Monday, October 31, 2005

The Non-Equivalence of Moral Evaluations for Adults and Children

Danny at Home Schooling Dad makes what looks like a rhetorical point, but which is actually far more than that.

"When you force by gun point to share my wealth, I don't call it donation, it's theft (or taxation). When you force a person to do your menial job, it's called slavery. When a person is forced to have sex, it's called rape.When people are taught by force, what do most people call it? That's right, education. [I believe that the correct term is "schooling."]

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Exceptions to the Rules

There are now at least four families who we know relatively well whose children, despite the fact that they are given the option of home educating, choose to go either to school or college. This can be a difficult one for parents naturally in favour of HE, but for anyone who ascribes to the idea of the superiority of autonomously driven education, it is the right to assist one's child to follow through on his educational choices.

It so happens that all of these children are thriving in school/college. Perhaps this may in part be attributed to the fact that all of these parents are exceptionally skilled at offering remedial theories. One mother, of whom I stand in awe, regularly corrects teacher errors, whether these be ethical, logical, category errors, misnomers, misspellings, the sad list goes on; but of course, the success of these children may also be due to do with the fact that they have made a free choice to be in school, are interested in learning what they are learning, and being familiar with making important free choices, are able to treat others well.

The same mother also reports that the two children in her child's class who are given the option not to be in school are the ones who are most obviously thriving there in every way, socially, academically, emotionally and in physical ability. I guess this could be a coincidence...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Home Education a Drain on Civil Society?

Yet again, home educators have produced the goods and am lying awake glowingly proud to have known all of them and to have seen their handiwork!

For the last six years, we have held a Guy Fawkes Bonfire and Firework Party, which has annually mutated in various directions, with differing themes. Last year, however, the Guy for the bonfire came a very poor twentieth to other considerations, consisting as he did, of a welly on a stick.

Yesterday, in stark contrast, we set about building something slightly more ambitious. We had envisaged this being a smallish event, but it emerged one way or another that quite a few people were going to get here. Under the direction of master-craftsman, T, and ably supported by engineer and soux-sculptor, Dh, in one short day the swelled team of willing workers produced a monumental statue of a flying dragon which, come the day, will be placed atop a towering pedestal that was also constructed in the paddock. Other smaller statues were also built which will be appended to the main structure.

This was all managed with such good grace and humour that the one family who knew little of HE at the beginning of the day, well, you could see them thinking! It didn't seem to matter if you'd been up all night playing at a gig, were coping with five young kids, were reasonably heavily pregnant and not exactly a dog-lover when the five dogs present clearly thought it was their day as much as anyone else's, everyone pulled together and made this work so well.

I'm bad at telling anyone who isn't also a blog-tart where this blog is, but a couple of you have worked it, if you do happen to pass by - THANK YOU so much! I really enjoyed the day and I won't hear another word about how Home Education drains civil society. This was a demonstration of civil society at it's very best. (Only sorry to have missed you C...the word of mouth method didn't seem to work in your direction.)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Win-Win Solutions

Most criticisms of home education miss the mark by a long shot. Questions about opportunities for socialisation can be readily answered. Anxieties about issues to do with children learning in different ways and progressing at different rates may be eased with the passage of time, and by listening to the experiences of those who have gone before. Assertions that HE children will not be able to establish their independence from the family look laughable in the light of experience, since when a child's choices in this regard are respected, they can move away from the family, in their own time, with ease and confidence.

The redundancy of most of these criticisms does not mean that there aren't possibly some good criticisms. One possibly good criticism that is superficially easily dealt with, is the implied criticism in the form of "Oh, I could never do it! I would need more time to myself. My children would drive me wild if I didn't have a break from them."

There is a standard, perhaps slightly pious response to this which if not stated to the critic's face, is usually felt by most HEors, to the effect: " Well, if you didn't want to be with your own children, why did you have them in the first place?" Whilst this may serve to protect the HEor from the criticism, it isn't really an honest or complete reply, since the critic is not claiming that she doesn't want to be with her children, just that she doesn't want to be with them all of the time.

