Monday, 31 December 2012

Review of the year

I accept that home education will always be an easy target, and that governments of various kinds will try to monitor and assess home education. This is because a) they don't understand that home education is different to school education and that home education can be a MORE EFFECTIVE type of education for an individual child or young person; and b) I suspect although I cannot prove that states require control of their young and the state-provided education is one which controls the child.

I also have a faint suspicion that governments will not move too obviously against home educators because their motives will then become too obvious. Control, dictatorship, 'nudging' people to act as the 'nudgers' expect and wish other people to act are all situations where one group of people judges another group of people and finds them wanting.

We are all slaves, but home educators are less steeped in their slavery than others.

We all participate in our own slavery because we have been taught to be slaves. We are not free because we, usually, cannot follow our own stars and develop our own talents. We are not free because the system is intrinsically anti-human, anti-growth of the individual and anti-spiritual.

We are all meant to be vibrant souls bathed in sunlight and reflecting rainbows.

We are meant to be radiant.

Are we radiant?

Most of us don't shine in our own glory; we make do and compromise and settle and put up with and think that, later, we'll have time to polish our talents.

But there is only this time.

There is only this moment...

So when will you do something to become the soul you should be?

Shine on into the New Year.

And may you fly in all your glory through all the days of your lives.

Have a joyous and happy New Year.

Monday, 10 December 2012

When you're dying...

A palliative care worker in Australia asked some dying people what, if anything, they regretted or would have/should have done differently.

They said:

"I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me."

"I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

"I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings."

"I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends."

"I wish that I had let myself be happier."

The excerpts from the article were quoted in Nursing Times (Vol 107 No 18 10.05.11).

They are obvious really, but everyone needs reminding. I am going to be happy (a thing I find hard to do, but I can do it for today). I can phone a friend or visit. I can tell those I love that I love them. I can go shopping for a few Christmas presents for my mother (who is terrible to buy for).

I can concentrate on things that matter. Just for today. And maybe I'll keep the habit going for the rest of my life and, at the end of it, maybe I won't have any regrets to tell whoever is around to hear them.


Sunday, 2 December 2012


I've been thinking about something I learned about nursing a while back.

It's called 'the therapeutic relationship', and it's mentioned here:

Although it refers specifically to a healthcare practitioner and a client (once called a patient), the relationship between them should lead to a beneficial change in the client (or patient).

I was thinking that perhaps local authorities who seem to cause much turmoil in the breasts of some home educators think they have a 'therapeutic relationship' with said home educators. Or the local authorities think they should have a therapeutic relationship with those unusual characters.

I mean, it must be dreadful to have to 'engage' (how I hate the duplicity of that word) with these demanding, rejecting, feisty individualists who believe that either their children can educate themselves or that their children are better off being educated outside the state school system.

Imagine going along to a person's house, knocking at the door, and, when it's answered, saying, "Hello, here I am. I've come to help and support you and deliver a beneficent relationship wherein you, as my client, will change for the better."

I can imagine the responses. Can't you?

Even in a seemingly lovely idea like the therapeutic relationship there is a little worm at the core of the rosebud. There's the idea that, basically, buddy, you need to change: you're not doing something right, you're skeetering about thinking you're all that BUT I KNOW as the local authority person that, really, there's something not right about you.

Well, you must be wrong (or a little bit suspect) since you think you can deliver an education better than the one lots and lots of our resources and good people are serving up in school. You must be needing a therapeutic relationship with us.

Then, again, we need you too. We need to inform you that you're wrong or, if you're not too bad, we need to tell you that we'll let you get on BUT you've got to fill in consultation forms or questionnaires about what you're doing with your kids and you MUST TELL US if you need support.

And you must need support because you don't want it. BUT you must be in need of it because most of the population put their children in school and YET YOU DON'T WANT TO PUT THE SCHOOL IN CHILDREN.

You're telling us that our schools aren't good enough for you so we want the opportunity to tell you that we don't think your non-schooling is good enough for us.

You can see how and why everyone gets a trifle testy about the whole therapeutic relationship thing.

My idea is that the real therapeutic relationship rests in parents giving to their children the gift of trust (where they believe that the children can educate themselves) and the gift of time (where the children aren't dragged away from something they are in the middle of to do something else that someone else has decided they should do for no reason that is based on evidence that it's good and proper that they should do that something). Then there's the most important one: the gift of love. The sincere and honest caring that goes into home education. Love.

So when a local authority starts poking about in your life, try to feel sorry for it and wish it all the best. It needs a little love.

It needs a therapeutic relationship in its life.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Hello, Russia

Hello all you lovely Russian people who are tuning into my blog.

I can tell you that my daughter, E, is enjoying her second Russian course. She gets up at silly o'clock on a Saturday morning, spends over one hour on a jerky, jumpy bus, and then walks through a University campus to reach you.

