Friday, 30 December 2011

Nice to see you

Well, I'm back. I've been away from you but I've missed you.

I've travelled far and wide and I've never left my location.

I've ridden on the beams of light called thought and struggled to understand that singularly fascinating subject called Quantum Physics.

I've visited a thousand new ideas and marvelled at a million stars.

I've watched films that made me think about life, the universe and everything, and those that haven't made me think at all.

I've seen the end of the sensational series about a wizard called Harry Potter and his friends (and enemies) and chewed over the fact that my children - now grown - have had the boy who lived as their companion for many years.

My life has changed little, and changed completely.

My thoughts are roving yet revolve around certain subjects and people.

This last couple of months I pushed my comfort zone a bit by learning a few hours worth of Russian.

I promise to stretch myself even more in 2012 by reading Y's Christmas gift to me, a book called Russian for Dummies. And I look forward to ever more happy hours reading, learning, thinking and growing.

Now off to relax with The Nutty Professor (a film, not a person!)

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Should we use the 'p' word

Oh, politics. Shouldn't be talking about it because it's not home education, is it? It isn't even rocket science which you could, at least, argue is of interest to educators.

But I console myself with the fact that, of my two children, one is vastly interested in politics and even pauses in her day to day life to debate political issues with me.

Everything, in fact, is grist to the home educating mill. Everything is educational. Everything.

What a glorious thought.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Remember, remember

I think that one channel - I can't remember which - played the film 'V for Vendetta' on November 5th this year. Although the last few years we have faced dangers from the forces of the mighty governmental machine to grind home educators into the dust of history at the moment it's all pretty quiet. Or is it?

What is happening in those halls of power? I don't necessarily mean the Westminster ones. I mean the real halls of power referred to by Neil Tayor, one of the infinitely wise members of the home educating fraternity around the world. He speaks at a conference on Home Ed. and you can find his illuminating words here:

Back to 'V for Vendetta'.

The character, V, has hacked into the communication system in London to give the country his views on the state of Britain. This is a quote from that film.

"Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine — the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, whereby those important events of the past, usually associated with someone's death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, are celebrated with a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat.

There are of course those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression.

And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission.

How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.

I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn't be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.

Last night I sought to end that silence. Last night I destroyed the Old Bailey, to remind this country of what it has forgotten. More than 400 years ago a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives. So if you've seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you then I would suggest that you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked.

But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot. "

If only we had a 'V' in our world.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Out of sight? Out of your mind!

Well, the dear old Times Educational Supplement has begun a new assault on home education with the load of complete old tennis balls being served up here:

It begins, charmingly, with this:

"As many as 100,000 children may be in home education; the true figure is not known. The vast majority are in the charge of loving and conscientious parents, but hundreds are at risk of abuse and neglect."

You can fetch the sick bag now.

As to the number of home educating children, you can probably easily find that out if you check the list of juveniles on the database of the local library. Most home educating children fetch books from said library. In fact, after my children began home educating, we took a little schooled friend of Y's along on one of our visits. You could've knocked me down with a toothpick when she told me that it was her first time there. I thought I had misheard her.

"You've forgotten your library card?" I asked S in all ignorance and disbelief.

"No, I haven't got one," said my daughter's friend.

"You mean it's at home?"

S started to look uncomfortable. "No, er, this is the first time I've been to the library..."

The child was eleven years old. She promised to demand that her parents help her to procure a library card as soon as she went home, and I'm pleased to say she got it. I felt as if I'd run a marathon and won it twice.

Hundreds are at risk of abuse and neglect. Hundreds out of a possible one hundred thousand.
Er, statistics? Where are they? Are you going to produce them? Eh?

Leaving aside the fact that countless professionals charged with children's welfare were informed and reinformed of the strange home situation that Khyra Ishaq was unfortunately subject to, little LA visitors are empowered to pass along information to social workers if they are alarmed about a child's welfare. The poor child would have been starved over a long period of time and during that time she was, supposedly, safe in a school.

The sensible comments following that piece of bog roll journalism are worth reading.

And, from Dr. Helen Lees, comes this follow-up letter:

'Having just been awarded a PhD for research on the discovery of elective home education (EHE), I can unequivocally report that your cover story "Out of school, out of sight" (4 November) is rubbish. Not only does the article rehearse old and dismissed arguments, but it also provides no new ones. It does not even offer an accurate and balanced portrayal of the Khyra Ishaq case as it relates to EHE, nor about the Badman review and the subsequent cross-party enquiry that found it had substantial failings. The article attempts to cover the complexity of the issue, but ends in a state of ideological bias against EHE as a valid educational choice.
You failed to consult academic or EHE organisational voices. Why? There are plenty of scholars and home educators who see things very differently from the article's single narrative of doom.
It is true that EHE is an issue, but it is one that highlights the failings of schooling and social services. Furthermore, it brings into relief the shortcomings of government bodies that operate without proper care or respect for practitioners and educational research. Educationally, EHE is one of the most innovative and exciting growing movements of the current time.
Alas, even the miserable black and white pictures are misleading and full of prejudice. Think on it TES, and think again.'

Dr Helen E Lees, Research fellow, School of Education, Stirling University.

Ah, Dr. Helen. I think I love you.

Now why did I just embolden a few sentences? The whole letter should be in bold... Where's my blue pencil?

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Thank you

Surely the measure of a writer is one you want to return to. One you want to re-read. One whose words echo in your soul. One who makes you think of them at odd times in your day.

One who enchants and caresses you. Who makes you feel good. Who challenges your day-to-day assumptions. Who lifts you up and keeps you uplifted.

I hope I'm one like that for you. I hope that, by reading my words, you are coming back, reading again, feeling better, remembering bits from my blog bytes and pondering the messages I leave you.

I hope you get as much from me as I do from you, my dear and gentle readers.

Thank you.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Human Rights? Not for minors!

Article 5 of the Human Rights Act - Right to Liberty says:

"1) Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. "

Shouldn't that be non-negotiable? Is it non-negotiable?

Apparently not. There are exceptions. One of them is this:

"(d) the detention of a minor by lawful order for the purpose of educational supervision..."

So does everyone have the right to liberty and security of person?

No. Minors don't.

(As a tribute to one of my favourite films - Galaxy Quest - I will say 'Minors not miners"! )

So what is the use of Article 5 of the Human Rights Act?

And why should minors (not miners) be exempt from its protective power?

And what is so important about education that - supposedly - carrying it out incurs a get out clause in Article 5 of the Human Rights Act?

Then we have Article 4...

Article 4: Slavery

(1) No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.

(2) No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.

