Wednesday, March 07, 2007

You don't have to be rich...

.. to home-educate well, and before this turns into a distasteful paraphrase of Prince's Kiss, I'll go on to list the reasons why it can be, in fact, better for your educational provision when you're in the fashionable state of 'relative poverty':

  • Sourcing free and/or affordable equipment becomes part of the learning process - involving creative exploring of charity shops, scraps stores, recycling, Freecycling, ebay and mutual support networks.

  • Absence of off-the-peg learning schemes and materials leads to development of creative learning systems - like our squishy letters, for example.

  • Valuable new skills are developed out of necessity - most of us here now know how to build a PC, for example, and we had to create our own Internet network system, in the days before Microsoft did it for you. We've learned how to fix our own washing machine, and lots of other practical skills.

  • Tight financial planning hones the arithmetic ability - when every purchase requires a complex balance sheet adjustment, maths and finaces quickly become second nature for all involved.

  • Better, more creative use is made of existing possessions and space - when there is no ready supply of cash to fund replacements, different ideas need to be employed - we often alter and adapt articles of clothing, for example, which requires imagination and certain skills.

  • In the present ineffective 'throw money at every problem' climate, I think it's especially vital to develop and demonstrate this alternative approach.


    Blogger Rosie said...

    well said, Gill, I couldn't agree more, in fact I believe that I, or we, as home-educators can have quite a different agenda from state provision. I am beginning to understand more fully the implications of 'learning for life'

    10:36 pm, March 07, 2007  
    Blogger Deb said...

    One more reason: contrary to the beliefs of the vast majority of people I know, school does *not* give every child the opportunity to "better" himself. If it really did, it would not be the case that children of professional parents generally go to university and enter the professions themselves, whilst children from "relatively poor" families generally end up being "relatively poor" parents themselves. It would not be the case that "good" schools are generally populated by the middle-classes, and that "sink" schools are generally populated by the "relatively poor" - but that *is* the case.

    So if you are "relatively poor", the school system has very little to offer you. Home-education, on the other hand... :-)

    9:55 am, March 08, 2007  
    Blogger Gill said...

    Exactly, Rosie! :-)

    Good point, Deb, I guess education can be a route to affluence if it's delivered appropriately with that in mind.

    But I've known some very affluent, very unhappy and unfulfilled people in my time, so it's never been my primary concern in deciding the provision for my children.

    The people who seem to me to lead the most worthwhile, contented lives are those people who spend their days doing what really matters to them - whether it's something they have a burning passion to do, or just something they enjoy doing, whether it earns them a lot of money or not.

    That was the goal I had in mind for my children when I thought about what arrangements to make for their education - although, of course, one or more of them might turn out to feel passionate about becoming affluent, which would be deliciously ironic IMO!

    Something else that sprang to mind: when my grandparents' generation were thinking about education they had the spectre of the depression and famines in the early 1900s in their mind, which will have affected their own childhoods. In those days bettering yourself wasn't a lifestyle choice, it was a matter of survival wasn't it? The difference between life and death, sometimes.

    Maybe I'm being too complacent to take a different view, but then again, in those days *obedience* was the key to being a good employee and earning a living wage. But now, I wouldn't want my children to learn obedience. Somehow I feel it's no longer a useful survival skill and likely to be more of an impediment to their wellbeing than a positive attribute.

    I reckon there's some basis for a thesis in the above somewhere.

    11:40 am, March 08, 2007  
    Blogger Elaine said...

    On the bbc this morning was a story on a state school that has bucked the system and adopted an open approach to learning where subjects are not seperated and the teachers are there to give support and help as the children find out how to source information and create ...that was over 5hrs ago so i should imagine they have now removed the head to an indoctrination chamber and are busy de-briefing the rest of the school

    12:16 pm, March 08, 2007  
    Blogger Gill said...

    LOL! Which channel was that Elaine? Radio or TV? I'd like to listen to it if poss.