Your language. She likes it very much. From the little acorn of a Russian course last November (2011), your alphabet and your cadences have intrigued her and she is one of the few people left in the classroom as the last day approaches. This coming Saturday is the end. Or not the end.

There'll be another course without a doubt.

It's so amazing, isn't it, the wealth of language learning now? In my young student days it would've been difficult for me to learn Russian. Now E studies for three hours on Saturday mornings. She's even bought the text (and the CD) because whatever E decides to study she goes into it deeply and joyfully.

I'll miss the Saturday morning treks up to town with her when I do my Christmas shopping and envy her the hours with your beautiful tongue.

Спасибо (Thank you).

Sunday, 4 November 2012


If I had a sparkler for every time someone has told me that his or her child has improved tremendously when the family began home educating; that he or she had taken an interest in something, decided to become a different person, learned to read, write, draw, sing, go camping, attend meetings, get political, volunteer, ice skate, exercise, bird-watch, grow some vegetables, obtain a kit for electronics, horse-ride, write letters to the editor of the local paper, scrutinise what the newspapers are printing, acquire Japanese, Chinese and Russian, and keep going with a musical instrument to study as opposed to dropping everything to bone up for SATS, teach him/herself artwork that wows people, rampage around the internet and find out everything about anything they are interested in... and much, much more.

"If I hadn't had the chance to... (says one of my young people) which led to...(something else)... And I had the chance to do ... (whatever)... I can even give presentations without being bullied, and get more comfortable making speeches or even talking to people."

"And I wouldn't have got more confident with Maths", says my young person. "They put me in the wrong set in school and I lost confidence because lots of the others were better than me whereas I was good at English and should have been in that set."

"Then I took Maths outside of school at my own pace, and did quite well at it. I'm glad about that."

The other of my young people, when asked "What do you think you've done that you don't think you could've done if you'd stayed at school?" said: "Oh, I'd be on all day."

There'd be so much to say. Too much to tell you.  

Isn't that what you want for your children's lives? That they can take all the opportunities out there, all the good things available and - well - avail themselves of those good things?

That's what I want.

For my children. And for what they remember about me. 

I hope that they remember me for giving them the chances that they've had to create their own lives and not live the way other people dictate that they should live.

I hope they live according to what they would like for themselves, and not how someone else tells them to live.

I hope that they sparkle and shine, all the wonderful days of their brilliant lives.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Not the post you might have seen

You're not seeing things. Or not not seeing things. There was a post about Humphrey's visit to a home education group meeting, but I shouldn't be writing late at night or early in the morning, and I posted it instead of saving it as a draft.

I made a mistake.

Not a big mistake.

I suppose the world won't end. Not your world. Not mine.

Instead I will apologise. It wasn't ready though. The blog post entry wasn't ready. It was a draft. I was experimenting. I was thinking and writing. And I wasn't satisfied with the writing. It didn't inspire me. If it doesn't inspire me it might not inspire you. I want you to be inspired. I want me to be inspired.

My children always inspire me. They do. They've made me more me. I have had their company in the home educating journey for years and they've taught me every day.

They are inspiring. The young people. They are.

I like my children. I like spending time with them. I like learning about them and with them. I like them, and I'm so grateful to have had all this precious quality time with them to enjoy them and to enjoy seeing them change and grow. 

I know they've been happy at home base. I know they've chosen to educate themselves about things they find interesting. I know they've been more themselves, instead of the false selves that school forced them to construct for protection. I know that they've never been stuffed into small pigeon holes because you cannot pigeon hole a human spirit.

We've been happy. We are happy. What better way to educate your child than to inspire them to be happy?

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Death of a thousand cuts

The cut of constant consultations. 

The cut of negative media 'reports'.

The cut of governmental reports.

The cut of bad men who masquerade as good men in politics.

The cut of people who 'allow' us slaves our freedom.

The cut of offering 'help and support'.

The cut of universities demanding x number of A levels.

The cut of numpties from local councils offering to monitor home educators even though the real meaning of education escapes them.

The cut of 'no funding' for home educators.

The cut of being made to search for non-existent jobs and not assigned benefits even though we are doing vitally important facilitation work with our children's education.

The cut of home educators accepting monitoring because they think the lady from the council is 'nice'.

The cut of local authorities Education Welfare Officers shouting at a new home educator that she MUST let them into her home.

The cut of local authority officers being told of the agony of your daughter having been bullied to within a few degrees of the death of her sensitive spirit and telling you that "you should have come to us for help".

The cut of some MPs 'getting' it, but never being able to trust them because we don't trust MPs because they've let us down before.

The cut of being suspected child abusers, over and over and over.

The cut of people who say they want to check our children because some home educators might be abusing their kids and not seeing that they are defaming our good names, our reputations and sinking our hearts into the black hole of distrust and hurt because they are really accusing us of damaging our children.

The cut of schooled people not understanding that we understand that children learn independently and freely and not through coercion and pain.