And the intensity of spending most of your time with your kids, well, it can be tough. The powerful urge to sit down with a good book all to yourself, whilst all the while your children are pleading you to sort out a computer problem or help them with a puzzle, can be hard to address.

So what should HE parents do in the situation that they are feeling overwhelmed by facilitating the education of their children? It just won't do to offer a model of continuing personal sacrifice for at least the following reasons: we don't want our kids to grow up believing that adulthood should be one long grind of personal duties; and we do not want to make them carry the burden of guilt when they realise that they are responsible for causing someone they love so much pain.

The answer must be that we are best off setting out to achieve win-win solutions. We should be aiming to find things that everyone is happy doing. In the case of really wanting to finish that final gripping chapter in one's book whilst one's kids are calling for a computer repair, well, either one can change one's preference and do something everyone wants to do, such as visiting friends or going to the judo class. Alternatively one can change one's preference, perhaps viewing the fixing of the computer as an interesting and constructive task. That done, you're is freed up to read that chapter. Or perhaps one could try to enlist the help of a third party for the computer repair, or to meet for an afternoon out somewhere to which the child is very happy to go...

So a thought for my days - a sort of humanist prayer, so to speak:

*I will keep optimistic that a solution to these kinds of initial conflicts can be found, for this will be the answer to my experience of a sense of conflict, and at the very least since I do not know that a solution is not out there.

*I will keep on my toes with regards to searching for solutions. I will try to be ingenious, imaginative, creative.

*I will greet every new challenge with pleasure at the chance to use these qualities, rather than with rising irritation and loss of patience.

*I will remember that one of my main tasks in life is to be happy and to help my children to be happy. I also believe that happiness is intricately linked to good learning, which may be easily explained through the converse: unhappiness means experiencing an emotion that the holder would rather not have, which means that any learning that comes with that emotion is less likely to be welcomed and absorbed.

*Finally, whilst recognising that there will be moments when I do fail, rather than giving up altogether as a result of those failures, I will simply set out to try again, for the argument for the superiority of success is so strong. I should not give up too easily.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

House Arrest for HE Kids

People at Action for the Rights of Children have recently provided extremely satisfactory evidence of the ineffectiveness of truancy sweeps; but just when it was reasonable to assume that the government might be reviewing this misconceived and expensive failure with a view to abandoning it, ah no: instead they set about tightening the screws and HE kids will almost inevitably, once again, get caught in the cross-fire if we aren't very vigilant right now.

From the commendably provident and politically effective Mike FW:

"A new education act is being planned which would make it illegal for children of compulsory school age to be in a public place during school hours without good reason. This legislation is primarily aimed at excluded children who are perceived as being a public menace but will effect other children such as those being home educated. Home educators can expect problems similar to those experienced with anti-truancy legislation, which has been a nuisance for HE families almost since the day it was introduced."

He goes on to spell out some of the implications:

"Home educated children, particularly those living in cities, may not have private play spaces. Badly worded legislation could make such children prisoners in their homes for many hours a day, not even allowing them the right to play outside during recreation periods between study or time for quiet reflection in public spaces such as parks. "

Am off to check that Education Otherwise and Home Education Advisory Service are up to speed on this one and are representing our feelings to the ptb.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Humanist Take on a Christian Tenet

A tantalizing (for me) tip of a discussion occurred over in the Cocktail Lounge at The Denim Jumper. It may be hard to trace, so I should explain that it went something like this:

Poster: "I adhere to the policy of not judging others".

Me: "This policy of 'judge not, lest ye be judged" is an interesting one, since what do you do with people who ARE judgmental? Are you judgmental about them?"

Poster: "No, I pray for them."