(3) For the purpose of this Article the term "forced or compulsory labour" shall not include: (a) any work required to be done in the ordinary course of detention imposed in accordance to the provisions of Article 5 of this Convention or during conditional release from such detention;(b) any service of a military character or, in the case of conscientious objectors in countries where they are recognised, service exacted instead of compulsory military service;(c) any service exacted in case of an emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the community;(d) any work or service which forms part of normal civic obligations.

Isn't education generally a form of slavery or servitude?

One definition of slavery:

"Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property and are forced to work.[1] Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation."

In other words, children are treated as property of the state in state educational factories and are forced to work. If they don't work they are punished. Children can be held against their will from the time they enter the state educational system; they are deprived of the right to leave (and, should they leave, they are branded as truants and their parents - as the children's legal represntatives- will fall foul of the law and be punished by it). Children can neither refuse to work nor demand compensation for the many years of servitude they pass through in the state educational system.

And, if you consider that minors cannot enter into contracts, the school as a contract is pretty meaningless.

Says a lot for the Human Rights Act (1998)...

A load of wind and watter, as my elder relatives would term it.

Monday, 3 October 2011

I'm wondering...

Seems to be that time of the year when I take stock, when I think a lot about what I'm doing, what I'm wondering, what I am and what I'm becoming and what I want to be.

What I never thought I would be is tied to my dear elderly mother's apron strings... At my age.

She's got me. She really has. And H. He has been magnificent. He has been caring. We both have.

Not that we're uncaring normally. Anyone who has children has to care.

But this time my mother fell and broke her right leg. She went to hospital in great pain, had an operation,and went to a second ward for recuperation.

Then she came home. Without official carers because she said, "My family will care for me at home". And, do you know, she was right.

We are. Caring for her. At her home. We have to.

They deemed her capable of making her own decisions so she refused other carers, and now we're it. Mostly H is it. And I'm doing the outside stuff. Shopping. Paying bills. Dog walking. Sorting stuff.

And I'm exhausted. Because it's so stressful. Because a mother is supposed to take care of you. Not you, her. Because she isn't capable of making her own decisions no matter what the hospital people said in their knowledge of her for a few weeks. She isn't capable. Her dementia doesn't show too obviously. It's subtle. It hasn't reared up and destroyed her ability to remember. That's not the way it's robbed her. It's much more complicated. But, of course, the hospital people know best. They've had a student nurse ask her a few questions, and - voila! - my mother is deemed to be competent mentally.

Hmmm. We know that she isn't. We know that whatever the government approved list of questions (did Mr. Social Care Rehabilitation guy call it MIMSY?) says my mother is not mentally capable of making sensible and reasoned decisions.

Now our family is paying for the cult of the ten minute expert. The cult of the one size fits all assessment of mental competence. And we aren't expert. We know nothing. We only know my mother couldn't cope for ten minutes in the full glare of the day to day life that most of us endure normally. We've only known that for years. We've only been caring for years. In this family. With no outside help.

No outside recognition.

The doctors and nurses assessed my mother as having a score of 26 out of 30 when she was admitted to hospital. She is capable, even though I was telling her everything that the doctor said, repeating the same message in different words until I could see that she'd finally understood what I was conveying to her.

Just like I've been doing for years. Interpreting the big wide world for my dear daffy old darling.

And I am so tired. It's the stress. It's the deep stress.

But it's all a learning experience I suppose.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Obituary of Common Sense

An Obituary printed in the London Times – Interesting and sadly very true.

"Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

– Knowing when to come in out of the rain;– Why the early bird gets the worm;– Life isn’t always fair;– and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, I Want It Now, Someone Else Is To Blame, and I’m A Victim.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.


I had saved the above because, mostly, I believe it. Of course I don't believe in the sentence 'Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children'. It's a loaded sentence: a sentence loaded against parents and for teachers. It assumes a lot. And you know what 'assume' does - it makes an ass out of u and me.

Unruly. What does unruly mean? I mean what? Does unruly simply mean that the teacher cannot control a child? Is it good for a teacher to control a child? And is a child who is controlled by a teacher not open to the blandishments of a paedophile? In other words, that is a child who is in danger. After all, school spends a good deal of its time making its users conform and yet warns children against conforming to certain adults' desires. Can young people discern the Janus-faced quality inherent in these teachings? Won't they be mightily confused? Conform and risk attracting abuse. Or don't conform and risk disapproval and ostracism. It takes a brave child to stand up against the pressures of peers and superiors (adults who have control over the child). And that child often gets exiled from the place of pressure.

Do parents attack teachers? Well, the media says they do. Personally I haven't known many parents who attack teachers about anything. They might disagree with teachers, but they don't attack them. You're going to say that my experience isn't too extensive and just because I haven't seen it doesn't mean it doesn't occur. You'd be right.

Can you really discipline an 'unruly' child? I mean can you punish a child? Does punishment work? Will the child merely turn into a conformist or a silent rebel when punished for some transgression as defined by the institution? Won't a silent rebel eventually outwardly reveal his or her inner rebellion? Doesn't anger at injustice flame in the depths of every rebel?

So. Unless you strictly define the terms, you cannot just lob the bombs implied in that sentence, can you? Or you can, but it's not fair. It's not fair to parents, teachers or children.

The piece about Common Sense is good though. And seemed to be relevant when the Labour government was attempting to convert all of us into pathetic cotton wool people. Let's hope those days are over altogether.

Or are all governments still pulling the cotton wool over our eyes?

Friday, 2 September 2011

Summer wind-down

Wow. What a weird summer.

More like a summer and an autumn mushed together. Have you seen those trees laden with bright berries? Isn't that a sign of a really hard winter?

In one or two ways, it's been a hard summer.

It's been hot and sweaty and red-faced, and that's just the dog.

Has education lounged about, taking a break then?

Not here. We've been Chinese fluting as usual. Practicing piano. Grafting away on those websites and moderating as a new activity. Drawing and painting. Communicating with friends. We've been entering writing competitions while not believing that we can win but doing it anyway. We've been off to the Lakes visiting Kendal and Keswick on a coach tour where two young people pressed camera buttons a lot. We've planned to conquer the world on various games and not necessarily this world. We've coped with my mother breaking her femur and ending up in hospital. We have cared for her house and her cat. We've thought about health a lot and what it means to us.

In other words, we've been living and learning.

Doing what comes naturally. What we all do all the time.

Time constraints are largely irrelevant because people who are interested in what they are doing keep doing what they are doing.


Summer is winding down. But we aren't buying uniforms and we aren't buying into the idea that they are necessary.

Sorry that it's been so long since I set cursor to blog, but it's been a strange summer.

Nice to be back though.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Seriously uncooperative cats

You know I saw a cat being attacked once.

