Monday, November 20, 2006

Government's threats to HE freedoms

Well I've been mulling over the monitoring home ed issue quite a lot. Clare posted a link to a discussion she's been having with someone here, in which she sets out all the relevant points with perfect clarity, IMO. If I was going to respond to their consultation exercise it would just be to provide a link to that page, to be honest. It would be hard to find a better way of explaining the issue from a home educator's perspective.

The petition now has 230 signatures! Which is great, until you look at the 7000+ they got for the one on repealing the hunting ban, or even - as someone on our local home ed list pointed out - the one requiring the Prime Minister to stand on his head and juggle ice-cream on the grounds that, "If he's not going to resign, the least he can do is provide us with some entertainment." Trouble is, knowing Tony Blair, he probably could. And happily would. Bless.

Radio 4's Start the Week this morning included a great interview with the Observer's Henry Porter, billed as follows:

"Someone, somewhere, is watching you. Whether it’s CCTV, ID cards or the DNA database, increasingly our movements and biological make-up are being monitored. To some people, these are examples of technology coming to the aid of crime fighters. To the writer HENRY PORTER it is part of a deeply worrying trend that could already be out of our control and he explains why he thinks our freedom and privacy are under threat. Suspect Nation is on More4 tonight at 9.00pm."

He came across as being reasonable, relaxed and made his arguments in a compelling way that nobody could argue with. People like Henry Porter, Clare M, Neil TM and all the others just repeatedly, patiently making the arguments against total blanket surveillance gives us the best chance of waking up, working out what's happening and maybe trying to slow it all down or something.

But even then, not meaning to be too depressing ("own personal hell" still ringing in my ears LOL - dare I ever say anything that's not cheery or happy again? ;-) it IS happening. It WILL happen. I can't see how it can be stopped. The technology is there, it cannot be uninvented and it's just too tempting for states not to use it. The universal compulsory schooling laws have done such a good job at switching off most people's critical thinking faculties, family allegiances, territorial instincts and a range of other healthy natural attributes that I just can't see anyone stopping the steamroller process. The very thought of trying reminds me of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, especially this image, surely a scar by now on our race memory:

So what's to be done, when governments are hellbent on tyranny? I did an I Ching reading about it this morning and got 46: Sheng: Growth, with changing lines in the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 6th places resulting in 30: Li: Fire. Don't be impulsive. Just remain unremittingly persevering, in a consciencious and consistent way. If we are sincere, we will find an affinity with people in power. At this time we can work together in the spirit of solidarity to achieve something, if we're modest. The concluding Fire hexagram is about shining brightly - unashamedly doing what we do - to illuminate the world.

So if the I Ching is right, which it always has been for me, then all is not lost and what we're currently doing will work.

We were chatting about it at our home ed meeting today, thinking about the practical problems government will face if it tries to impose a curriculum on us. Lucy made the point that we could all, if pushed, show already that we comply with the National Curriculum and my home ed reports to LEA have been set out in such a way, to demonstrate that we do tick all their boxes even though we learn naturally. So in reality all 'complying with a curriculum' would consist of for most of us, assuming it was similar or identical to the one currently used in UK state schools would be some extra paperwork.

The real difficulty would be if we had some kind of schedule or timetable imposed on us, or testing. All of which are the natural next steps after curriculum. But even then, unless they camped out in our living rooms or fitted us with surveillance cameras, how could they possibly enforce it? Chilling thought: rewind twenty or thirty years. I wonder if the CCTV debate and other losses to our privacy and liberty were debated in these terms - i.e. surely they couldn't/wouldn't actually do that? But look: they did.

We've slipped so far down the steep totalitarian slope it's hard to see how we can possibly stop the fall at this late stage.

Having said that, I had 'totalitarian' parents, in the sense that they wanted to oversee, monitor and control every single thing I did and I can tell you that even with unhindered 24/7 monitoring provision, the tyrant's goal is an impossible one. My parents demanded I be asleep by a certain time every night, but without the use of drugs or a cosh they couldn't force sleep to happen. (I became insomniac instead.) They shut me in my room, took out my lightbulb and removed all my books but I still stayed awake.

They were determined I would accomplish certain skills and manners but they were only partially successful, despite their best efforts. You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.

What you can and will do, unfortunately, by trying to subsume a person's will, is bring about a reaction that might manifest itself (amongst other ways) in rebelliousness, apathy, disinterest or outright violence, depending on the person. But the thing about controlling other people is that it's a very difficult habit to break, once established.