That last short sentence was sufficient to throw me right back into that mired muddle of theological confusion that was my childhood. I didn't directly respond, to be honest because, at that point, I couldn't, so strong was the urge to submit meekly to something I found at first glance, impenetrable and therefore potentially ineffable.

I've subsequently lain awake trying to get a grip on this. (OK, so laugh, but it is still intensely shocking to me to recognise the possible fallibility of Christ. Indeed, I still remember very vividly the first time I came across such an idea - it was one of Howard Jacobson's novels, in which he berated Christ for purging the temple, regarding it as an example of absurdly self-righteous and misplaced anger.)

Anyway, I now think my response should perhaps have been..."So why does it occur to you to feel the need to pray for someone who does judge others? It must be, at the very least, because you are aware that they are committing a sin. But if you have labelled it a sin, then some form of judgment has taken place. Is it that this form of judgment, ie: simply labelling something, is acceptable, whereas enacting judgment in the form of experiencing moral opprobrium is not?

"It seems necessary to this scheme of things to draw a further distinction, this time between the experience of moral emotion and the acting out of moral judgment. In this scheme, it would seem that God takes the responsibility for experiencing the weight of moral emotion and delivering moral judgment, and humans, being the agents of God on earth, are responsible for enacting His judgment but without the attendant moral emotion."

Which all seems very healthy when it's put like that. And the poor old secularist may have a problem following this essentially good idea, since his inability to absolve himself of moral emotion by transfering it into some other space will probably mean that he will have to cope with handling it himself, and all the while hopefully still coming up with sound judgments that are based upon truth-seeking rational argument.

Not to say that I think it impossible...just in some ways harder.

And I don't think we should forget the possible downsides of alternative interpretations of the tenet. It could be that it is interpreted as preventing all forms of judgment, whether in the labelling, the emotion or the enactment of the judgment, and it is a very short step from this to the muddle of moral relativism and post-modernism.

Monday, October 24, 2005

"Mother Does Best" says Penelope Leach.

It's difficult to avoid the thought that all this expensive research, despite the fact that it draws a fairly acceptable conclusion, should by rights be redundant. Not only is it pure pseudo-science, but we could have saved all that research money for a cancer project by taking the simple step of actually listening to children and generally taking them seriously, since it is transparently obvious that even babies can tell adults what it is they want, and this includes them being very clear on the matter of who they want to be with. It is also transparently obvious that being with the right person is, more often than not, a matter of extreme importance to them.

It would appear that this sort of issue is more honestly explored in the realm of ethics than science, and in this case we could discuss the issue of whether it is right or wrong, better or worse, to coerce others to whom we have a responsibility.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Nothing Could Have Been Done?

From the Saturday Times, Nothing Can Stop a Pencil Sharpener becoming a Weapon, in which the views of the parents are sharply at odds with the way the school representatives saw the situation:

The headmaster claimed that the incident "could not have been anticipated or prevented." The girl's grandmother, however, "claimed that the attack was the culmination of a campaign of animosity waged by the 'bully' against her granddaughter."

Further: "The victim's father, Lee Naylor, said yesterday that he had been at the school with his daughter only two hours before Wednesday's attack to discuss with a deputy headmaster the history of problems between the two girls."

The headmaster goes on to say "there was no action the school could have taken which would make it impossible for a child to turn a pencil sharpener into a lethal weapon".

Nothing at all that one can do to prevent one's child being exposed to physical and mental violence within the schooling system? One wonders how this doesn't make every single parent in the land question the validity of schooling.

De-Schooling Success Story

We have heard of yet more success stories about autonomously educated HE kids, such as the case of a child who'd been so badly failed by school that her self-confidence had been very unjustly wrecked. This had meant that any new information coming her way would cause her intense fear and she appeared to have stopped learning.

Well, to mix metaphors, autonomous HE has given her the space to find her feet, to watch as much TV as she wanted, to mix with other unschooled teens, to care for younger ones with inspirational tenderness, to sing beautifully, and suddenly, after at least a year of de-schooling, she has taken the bull by the horns and is spiralling away on a tide of new information.

