Monday, 14 October 2013

How teachers treat their students

Hello again,

I thought I'd try to let you in on some thoughts I've been - er - thinking.

I belong to a few groups, and regularly people join to say that they and their child or children are HAVING TROUBLE WITH SCHOOL. It's rarely about school stuff like little Piers can't 'get' Geography. It's often about how their children are treated.

In case you are in any doubt - and if you've been kind enough to read my blog in the past you probably won't be in any doubt - I don't think that schools, in their present form, should have anything to do with children.

As I've mentioned, the Geography, History, Languages, etc. aren't often the cause of concern. The teachers and how they react to one, a few, a bunch or all of the pupils in their classes are.

Now, it's many many years since I was at school (as a young person) and only a few since I was in an Adult Learning GCSE class to support my daughter by taking the course with her. During the science course, I was shouted at, by the teacher. Normally, I can establish a reasonably good rapport with people who are imparting their knowledge to me. I had done so with this teacher. But she shouted at me for putting two sheets in one of those plastic files the wrong way. 

Yes, I got it wrong. But I was already pulling them out to flip them over and start again.

I looked at her and I thought, 'I no longer allow anyone to so disrespect me for committing the heinous crime of making a simple and undeadly mistake, especially one I'm already about to correct'.

I nearly challenged her.

Something stopped me. The wild, stressed look in her eyes. The exasperation on her face. The response to the too-much-all-the-time that teachers are faced with.

So I kept quiet. I forbore to let rip at her during the class. I made a choice not to correct her.

Later, I did have a gentle word, and she apologised as one adult to another because we respected each other and were, largely, equal.

What happens, though, to young people who are 'slagged off' in a class full of their friends, schoolmates, enemies and who are not equal and not able to have a reproving word after class.

What happens when the balance of power is totally unequal? As in school. All day long. Every day.

Teachers should never abuse their power, not to seduce, nor to reduce those under their care because they will never know what type of damage and what sort of anguish the children in their power may endure.

When you get a parent who is responsible for providing an education to his or her child or children, the sheer knowledge that parent has about his or her offspring can inspire and improve every day they learn. I'm not saying it's always easy, but I am saying it's very likely to be respectful.

Respect for the learner is surely a building block of learning success.

That's what I've been thinking about during these rainy days of autumn.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

A little bit about Harry Potter and the home educated Weasleys

I like the Harry Potter series. It's interesting, and also is a hugely successful series spanning the globe with its impact. I also like that the children of the Weasley family, a major part of the whole Potter phenomenon, were home educated before they went to the wizarding school, Hogwarts.

Harry Potter is very lucky to know the Weasley family. He is mothered by the constantly caring and loving Mrs. Molly Weasley who is one of the few to give him presents on his birthday. She knits him sweaters, treating him like the other boys in her family of six lads and one daughter.

But Mrs. Weasley is not just a traditional motherly and comforting character: she has immense skill with her wand and vanquishes one of Lord Voldemort's most evil lieutenants - the vicious killer Bellatrix Lestrange.

Arthur and Molly Weasley have raised seven wonderful children at The Burrow, their cosy smallholding where chickens and gnomes roam. The boys are all individual and are all successful in their own chosen fields. Bill is a curse-breaker for Gringotts Bank, Charlie is a dragon-tamer, and Percy works for the Ministry of Magic. The twins, Fred and George, start a wildly successful wizarding joke shop and Ginny Weasley is the youngest daughter, competent witch, and last child of the family. Eventually, she marries the heroic Harry Potter

So, they did well, these Weasleys.

And why not?

They were loved. Their parents loved them enough to carefully and assiduously create a home and a life wherein the children felt safe and supported enough to learn.

And that, in home educating families, isn't fiction.