The cut of local councils saying you should be on a special database because you love your child enough to give up your usual life for him.

The cut of turning to the possible apparent sources of help in society when you are falsely accusing of hurting your child and find that they all agree with your accusers.

The cut of ignorant people who don't understand and won't understand admonishing you about socialisation for your children when their kids are out desecrating public spaces and ripping off elderly neighbours.

The cut of everyone thinking that schooling is education.

The cut of local councils putting your child in a database of NEETS (Not in Education, Employment or Training) because you don't think it's their business to know what your young person is doing.

The cut of local council assigning your child to a list of NEETS because they are home educated.

The cut of Child Benefit losing your form, that you carefully and tenderly filled in, and cutting you off Child Benefit.

The cut of the government 'helplines' not recognising home education as a legitimate alternative to school, and cutting off your Child Tax Credit or Child Benefit.

The cut of not knowing whether you will be able to see your grandchildren home educating.

The cut of other countries falling to the demands of anti-home education lobbies.

The cut of thousands of hours of work by home educating parents in re-analysing incorrect statistics (Badman) promulgated as an excuse for radically changing home education.

The cut of having friends and families and neighbours think that you are nuts for choosing to home educate.

The cut of having nothing in common with people in wider society when they complain about the terrible job schools are doing and you say "home educate" and they look at you like you are a freak.

The cut of telling people who are ranting about the school's reaction to little Royston being bullied and you suggest home education, and they say, "Is it legal?"

The cut of trying to tell someone about home education to have them say, "Do you have safe and well checks?"

The cut of your child going to Harvard at the age of fifteen because he is so ready for the challenge and everyone saying that you 'hot-housed' him and that you've abused him by not letting him be a child.

The cut of seeing the 'inspector' calling at your door when you haven't made an appointment when the dog has been sick on the cat and you're late getting up because you took your youngsters to see a London show and you all slept in and you know she's going to report that she 'saw no evidence of an education going on'.

The cut of assuming that, as the local council person doesn't like what you do, he will issue a School Attendance Order which assumes that SCHOOL IS BEST.

The cut of knowing that complete strangers can demand that you jump through lots of hoops which can still end in a School Attendance Order, just because they don't 'approve' of your educating habits.

The cut of having a school fail your child and being forced to accommodate the prejudices of someone who thinks school is best.

The cut of Education Welfare Officers asking what sort of socialisation you give your child and frowning when you tell them that young Lisle goes to home educating groups, and then asking if he sees any 'normal' children.

The cut of everyone thinking that you're a bad parent for being so stupid as to think you can educate your child because don't experts do that?

The cut of having local authorities tell you what they believe is the law and what their policy is, but you know what the law really says and you have to tell them that they don't know their job, but they don't care because they believe what they say is right and, anyway, they have a policy that says they can do whatever they say they wish to do.

The cut of.... (insert your own. If you're a home educator, I'm sure you'll have more)

Monday, 8 October 2012

Ivan the Great

Ivan Illich, that is. Ivan Illich the great.

He says: "Like highways, schools, at first glance, give the impression of being equally open to all comers. They are, in fact, open only to those who consistently renew their credentials. Just as highways create the impression that their present level of cost per year is necessary if people are to move, so schools are presumed essential for attaining the competence required by a society which uses modern technology. We have exposed speedways as spurious public utilities by noting their dependence on private cars. Schools are based upon the equally spurious hypothesis that learning is the result of curricular teaching."

"Highways result from a perversion of the desire and need for mobility into the demand for a private car. Schools themselves pervert the natural inclination to grow and learn into the demand for instruction. Demands for manufactured maturity is a far greater abnegation of self-initiated activity than the demand for manufactured goods. Schools are not only to the right of highways and cars; they belong near the extreme of the institutional spectrum occupied by total asylums. Even the producers of body counts kill only bodies. By making men abdicate the responsibility for their own growth, school leads many to a kind of spiritual suicide."

From Deschooling Society, Ivan Illich, Penguin Books Ltd, 1971

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Every Child Safeguarded

Mr. Humphrey Pumphrey-Carrick-Watson (HPCW) sits in his bureaucratic office where he thinks up new policies everyday. It is his job.

Ms. Coleen Clevercogs (CC) is his personal assistant.

HPCW: "I don't like this business of homeschooling, y'know."

CC: "I believe that in the United Kingdom it's called home educating, sir."

HPCW: "What? Home educating? When it's homeschooling?"

CC coughs apologetically: "Not everyone sees it as schooling, sir. Some home educating parents believe that 'schooling' is what you do with a horse, not a child."

Her boss looks at her sideways: "They all have kitchen tables, don't they? When they let the little bl... er... young people out of the cupboard under the stairs?"

CC: “Home educators as a rule don't keep their children in cupboards under the stairs, sir. The children are quite widely educated in other places such as museums, the environment, observatories, friends' homes, church halls, forests... The home edders are quite well aware that their classrooms are the whole wide world..."