Good Arguments

It is the sure sign of a very good argument that it unfolds in temperate fashion and so it is with an article about Chomsky at Norm's Blog, in which Norm ever so mildly nails Chomsky. (You'll have to scroll down to the title somewhere on October 21st..."Chomsky's Record of Political Courage", as the specific link refuses to work here.)

It is the case that Norm is consistent in nailing his arguments, for which we here are very grateful, and which also makes us wonder as to the titles that we adopt for ourselves, what with Norm being a professed Marxist and Guardian writer. Clearly, a good argument is a good argument no matter what we call ourselves.

Friday, October 21, 2005


A section of peerless text from William Godwin, (1756- 1836), English moral and political philosopher, who, amongst other things, displayed a great faith in human reason and moral capacity, believed government to be a source of corruption, and rejected other social institutions such as marriage...(not sure about that last bit, but the following is spot on.)

HT: DD...with many thanks.

- - - - - - - - -

Of The Communication of Knowledge

"In what manner would reason independently of the received modes and practices of the world, teach us to communicate knowledge?

Liberty is one of the most desirable of all sublunary advantages. I would willingly therefore communicate knowledge, without infringing, or with as little as possible violence to, the volition and individual judgment of the person to be instructed.

Again; I desire to excite a given individual to the acquisition of knowledge. The only possible method in which I can excite a sensitive being to the performance of a voluntary action, is by the exhibition of motive.

Motives are of two sorts, intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motives are those which arise from the inherent nature of the thing recommended, but are combined with it by accident or at the pleasure of some individual.

Thus, I may recommend some species of knowledge by a display of the advantages which will necessarily attend upon its acquisition, or flow from its possession. Or, on the other hand, I may recommend it despotically, by allurements or menaces, by showing that the pursuit of it will be attended with my approbation, and that the neglect of it will be regarded by me with displeasure.

The first of these classes of motives is unquestionably the best. To be governed by such motives is the pure and genuine condition of a rational being. By exercise it strengthens the judgement. It elevates us with a sense of independence. It causes a man to stand alone, and is the only method by which he can be rendered truly an individual, the creature, not of implicit faith, but of his own understanding.

If a thing be really good, it can be shown to be such. If you cannot demonstrate its excellence, it may well be suspected that you are no proper judge of it. Why should not I be admitted to decide, upon that which is to be acquired by the application of my labour?

Is it necessary that a child should learn a thing, before it can have any idea of its value? It is probable that there is no one thing that is of eminent importance for a child to learn. The true object of juvenile equation, is to provide, against the age of five and twenty, a mind well regulated, active, and prepared to learn. Whatever will inspire habits of industry and observation, will sufficiently answer this purpose. Is it not possible to find something that will fulfil these conditions, the benefit of which a child shall understand, and the acquisition of which he may be taught to desire? Study with desire is real activity: without desire it is but the semblance and mockery of activity. Let us not, in the eagerness of our haste to educate, forget all the ends of education.

The most desirable mode of education therefore, in all instances where it shall be found sufficiently practicable, is that which is careful that all the acquisitions of the pupil shall be preceded and accompanied by desire. (See close of Essay I) The best motive to learn, is a perception of the value of the thing learned. The worst motive, without deciding whether or not it be necessary to have recourse to it, may well be affirmed to be constraint and fear. There is a motive between these, less pure than the first, but not so displeasing as the last, which is desire, not springing from the intrinsic excellence of the object, but from the accidental attractions which the teacher may have annexed to it.

According the received modes of education, the master goes first, and the pupil follows. According to the method here recommended, it is probable that the pupil should go first, and the master follow.*

(* To some persons this expression may be ambiguous. The sort of "going first" and "following" here censured, may be compared to one person’s treading over a portion of ground, and another’s coming immediately after, treading in his footsteps. The adult must undoubtedly be supposed to have acquired their information before the young; and they may at proper intervals incite and conduct their diligence, but not so as to supersede in them the exercise of their own discretion.)

