Friday, March 06, 2009

The world *is* changing

I've taken this title from a previous post with a similar name.

So, 97% of the people who responded to yesterday's poll aren't intending to kick their home educated children out at any point to 'fend for themselves', let alone when they're sixteen. This corresponds with my own plans too and I think it's fair to conclude that home educating families tend to be very cohesive, supportive structures: the real value of which probably can't be estimated, though I'd like to see some attempts. (We see enough of the other sort!)

Mr Mooney would no doubt tell us that the majority of 'his children' have illiterate parents who wouldn't be reading my blog, but if that's the case, then presumably most of them went to school..?

But to look at his point more closely, he's not talking about illiteracy, or about children leaving home per se, is he?

"A lot of my children, who are mainly on council estates, don’t actually sit any GCSEs or any examinations of any kind when they’ve been home educated and they just go out into the world of work and fend for themselves. I think it’s an indictment of the education they get at home. Um, you see often we get newspaper articles showing affluent, middle-class families educating their children. That’s not what I see most of the time. I do see some very good teaching, by people who know what they’re doing, but the great majority of my children don’t get GCSEs when they’ve finished and go out into.. onto the workforce, just trying to fend for themselves."

I can spot as many as four erroneous assumptions in that paragraph (apart from the obvious one about whose children they are):
  1. That parents who live on council estates are somehow less competent in their ability to educate their own children. I just can't believe this is true: the kind of house you live in has no impact on your intelligence.
  2. That starting work without qualifications somehow equates to 'fending for yourself' in ways that starting with qualifications doesn't. This was the part I was struggling to understand. Isn't all money-earning work about 'fending for yourself'? I get that having certain qualifications helps you - may even be necessary - to get certain jobs, but if you don't want that kind of a job, then why get the qualifications? What if, like my sons so far, you can't find courses that suit what you want to do and you conclude that your time would be better spent enhancing your skills in self-directed study? If your parents are supporting you to do that, how is that 'fending for yourself'? (I've asked my dad for a translation: I think he's of a similar age and background to Mr Mooney. And, I suspect, ideology.)
  3. That being affluent or middle class makes you better able to educate your children. I can understand that if we want a world full of affluent, middle class people - impossible by its own definition though that would be - then we must only allow them to home educate, because people like me who are happy to live on less money are likely to bring their children up to be the same. Not deliberately, and other ways of life are not foreclosed to them, but I suppose parental values do tend to rub off sometimes. (Not always though: my affluent middle-class mother and stepdad's values weren't taken up by me, and I know plenty of people who became affluent and middle-class from impoverished backgrounds.) But to try and change that would be the most blatant social engineering, wouldn't it?
  4. That you have to have "good teaching, by people who know what they’re doing" for a child to learn well, or properly. I just don't think that's true, unless by 'good teaching' he really means 'good learning facilitation', and actually someone posted to the lists to say that they'd met with him and he was an advocate of autonomous learning. But only for the middle classes, it seems! The best kind of home education I've seen is just an extension of the best kind of early years parenting. Enabling children to learn; guiding them in their exploration of the world, surely comes instinctively to most parents. And books are cheap, computers are cheap, the internet is cheap, many educational outings are now free, our home ed meeting (for example) is free.. You do not need to spend a lot of money to home educate well.

It feels like open season on home education at the moment. Even the British Humanist Association thinks we need monitoring and regulating (Carlotta has responded.) Why do they all think we need "bringing into line with school children"? Is it the British obsession with queuing? If not, (and to be serious I assume not) then how many generations did it take us to go from the advent of compulsory education to the assumption of parental guilt? Not many. Not enough, though I suppose those two World Wars will have helped the process, as well as everything else.

Childhood does not need to be monitored and regulated. Childhood should be exciting, happy and free. The application by parents of something called 'common sense' should be assumed and any serious problems resulting from that, then dealt with accordingly. As with road traffic management systems, a proliferation of control mechanisms actually makes life more dangerous. Anyone who's ever had care of a child knows that lack of trust results in oppositional behaviour. Why shouldn't the same be true of parents? Where has society's trust in parents gone?

The legal complications of the Revised statutory guidance for local authorities in England to identify children not receiving a suitable education and associated clauses in the Education Act seem to be saying, as Carlotta and I both concluded, that local authorities - not parents - should now assess children's needs and what constitutes a 'suitable education'. Taken literally, this means that every time my baby cries, I should phone the council to ask for advice. Every time a child asks a curious question, we should ask the local authority to please supply a 'suitable' answer. I should stop there actually, because I know there are some people who really would advocate such a system. As if being employed by the local authority suddenly confers a person with untold wisdom and superiority.

Charlotte Iserbyt, who I've been watching on YouTube again, thinks that the one-world government plan intends to cut out the national level of government, but not the local one, which is why (in her opinion) local government structures are currently - and rapidly - being strengthened. She says that local government groups will speak directly to the international one, and take their instructions in the same way, so there won't even be the pretence of a democratic representation. I feel already, being in the receipt of statements like: "The crux of the matter however is that the Better Regulation Executive in BERR does not have the power to stop policy development in its tracks," that no single body or political procedure has the power now to stop this policy development in its tracks and it's a depressing realisation, but I don't know what to do about it. Except blog.


Blogger these boots said...

The Humanism Association piece starts with the phrase: "The BHA has responded to a Government consultation on the future of home education in Britain which was launched ahead of plans for new regulation."

What plans for new regulation? Do they know something we don't, or have I just missed something that everyone else knows??

9:35 am, March 06, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Oh wow, I missed that! I don't know - will ask Carlotta, who's writing about this today. Well spotted, L.

9:38 am, March 06, 2009  
Anonymous Sam said...