HPCW holds up a hand. "Humph! But they are lazy, aren't they? I mean 'educating at home' just means you can't be bothered to get up to force them out of their jammies and into the school uniforms..."

CC: "Home educating parents are generally opposed to forcing their children to do anything...sir."

Her boss raises his eyebrows. "Oh, that kind..."

CC: “Er, sir, since you don't seem to know any home educators perhaps you should spend some time talking to them. It smacks of bigotry if you just condemn people for their views if you don't agree with them..."

"Dirty word, at the moment, CC." HPCW shuffles a pile of papers from one side of the desk to the other. "There's, of course, the safeguarding issue. The most important matter in hand..."

CC: "Naturally. But home educators are less likely to hurt their children than are parents who 'force' their children into school."

HPCW: “Eh?”

CC: "Yes, sir. Schooled children are more at risk of harm than are home educating children."

HPCW: “Huh? How's that?”

CC: “Well, Mr. Pumphrey-Carrick-Watson there are more schooled children so there are more schooled children being abused. Add to that, the fact that it would be so difficult for home educators to abuse their children.”

HPCW: “Ha! They can't wriggle into the cupboards under the stairs, ha! No exercise 'cos they're too lazy to get their kids to school.”

CC: “I'll pretend I didn't hear that, sir. It's defamation: you are harming the home educators' reputation, decreasing the respect in which they are held and...”

HPCW: “I knew it was a mistake to send you on one of the Law GCSE courses.”

CC: “Home educators are regarded with suspicion by many people in society so it would be difficult for them to harm their children. There are a lot of malicious referrals by neighbours and others to local authorities saying that the children are running wild all day and not learning anything. It's a basic lack of comprehension of the true learning process which occurs at all times and in all places...”

HPCW: “So you're saying that they're all running wild – which is a lack of care by the parents, isn't it? - but the parents are also keeping them in stair cupboards so... I mean... It...”

CC: “Yes, exactly, sir. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about home education, sir.”

HPCW: “I need coffee.”

CC: (handing him a cup) Of course you cannot treat home educating parents as a different species.”

HPCW frowning: “Why not?”

CC: “Well, we don't do safe and well checks on under-2s as a routine measure in our quest to safeguard every child. Schoolchildren aren't visited in the school holidays by local authority 'monitors' and they aren't checked on if the parent rings in to say the child is sick.”

HPCW: “Of course not. Those children are safely at school. School means they are safe...”

CC: “Not particularly, sir. Do you want to see the statistics on teachers and other school employees who have been arrested and/or charged with some kind of abuse against children in their charge?”

HPCW: “Er, not at the moment, Miss Clevercogs. Do you mean? Well, are there a lot of... Never mind, schools have a duty of care that... Um, well, yes, my nephew's arm was broken by bullies last year and the teachers maintain that it didn't happen at school and yet...

CC: “Yes, sir.”

HPCW picks up a pen and twiddles it around his finger. “I think I see what you are saying, Coleen. We can't treat home educating parents differently. We can't monitor them because we don't monitor schoolchildren's parents at times when the children aren't at school. It's discrimination, is that right?”

CC: “Right, sir. And it might activate the Human Rights Act. Families have a right to privacy. Local authorities can enquire about the education parents are providing to their children, but even that's an awkward one because local authorities expect school types of learning.”

HPCW: “Kitchen tables. Sharpened pencils. Tests. Exams. Qualifications instead of learning.”

CC: (smiling) Rather a shame when, if you don't have a qualification you don't get a job but when you do you're overqualified for it. You can't win, sir.”

HPCW: “Unless your uncle, Lord Wadgletter, gives you a leg up and you get a post interning for the Home Office like I did.”

HPCW: “Coleen, how do you know so much about home educators?”

CC: “My sister has home educated her four since birth and I was home educated for five years when my mother took me out of secondary school because I was suffering from bullying.”

HPCW: “Get your sister on the phone, would you, Coleen? I'd like to meet her and her family.”

Friday, 14 September 2012

The Case Against Monitoring Home Education

Exam Results

"Greater regulation does not produce better results. The following quotation from a peer-reviewed academic article on this topic made the following observation:

'The authors of this study find no evidence from their analysis that supports the claim that states should exercise more regulation of homeschool families and students in order to assure better academic success in general or improved higher-education success in particular. On the contrary, the findings of this study are consistent with other research findings that homeschool students perform well academically - typically above national averages on standardized achievement tests and at least on par with others on college-admission tests - and do so regardless of whether they live in a state that applies low, moderate or high governmental regulation of homeschooling.'

(Brian D. Ray, Bruce K. Eagleson, "State Regulation of Homeschooling and Homeschoolers' SAT Scores," Academic Leadership, August 11, 2009)."

The above was quoted in Kelly L. Green's book 'A Matter of Conscience: Education as A Fundamental Freedom' from Rubeus Books.