It was a horrible sight. A person attacked the beast and the poor animal turned, arched its small back and spat. Then it used claws to draw blood. The man wasn't pleased. He wanted to cow the creature. He wanted that creature to obey him, to do what he wanted done. That's how it should have behaved because he wanted it to behave that way.

The cat, being full of vim and vigour, retaliated in a cat-like way. With teeth and claws and scratching...

The cat did not cooperate with the man.

The cat was uncooperative.

Hostile, you might say.

People, too, can be uncooperative and hostile.

Why? Well, they might not want to do whatever it is you want them to do. They might object to being treated like naughty two year olds. They might resist doing whatever you want them to do because, after all, they are sovereign beings and they don't need telling, do they?

Do you tell your neighbour how to park his car, where to hang his laundry, which bits of trees he should pollard? No? Thought not.


You don't direct your neighbour because your neighbour is a sovereign being. He can decide many things for himself. Of course if he parks his car in such a way to block yours, then you might have a gentle word. If he sticks his laundry in front of your window when he has a perfectly good drying spot inside his property line then you would be sensible to question him a bit. And, if he lops off branches from your side of the fence, he's in for a little talking to, isn't he?

You'd think he was a tiny way along the mad boardwalk if he transgressed these norms, wouldn't you? A bit nuts. Losing it.

And so we come to Gill's blog about Lincolnshire and all the other places who think that Lincolnshire rocks. This is a link to Gill's blog. Our amazingly radiant and brilliant writing Gill who upholds the truth, the honour and the right.

""Threatening behaviour can consist of the deliberate use of silence.""

That sentence is from this document:

Its title is 'Working with hostile and uncooperative families'. It reeks of maladminstration already, doesn't it? Hostility to any family just billows from its very appearance.

Why on earth you possibly should want to write such an incendiary piece of bollocks I don't know. Are you trying to be deliberately provocative, Lincolnshire, and all the other places who have similar poison flowing in their veins? Don't you like people? Do you think you are superior to people? Do you think you are the saviours of the world? Or just Lincolnshire or wherever the others come from? Who are you aiming to please here? What is your purpose for foisting on the innocent internet such venomous twaddle?

If you are trying to induce hostility in folks going about their own business in peace and harmony then you are doing sterling work, my friends. There's nothing at all like putting people's backs up in the first second of attempting to 'help and support' them, is there? Your basic pre-Psychology Psychology course would have taught you that, wouldn't it?

'Softly softly catchee monkey' quite clearly isn't a proverb you've ever been exposed to, have you, my dears?

There are other things you have quite caught on to. Thinking. Allowing. Being. Seeing the best in people. Understanding that your understanding is really limited. That you are failing in being service providers and instead are dictators. You are setting people you encounter up to fail whether or not they are guilty of doing whatever it is you are determined they must be doing.

What bothers me is how do they get away with this tosh?

Who authorises such complete idiocy? Such arrant nonsense fit only for burning.

Who spends the money to require another human being to so degrade, jeer at, throw aspersions at and justify assumptions that should never even be countenanced at all?

Oh, bloomers. We do. We spend the money. It's our money being used against us to hurt all us hostile uncooperative sovereign beings who don't need help, don't want help and won't take help. Of course help, in this case, is a pejorative term (debasing and negative). Anyone who can spew bellicose bile like that is anything but helpful. Anyone who can nod at the pages and smile is guilty of monumental hubris and incredible ignorance of the respect and decency required of a civilised man or woman towards his or her fellow human beings.

You should be ashamed of yourselves, Lincolnshire, and all you others. Hide your sorry heads in shame. Take the nasty piece of vitriol away and start Psychology classes, and don't skim-read your textbooks.

There will be an exam later, and you shall be judged.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Research, music, pride and fun

Yesterday I reaffirmed what I've thought for a long time.

We like to home educate because it's - well - just plain good fun.

E was speaking to one of her friends about World War II. The friend mentioned what her grandparents did during the war which led E to come along to ask me what my parents did. Some of what they did she already knows and I've even written my mother's story which was published in Ancestors magazine, and there's a side panel about my mother's time in the Women's Timber Corps in my 'Toiling on the Soil' article mainly about the Women's Land Army in Family History Monthly, July 2011.

E was interested in her dad's father's experiences so we started to dig, with our limited knowledge, and found some very interesting things. An afternoon went by. Our knowledge has increased and been enhanced. We know more about my girls' grandfather (sadly not with us now) than we did.

Now I'm listening to music from Lord of the Rings as played by E. So haunting and beautiful. It's a piece I just thought I'd always hear on CD. But now my daughter can play it on her piano. Wonderful.

How talented they are, my once little girls. How much my heart thuds with pride these days. How I have to hide it with a brisk 'That was lovely, dear.' How I love my beautiful young people.

How pleased I am that we home educate, and they have the freedom to be themselves in this world of encouraged conformity.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Cats and kittens

When a cat wants to eat her kittens she calls them mice.

Old Bulgarian proverb

Or when a government wants to take over your home educated children it calls you, the parent, a child abuser.

A government wants to rule the citizens of its country. How much more comfortable it is for governments to ensure that citizens have no ability to reason, to ask questions, to rock the stability of the boat that does nothing for most of them but everything for some of them, to reassess and retread, to promote change...

When a cat wants to eat her kittens she calls them mice.

Great proverb.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Draughty guidelines

I wasn't going to post about them.

Was I?

Well, if I wasn't I've changed my mind.

On the whole, I'm one of these people who ignores instructions. It's from years of following instructions to find that a) I'm more confused if I follow them and end up somewhere miles from where I want to be or b) I don't have a clue what they are saying and therefore I get more frustrated and upset carefully having tried to follow their careful beckonings. It's just... because the world doesn't come with instructions. There aren't certainties, and attempting to cover ALL the potholes we can break our legs in doesn't just work.

There's always another one to trip us up.

So someone (or more than one someone) who is still nameless to me has laboured long and hard to bring forth guidelines ostensibly for local authorities to get to grips with the incredibly mysterious matters belonging to home education.

These guidelines cover a lot of pages. Here at

But we have guidelines. We already have guidelines. And we have dedicated and sensible home educators telling local authorities how to do it. How to treat home educators. How home educators should be treated and how the law should treat home educators.

In my view it's like this. I live near the sea. Two minutes away. There's a pedestrian path along the side of some grass-covered dunes right beside the mighty ocean. This path is for people to walk on. The path is to keep people out of the way of cars that zoom up and down near them.

The path is shared by many, many cyclists whose cycle path ends just north of where people walk. So the cyclists see the pedestrian pathway as a continuation of their cycle-way, and the people on two feet see the concrete walk-way as their pathway.

The law favours the two-feet: the argument is won by two wheels because soft bodies are a lot more able to be damaged in a row with two wheels.

