Monday, October 12, 2009

"There has to be something that comes from the parents."

I've just been watching the live feed from the first day of the Select Committee Inquiry. Tom taped it for me and I will write a transcript later if one doesn't appear elsewhere first.

But initially, I just wanted to highlight something Graham Badman said that particularly worried me, about autonomous learning. I'm paraphrasing from memory at this stage, but it went something like this:

"Whether the child is going to be a champion chess player, or a footballer or whatever, I don't mind. But achievement and ambition are important and you have to be able to set that out. You cannot leave it laissez faire. There has to be something that comes from the parents."

- in the context of advanced planning for autonomous home educators.

Does Graham Badman really believe that:

  1. All children and/or their parents always know what they're going to do for a living when they grow up?

  2. Parents set their children's ambitions for them?

  3. There's some precise way of knowing (in the absence of a crystal ball with guaranteed effectiveness) what a child's going to be or do in advance?

Because what he said indicates that he does.

It's laughable.

At no point during Tom's education could I have told anyone with confidence: "He's going to set up a successful computer repair business and therefore his education should be planned in preparation for that." In fact, depending on what stage I'd been asked, I'd have had to say something completely different. For a large chunk of time he was fascinated with buildings, so I'd have said he might end up being an architect. If I'd have then planned his education with this end in mind, it wouldn't have been right for him and I can only know that with hindsight.

Ditto with Ali - there's no way I could have known that his passion as a young adult would be Russian language and linguistics in general. Seven years ago, he was into Japanese! In the intervening years he's had a variety of passions, including climbing. Under Badman's proposals I'd have therefore educated him in preparation for a career as a mountaineer, which wasn't what he wanted in the end at all!

We cannot know in advance, what our children are going to want (or need) to learn.

To properly consider their unique and changing aptitude, as well as their age and ability according to our Section 7 duties, we need to have complete flexibility. We can't plan 12 months in advance. We can't dictate (or magically somehow predict) their ambitions, their interests - their aptitude.

Graham Badman knows about schools and school provision. What he's just said in the SCI hearing clearly demonstrates, once again, that he knows absolutely nothing about home education and how it actually works.


Anonymous Firebird said...

Don't bother with the transcript, they do that anyway as it will have to be entered into Hansard. Give them a day or two.

Badman said that he can’t conceive of a middleschool age child who doesn’t know about the history china or carbon sequestration. Not even good examples! I bet I could find you a very large percentage of sceondary school age children who know bog all about either, or what little they do 'know' will be superficial if not totally incorrect!

He doesn't GET AE. I'd wondered if he did but just hated the idea. Now I think that he understands the theory but just can NOT bring himself to believe that it can possibly work. It's too beyond his narrow school based background. His mind simply will not stretch to let such a 'radical' idea in.

7:51 pm, October 12, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Oh, ok. Dunno if I've got the patience to wait 2 days for a transcript, but I suppose it will save me a few hours' work this evening.

I think your assessment about his understanding of AE is probably fairly accurate, infuriating though that is. I wish someone could nail him on that, but I suppose they'd have to understand it themselves, first and hardly anyone does who hasn't actually done it, so it's not likely to happen now.

I wish we'd managed to convey it effectively, but it was always a tall order.

7:56 pm, October 12, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thats us Graham is talking about the chess player our son Peter

9:01 pm, October 12, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter wrote to graham he will not reply

9:03 pm, October 12, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Graham Badman CBE
Institute of Education
University of London
20 Bedford Way

Dear Mr. Badman

Why have you not replied to my letter of the 12.6.09 about your Home Education Review? I am very concerned about this review and I am extremely puzzled because most of the recommendations will not help home educators. As I said in my letter of 12.6.09 the recommendation about giving LA officers the right to speak with the child alone will not help for a few reasons and one of them is that you would have no independent record of what was said. Also it may frighten younger children and children with special needs.

Yours Sincerely
Peter A Williams
A Home Educated Child

9:09 pm, October 12, 2009  
Blogger mamacrow said...

this smacks rather horribly of the whole parents insist their child becomes a dr/lawyer thing doesn't it? which still happens. where is the voice the child then?!

reminds me forceably of Paul Coelho (author of The Alchemist etc) who was sectioned into a mental health aslem by his parents because he had the pasion and desire to be a writer, rather than follow in his father's footsteps down an engineering type path. Inconcievable to my mind.

um - what is carbon sequestration?! I went through the school system btw....

9:22 pm, October 12, 2009  
Anonymous Rosemary said...

Agree with all you've said: added comment is that the world continues to change and you can't know years ahead what jobs will be needed. My DH used to run a computing department but the idea would have been a fairytale when he was at primary, or even secondary, school!

10:03 pm, October 12, 2009  
Blogger Maire said...

And why does every child have to excel, can't they just live ordinary lives if they want to?

What really gets me about him is that he is in a position to really have an overview of the outcomes for children at school, he must know that what he is suggesting for us is totally unfair and that no school could deliver it for every child.

A most unpleasant person playing the misunderstood and maligned do gooder with no personal ax to grind. I am very glad I did not meet him in person.

He has just lied in the face of the select committee about things he himself has put in black and white.

