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)

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Seeking the university

E and I have been going to University.

I went, some time ago. I suppose my stories have encouraged and interested E. They've got her 'into' the idea of higher education. Just in time for the increase in fees and everything for University.

Oh, well. Timing was never my strong point.

The Open Days are amazing. They're good for lots of poking my nose into places I don't normally get to see. Marvellous. And they're good for meeting people who answer my questions.

I've enjoyed the days. There are more Open Days coming up in different places, and I guess we'll be there, after having prayed for a sunny day.

I'm looking forward to it. I guess the days after my children left school I never really thought about where they might go when their home educating journey finished. Being a university graduate, I had a sneaking hope that at least one of those amazing young people would choose to study at a university. Or was the sheer immense scale of 'home educating' too big to admit those mini-dreams. It's been a while since the journey began. Is it nearly over? Probably not. In some way it'll never be over because we're still changing and growing, and if E goes to University then University will be just another venue for home education.

Now where's that new prospectus?