For me, it's an analogy. Home educators are the two feet. Local authorities peddle themselves along mowing down (or nearly mowing down) home educators who are going about their business legally educating their children. But in a radge between those with wheels and those with bodies but no wheels, the wheels are the winners. And the legal upholders (law/police/the state) of the right of way (home education) do not enforce the right of way.

Either the law upholders don't think that the soft bodies are worth worrying about or they like the wheeled ones better. Or both.

Or neither.

It's just an analogy. One I enjoy.

Hey, phew! watch out for the bikes now!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Inveterate detectors of lies

Children are inveterate nosers-out of the double-dealing and lies of adults.

Don't you think?

When Y was somewhat younger she came in after school full of something that made her big eyes bigger. They were made bigger by her passionate iteration of 'What matters'. By that she meant the stuff that adults think is important and even vital is not. For example, the head teacher of her school considered that straightening the lines the children formed after their break at lunchtime to be really important. Catching and stopping bullies was ignored.

The head teacher also insisted that rules - the great God Rules - should be slavishly and mindlessly worshipped. Y's rules were different. She knew that small children SHOULD NOT BE BULLIED, and did something about it when they were. She chased the bullies who, having the habit of hanging around in crowds like flies around a corpse, then flew away before her determined onslaught. She was tall and imposing, and she ran at them to STOP the tormenting of little things in the playground.

"But why didn't you tell a dinner nanny?" I asked innocently.

"But Mum," she spluttered, filled with indignation. "They just say you shouldn't tell stories, and tell you that you're lying!"

My indignant crusader. All of seven years old.

Young people are more adept at finding the truth in every situation and, sometimes, acting on their impulses of mercy to help other people.

Do you think that is why we remove our children's wisdom from society by boxing them up in schools?

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Seeking a new path to truth

"When you seek a new path to truth, you must expect to find it blocked by expert opinion."

Albert Guérard

I'm a fan of iodine. The Japanese are fans too. They consume far more iodine than we Brits do. The women have less incidence of breast cancer which is attributed to their increased intake of iodine.

I was advised to take kelp (containing iodine) when I was diagnosed as being hypothyroid. That is my thyroid gland wasn't working well and when it's a lazy little thing then the person sharing the body with it is a lazy little thing also. I didn't mean to be lazy - I just couldn't help it. The gland running my metabolism was a bit slow. So I started taking kelp, and, finally, finally began losing weight. OK, the exercise, taking loads more fruit and vegetables in and watching my portions of dinner didn't hurt either.

But I blame the kelp for getting me on my feet and making me feel more like the old vibrant and vivacious Danae.

So check this out:

If it doesn't sound right or feel right, don't do it.

If it seems good to you, go for it.

Life's too short, as a friend recently remarked to me. Life is too short for me to shuffle around like a ninety year old. I'm going to go out there and grab life by the tail.

After I've swallowed my kelp tablet!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

I like home education because...

I like it because...

we do it. Sometimes we do a lot of it, and sometimes we're just living, and sometimes you couldn't tell the difference between home education and living.

I like it because...

I can go to the toilet when I need to.

I like it because...

I meet interesting people who have brains and can tell good stories and jokes.

I like it because...

it's not rigid. I can change my mind, kick back, take the day off if my head decides it just can't cope.

I like it because...

it can make my teenagers likely to steam with outrage over injustice and population abuse.

I like it because...

it allows me to determine what I allocate in time to which activities.

I like it because...

I'm not just 'taking' it from someone else; although someone else might be giving knowledge I might choose to acquire.

I like it because...

I feel free letting the rhythms of my body clock determine what I do.

I like it because...

I see the struggles and the triumphs in my youngsters' lives; I see their varying moods; I see my youngsters. I don't just see them at the end of a long hard day in a school salt mine.

I just like home education.

Don't know why.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

I just signed out

I just signed out when I meant to sign in.

Or, no, I meant to stay signed in, but I signed out.

Does that mean something?

Probably not.

Was I fated to sign out at the particular second I signed out? But then I signed back in so was I fated to sign in after I'd signed out?

Gosh, a girl could go slightly daffy thinking these things.

Was I going to talk about fate? Signing in? Signing out?

No, I think not.

A person I've known as a name and a presence in home education - a careful and loving presence, a beneficence - has died. Just died.

It made me think about when, exactly when, I'll find myself in the same situation.

And it's made me realise I haven't hugged my dear ones today, visited my demented mother, played with the dog long enough, written another paragraph in my long-languishing novel, or emailed the friends who have a right to expect an email from me.

So I'm going to do those things now.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Graham Stuart and the great ugly puffing dragon

We've narrowly escaped lumbering our future home educating pals with the purgatory of having the Local Authorities and school denizens being given a twenty day bullying permit. That is, prospective home educating families would not start home educating the first day that their children left school, but be left in limbo. Neither in nor out. Shake it all about. Give the LAs a green light to work on the newly fledgling home educator. Let the LA inspector or assessor or whatever their label is for it these days get at the family; let them convince the poor neophyte, struggling-to-become home edders that home education really ISN'T for their kids.

Oh, dear.

But our friendly champion was magnificent in debate last year when Labour was about to get with the action. He was about to ride down the opposition yet again. He was on his horse, hefting the spear of protection and... well, you can read it all here:

All in Hansard, at column 1216.

The magnificent Graham Stuart. The thing about Mr. Stuart MP is that he listens, he researches and he thinks about consequences, intended or unintended, and he is able to change his position once he has considered and reconsidered an issue. That's a rare individual.

But it shouldn't be. It's what we should be able to expect of every MP, shouldn't we?

Yet, Mr. Ian Mearns says:

"If a child becomes unwell or is injured at the hands of parents or other relatives, the focus of attention is often not on the family but on the director of children’s services in the local borough."

Dear God in Heaven, I mean we're bothered about the director of children's services in the case of a child becoming unwell or injured. We're bothered about the reputation or the job of a man or woman who is so removed from a situation as to be unimportant. And do we know how many directors of children's services have fallen on their swords after they've totally ignored the death or injury of a child/children purportedly in their 'care'? Well, I'm betting is a vanishingly small number if it isn't zero.

Then, again, if you have children you'll know that they become unwell. Now and then some youngsters have accidents. Sometimes they have accidents when they're told not to do something. It even happened to me. My dad told me not to run on a gravel path. He said I'd fall. Sure enough, I did and I hurt my knees. Those poor suckers bled for ages. Dad was unsympathetic: 'You shouldn't have run. I told you.'

These days, the director of children's services would've been phoned and the whole thing would've been made stratospheric.

When you think about it, it's all about vested interests, isn't it? Mr. Mearns goes on to tell us that, although middle class parents can, of course, home educate effectively, these lower class folks just can't.

