Autodidacts, Tasmanian devils and many-headed hydra. The whole menagerie.
In this case though he felt so strongly about NotSchool - he's been incredulous since I first mentioned it to him and went straight off to do his own research - that it must have been worth the risk, I guess. It's a bit close to home for Ali: in other circumstances (being born ten years later, to a different kind of parent) he might have ended up caught in the NotSchool net, because as he says in the piece, he rejected the externally structured learning environment of school. But he needed the complete freedom of autodidacticism (I see he calls it autodidactism and I'm not sure which one of us is right!) to maintain his engagement with the learning process. This is the boy (man, now) who is teaching himself the mouth organ - in Russian. He has his [Linux-based] operating system set to Russian and his internet browser, to make himself learn and use the language. When he's happy with his ability, he'll start on another language. He's already done Japanese.
I'm not telling you this just to express pride in my son (though he does amaze me a lot!) but to try to convey the power of natural learning to anyone reading who might not be familiar with it. I see that Carlotta has written more about it here, and also linked to this brilliant chart by Kathleen McCurdy, which she is thinking of sending to the review team.
Lucy made a brilliant point in the comments of yesterday's post. If the review was about child welfare, then why does it now seem to be all about education? Of course, ECM conflates the two issues, and the one about finances, so I suppose it's to be expected that officials will switch seamlessly from one to the other according to whatever suits their agenda now that they have statutory licence to do so. For us on the receiving end, it only serves to further the general impression that we're under attack.
I was thinking about what I'd like to write on a single A4 page to Mr Badman as I was digging yesterday (amongst other things!) and it's taking shape now. I might be ready to blog it tomorrow. I want to convey something to him about time. The free time necessary to allow a child like Ali (and the rest!) to learn in the only way he can: without interference. The valuable time it would take out of my day to keep records, write reports and conduct meetings such as to convince a third party that sufficient learning was taking place. It would rob us of so much that's essential to us, and for what? As various people have said on the lists, there no good reason to change things. I fail to see why "maintaining the status quo is out of the question". An adequate case for that position has not been made.
And finally, EO is to have a secret meeting with Mr Badman, the details of which can't be reported to the rest of us?
Come on. I've avoided blogging about EO for a long time, ever since I was sternly rebuked for it by those who are now queuing up on the other side of the fence to sling more mud at the org than anyone else. Apparently it's ok for them to criticise, but not for me. So be it.
But my opinion hasn't changed: there is no place for a subscription-based single political body within the UK home education arena, primarily because such a body would be vulnerable to co-option by government in the same way as so many have in the past (NSPCC and Shelter to name just two.) If Mr Badman is envisaging a Tasmanian-like 'solution' to this non-problem, he's going to need, as Vijay Patel of the NSPCC said: "An independent third party" to play the part of the Tasmanian devils, as it were.
I don't think for one minute, judging by their track record, that the current group of EO reps would agree to take on that rôle, but I don't like having to take that on trust. The organisation should be disbanded, in my opinion, or should restrict itself to only running the helpline, which it does very well. Then the government would be left with no option but to deal with the many-headed hydra that would be left in its place. And HEAS. But again, I don't think Jane Lowe would sell us down the river: I don't really think any UK home educator would, to be honest. Mr Badman is on a hiding to nothing if he even tries that approach.