If I learn nothing but what I desire to learn, what should hinder me from being my own preceptor?

The first object of a system of instructing, is to give to the pupil a motive to learn. We have seen how far the established systems fail in this office.

The second object is to smooth the difficulties which present themselves in the acquisition of knowledge.

The method of education here suggested is incomparably the best adapted to the first of these objects. It is sufficiently competent to answer the purposes of the last.

Nothing can be more happily adapted to remove the difficulties of instruction, than that the pupil should first be excited to desire knowledge, and next that his difficulties should be solved for him, and his path cleared, as often and as soon as he thinks proper to desire it.

This plan is calculated entirely to change the face of education. The whole formidable apparatus which has hitherto attended it, is swept away. Strictly speaking, no such characters are left upon the scene as either preceptor or pupil. The boy, like the man, studies, because he desires it. He proceeds upon a plan of his own invention, or which, by adopting, he has made his own. Every thing bespeaks independence and equality. The man, as well as the boy, would be glad in cases of difficulty to consult a person more informed than himself. That the boy is accustomed almost always to consult the man, and not the man the boy, is to be regarded rather as an accident, than anything essential. Much even of this would be removed, if we remembered that the most inferior judge may often, by the varieties of his apprehension, give valuable information to the most enlightened. The boy however should be consulted by the man unaffectedly, not according to any preconcerted scheme, or for the purpose of persuading him that he is what he is not.

There are three considerable advantages which would attend upon this species of education.
First, liberty. Three fourths of the slavery and restraint that are now imposed upon young persons would be annihilated at a stroke.

Secondly, the judgement would be strengthened by continual exercise. Boys would no longer learn their lessons after the manner of parrots. No one would learn without a reason, satisfactory to himself, why he learned; and it would perhaps be well, if he were frequently prompted to assign his reasons. Boys would then consider for themselves, whether they understood what they read. To know when and how to ask a question is no contemptible part of learning. Sometimes they would pass over difficulties, and neglect essential preliminaries; but then the nature of the thing would speedily recall them, and induce them to return to examine the tracts which before had been overlooked. For this purpose it would be well that the subjects of their juvenile studies should often be discussed, and that one boy should compare his progress and competence to decide in certain points with those of another. There is nothing that more strongly excites our enquiries than this mode of detecting our ignorance.

Thirdly, to study for ourselves is the true method of acquiring habits of activity. The horse that goes round in a mill, and the boy that is anticipated and led by the hand in all his acquirements, are not active. I do not call a wheel that turns round fifty times in a minute, active. Activity is a mental quality. If therefore you would generate habits of activity, turn the boy loose in the fields of science. Let him explore the path for himself. Without increasing his difficulties, you may venture to leave him for a moment, and suffer him to ask himself the question before he asks you, or, in other words, to ask the question before he receives the information. Far be it from the system here laid down, to increase the difficulties of youth. No, it diminishes them a hundred fold. Its office is to produce inclination; and a willing temper makes every burden light.

Lastly, it is the tendency of this system to produce in the young, when they are grown up to the stature of men, a love of literature. The established modes of education produce the opposite effect, unless in a fortunate few, who, by the celerity of their progress, and the distinctions they obtain, perhaps escape from the general influence. But, in the majority of cases, the memory of our slavery becomes associated with the studies we pursued, and it is not till after repeated struggles, that those things can be rendered the objects of our choice, which were for so long a time the themes of compulsion. This is particularly unfortunate, that we should conquer with much labour and application the difficulties that beset the entrance of literature, and then should quit it when perhaps, but for this unfortunate association, the obstacles were all smoothed, and the improvement to be made was attended through all its steps with unequivocal delight.