Do your research, Mr. Mearns. Actually, 'lower class' home educators do really very well. It's not known why. We can take a guess, though. We can feel that those parents want the best for their children. We do better when we're motivated to do better and you can bet your keyboard that those parents want to do better for their youngsters.

I could go on all day praising Mr. Stuart and criticising the prejudice on view and the sleazy logic of people who comment on his speech. But I won't.

I'm going to watch another brilliant St. George in action. I'm going to enjoy the second episode of Garrow's Law. Again.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Georgia O'Keeffe, amazing artist and art teacher

"During her years teaching in Amarillo, (Georgia) O'Keeffe wrangled with the school board over the curriculum of the art classes. She refused to accept the Prang drawing book that the school district had ordered for her classes. Instead she used the Dow method, which she had learned the previous summer under Alon Bennett at the University of Virginia. And to everyone's consternation, she encouraged to bring in objects from the local surroundings. She felt that things that were familiar to the children would make it easier for them to see the natural lines and colors in the subjects, while the traditional copybook patterns were stereotyped, interfering with true self-expression."

Yup, that's often the case with school books.

True self-expression. It would be nice to see that encouraged in schools, wouldn't it?

Extract from the book Georgia O'Keeffe: An Eternal Spirit

Monday, 25 April 2011


You know, I sometimes have a little laugh about socialisation.

I mean I'm probably the most unsocial person I know.

I don't like parties. Can't hear what people are saying. Don't drink. And, if I like the people, I've probably told them all the news and heard all theirs before the party gets going.

I can take or leave people. Some people. Some people can take or leave me. I have high standards for friendship and most folks - I'm afraid - don't qualify.

I like my own company. Or the company of a good book. Or the radio. Or the t.v. Or my dog who is a good friend.

And my family, but not all the time. And it wouldn't be good for them if I were hanging around their necks all the time either.

I can be sociable sometimes, if I want. I can laugh and dance and sing and make merry and tell stories that people giggle at or marvel at or whatever.

But, deep down, I'm happy being on my own. I don't need a lot of social stuff to keep me topped up with sunshine.

The LAs wouldn't like me if I were in their schools. They'd think I was odd, weird, a bit off, er, unsocial. But my view is that this is me. Take me or leave me. It's up to you if you wish to be my friend. If you don't, well, I possibly won't miss you.

There are people I miss. People I have cherished that I haven't seen for many years. Some of them I'm back in touch with and, hopefully, we'll bridge the years and be friends again.

Or not.

Either way, I am what I am.


You have to let me be the way I am. I cannot bend myself or break faith with my personality. You can't turn me into a character from Friends because I'm not that kind of social animal.

I'm just unsocial I guess.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Thoughts on a good education

The Labour government DCSF used to say: "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 will howl me down when I say the state provides a good education, including my own. 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 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 behind 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 plates of meat.

I gave myself the best education I could give myself. I gave me the education I would've wished the schools I attended had given. 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.

Unfortunately, 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.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Good, good, good, good quotations

'We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.'

Winston Churchill.

I was pottering around looking at information about the Women's Land Army in World War I and II (for an article I'm writing), and I found the above quotation from Winston Churchill. I know that Mr. Churchill is reviled in some quarters but I've always had a sneaking admiration for him. He failed miserably at school; his father didn't know what to do with him, in fact. I think that often happens with incipient genius.

Those superbly-charged brains sometimes do not fit in.

"Young Winston attended Harrow School, on the outskirts of London, where he was schooled in the classics. He hated most of his school time at Harrow and had little interest in learning Latin, Greek or mathematics. But he did love poetry, history and writing English essays."

"Winston was short in stature and very headstrong and stubborn. During his early school years, Churchill didn't get along well with other students. He recalled how he had to hide behind a tree when some other boys threw cricket balls at him."

Yet he learned English. Kept in a class for three times as long as anyone else, Churchill parsed sentences and stared at the blackboard for many hours. He owed a debt to Mr. Somervell who was charged with teaching the least likely boys the English language. The ones who were deemed stupid stayed with Mr. Somervell, and the others who were bright went on to tackle Latin and Greek.

"President John F. Kennedy summarized Winston S. Churchill's rhetorical grandeur with the statement that "In the dark days and darker nights when England stood alone--and most men save Englishmen despaired of England's life--he mobilized the English language and sent it into battle."

Well done Mr. Somervell. Your work will never be forgotten.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The enlightened principle

"Not even the apparently enlightened principle of the ‘greatest good for the greatest number’ can excuse indifference to individual suffering. There is no test for progress other than its impact on the individual. " Aneurin Bevan, In Place of Fear (William Heinemann Ltd, London, 1952), p. 167-8.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Gotta love it

Do you love the internet? I do. Isn't it - regardless of a bunch of rubbish on some websites - the most amazing educator? It's made my little life a lot easier. Where once I said "Well, we should go to the library and look that up." Now it's "Let's go on google (or one of the other search engines) to see what we can find." What an amazing force for good. I salute the internet. Thank you to all you lovely and varied people who contributed to its development. And here is the equally adorable Wiki entry all about it: The internet: you couldn't make it up really.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

What do we measure?

"The gross national Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our door and the jails for the people who break them (...) It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl (...) Yet the GNP does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials (...) It measures everything, in short, except that which makes worthwhile." Those wise words came from Robert Kennedy and were quoted in Doing the right thing: Measuring wellbeing for public policy. Bobby Kennedy is speaking about the ridiculous measure of economic growth to determine the health of a country. Taken from Found by H, researcher extraordinare. Thanks once again, H.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

'Free schools'

Yes, they should. Free schools I mean.

A lovely person from Home Education Business Forums has brought this to our attention:

"Government spokesman says the education secretary is 'crystal clear' that teaching creationism is at odds with scientific fact" it burbles.

Hmmm. And I thought you could rely on the writing on the package. Free schools? Ha! Nothing free about being told you can't teach creationism, is there?

And it's an oddity that scientific fact is a) not always fact and b) is often widely and vehemently opposed to the current mode of thinking in science.

Professor Brian Cox may whittle on about black holes but even he has to admit that, once we get inside one, the black hole is merely a big cavity of mysterious happenings. Let's face it, creationism may be entirely appropriate inside your friendly neighbourhood black hole.

What is it behind all this then?

It's the struggle again with what you personally believe and what the state thinks is right and wishes you would believe. It's the space between your ears that's up for grabs. Believe that science is fact and you're approved of. Believe that a supreme being decanted us into life and you're not.

And, once again, the human being - that bright source of restless curiosity - is relegated to a plaything in the clash between the world views of other people. Because no human child is clever enough to sort his or her way through the various theories and come out with some sort of conclusions that satisfy him or her.