More from Dr. Brian Ray can be found here:


And what about the safety of children who may suffer harm in the care of home educating parents (which is always the elephant in the corner in every debating room)?

""As the debate on home education has developed, I have become particularly worried about the way in which various issues have been conflated; I am especially worried about the conflation of safeguarding and child protection with quality of education. I deeply regret the way statistics have been used to suggest somehow that children are intrinsically at greater risk if they are being home educated; I believe I am right in saying that not a single home-educated child has had to be taken into care as a result of a child protection plan, yet there are those who have sedulously spread the myth that somehow children are at greater risk through being home educated."

The above is a quotation from Michael Gove's blog:

January 12, 2010

While debating the non-issue of home education during the Balls-Badman (hellish) period in the continuing struggle between local authorities and legally but alternatively educating parents and children, this was said by Andrew George MP in Parliament on June 9, 2009:

"... there may be public concern about this sector, but having visited a group of home educators in Penzance in my constituency, it was clear to me that in many cases these people have chosen this option precisely because they want to escape abuse and bullying in schools. Some choose it for other reasons. In a letter dated 19 June 2007 that I received from the then Under-Secretary in the Department, Lord Adonis, he made it clear that under section 47 of the Children Act 1989 the powers already exist to intervene in cases in which the state believes that a child may suffer harm. I agree with the hon. Gentleman. The state already has the powers to intervene where it suspects that harm may be going on."

Representatives of the state may intercede in any case when they have reason to believe that children are at risk whether those children are educated at home, at a private school, at a state school or anywhere. Home educators live under the same strictures of law as do any other parents. We are accountable to the law for how we treat our children and we are accountable to our children for their safeguarding. We are also accountable to our children for how they are educated. Safeguarding and education are not intertwined. They are separate issues.

So what, exactly, is the problem, Wales?

P.S. Did you know that one synonym of 'intervene' is 'come to school'? 

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Party Popper

I'm trying to be a bit more creative with the blogpost titles.

Karl Popper was a philosopher and professor at the London School of Economics, and a cool dude.

The cool dude said some sayings that I think apply to our modern day local authorities and general authorities who want to change home education things in Wales and, eventually no doubt, in the rest of this Great Britain.

He said: "The open society is one in which men have learned to be to some extent critical of taboos, and to base decisions on the authority of their own intelligence."

Home educators have learned to be critical of the taboo that protects the ineffable mess that is the school system in England and Wales. The taboo is CRITICISING SCHOOL. Our solemn duty is to believe all the adoring comments by those who love school. 

Children at school can be watched and their possible abuse discovered by caring and alert teachers. Rubbish. It is just such rubbish. Thirty kids in a class going in fifty different directions at the speed of light and the decibels of five aeroplanes landing at Heathrow. I don't think so.

Home educators base decisions on the authority of their own intelligence which tells them that school teachers have enough to do grading tests and grading children to notice whether or not those children are being abused. There's also the fact (dreadful though it is) that persons in authority over children are not immune to using their positions of power to perpetrate abuse upon children themselves.

Our friend Karl also said: "No rational argument will have a rational effect on a man who does not want to adopt a rational attitude."

No amount of me telling you, dear local authority, that parents love their children and part of loving a child is wishing to give her the best education tailor-made for that child, and that parents love their children and don't spend their time abusing them even though those children are not in school. I can say it until I'm blue, yellow and orange in the face but my rational arguments won't influence you, local authority people, because you don't want to accept my rational comments and good sense. You want to control my child's education. You want to control my ability to see that my child has the best possible education I can give her.

You cannot see that controlling my child's education means taking responsibility for it. If you take responsibility for it and my child feels that she has been let down by the choices you make for her then she will sue the authority off you.

Sooner or later. Or sue-ner or later.

When you assume responsibility for education you are directly responsible for each and every lack  (probably as defined by the subject of that education - the ex-child or consumer of said education). You will be taken to court to face the idea of remedy. In other words, you'll have to pay and you'll have to pay hard, and you'll have millions and millions of adults who will feel that you have let them down and not provided an education suitable to their needs. It's a can of worms. No, it's a can of Lambton worms. That's why PARENTS are responsible for providing an education and who in the statescape gives a toothpick if an aggrieved adult sues his parents for providing him with a lousy education.

But you can't get it, local authority. You just can't get it.

Let's go back to Karl Popper. "I see now more clearly than ever before that even our greatest troubles spring from something that is as admirable and sound as it is dangerous — from our impatience to better the lot of our fellows."

Yep, it sure is admirable and sound to want to protect our every child who matters from abuse. So you go in to home educating domiciles and you check the child. You could ask the child, but then the child could be protecting the parent so you examine the child medically. Or you grill the child like a sausage on a barbeque. Or maybe you don't because the child might sue your ass-umed authority for torturing him.

Remember those darned inconvenient Human Rights:

"It is an absolute right – in no circumstances will it ever be justifiable to torture someone.