No I don't think the lawmakers have our best interests at heart. Only the interests of preserving and inflating our national economy and preventing us from ever rebelling. But I keep coming back in my mind to the glimmer of hope that the officials we deal with are real people and can, in many cases, be dealt with as such.

Having said that, we're often up against the attitude expressed by Education Welfare Officers that 'some parents are not fit to home educate and these should therefore be weeded out and banned from doing so.' - with which I disagree. But it is a prevalent and deep-seated opinion throughout society and I think it's akin to the 'some people don't deserve to have children' sentiment I hear chunnered by people (most of whom don't seem to have any of their own.)

On a related note, Lyddie was accused of being a brat by a passing stranger in Asda today. It's just made me want to run away and find a self-sufficient haven. I have days when I just don't want to be amongst the world when it gets like that.

No, this is not further evidence of my "personal hell" - we had a lovely day apart from that, honest!

Dear me. Blogging, huh? Who'd bother with it? ^^


Anonymous Elderfaery said...

lol about personal hell thang;)

We should set up a group blog called ourpersonalhell.blogspot. I could definitely give you a run for your money in the personal hell stakes. LOL. PMFAL;)

And WHAT kind of a poo poo calls someone elses kid a brat in a supermarket? And besides, most kids do a good brat act in the supermarket: it is compulsory. I would have done my classic trolley rage move - sneak up on them a few aisles down and *WHAM!* "Ooops, Oh! I AM sorry!"

10:13 pm, November 20, 2006  
Blogger Gill said...

ROFL EF if I wasn't thinking about going to bed I'd set it up right now!

Zara said about the supermarket person: huh, she probably watches Supernanny and sees her children for half an hour a day. The ultimate insult! LOL

I did stand there, in mid-aisle and say in my best very loud Mary Poppins voice: "I beg your pardon?!" but she slunk away ;-)

It's just depressing when a child expressing her opinion (ok, forcibly expressing..) is defined as a brat. No wonder we're all so sodding compliant.

Gah. Why do I bother with supermarkets anyway. We should be growing our own food! Is being perched on a windy wild Yorkshire hilltop a valid excuse to give up on crop-growing? Must try harder!

And double gah at me actually paying heed to other people's ill-formed judgments. Humph. ;-)

10:26 pm, November 20, 2006  
Blogger Tim said...

All children are brats.

Just a fact of life.

Everybody farts.

Only the the terminally ill-mannered would point out the brattishness of a child to a parent or the smell to a farter. It is quite unnecessary.

(PS mine smell of roses. No, not the children)

10:41 pm, November 20, 2006  
Blogger Tim said...

Nice to see you blogging again so soon. Must admit, I thought it would take a week. :)

10:42 pm, November 20, 2006  
Blogger Gill said...

Tim, you shall forever now be known as Tim-Whose-Farts-Smell-of-Roses. :-)

At least until we have evidence from Jax to the contrary.

10:49 pm, November 20, 2006  
Anonymous Jax said...

What type of evidence would you like? He says he doesn't snore either.

11:02 pm, November 20, 2006  
Blogger Gill said...

hehe! Rumbled!

OK Jax, we don't want a bottled fart in the post, but you could post a WAV of the snoring if you like ;-)

11:09 pm, November 20, 2006  
Blogger Rosie said...

Yeah- whatever they do, all we can do is carry on doing the best we can. And if they do end up with a nationally uniform strategy for dealing with he-ers we can do the same. Freedom is a state of mind. (How many times did I actually say 'us' and 'them' then?)
and Lol at a conversation turning from something deeply worrying to something that made me laff (although perhaps also worrying!)

11:11 pm, November 20, 2006  
Blogger Gill said...

LOL Rosie, yup. From the ridiculous to the - ridiculous!

OK I do love blogging really ;-)

12:09 am, November 21, 2006  
Blogger Dani said...

Hi Gill,

I know what you mean about it being at best a matter of extra paperwork, but I think it's not at all given that we could all demonstrate that we comply with the NC. It's really very prescriptive about *what* people should know *by when*. If we have to bear it in mind, our autonomy is out the window.

12:29 am, November 21, 2006  
Blogger Gill said...

Agreed Dani, if they test our children's 'progress' as well as imposing the curriculum.

I love your draft letter to AJ, by the way. The Lord Adonis quote was news to me. That was pretty good for us, then :-)

I'm really looking forward to seeing what reply you get.

12:37 am, November 21, 2006  

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