"The BCSE, which describes itself as the leading anti-creationist organisation in Europe, wrote to Gove to express its "extreme concern" at applications from groups such as the Everyday Champions Church and the Christian Schools Trust to run free schools."

Why does the BCSE (whosoever they are) wish to express 'extreme concern' at other people learning whatever they choose? Why must we all believe in science the way most folks conceive it to be? What's in it for the BCSE? Why are they so bothered what children learn about the universe?

I believe in a certain type of loo roll (toilet paper) but I would defend to the very verge of death your particular right to like another type of bog wiper.

I suppose that makes me open-minded.

And if the government tells us we should prefer one loo roll over another?

Is that the government's job?

What are they so afraid of? Is it that science, when analysed by those eager young bright minds (or any minds at any stage and any age), will appear to be fairy stories told by those with reasons to tell them?

I'm not against science. I've sat in a fair amount of classes learning all types of the stuff and had many hours of pondering over the beauty of a lot of it. I say let the creationists rock on with their creationism, and the scientists point out the loveliness of science. Teach both and let the brilliant brains that sit and listen work it all out.

"There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact." ~Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi, 1883

Sunday, 20 March 2011

The Y Factor

"Forced by the relentless ambition of the Y-chromosome to reproduce itself, women were reduced to a state of serial pregnancy, increasingly enslaved by dependence on men.

This suited the Y-chromosome as the sexual landscape turned in its favour. The irresistible opportunity arose to build a harem, a herd of women just as dependent on its owner as his sheep or cattle. Women themselves became domesticated and imprisoned. The temptation to polygamy was overpowering and examples were all around. Men, driven on by the lash of their Y-chromosomes, could copy their cattle and become the stud bulls of their own herd. But the damage didn't stop there. The enslavement of women through serial pregnancy required much earlier weaning than before. No longer required to be able to walk and run before being released from the breast, the young child need to be weaned. Some archaeologists believe this was accomplished by the invention of fired pottery which allowed cereal grains to be boiled into a pastry gruel which could be fed to unweaned infants. Once her child was weaned, a woman could become pregnant again soon afterwards. The bull/man would have no difficulty at all with that part. But the children, ripped from the security and unconditional love that breast-feeding embodies, were left feeling bewildered and abandoned. Far from gaining a sense of independence, they were bereft, deprived of the strong sense of their own value and autonomy which builds during this intimate and prolonged contact. Some believe that children even now never really recover from this shock. They struggle to regain trust in a world that has for some reason unknowable to them abruptly changed for the worse. The trauma of early weaning has even been adduced in modern theories of depression. The feeling of powerlessness implanted by the sudden withdrawal of love and nurture at the mother's breast, when even the cries of despair go unanswered – as they must for early weaning to succeed – leaves a long shadow in the psyche of the very young that can darken their whole lives."

Professor Bryan Sykes thinks it's all the fault of the Y chromosome, ladies.

Read his book Adam's Curse. Well-written and very interesting.

Excerpt from
Adam's Curse – A Future without men - by Bryan Sykes, Bantam Press, 2003 p. 237-238

Sunday, 13 March 2011

For all the phenomenal women out there - and the phenomenal men

This poem isn't mine. I wish it was. It expresses what women can be and what they are. It's by the phenomenal Maya Angelou.

Phenomenal woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.

I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.

I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.

I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
it ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need of my care,

'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

Thanks to H. for finding it, and Maya Angelou for writing something so profound to celebrate womanhood.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Fair mood or foul

Did you know that if you're in a rotten mood you're a less effective learner?

Obviously the opposite is true too.

When you think about it, it's fairly reasonable. You can't focus on anything, you feel irritable and upset, and the last thing on your mind is trying to retain knowledge.

But the research is there:

"Findings show that both positive and negative mood may hinder or promote information processing. In two experiments, we show that negative mood impairs transfer effects and learning."

Yes, that's just what I said in non-experimenter language.

"Additionally, mood affected performance if it was induced before the learning phase; participants in a negative mood needed more repetitions to reach the mastery level and also performed worse in the transfer tasks, although there were no greater mood differences in this problem-solving phase."

In normal words, people took longer to get good at something if they were feeling bad about anything.

Common sense.

When you have a bad experience while learning it can affect your performance so try to keep everyone happy. It's an easy way to boost performance.

The research came from 'How do we learn in a negative mood? Effects of a negative mood on transfer and learning,' found in the Journal of Learning and Instruction, Vol 17 no 1, February 2007

Monday, 28 February 2011


Illness is just nature's way of telling you that you aren't well.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Reasons to home educate

There are lots of reasons to be cheerful.

Likely to be individual and personal to each individual, each person, each family.

One reason we home educate because of the parlous state of state education. Have you visited a school lately? Noisy, rude, ugly, decrepit, fully detestable, and that's only the buildings

And the fact that the denizens of two schools could not stop my eldest being bullied. Emotional abuse is emotional abuse, even if it's not in the domestic sphere.

And my youngest daughter's face when she emerged from school in the last few weeks before she left. The happy child I had known in primary school had been replaced by a miserable young person I hardly recognised.

In my opinion, the internet, books, museums, conversation and other people's knowledge could easily replace teachers' 'deposits' of information.

I'm not religious but I can see that other folks would wish to extend their deeply-held beliefs to their dearly beloved children.

Thinking back I know that, if I had followed my most submerged impulses, my children would never have marched into school. They would have educated themselves, with my enthusiastic encouragement, at home where opportunities for true education abound and out in the community where they would have become valued, integral parts of their society.

I didn't like other people's versions of anything and everything being fed to my children as if they were truth incarnate.

I wanted my daughters to be able to control their own bodies, at least enough to visit the toilet when necessary; not to be controlled by those very sad people who have a need to control others. It is a form of torture to deprive a human being of the right to perform bodily functions.

Our children are not necessarily possible recruits for the army. They do not have to be taught to drill like soldiers.

I hadn't encountered wise words of the likes of John Taylor Gatto before the children were 'sprung' from school. Some years after the deregistration, those words soothed, encouraged, incensed, and informed me. I shouted 'yes, yes!' to John Taylor Gatto. I leapt up from my seat as I realised the reality of his real experiences. His knowledge. Every student teacher, every politician, every policy maker should have a well-thumbed copy of Gatto next to his or her elbow.

I digress. Why should you home educate your children? To follow an individual and personal pattern. To give your child the very best of yourself, other people and the world. To filter your lifelong experiences to enrich the milk of their day to day knowledge. To boldly go wherever your child needs you to go, and wherever he or she needs to go.

Each child knows him or herself best. Each child has a destiny, a plan. Home education is the map which fully fits the child's journey.

And that's why we home educate.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Freedom from plans

I shouldn't be writing this. I didn't plan it.