There is but one considerable objection that seems to oppose all these advantages. The preceptor is terrified at the outset, and says, How shall I render the labours of literature an object of desire, and still more how shall I maintain this desire in all its vigour, in spite of the discouragements that will daily occur, and in spite of the quality incident to almost every human passion, that its fervour disappears in proportion as the novelty of the object subsides?

But let us not hastily admit this for an insuperable objection. If the plan here proposed augments the difficulties of the teacher in one particular point, let it be remembered that it relieves him from an insufferable burthen in other respects.

Nothing can be more pitiable than the condition of the instructor in the present modes of education. He is the worst of slaves. He is consigned to the severest of imprisonments. He is condemned to be perpetually engaged in handling and rehandling the foundations of science. Like the unfortunate wretch upon whom the lot has fallen in a city reduced to extremities, he is destroyed, that others may live. Among all the hardships he is compelled to suffer, he endeavours to console himself with the recollection that his office is useful and patriotic. But even this consolation is a slender one. He is regarded as a tyrant by those under his jurisdiction, and he is a tyrant. He mars their pleasures. He appoints to each his portion of loathed labour. He watches their irregularities and their errors. He is accustomed to speak to them in tones of dictation and censure. He is the beadle to chastise their follies. He lives alone in the midst of a multitude. His manners, even when he goes into the world, are spoiled with the precision of pedantry and the insolence of despotism. His usefulness and his patriotism therefore, have some resemblance to those of a chimney-sweeper and a scavenger, who, if their existence is of any benefit to mankind, are however rather tolerated in the world, than thought entitled to the testimonies of our gratitude and esteem."

Thursday, October 20, 2005


And another thing I've come by rather late in the day, but also nonetheless feel the inclination to link to: Jeff's manifesto, apart from the theistic fundamentalist part of the US constitution (which I guess, isn't entirely up to him), pretty much says it all.

For the Sassy, Secular Home Schooler

Am probably the last blogging member of this new site to actually link to it, but I suspect, nonetheless, that I may be the first from the UK, so am doing it anyway.

The Denim Jumper is specifically for secular Home Educators, and it provides yet another reason to love the internet because it simply doesn't matter that it is US-based. Useful discussions and lots of links to a load of great blogs.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Lesson From the Day

...don't use Dh's sat-nav system when on HE trips. With the flexible attitude to space/time management that is an HE day, the eerie voice seems to get cross, then goes into a sulk and eventually stops working altogether.

To give it it's due, it did get us to the stately home just fine, for which we are very grateful...(Capability Brown landscapes, Robert Adam architecture and a much greater awareness of how to cater entertainingly and educationally for children of all ages), but it just couldn't cope with the zig-zagging on the way home.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Keep 'em Coming!

Since the recent post about how well autonomously home educated children report doing when they return to school, we have subsequently heard of three more similar cases. Whilst these examples do not amount to providing the empirical evidence to satisfy the perfectly arguable theory that autonomous education is vastly superior, it certainly does refute the assertion that autonomous home educators are being unavoidably irresponsible!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Mood of Unremitting Celebration

At the risk of this blog turning into one long paean to Home Education, (sorry, can't help it, it just feels that way at the moment), I thought I'd post a snippet from yesterday.

(I actually missed this, but the story has been put together from three separate accounts.)

Ds and friends had constructed an intricate city of sand in a public sandpit. Several slightly younger children appeared and proceeded to gradually trash the construction in full view of their mothers who did nothing at all about the infringement. Ds and friends asked the children to desist, which they did not. Their mothers, far from locking on to their own kids, seemed far more perturbed by the fact that our children seemed to them to be truanting. One of them asked Ds if he had a day away from school. Being of literal mind, and lacking the inclination to explain, Ds replied, perfectly honestly, in the affirmative.

