surveilled and standardised by your lovely local authority worker. What a parent did will be done by the ever-knowledgeable non-expert inexpert expert with possibly a day's training in what a child (or indeed a family) should not be and should be doing.

Parents will be defunct. Useful only to support the length and breadth of the increasing rotten structure with more and more of the money they should be employing to live on and enjoying generally.

Mothers and Fathers will be stakeholders (hopefully) in children who are to be reduced to a pennyworth of commodity. Trimmed and revisioned, little ones can step out into the world in the safe and wondrous knowledge that they have passed muster with council officials and the world in general before they take their exalted places as batteries for the masters to drain.

Does your child need intervention?

She needs it like she needs a hole in the head.

Does your son have to endure bossy-boots professionals crawling all over his personal life?

No way.

Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner said in Freakonomics that parenthood has changed from an art into a science.

We are now the subjects in a gigantic experiment.

It's said that those whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.

They must hate 21st century Britain then.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Freakonomics and Frank Field

Frank Field again (soliciting early intervention):

"One conclusion has stood out from all the academic readings in which I have been engrossed over the past three months. Using one of our cohort studies, Leon Feinstein measured children's abilities at age two, three and five years and then went on to look at what happens to these children in school.

The gob-smacking findings (to use that gentle phrase of Chris Patten) was that, as children turn up for their first day at school, they possess a wide range of abilities and that children from families on the lowest incomes were more likely to be towards the bottom end of the range of these abilities. And there they remained when a second set of tests were taken at ten.

Even worse was that those children from the least privileged homes who did score well in the early years- and way above some children from much richer homes - were found at aged 10 to have lost ground at school and to have been overtaken as a group by what were poorer achieving children from richer homes.The Review's attention has therefore, unsurprisingly, been centred on what happens during those first five years that so impacts on a child's life-time opportunities. As the Review will be written advocating action, we are considering whether it is possible to marshal a range of intelligent interventions that radically alter what would otherwise be the current fate of poorer children."


Well, Frank, did you read Freakonomics? A book by Steven Levitt (a 'rogue' economist) and Stephen Dubner? They found that adopted children have lower school test scores than other children. Why? Because lots of mothers (and fathers) who gave away their babies were actually of lower intelligence than those who adopted the children. IQ *(as measured by school tests) is largely genetically determined. The adoptive parents, however, did make a difference because adopted children went on to have good jobs, take further education and postpone marriage and child-bearing until they were out of their teens - outcomes that could be attributed to the influence of their adopting families.The whole thing could be sorted by getting rid of school (and other) tests. Everything that is measured has winners and losers, and most things that are measured are possibly not correlated with 'success' in life. As far as I can see, often schools are measuring memory. If a child has a good memory, s/he gets good scores. If not, well, tough luck, kid.

Freakonomics - it's a good read. I recommend it.

Addendum: Frank has uncovered a good reason for ditching the whole school system too. From the quotation above:

"...those children from the least privileged homes who did score well in the early years- and way above some children from much richer homes - were found at aged 10 to have lost ground at school..." which would suggest that school not only did not enhance some children's test-taking ability but also made it worse.

Thanks, Frank, if school tests are the be all end all, you've just proved from your own writing that school doesn't matter for some children and, in fact, it can do them damage.

Well done, Frank. Go to the top of the class.