  • Inhuman acts will amount to torture when used to deliberately cause serious and cruel suffering.
  • Treatment will be considered inhuman when it causes intense physical or mental suffering.
  • Treatment or punishment will be degrading if it humiliates and debases a person beyond that which is usual from punishment."
Treating one person (a home educator) differently to another person (schooling child parent) will result in a whole pile of human rights attacks on local authorities. Trust me, I'm a home educator. And it's simply called discrimination. And it's not a proportionate response. It's just like cutting your head off because you have a migraine (although, as a migraine sufferer, sometimes I've felt like it) but it's hardly helpful.

"There is an almost universal tendency, perhaps an inborn tendency, to suspect the good faith of a man who holds opinions that differ from our own opinions."

Karl again. No, we home educators don't agree that school is just the apple pie dandy thing that most people seem to be convinced that it is. We don't agree that home education should be monitored because it's our responsibility and - let's face it - local authority bods do favour school-type education (it's what they understand). So we'all don't share the same opinions, and we must suspect each other's good faith. Or, basically, we can't agree that they should monitor us because they're bound to be looking for stuff that we aren't providing (in the case of autonomous learners that would be schooly tick boxy examy testy curriculumy stuff) and we're providing stuff we think that they won't understand because they like schooly tick boxy examy testy curriculumy stuff and they understand that. Understand?

So the local authority folk don't like us because we don't want school for our children but the local authority folk DO want school for our children. We don't share the same opinions and neither side thinks the other is right. Some bad faith there, perhaps?

Popper: "True ignorance is not the absence of knowledge, but the refusal to acquire it."

It didn't take home educators long to 'get' the ideas behind the law. It took them a little study to see why the law is as it is. The law safeguards the whole system. It's constructed to allow the children who don't fit the one-size-fits-all (those clothes are always so wrong for me) to fit somewhere. It means the local authorities/government won't go down the pan trying to remedy the foul failings of a dreadful mishmash that the school system can wreak on a youngster. It means that parents have to carry the can and hope that they are good enough providers to have their children win through and get what they want whether or not their kids are home educators or schooled.

It's all carefully constructed. But, if you start messing with it, you introduce instability. It comes crashing down. All of it. 

I advise you: don't mess with it. You don't have a system big enough and tough enough to survive this crash.

Home educators have told the authorities over and over and over and over... but it's a case of "True ignorance is not the absence of knowledge, but the refusal to acquire it."

Thanks, Karl. 

The torture stuff: 

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Welsh dodgy aims

Another Trojan horse? The Welsh government want to monitor home educators.


Do they want to spend more money on something that doesn't need to be fixed? Do they want to prove to Welsh parents that they don't trust them with their own children? Do they think the local authorities can do better in providing an education?

Nah, can't be that last one..

This blog entry says a lot of things that I would have said:

"The long arm and bottomless wallet of the Welsh Assembly Government" on

Thanks Sprout and Squidge blogspot.

I can't comment at the minute. Cos I've met the dragon inside me and it's pretty pissed. Again.

And I don't mean drunk.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


No, not the jobshop or that place advertising for teachers. The agency I mean is the one I've been thinking about for a few weeks.

It's the power you give yourself to be an agent in the world. To be active. To determine. To do. To say.

One of my friends is about to lose her job. She knows that the powers that be are massing against her and waiting for her to make a mistake, even a teeny tiny one. Then, when she does, she will be let go. However, she will not WILL NOT do anything. D is determined that she's staying. Never mind that the ptb are determined to oust her. Never mind that it's costing her monumentally in stress and panic. D is going to stay.

D has no agency.

When you work for an institution your power of agency is limited or non-existent. You do what the institution wants or you look for another situation.

You have no agency.

Home educators have agency. They are agents. They choose. They select. They captain. They are active. They determine. They do. And they say. Boy, do some of those agents say.

That's why the staff of a local authority sometimes fear home educators. They don't understand agency and, until they become dissatisfied with how they deal with other people 'outside', they never will.

Most of society has given up on agency. Or they think that outside agencies will solve their problems, get them jobs, tell them how to live and what to do.

Institutional non-agents are accustomed to citizen non-agents. They understand them. They can mold and manipulate them. They can treat them badly. They can demand silly things of them.

We need to be agents in our own lives. Home educators are agents in charge of educating their young or themselves. That's why institutional agents don't like us and seek to monitor us – to reduce our agency and increase the illusion of their own power.

Do not give up your sense of agency to anyone. Empower your young people and yourself. Never give up. Never give up your power. Don't squander or surrender your agency. Remember:

"Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up."
A Winston Churchill quote from

Monday, 27 August 2012

Testing times

I hear that the Welsh government wants to monitor home educators.

Because they want to make home education as good as school education. (huh!)

Wherein lots of people get bullied, hurt, strips torn off them for not being good at P.E. and sneered at because they like classical music because we're all supposed to be 'the same'.

