Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Mad keen

You hear the occasional comment.

"Those home educators are mad..."

Yes, I am, I admit it.

I'm mad keen.

I am mad keen on educational freedom, I'm mad keen on my young people learning in safe surroundings, I'm mad keen on my family learning whatever they wish to and whenever they want to.

I'm mad keen on home education.

Mad? No, just mad keen.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Truanting and NUTS

I'd forgotten how much I enjoy other people's blogs. And here is one to enjoy with gusto.

The extremely lovely Grit and her three home educating smashers are here at grit's day:

One of Grit's sidebars features this quotation from the General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (or, perhaps fittingly, NUT) saying: "If children are not in school they are obviously not being taught and this is of course a problem."

A lot of home educating families wouldn't see it as much of a problem, Christine Blower (nice name). They don't teach because teaching is less efficient than home education. In these days of incredible efficient technology, why do we need the fusty old knowledge of people who graduated - well - in the past. The now, the new and the knowledge (about almost anything) is ready and available at your fingertips.

"The effect of regular absenteeism from school on a pupil’s confidence and ability to understand what is being taught in the classroom is greatly affected."

Sorry, Christine, I don't happen to see your evidence-base for that assertion. In fact, I suspect that a child's confidence will rise when he or she isn't smacked repeatedly about the head with 'what will happen' if he or she does not perform like a trained (or untrained) monkey to produce results. Especially when the results tell you exactly nothing about the child. Ever.

“However, the hard truth is there is no one quick solution to solving this problem. Government needs to recognise that simply churning out yet more rhetoric about parents and schools needing to be more effective in tackling the problem will not work."

I am not particularly concerned about truanting. There are many reasons for it. Boredom on the child's behalf, the youngster being too advanced for the work, the child needing to do other things, the young person getting bullied... Lots of reasons. Has anyone ever asked those who truant why they do it?

Christine, I agree with you. Government tells teachers and parents to sort it out. That isn't going to happen so it's a waste of breath, but government representatives are good at wasting breath.

“There needs to be cross local authority service response and support in place for any real progress to be made in tackling the issue of truancy. At a time when local authority budgets are being cut the assistance that they could previously offer schools is being greatly scaled back. This is yet another example of the short-sightedness of the Government’s cuts agenda."

I am not sure what Christine expects here? What does local authority service response and support mean? More breath-wasting exercises, I fear.

Unbelievably, Christine, I agree with you on another point: Government cuts are not just short-sighted, but downright inhumane and destructive. However, I don't think that lack of money to 'tackle' truancy, like its some sort of player in a football game, is the problem, if problem there is. Kids - lots of kids - don't like school. They find school an uncomfortable fit. Or they can't hack it at all. It doesn't do it for them. It doesn't work. Or it's downright dangerous to their learning capacities or, in some cases, their very lives.

 “A relevant and flexible curriculum, free from repetitive tests and targets, would go a long way to ensuring all our pupils remain engaged in the education process and that schools are places of creative, vibrant learning.”

Ah, now, you're speaking my language. Flexible - or no curriculum - relevant learning. Get rid of the boring tests and targets. Encourage creative and vibrant learning.

By George, Christine Blower, congratulations! you are almost describing home education!

Dated 19 October 2011 but I doubt there has been much change since that date....

Friday, 7 June 2013

Belief in yourself

I'm calling this post 'Belief in yourself' or why you can do what you want without a college degree or university degree or whatever hoops and hogties that the system demands you progress through these days.

You know, I know, we all know that we have days when we can 'knock doors out of windows' (that's a favourite phrase of my mother's which I've never examined for logic, but have just accept much the way you accept the ancient flowered wall-paper in your first bedroom). Today though...

What I think it means is that you can change your circumstances. You can change one thing into another that isn't particularly like the first thing. You can transform a door - an exit or an entrance - into something you can see through, or open for a breath of air. You can do something that is generally seen as impossible.

Did you know that 20% of American millionaires never darkened the door of a college? 

I didn't know it either.

In How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be,
Jack Canfield tells us:

"Here's another statistic showing that belief in yourself is more important than knowledge, training or schooling: 20% of America's millionaires never set foot in college, and 21 of the 222 Americans never got their college diplomas; 2 never even finished high school! So although education and commitment to lifelong learning are essential to success, a formal degree isn't a requirement."

As someone who has felt more or less at home in an academic environment, I don't advocate it for everyone. We are all different. Some like the freedom of developing their own talents, maybe with a little aid along the way. Others like the step-by-step pathway that gives a definite reward.

But we swallow whole tons of guff about learning. No one really knows what motivates one person to put up with the disagreeable difficulties that they face down to achieve something that they find worth the effort.

"20% of America's millionaires never set foot in college, and 21 of the 222 Americans never got their college diplomas; 2 never even finished high school!"

Jack Canfield might have added that you can have a degree or a college diploma in one subject and make your mark in another area. Learning is flexible and individual. Learning is mysterious and necessary. It has a secretive heart and an infinite mind. Never let it reduce you to the minimum, but allow learning to stretch you and change your narrow world into something large and bountiful.