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