It gradually transpired that these women were teachers. The HE mum present bit her tongue and bided her time. The teachers' kids continued to pester ours. Ds managed to ascertain that what they wanted was wet sand, so he explained that you could get such a thing from anywhere in the sandpit, and went to another spot to dig them a hole to get them started. At which point, teacher/mums murmured something about Ds being very diplomatic. At this point, HE mum delivered the coup de grace, announcing " Of course we expect this, they're home educated".

On further questioning from the teachers, HE mum announced that our children are "autonomously" HEd, which had the teachers completely flummoxed. HE mum, bored with explanations and rather hoping that teachers had some understanding of the meaning of this not too unusual word, left them thinking.

Reports from the Classroom

Several previously autonomously home educated kids we know personally who have chosen to go to schools to do A levels and degrees at universities, are reporting that they are thriving in their new environments. They find themselves socialising easily and are effortlessly popular. They are also ahead of the class academically. They recognise that they are good at solution finding, that they excel at thinking outside the box and that they seem somehow less fearful than their classmates. They are are producing first-rate work which in some cases seemingly springs from nowhere, with no immediately apparent precedent from the HE years.

One of the parents makes the most interesting point. Her son led a completely autonomous life for several years prior to going back into school for his A levels. He spent most of his time on-line gaming, typing text msgs at great speed, playing guitar, and mixing socially with other HE teens. He has gone into a sixth form to find himself well ahead of the class in his chosen subjects. In his first week, he wrote a perfectly argued essay in exemplary English. He gets excellent marks in class tests with little effort. He is extremely popular with the other pupils. I would say this is the result of his cool, confident demeanour and his ability to address adults in a meaningful way.

And the point drawn by mum? She is of the opinion that it wasn't even Home Ed that necessarily gave her son such a good start. It was the Taking her Child Seriously. Of course this entailed doing HE at the time, but she credits this situation to the currently unrefuted superiority of TCS epistemology.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Yet More Good News for HE

Yet another meeting today where the HE numbers were up with plenty of new faces. Parents include classical musicians, pub landlady, accountant, GP, engineer, occupational therapist, nurses, ex-teachers and ex-social workers, builders, entrepreneurs and businessmen, IT bods, artists and polymaths of all sorts. Great founts of knowledge upon which to draw.

Another encouraging trend: the ratio of fathers to mothers at the meeting was almost 50:50. Could this mean that the frequently slightly more educationally conservative dads are coming round to the idea that HE is the platinum choice? Nah...more realistically, they were probably there for the rugby.

Monday, October 10, 2005

H5N1 will Close Schools

From Future Pundit, news that avian flu H5N1 is currently very lethal to children.

"The disease has been particularly deadly for children. In Thailand, 89% of patients under the age of 15 years died an average of nine or 10 days after illness onset",


"schools and day care for pre-schoolers provide the perfect route for infection of the entire population" .

"Protection of children is the biggest problem in a pandemic. During a pandemic of high lethality schools will be closed. But lots of kids are in day care and kids come into contact with each other while playing. Also, with so many working mothers, kids end up under the care of others during the day. This sets up transmission belts of influenza from home to children to day care environments to other kids and then to other homes".

His most effective solution:

"Where economically feasible, mothers could stay home and home school their children. If they have spouses, the spouses could stay somewhere else in order to avoid bringing infection into the home."

With a death rate as high of 89%, I personally would put the issue of the bank loan on a back burner, and stay home no matter what, and I imagine I will not be alone in this, in which case, Home Education could suddenly become a majority activity, that will put the growth of HE numbers in the States due to Katrina in the shade.

Whilst most American families seem to have at least some idea about how to go about home schooling, most UK schooling families have probably never given it a second thought. Volunteers for the HE Support Charities, such as Education Otherwise and Home Education Advisory Service need to be prepared for the possibility of a huge influx of work, which may involve assisting people who would not naturally come to the idea of HE.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Big is Beautiful

The expansion in the numbers of HEors is mostly very good news, primarily, of course for the children it involves, but also I'd guess, because the ptb must conclude once and for all, that we are too significant a number to mess about with on the major matter of principle: whether or not HE should be a legal option. And thank goodness we can say this because it seems we face the prospect of "big school" government for some time to come, with even the probable future leader of the opposition, David Cameron, insisting on the importance of schooling (and spending on schooling).