Because we've all got to pass tests because people need to know where we're at even though we're good at something and you only have to give us that something to do to be able to know that we're good at it. And other people who have passed lots and lots of tests may not be good at the somethings that they've passed the tests in.

I passed an exam in Geography years ago. Darned if I can ever find Puerto Rico or Syria or Dornoch on a globe or a map though.

Tests are for companies to make lots of money out of.

Tests are for computers because computers score very highly in tests.

I used to take lots and lots of tests at school. Couldn't tell you what I learned while studying. Maybe I learned the stuff I might have needed to know on the test, but then it all got flushed because I didn't need it for any more tests.

You do something because you're good at it and everyone thinks it's pretty or useful or clever or looks nice, and then you make money out of it. 

Test-makers make money out of tests. Test-makers make money out of people taking tests.

You can tell I don't like tests/exams/monitoring/people trying to assess other people because

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” 

And heaven forfend that we love people, eh?

Quote from Mother Teresa:

(Uh, darn, now I have a mad desire to go to Dornoch)

Monday, 20 August 2012


I've been thinking about school and society again. As you do.

You'll know if you read this blog that I don't like the idea of schools.

It's just because school doesn't cater for individuals. Society used to not only tolerate different people but also encourage them because we don't get inspiration from people who strive to be and do everything that everyone else does.

As George Bernard Shaw said, "All great truths begin as blasphemies."

And home educators begin as blasphemers having the time and ability to search and question and learn and grow and change and think. To think. What damage has been done to people throughout the ages by folks who jump into 'doing' before 'thinking'.?

My dad was very fond of the traditional 'thinking cap'. He would say to me, "Don't go diving in just put your thinking cap on first'.  When I was very young I thought it must hang in his cupboard somewhere. I even had a sneaky look once or twice.

Just think how society would change if everyone thought a bit. Even a little.

"Education would be more successful, and more enjoyable, if less time was spent teaching to the test and more time was spent teaching students to think for themselves. I'm not alone in believing this. In a recent Cambridge Assessment Research Survey, 87% of lecturers said that too much teaching to the test is a major factor contributing to students being under-prepared for degree-level study."

It's not only that students are under-prepared for degree-level study, they are unprepared for life. We're often thoughtless, selfish, impatient, impulsive beings. We dive in when we should think. That's what the old saw "Look before you leap" means.

"As an antidote to teaching to the test, I recommend a philosophical approach. This means teaching students to be critical, reflective enquirers. It is all about putting in their hands the tools they need to find answers for themselves, and stimulating them to begin thinking more deeply and critically about ideas and arguments."

We live in a teen-age society. I don't mean that all teens are bad, far from it. I mean that we are still not quite adults. We give away our power to schools, to banks, to politicians, to doctors, to dentists, to 'experts'. We are not agents in our own lives. Teen age society. Not quite ready to accept responsibility. Young society judges people by numbers in tests. Mature society knows that everyone has something of value to say and that tests don't always measure anything important.

"...Teaching students to think for themselves isn't an alternative to preparing them for tests. It's actually a good way of equipping them to face the demands of their examinations. In most exams, marks are available for the student who can impress an examiner with an answer which shows real depth of understanding. The best way of preparing students to produce answers like this is to teach them to think well."

Obvious, isn't it? Teach 'em to think. Or rather don't teach 'em. Let the ability develop naturally. We think therefore we can manage everything better. We think therefore we are kinder, more sensible, more tolerant.

That's just my thoughts on thinking anyway.

The quotes are from:

And I found the words from GBS in

Thanks to E for drawing my attention to the Guardian piece.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Our Deepest Fear

                                                    Our Deepest Fear

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others."

 Marianne Williamson - from "A Return To Love" 

Quoted in this blog:

What is your deepest fear? Is it that your child will fail or that your child will succeed? We do not trust our children in this land of the United Kingdom. We force our young to stay for their early days in boxes learning what someone else tells them to learn. We do not trust them to learn what they need to learn. We do not see them as agents in their own lives, and we do not allow them to be agents in their own lives.

When will we learn to trust our children's birthright of self-determination and mastery?

Wednesday, 1 August 2012


Genuinely, I feel totally exhilarated when I find something new. It could be a website, a saying, a book, a television programme. 

And I get excited because I can. No one is watching me as I punch the air and screech a bit. Or shout with sheer Olympian glee (just thought I'd throw in the reference. Aren't the athletes doing well?) or giggle at a well-found witty saying.

Maybe that's the overriding factor in home education. We home educators can be real. We don't need to don our masks, we don't have to pretend to like things or dislike things. We don't have to hide genuine feelings.

What is more exciting than knowledge? Maybe, for you, lots of events, happenings and occurrences.Not for me, though. I'm like one of those dear gold rush miners panning for precious nuggets in amongst the pebbles in the bottom of the stream of information.

