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?