Assuming for the mo, that the general principle of HE is safe, what of the other issues of general interference in the stuff of HE life? As quoted in the mail below, there is a general sense in the HE community that things are tightening up - that more curriculums and work inspections will be demanded. On the other hand, it seems quite likely that the clip-board carriers will not really be able to get on our case too much, since Mr Brown must finally be realising that he simply cannot be spending any more laundered money on any more useless bureaucrats. He doesn't have the cash and this sort of activity should soon be a political liability amongst everyone whose votes he has not already bought in his "Useless Jobs for Votes" scheme.

There remains, of course, the irritating problem of individual interpretation of the law. It is still perfectly possible to open your door to an interfering autocrat whose inclination would be to walk straight into your home, grab all school age children by the scruffs of their necks and dump them in the nearest available classroom; but certainly round our way at least, the LEA bods look to have their facts and attitudes just about right for a change. One of them has even home educated for some time, but I s'pose we shouldn't fool ourselves. It could all go so horribly wrong so quickly, with the appointment of someone of tiresome inclination.

The only way in which I can see the expansion of HE being a problem is in the matter of publicity and the media. In this Age of Diversity, it is almost completely unacceptable to attack vulnerable minorities, (however odious their ideas). HE, generally speaking, has been getting very favourable press here in the UK, which is as it should be, given that HE is so far from being an odious idea, but as the numbers swell, we will be seen as fair game and can expect the sort of negative press that HEors in the States have to put up with.

HE life would, though, be more than bearable, if this were our most serious worry!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

A Growth Industry

Home Education is to have a bright future in the UK if today's HE toddler meeting is anything to go by. This group, which could be seen to represent the future for HE in the area, has swelled during the summer break. What is more, many of us there knew of others who'd wanted to but were unable to attend.

Clearly the spirit for HE is out there. We must just hope that we get enough of us out the school system to make it utterly impracticable ever to get us back in again, so that come the day when some dreadful HE disaster does happen, the relevant educrat will baulk at the mountain of paperwork and the unpleasant logistics.

The expansion of interest in HE comes despite the presentiment amongst long-term HEors that "things are tightening up somehow". Not that there has been any further obvious repercussions from legislation such as the Children Act and we are yet to see if the IT bodgers in some government backroom really have managed to run our GP records against our school attendance records to find those of us who have never registered with our LEAs. But there is, nonetheless, a general feeling amongst HEors that the educrats are coming to get us, that we will be checked over and pinned down.

My guess is though that we're ready for them already!

Friday, October 07, 2005

What Teachers are Taught and Why Schooled Children need Remedial Help

The educational whistle-blower continues to provide scrupulous accounts of the various corruptions, evasions and absence of truth-seeking that is today's Post-Graduate Certificate of Education. (If the teachers are so poorly taught, what can possibly be happening with school kids?)

Here is just a sample from the plethora of suboptimal theories that spew from this source:

* A lecture in which equal and due credit is given to both behaviourism and the theories of importance of intrinsic motivation. (errr?)

* The proposal that a student's major thesis be spent critiquing a completely obviously redundant hypothesis, rather than a genuinely good one.

*The employment by a tutor (frighteningly also a child psychiatrist) of tyrannical and manipulative teaching techniques which broach no question. Any attempt, however serious, by a student to critique a theory is met with disdain and/or a manipulative attempt to ignore it.

So much for the Open Society, and potential for genuine growth of knowledge.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Not so bad afterall. Main problems:

We had to walk over a hundred yards across the lawn to get to the pool, and you had to ring for the masseuse. Sitting upright also gradually became problematic.