I'm too tired.

Don't know why but I could sleep as I'm typing.

I was thinking about how much I hate people interfering with other people's lives.

I was thinking how much discomfort I suffered at the thought of home educators having to put up with strangers judging and assessing them, and proposing plans for their children's education.

That was the plan, wasn't it? From Mr. Badman and Ed. Balls in 2009-2010.

It's the children's freedom to self-educate or be taught or do workbooks or do their own research or sleep in or go to a special educational place that I like in home education. It is the sheer flexibility of home education that delights and enthralls me. It is the unexpected steps or leaps that children suddenly make and without anyone planning them. Planning things - some things - is like trying to plan when a flower will open from a bud. Sometimes some things should just happen and not be regulated.

Home education and plans. No, I don't think so. Not unless the children have the freedom to adopt a plan. Not unless the children have a choice.

Local Education Authority plans? No, I don't think so.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011


"All revolutions, all revolutionaries, are amazing. The ultimate purpose of the revolution is to work to create a better world to live in. To try to move above and beyond the hierarchies and power structures that inevitably cause the vulnerable in any society to suffer."


Thanks to Just Jo of facebook for pointing this out.

There's a bloodless and whispering revolution going on. All across every land. And, as with all revolutions, it has its detractors and its enemies.

It's the fight for children's souls. It's home education.

They'll say all kinds of nasty things against it. They'll tell lies. They'll make you feel guilty for being interested in it.

Sometimes they'll drive you back to pushing your child into school.

More times they won't.

Because you're a free radical. A secret and hearty revolutionary.

Because it's time.

Because it's time to change.

Because you love your children.

Because, deep down, the guilt at treating your child like a number, like a series of marks, will gnaw at you.

Guilt is a good thing. It tells us that something is wrong. It tells us that we can do better. It tells us that our children need to be free. Free radicals. Radical in owning their lives. Radical in thinking for themselves. Radical in being curious. Radical in being real.

There's a whisper of revolution. Then it'll be a murmur. Then it'll talk. Then it'll shout.

Home education. Home education. Home education. Home education. Home education.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Every Child Matters - what does it mean?

Every Child Matters (ECM).

A bit confusing, isn't it?

Our ex-government wished us to believe that we parents should be told what we want for our children. We want what most parents want. We want healthy children who achieve what they are capable of and we want them to become independent of us as and when they can.

The ECM five desirable outcomes are:

Be healthy
Staying safe
Enjoying and achieving
Making a positive contribution
Achieving economic well-being

Of course, the ECM agenda only related to England.

"However, at a deeper level Every Child Matters is a language game or discourse - a favoured way of thinking that is imbued with the full weight, authority and power of the English state."

There you have it. The ECM, like so many other productions of government, is a language game. As a language game, it includes those who play the game and excludes those who don't. It excludes those people who believe that the government should butt out of their children's lives and get on with their own business.

"As a power based construction of reality, this favoured way of thinking not only expresses an entitlement for England’s children and young people, but also inherent within it is a potential to exclude some groups of children, young people, their parent(s)/ carer(s). The Every Child Matters way of thinking has the potential to enmesh formal and informal educators in an unquestioning participation in the cognitive and semiotic traps of the ‘brand’, and in the assumptions, taken-for-granted beliefs, language games and the premises and practices inherent in that ‘brand’, which,

'While they create a way of seeing and suggest a way of acting, they also tend to create ways of not seeing, and eliminate the possibility of actions associated with alternative views of the world. (Morgan, 1986, p 202)'"

Since home education is an alternative view of regular or school or state education, then we immediately have a problem, Houston.

So the emphasis is on a bunch of symptoms, like childhood obesity, and the real wound, the real culprit dividing folks and engendering problems in society is the lack in some families and the overabundance in other families.

"In taking a shallow focus on such ‘symptoms’, attention at both national and local level is diverted away from deep and widening health inequalities between advantaged and disadvantaged communities in England (Department of Health, 2008)."

Once again, the shell game distracts us from the reality that underlies the lies in Every Child Matters:

" Wilkinson (1996) argues, it is from deeper inequalities in socially divided societies that negative physical and psycho-social health emerges for children and young people and also for their parents/carers. Linked to this are questions about the ‘invisibility’ of major aspects of children and young people’s lives within the five outcomes. For example, the whole question of spirituality is not mentioned anywhere in the outcomes framework."

"Inherent in Every Child Matters is a seductive and powerful potential to enmesh formal and informal educators in an obedience and passivity that may run contrary to our vocation and calling: to participate in a favoured way of thinking that glosses over, or institutionalises the invisibility of deep structural inequalities in contemporary English society. In engaging with the information and critique offered in this article, my hope is for formal and informal educators to be reminded of their active choice in how we operate in our roles and in our practice:

Whether as autonomous self actualising practitioners who have, “...a disinterested love of her fellows and an understanding of the aims she is pursuing and the methods of so doing - in other words, a mature person with knowledge, judgement, objectivity, and a sense of values in social affairs” (Younghusband 1947, cited in Jeffs, 2006).

Or, as an unquestioning technician of a favoured way of thinking promulgated and sanctioned by government – inherent in which is a specific and particular moral order."

I think most home educators saw through the role of technician during the threatened Badman and Balls invasion of our country of home education.

We are not technicians; we are autonomous self-actualising practitioners raising the next generation to the art of autonomy and self-actualising.

Quotes from

To home education! An alternative and a reality. May you be spreading your light forever.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Love that Lao-Tzu part 2

'He who overcomes others has force; he who overcomes himself is strong.' Lao-Tzu - Chinese philosopher.

As I said before. Or rather Lao-Tzu said.

Yes, a lot of truth in that. I am always fighting the deep and utter destructive force of self-dislike. I'm not sure where it came from. Perhaps a father who dealt out unrestricted criticism. Perhaps a mother who never really cared for her own personality.

Who knows?

Only now. After ........... years of living am I starting to say, "Just a minute, pet, y'er as good as anyone else." Sometimes pet feels as good as anyone else. Sometimes pet doesn't.

But the fight to go up a few levels to self-love without reaching the vaunting heights of overweening pride - which isn't likely in my place - is enduring.

Funny, though. Sometimes, I believe in myself. Other times, I definitely do not.

Could it be hormones? Intuition? Memories of various errors?

I still don't know.

I do know that this year I'm on the path of self-confidence. I'm spending time with myself doing things with myself that I know will generate good feelings and confidence. I'm taking time to enjoy being me. I will ensure that I know more about myself and celebrate the uniqueness that is Danae.

There'll never be another person exactly the same as me. There'll never be another human exactly like you, dear reader, either (unless you're a twin or a triplet or....). It's a great thought. It's a terrible thought.