I, along with most of my friends, worked in various employment from the age of 14,myself 13, before we had any qualifications. It was the norm, we got Saturday jobs, after school etc. You don't need GCSE'S to get a job.
Am going to look at the BHA now :(

10:07 am, March 06, 2009  
Blogger Carlotta said...

"What plans for new regulation?"

Thanks for highlighting this, L and Gill.

I think I subliminally assumed that given that much of the rest of their response suggested they had very little idea what they were talking about, that this probably applied to the above statement, but I do agree that this point is worth pursuing and will try to do so asap.

10:19 am, March 06, 2009  
Anonymous Sam said...

I can't find a decent link to the following, I'm not as adept at negotiating government websites as you are Gill!
Do you think it's possible that they are going to change the National Curriculum, so that the law pertaining to education being suitable for individual children is covered by the fact that schools will be offering personalised learning?

10:27 am, March 06, 2009  
Blogger Gina xx said...

I have some things to say to Mr Phoney Mooney...


So, stick that in your case notes! :-)

12:37 pm, March 06, 2009  
Blogger Mieke said...

On a different note: Have you seen NSPCC have removed home edders comments from their Facebook wall? They really *are* trying to pretend they did nothing wrong and getting this all hushed up!

5:46 pm, March 06, 2009  
Blogger Mieke said...

Sorry, not the Wall, but the comments to their response letter to AHEd.

5:48 pm, March 06, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks Carlotta and Sam - that's a very interesting line of thought, which I will definitely be pursuing.

Gina, very well said! I can see it on a placard already :-)

Mieke, no I haven't but it's about time I wrote another post about them, don't you think?

6:01 pm, March 06, 2009  
Blogger Mieke said...

Totally! I will, too, in response to the absolute no-answer to the complaint I'd sent in.
And now this!
They've even got my usually very chilled dh putting angry comments on their Facebook now.
What the **** do they take us for?!

6:28 pm, March 06, 2009  
Anonymous sam said...

along with this one..

I'm sure you'll make more sense of it than I can ;)

6:32 pm, March 06, 2009  
Blogger cosmic seed said...

They've deleted all the wall comments too. :(

7:57 pm, March 06, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Goodness knows, Mieke. Did you see Sarita's report of her meeting with VP on the lists? That's an interesting read.

Sam, thanks very much. I'll try my best, though I'm up against it today - the baby (who isn't really a baby any more) has earache.

Cosmic, somehow that doesn't surprise me. :-(

I got a reply from my dad re: 'fending for themselves'. He didn't define it, but talked about it at length in the same kind of context as TM! I've replied asking for a specific definition, and for him to explain how working with quals isn't 'fending for yourself' but working without them is, cos it still makes no sense to me.

6:58 am, March 07, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Sam, I can't get your last link to work:

Can you re-paste it, or give me some search terms so that I can try to find it please? Thanks!

8:32 am, March 07, 2009  
Anonymous Sam said...

Hi Gill, sorry about that, it's a consultation that closes on the 10th March, you've probably come across it already...2020 Children's and Young People's Workforce Strategy..It seems to link in with the personalised learning review and of course, ECM.
Here's the link,

I haven't seen anything that mentions home educated children specifically, only children at risk of failing to achieve the five outcomes..ahem!

Hope your little one is feeling better x

10:01 am, March 07, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks Sam :-)

10:13 am, March 07, 2009  
Blogger Mieke said...

I just read Sarita's report on our local list and I am deeply impressed. I, too, realize that there will still be a lot of suspicion and cynicism, but I personally feel that this is the way forward. We do not benefit from hostile divides, we do benefit from being recognized as a serious and equivalent party. Still plenty of reasons to stay alert, I'll not deny that!

10:13 am, March 07, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've just transcribed part of a radio programme I heard this morning; the research on homeschoolers in the US shows that socio-economic factors and education of parents make no difference-the kids STILL outperform their schooled peers.
Poor old Mooney seems somewhat uneducated on this point.

3:34 pm, March 07, 2009  
Blogger Gina xx said...

Well my uneducated council house living unsocialised 11 yr old has just asked me to let her learn to fend for herself, by joining the Army Cadets next year.
Oh dear she will be doing first aid, camping, self defence cooking for high numbers, using a rifle and machine gun, using a shotgun, survival techniques, open air camping, orienteering, Duke of Edinburgh awards, Ten Tors.

Terrible mother me!

4:07 pm, March 07, 2009  
Anonymous Firebird said...

mum6kids was it this research? "Home schooling improves academic performance and reduces impact of socio-economic factors"

11:29 pm, March 07, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where do you get the energy/ time to analyse all these documents in such detail.

The things they say...

"a child’s chances of success are not related to his or her socio-economic background, gender or ethnicity"

How? By forbidding home education, private schooling and all family hobbies that the state can't provide?

"education services are designed around the needs of each child, with the expectation that all learners achieve high standards"

I would hope by 2020 children would be seen as full people free will, with wants, not sub humans with needs that someone else evaluates for them.

"all children and young people leave school with functional skills in English and mathematics, understanding how to learn, think creatively, take risks and handle change"

The only thing that makes this impossible is school, by its nature. Read school critics and stop wasting resources with a system that is inherently flawed.

"teachers use their skills and knowledge to engage children and young people as partners in learning, acting quickly to adjust their teaching in response to pupils’ learning"

Partners in learning? The teachers are not learning what they teach at school, it's old news for them. How is this evasion of the truth going to help children?

"schools draw in parents as their child’s co-educators, engaging them and increasing their capacity to support their child’s learning"

The nerve!

12:38 pm, March 10, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Leo, I work fast ;-)

I agree with your analysis here.

8:06 am, March 11, 2009  

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