    Was it this place?

    12:38 pm, March 08, 2007  
    Blogger Allie said...

    uaveWe don't spend lots of cash on things for HE - no curriculum, or special equipment. But we spend over £50 a week on HE groups for the kids. It's only possible because we're both working.

    If we didn't have the cash we'd have to HE without so many groups. It would be possible, of course, but the kids really prefer lots of groups and socialising. Not really sure if we do have the balance right though.

    5:11 pm, March 08, 2007  
    Blogger Ruth said...

    Well we have managed to HE 7 on benefit so I agree you don't have to be rich. I sometimes wish we had more spare cash for outings tho. All spare tends to go into books and other resources cos it is cheaper to buy them than a trip into town with all 7 on the bus to the library and cafe.

    5:46 pm, March 08, 2007  
    Blogger Gill said...

    We did do more outings when the teens were younger and although they were mostly enjoyable and of benefit to the children's education, I think we've got more out of staying at home, because we've had to. I don't know why exactly, but there seems to be a subtle but key difference in the learning that takes place whenever something is *laid on* and the learning that takes place as a result of the student seeking it themselves, or having to.

    7:29 pm, March 08, 2007  
    Blogger Gill said...

    Seems like Blogger is playing up again! Here's a comment from Tech, who can't post it herself:


    I think there's a kind of erm, not sure if I dare use the word fascism, but it's how it makes me feel at times, around the use of the word Home in Home Education these days. Everywhere I read people saying how they're never at home, and most of the education takes place in the community, and how HE isn't about being at home all the time, like HOME is a bad thing. It's all about personal balance IMO, and yes, finances do effect what you can and can't do in terms of outings etc. I think though that that's a very important lesson - far too many children want, need and often expect constant entertainment, and can't seem to cope with just being. So when finances limit the outings and *resources* available, that old mother of invention comes into play to find alternate options. Which is a good thing, I think.



    12:30 am, March 09, 2007  
    Blogger Gill said...

    Excellent point, very well put IMO. I wonder if it's due in part, perhaps unconsciously, as a defence against the govt-driven hysteria about social isolation?

    1:30 am, March 09, 2007  
    Blogger Adele said...

    Hi Gill

    I promised to come and comment on your blog ages ago, didn't I? Sorry - have been away a lot of late for family reasons, and I'd forgotten all about it till I saw the link to this on Carlotta's blog! :)

    Anyway, great article! :)

    Assume this is in reference to the remarks of our dear friend Mr Mooney? (Don't panic, that *was* sarcasam! LOL)

    I don't think Mooney and those of that ilk are really all that worried about the financial aspect of poverty anyway. As others have pointed out elsewhere, I imagine it's the cultural aspect that bothers them most.

    Can you imagine Mooney et al being concerned that the children of families living in "relative poverty" (and the qualifier is important because *no one* in the UK truly lives in poverty) might be denied the opportunities of attending football matches or pop concerts due to finanical constraints? No? I can't either.

    Worrying about the limitations of a person's finances is quite a clever way of attmepting to justify prejudice. For, as you point out in this article, limited finances don't prevent families from providing their children with a decent education.

    I would guess that working class families simply aren't what Mooney would consider to be good "role models".

    The ruling class as a whole tend to see themselves as a model that all should aspire to.

    It's like how, for example, a charity for drug abusers might focus on helping them gain academic qualifications and assist them in finding work, assuming that these are the answers to all of life's problems; that anyone with a good job and a formal education will automatically possess the self-respect, self-esteem, self-control, and-so-on-and-so-forth, etc etc, blah, blah blah, to stop themselves from abusing drugs in the future.

    "Follow our example and all of your problems will disappear. We are the light and the way. Do not despair, for you too can be like *us*!" Seems to be the mantra of a particular type of professionals. When working with children it's taken even further into "We cannot let them be denied the opportunity to be like *us*!"