Make the best of yourself. Do be the best you that you can.

Take care of yourself. Because you're you. Because you should. Because you're here now. Because your best can be pretty amazing, if you let it.

Love that Lao-Tzu

'He who overcomes others has force; he who overcomes himself is strong.' Lao-Tzu - Chinese philosopher.

Ain't that the truth?

Friday, 28 January 2011

Funding cuts

Funny how Scotland and the North of England are having lots of deep cuts, but the South of England isn't so affected. In the Scottish Review, Alf Young writes:

"...two weeks ago, on 13 January, we were told that, 'because of the most dramatic reduction in public spending imposed on Scotland by any UK government', what we can expect from the government and Scottish Enterprise in the year starting this April is just £2.9m. That represents a cut of 69.5%. It couldn't be much more dramatic. Indeed I have asked the chairman of Scottish Enterprise and Scottish ministers if any other body is being asked to take a bigger cut. It is out of all proportion to the squeeze being imposed from London. In cash terms, the overall Scottish budget is being cut by 4.5% next year. The enterprise, energy and tourism budget, which includes overall funding for SE, is down by 5.9%. I have asked of an explanation of why the cut we are facing at Riverside Inverclyde is an order of magnitude or more greater than any of these. But so far no explanation has been forthcoming. Our other funder, Inverclyde Council, could have decided that it too would cut its contribution next year. Like all Scottish local authorities, it is also facing a squeeze. But it has confirmed its planned contribution of £2.1m. Beyond March 2012, we simply have no idea what money, if any, will be forthcoming from the Scottish government and Scottish Enterprise. We have been told this is a one-year settlement and no commitments can be made after that. There is even talk of a review of regeneration policy. We will do what we can to deliver on our reduced budget. But the long-term commitments we were given when this regeneration challenge was first offered and accepted don't now look worth the paper they were written on."

Wheels within wheels. Politics: the art of broken promises.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Bye, bye, libraries

There once was a society that banned books. Not all books. Just some books. It was Germany. It was Nazi Germany. Nazi Germany did not like books. At least, Nazi Germany did not like some books. So officials piled them up and burned them. I wonder what they would have done to the internet?

Our society does not value books. It does not protect its library services. LAs, looking for ways to cut more things of value to ordinary people (besides, of course, ordinary people's jobs) are rubbing their hands in glee at the thought of getting rid of libraries. Unless, of course, those people who are the backbone of the land - the volunteers - will offer to step forward and run the libraries.

The writer, Philip Pullman, is on it here:

Did you linger in libraries when you were an emerging writer, Mr. Pullman?

I bet you did.

Were they important to you?

I bet they were.

When I was little, libraries, to me, smelt of holiness. They were a sanctuary of quiet, and an oasis of learning. They were respected. They were well-thought of. They were necessary because you just couldn't manage to buy ALL the books you might ever need.

Everyone can use libraries. Any age. Any stage. Come. Try a book. Even buy a book.

They give imagination free flight. They make you laugh. They flick the conscience. They stimulate your desire to know and grow. Books do.

So get rid of the libraries. Great plan.

A pivotal service in our country.

Shows that we are literate. That we read. That we seek knowledge. That we love knowledge. That we cherish knowledge.

And we meet other people in those places. And, if we have a home that's expensive to heat, we can sit reading in peace until closing time, and save a few pounds on the gas and electric in the flat or the house. Then there's always the social side of it. A smile from a toddler as he reaches that big fun book he's had his eye on since he first got strollered through the library door. A nod from the elderly gent combing through the newspapers. It all adds up to community.

Isn't too much to ask to spare them, is it? The staff probably get paid peanuts; our library building is old and tired, but still has life and value.

Do we value important things in this country?

No, only money. We only value money. And what value has money?

What indeed?

Saturday, 22 January 2011


'"Democracy is the best political system of slavery ever invented. In a democracy, the slaves believe that they are "free" and have a "voice" in their affairs. Thus, they are willing slaves and, as such, the possibility of a revolt is much less than in an overt system of slavery." - Christopher S Hyatt, 'The Psychopath's Bible'


I was led to this website by a friend on facebook. Thank you, Lou.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Asking those questions

I have asked myself those questions: Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter?

They're interesting questions. What does it mean to live, for example? Have I ever skied or surfed? No. In some people's eyes, then, I haven't lived. Then, again, other people might live to ski or surf and, if they can't, they might feel that they haven't lived. What does living mean?

I think I loved. I've loved a few times, not terribly successfully. Occasionally, for a long period. Other times, I haven't done badly. I totally love my children too, but I watch that they don't get smothered by my care and mother love because I want them to have their own lives, their own loves, even if I don't approve. They need space to make the most of my mother love.

Did I matter? Presumably, I've made a difference in a few lives. Given a bit of advice that's helped. I've certainly been free with my examples of home education and encouraged people to think outside the ticky box system that we call education. I'd like to hope that, should I die tomorrow, some folks would shed a tear or come to the funeral. But I wouldn't force them. Funerals aren't fun. At least, I'm not a fan of them.

Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter?

I don't know.

The jury's out - hopefully for a long time to come. I don't think I'm ready to answer those end-of-life questions quite yet. Get back to me in thirty years or so. Eerie, though, how we hoard our ambitions and put off doing til tomorrow what we should have done years ago. Maybe it's a wake-up call to think of the questions we'll be bound to ask ourselves at the end of our journey.

Or maybe I'll ask them later.

Procrastination - an art I'm getting good at.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

At the end of life

"At the end of our lives, we all ask,


Brendon Burchard

Live today.

Love today.

Make a difference.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Ten weeks in a nice warm place

I'm due to go to Nottingham on Monday to visit a very dear friend who has been asking me for, at least, fifteen months to visit.

Not exactly the ten weeks in a nice warm place that my other friend mentioned in her phone call. She wants to go. But she is trapped by her duties and the service she gives to her family and her dog. She can't go. I know of no one more deserving to have a ten week holiday than J. Her tolerance, patience, warmth and friendship is enduring.

I would like to be super-rich to send her on a ten week all expenses paid cruise.

I'd like to send everyone on a ten week all expenses paid cruise or vacation. Out of January. Out of the cold. Out of the thoughts of Christmases past.

So everyone who reads this please imagine that I can send you on a ten week all expenses paid cruise or vacation at a time of your choice. Just kick back and imagine it for a minute. Feeling good? Me too.

I feel good when other people feel good. I feel happy when other people feel happy. We're all connected. Every one of us.

So to everyone who reads this blog I wish you the most exciting, spiritual, amazing, fascinating, easiest year to follow your imaginary ten week cruise.

Just imagine what we could manifest if we really concentrated on everyone's good...