*My* 2020 Vision: a voice from the future
The year is 2020. I am 51 years old, and I have five children, aged 31, 29, 27, 17 and 13. We have lived in the same property for the past 23 years. None of my children have been to school since 1999, when the local state school nearly broke them when it tried to force them to comply with the then new National Curriculum and associated testing, standards and targets. At that point, 21 years ago, I deregistered them so that they could learn at home instead.
At first I thought I'd have to teach lessons to them, because I thought - wrongly - that was the only way any serious learning would take place. But I soon realised that wasn't working for them and that they needed to be free to develop on their own terms. My role became that of protector and facilitator, rather than dictating teacher. I stopped trying to lead them in their learning and started following them instead, as they followed their own gradually reawakening curiosity and became the people they were meant to be.
When the older children were growing up in this way, we lived in what the government used to call 'poverty', although we lacked nothing. To enable them to learn properly, it was crucial that I didn't try to go out to work, but we had the mortgage and bills to pay, so we were on state benefits. (This was in the days when the impossibly tight planning laws made land and housing really expensive, and before all financial debts were written off after the crash of '09 and subsequent public uprising of 2010. Before that, you might remember, most people bought all their services like power and water from the wealthy international corporations, the main owners of which were trying to take over the planet by secretly controlling all the governments and trying to pass a raft of legislation that would have created a very different kind of future for us all, if the people hadn't woken up and stopped it in time. So the cost of living at that time was kept artificially high and the budget for public services was gigantic, which meant that everyone had to be coerced into working long hours against their wishes and.. well, you'll remember the bad old days. You don't need me to tell you any more about that.)
It's normal life for most people nowadays, but of course twenty years ago we were unusual for not going out to school and work all day. It gave us time to think creatively and find alternative ways to provide for our needs, so the boys were building and repairing computers and network systems for themselves and then other people from about the age of ten. When it was time for them to start earning money, this naturally evolved into a thriving business which did even better after the crash, when PC World closed its doors.
One thing they loved was showing other people how easy it was to build and adapt systems: not just computer systems, but energy systems also. Without autodidacticism, there would have been no off-grid movement and the upheavals of ten/eleven years ago would have blasted us all back to the dark ages. Strange to think that I used to worry that they weren't doing GCSEs or A levels. (Remember those..?! Isn't it amazing that we used to put up with such things?)
It makes me shudder to think of how different it could all have been, especially when I think of the UK government's plans for us at the time, some of which were already being enacted. If enough people hadn't resisted, there would be no autodidactics. Home education would have been monitored and regulated by the state, and only practiced by the very wealthy anyway, who could afford for one parent to stay at home without breaking the ECM law.
I remember some very dark days early in 2009 when it looked for a while as if things would go the other way, and there would be no freedom or self-sufficiency option for anyone again. But they misjudged the limits of our gullibility, thank goodness, and they pushed us too far with their all-too-obvious doublespeak. Who can forget the rallying cry: "Never again, ECM!"? Difficult times, but at least they taught us the true value of what we nearly lost.
And to think, it all started with the [*ahem!* ;-) ] massive, last-minute response to that public consultation back in March, 2009!