    You can't fight such a narrow-minded perspective. Closed minds see as little as closed eyes. Switching on the light might cause a faint uncomfortable glimmer of perception, but it won't generate vision. Such people see what they want to, and it doesn't matter how articulate and persuasive your arguments are, as they just won't hear them. :(

    " those days *obedience* was the key to being a good employee and earning a living wage. But now, I wouldn't want my children to learn obedience."

    I think it's still true, unfortunately, and it's not only obedience, it's even worse than that - it's out and out *subservience*. :(

    People are sent through the school mill to have their spirits crushed, and subdued, and broken, to ready them for a future as willing and subservient cogs in the Capitalist machine.

    Does that sound a touch hysterial? Sorry if it does, but this is what I see in the system, this is what jumps out at me. It is certainly my own experience of school at the very least.

    And that's why no way in hell will my kids ever set foot in one of those buildings if I can help it!

    [Climbs down from soapbox and beats a hasty retreat]

    1:45 pm, March 09, 2007  
    Blogger Gill said...

    Hi Adele. Thanks for all that - you make some very good points. Have you got any answers for this? It's a real puzzle to me.

    3:40 pm, March 09, 2007  
    Blogger Ruth said...

    I think outings can make learning contrived. When we go to a museum it is hard not to just go to the museum. The urge to do a project or read up on stuff is always lurking even if the kids just want to look at stuff and then forget it:) Now we don't go out so much it is true they have to find things for themselves.

    3:59 pm, March 09, 2007  
    Blogger Adele said...

    Hi Gill

    Sorry to go so *very* off-topic, but the panic that being asked for input sent me into reminds me so much of a Father ted episode! LOL! This bit:

    TED: My God!

    DOUGAL: What?

    TED: That's a good idea!

    DOUGAL: No it isn't.

    TED: It is Dougal, it is!

    DOUGAL: No Ted there's probably something wrong with it. You just haven't thought it through.

    TED: No no Dougal, you've had a brilliant idea. Hah! But break it down for me a bit more. What would an event celebrating all the different cultures in Craggy Island actually be like?

    DOUGAL: What?

    TED: What would it involve? I mean, celebration yes but what form could it take?

    DOUGAL: Ted I want out.

    TED: What do you mean?

    DOUGAL: I went too far too soon. I didn't know what I was gettin' into Ted. I didn't know you had to follow a good idea with loads more little good ideas. I'm sorry Ted. I'm going to sleep in the spare room.


    Yeah. Anyway... LOL!

    It's a puzzle to me too. Hmm...

    I'll have a think about it and, if that doesn't yield any brainwaves, I'll direct David to the article - he's the economics expert of the house, after all! :)

    4:02 pm, March 09, 2007  
    Blogger Gill said...


    Ohh I so miss Father Ted :'-)

    4:16 pm, March 09, 2007  
    Blogger Gill said...

    Ruth, yes that's what I mean. The way you say it makes much more sense.

    4:17 pm, March 09, 2007  
    Blogger Rachel Reed said...

    I agree with everything you say. I especially think that the library service would be of great help; they often will buy in books if they don't have them.

    Also, freecycle is great - all sorts of stuff goes on my lcoal list - piano's, caravans, cars....

    7:40 pm, March 09, 2007  
    Blogger Gill said...

    Hi Rachel, glad you agree :-)

    Talking about libraries, I wish schools were run on the same basis - we might want to use them then.

    7:44 pm, March 09, 2007  
    Blogger Rachel Reed said...

    LOL! Yes, "rent a teacher" for a day or two would be a great idea...

    I do think that "learning centres" are the way forward.......maybe one day the politicians might listen.....

    9:28 pm, March 09, 2007  
    Blogger thenewstead5 said...

    and all those things are some of the reasons why I find HE so much fun - nevermind why the KIDS like it ;0)

    9:04 am, March 10, 2007  

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