I hope they can be bothered to check up what he says.

I fear the we don't know so we have to register them to find out will win the day as this government wants to know everything about us!

Frustrated and sickened by the whole process but not defeated.

10:14 pm, October 12, 2009  
Blogger Carlotta said...

Thanks for nailing this one Gill. This particular point ANNOYED ME SOOOOOOOOO MUCH.

It would have annoyed me immensely without any history attached, but the fact that I had tried to explain this exact point about ambitions (including the ECM ambitions) and autonomous education directly to Badman, well, it was perhaps a good thing that we had to leave yesterday evening for a class that involved extreme physical exertion as I was able to work off at least some of the anger hormones.

As Maire says, he is very adept at giving a false impression - on that occasion that he was taking me seriously. I thought then, and still suspect now that he did understand what I was saying, that at the time, he pretended he saw value in it, then he clearly completely didn't give a fricking monkeys and blah, blah, blah,...let me set your ambitions for your children, (subtext: narcissistically invest in them so that they cannot think freely for themselves about how to go about living well in this world).

My seven year old has a better intuitive and theoretical understanding of the efficacy of libertarian epistemology and she just won't have this, Graham - you or anyone else setting your agendas for her! She is perfectly capable of being ambitious without your say so, thank you very much.

Connected to this point, I was also irritated with the way he glossed over the fact that he is effectively handing the definition of suitable over to the state, and that this WILL be used just as arbitarily as he himself hinted...(carbon sequestration, middle eastern politics, my XXXX). All apparently so reasonable, but actually, setting SUCH a dangerous precedent...The MP had a point. It WOULD be the thin end of the wedge, but GB managed to appear so reasonable that I think he managed to falsely allay their fears in this regard.

We MUST NOT ALLOW this point to slide. If Badman thinks, you know, just off the top of his head that, let's see, every child must know something about carbon sequestration, than some other CBWN (Clipboard Wielding Numpty), will think...ah let's see, what's my pet subject...and lo and behold, we have state mandated education, at the service of the state, rather than an education that is suited to the child.

We have to get back to basics with explaining this argument, I suppose, which I will explain here not for the benefit of you guys, (teaching gran to suck eggs and all that), but just so that it is here for the record.

If an education is not suited to the child, there is no point it being there, for learning only takes place in the mind of the learner. If you try to coerce a information upon a child, you get nothing of value. It is a POINTLESS waste of time.

For this epistemic reason alone, the requirement in law should remain that educational provision be suited to the learner and not that which is required by the state.

6:19 am, October 13, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, ironic when Badman bangs on about asking home educating children about if they want to home educate when he ignores the fact that you'd have to ask schooled children about school.

And when you've asked about if they want to go to school, you ignore what they say.

I've just blogged about it.


6:20 am, October 13, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've all done great jobs with your comments. You're all fantastic people. No, really. I don't think we say it enough.

I am proud to know you (albeit in cyberspace) one and all.


6:24 am, October 13, 2009  
Blogger Pete Darby said...

I read somewhere that of the top ten most in demand jobs in London, seven of them did not exist ten years ago.

How the holy hell does Badman propose we plan our children's education to fill future jobs?

9:56 am, October 13, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Perhaps he's set up yet another business, Pete. Trading crystal balls.

10:00 am, October 13, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He'll come unstuck over this one. Although some of us might be collaterally damaged while they try to sort it out. It doesn't seem to have occurred to him that there might be a reason why the Butler committee in 1944 didn't define the content of a suitable and efficient education. Greater minds than his (!) have struggled with this and failed.

5:05 pm, October 13, 2009  
Blogger Allie said...

Badman put a thirteen year old friend of ours on the spot asking about carbon sequestration - after the select cttee. You might have thought that he'd be impressed by someone of that age getting herself to London to watch the committee... But I think he just *needs* to believe that schooling is better. I suppose, given a working life in the system, it's not surprising.

10:03 pm, October 13, 2009  
Blogger Mieke said...

Allie, that's just beyond belief. What a sick and sorry little man he is. I hope it was overheard by a MP and I suspect most MP's don't know what carbon sequestration is, either.
Great posts, Gill. And I agree with Danae, great comments!

10:59 pm, October 13, 2009  
Blogger mamacrow said...

great point Marie, and one that's always annoyed me - if the 'goal' is for all children to aspire to be drs/lawyers/mps/judges - doesn't that a) belittle adults - like their parents - that are, eg, post men, train drives and refuse collectors, and b) what does that set up in the future? a society that falls apart because you can't send a letter, take a train anywhere and we're all dying from disease because noone wants to be a dustman!

excell - define please.

And again, what about 'just' being and 'ordinary' parent and raising the next generation? If noone wants to do that, well...

10:12 pm, October 15, 2009  
Anonymous Chloe said...

Allie -

I was with HEYC at the select committee, and Badman did the same to a pair of AE members during the break.

Luckily, one of us actually did know about it, and proceeded to thoroughly pwn the man.

Also, having checked with teachers, I've found that nobody with current experience of secondary schools would expect a pupil to know anything on either subject.

Badman gets more ridiculous every day...

5:15 pm, October 23, 2009  

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