Mr Badman: a bad man?
I don't think Mr Badman is a bad man. I think, with great respect, that he is an old man. And if Tony Mooney reminds me of my dad, then Graham Badman reminds me of my stepdad who was brought up at a time when poverty was a grindingly real phenomena and in which learning the unwritten rules of society and thereby climbing conservatively but doggedly up the greasy pole, was the only route to success.
It's all there in that Powerpoint presentation: (Another version here if you're struggling to read that one) He's even thoughtfully set out the old unwritten rules for the benefit of those following after. No 'pull the ladder up Jack', him.
The thing is (can somebody tell him gently?) those rules don't really exist any more. Or, they might in some increasingly obsolete, failing (flailing?) old world systems of hierarchy - but it's not where the real power now is.
Mr Badman has been pointed at my blog on several occasions, so perhaps he is reading this. I hope so, because I really want to help him to understand the escalating problems faced by the old structures although I can tell that he's more than halfway there, when I look at his work and the projects in which he's involved.
Two key phrases spring out at me from his Curriculum for Trusts. First:
Highly individual, entrepreneurial [behaviour], adaptive to constant change, [is] becoming [the] dominant lifestyle choice in younger generations in UK and US
So he knows what's happening. You can't spend so much time in schools with young people not to know this. The world is changing. And second:
It is getting more and more difficult to conduct school as we have in the past
Mr Badman blames the effects of poverty for this. I disagree. I think the real reason is a fundamental change in people: they're not so easily coerced any more. They don't respect 'authority' (read: *power over*) in the way they used to and those [now not-so] hidden rules don't matter to them any more, kind though it was to share them with everyone. Working out how to climb that greasy pole is no longer most people's prevailing motivation in life.
So what is? Developing authenticity. Carving one's own path. Liberty (from dogma, rules, requirements). Curiosity and being free to follow it. Our young people want to learn what they want to learn. They no longer want the parameters of this to be dictated to them. They don't want to be guided, or judged, in the time-honoured way. I can already feel the hackles of the older generation rising in a unanimous silent, pompous cry of: "Well, it doesn't matter what they want!" Oh, but nowadays it does, I'm afraid. People are networked, informally(!) informed and empowered now: you can't keep them in their place any more. They want to set the terms of their own success, not to have them dictated by some other - be that parent, teacher, government, examining body, banker or employer.
'Success' is no longer an objective term. Like so many others, it has become subjective and in so doing, it's changing the world around it.
That Graham Badman should be in charge of the UK government's independent review of home education is no mistake: for either us or him. It's crunch point: a head-on collision of power with our innate instinctive understanding of what our children need on one side, and his remit to try to shoe-horn that into a desperately obsolete system that can't possibly adapt quickly enough, on the other.
The acquisition of money, status and power is plainly - according to his work - the most important thing in the world to Mr Badman and he perhaps assumes that to be the case for everyone else, though I think he really knows everything I've said here to be true. The question is - although he certainly seems to have the intelligence - whether he also has the necessary integrity, courage and youthful flexibility to take that on board.
As loving parents, we will continue to protect our children's autonomy. Whatever that takes.
PS: Two further points:
1. Just because Connexions doesn't know what they're doing (and you can read that both ways) doesn't make our children NEET.
2. The inevitable consequence of freedom is not criminality, as implied in your Curriculum for Trusts. Make the law fair, and most people will be happy to abide by it. The missing element, ironically, is trust.