Tuesday, March 10, 2009

*My* 2020 Vision: a voice from the future

[In December 2008 the Government published the 2020 Children and Young People's Workforce Strategy [opens pdf], in which it sets out its vision for 2020, regarding the implementation of the Every Child Matters five outcomes. A public consultation about the fifth outcome: 'achieve economic wellbeing', which seeks to criminalise "relative poverty" for families and to force all parents into full-time paid jobs on work-for-welfare schemes if necessary, closes tomorrow.]

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!


Blogger these boots said...

Yes, I like this vision very much. To that end I am 'reponse identifier 126' on the child poverty consultation. A bit dismal.

4:51 pm, March 10, 2009  
Blogger Maire said...

Good story, takes me back to reading science fiction as an adolescent many years ago. Lets hope it's not all fiction though.

I have responded to the consultation, mostly by just saying no as I have not investigated this in any way.

I have found these links to the NSPCC



You may have them all, and I haven't read them in detail but hope they are useful.

blog about the NSPCC here



4:55 pm, March 10, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks Lucy. LOL, I'd better get mine in too then! Baby still has earache/toothache which is making things very difficult: (I just sent a prospecting email to a new editor.. containing a typo! *Rolls eyes @ self, and resolves to stop bothering.*) So will hopefully hit this consult deadline also, given that it's only a pasting job for me now.

Maire, thanks very much for the links and the response. Zara's just read this post and said: "Hmm, that's a bit hopeful Mum!"

5:16 pm, March 10, 2009  
Blogger these boots said...

Oh the editor will feel useful and needed - I'm sure they must hate to think there's no role for them!

5:29 pm, March 10, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks - there you go again, with your knack of cheering me up! :-)

Could have done with a useful editor checking through this post before I published it, too..

5:56 pm, March 10, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love that vision!!


5:09 pm, March 11, 2009  
Blogger thenewstead6 said...

Here here!

6:20 pm, March 11, 2009  
Anonymous Firebird said...

Waiting for the e-mail to tell me what number I was. I thought I was going to have a hard time thinking of things to say, but you know how it goes ;-)

10:47 pm, March 11, 2009  
Anonymous Firebird said...

There it is 187

10:48 pm, March 11, 2009  
Blogger Ruth said...

Love it. Reminded me of when Evie was reading the note in the prison in V for Vendetta except that was about the past not the future.

11:24 pm, March 11, 2009  
Blogger lotusbirther said...

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has released their consultation response. I haven't had a chance to read it yet but here is the link:

6:43 pm, March 15, 2009  

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