A hugely enjoyable time for me comes towards the end of the day when my girls are discussing dinner, and the nature of food, and anything else that their conversation stumbles upon. Better than the best movie or television programme. For me. It's real, it's a measure of how far they've come in the last home educating years, and I joy in their mature debates.

In other words, I am feeling thrilled and exhilarated! And so glad to have the freedom to enjoy life.

(Thanks to Deb of for liking my blog and saying so on her blog. Deb, I will try to write more often!)

Sunday, 29 July 2012


The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends upon the unreasonable man." George Bernard Shaw.

I thought that was true, when I read it in Change Your Life in 7 Days' by Paul McKenna. And I think that home educators are anything but reasonable. What is reasonable about making your child's life so important that you give up a large chunk of your own life? But what is more important than your child's life, health and happiness? In my book, nothing is. 

A lot of people don't think it's reasonable to give up the 'everyone does it' mentality of schooling to offer your children a super-special amazing tailored-to-them and up-close-and-personal-education. However, I think it's reasonable for your children to demand the best from you. They deserve the best: the best I can produce.

It's unreasonable in society's eyes to so value the health, welfare and education of your children above anything else (usually money). Again, I don't go along with societal values because, to me, people are more important than obscene amounts of money and other people patting me on the back or thinking I'm a fine sort of woman because I take the easy way and send my child to school.

It's free so it's not reasonable to keep your child away from school, is it? Actually, it's not free. We all pay for schools from our taxes but we don't dictate the moral tone nor the method of teaching nor the selection of the teaching staff nor the curriculum. We pay for it all but choose none of it. As pipers - or, in fact, payers - we certainly do not command the tune.

It's better for your child to go to school, everyone says. Is it? Do you know my child? Do you know what situation my child flourishes in? No, you don't. I have the advantage of always knowing my children and being able to predict which situations that those young people will find conducive to learning and, more importantly, to health and happiness. I always maintain that no person who feels unsafe and unappreciated will learn anything other than he or she should avoid the unsafe situation.

And I've been told that 'You need to live in a box in order to think outside a box'. If you live forever in the dark how will you be able to see? You need to cope with non-school in order to cope with life which is - in the main - full of not-school happenings.

All in all, I think I'm unreasonable. I want the best for my children. I need to think outside any box. I need them to feel safe, happy and healthy. I wish them to develop coping skills for the real world not the fake world of school.

I think home education fills the bill nicely. Even if I have to pay for all the tunes.


Thursday, 12 July 2012


Oh, there are a few around. Consultations, I mean. There always seem to be a few around. Asking us what should we do about...' They have to ask us. Or they have to seem to ask us. However, have they already decided what we should say? You can slant questionnaires and questions in certain ways to produce certain answers. I used to think about questionnaires for hours. I worked for my local police department and, even amongst our small number of people in the office, I found that people defined words differently.

I'll give you an example. I think a porch is part of the building. M. who worked with me thought a porch was outside the building. So an outside light could've been inside a porch, but outside the building because a porch was, in her view, on the outside of a building. However, I thought that a light inside a porch was a light inside a building.

It was something very simple, even something quite silly, and we laughed about it. But it made me think. It made me wonder which words we use can mean other things to other people.

I learned somewhat to be careful what I thought about words, and the way that I used them.

That's part of the reason that I believe writers are underrated, and that words can be minefields.

There was a saying going around some years back. People would ask 'Have you stopped beating your wife (or husband or partner) yet?

It's a simple sentence, yet to answer the question involved is difficult. If you say yes, you admit that you've been beating up your partner. If you say no you plead guilty to continuing to beat up your partner.

If you answer yes or no, you can't win.

Sometimes you just cannot answer a question because of the way it's stated.

I don't like consultations. I really question whether the answers Mr and Ms Public turn in are ever read or, if they are read, whether they are understood. I wonder whether the wealth of knowledge that the 'experts' (like home educators) are listened to or can change anything if they are listened to. I wonder whether the people who compile the questionnaires or the questions see the porch light as part of the indoor lighting system or outside lighting.

What difference does it make? Well, the questionnaire that I was charged with designing was to ask householders about their houses. Those householders had been burgled. The burglars didn't like outside lighting because it showed up their activities, but they didn't care about inside lighting. That was just one question on one questionnaire. But that questionnaire was quite important in the 'war against crime' that the local police were carrying out. Those questions were helpful in knowing what to do with people's houses to make the houses unattractive to burglars. They helped to target police funds too. They gave householders some clues about why the burglars chose their properties to burgle.

So consultations, when you are really interested in the answers, can be illuminating. If you are just going through the motions because the system says you should consult then it's all a bit dark, isn't it?

Consultations. We, home educators, know a lot about them. More, I would wager, than the average citizen. And we've filled in (or filled out) a few of them in our time.

Consultations. They can be illuminating. Or not.
(Apparently, the e-consultations tool has been taken offline due to technical problems)