Friday, May 26, 2006
Housesitters are here, car is packed, tickets, passport, money, those things that aren't an E111 anymore...
See you on 24th June.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Doc reports that sales of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, (with it's strong connections to the infant-whipping Pearl family) are down. Some serious good can come of blogging, it seems. Congratulations to all those who supported and continue to support the action.
(If you happen to need more information on why bloggers are taking this stance, scroll to the bottom of the list of boycotters as linked above.)
The new logo comes thanks to the Lost Camel at Creating an Oasis
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
But overall...great news...I can now type...one handedly admittedly but am pretty pleased with this, given the circumstances.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Back 24th June.
Apropos the article above, am not quite sure why you have to turf them out at age five, but horses for courses. Some kids will be ready for their own space well before this.
(INcidentally - eugh! You can probably tell that I don't usually get round to spell checking - but I may be even less likely to from now on. What is this "maneuver" thing?)
Monday, May 15, 2006
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Toffler talks about his conception of this next shift in human affairs in the podcast here, (from the 31st minute). He reckons the next big change, if it isn't our leap into space, will be the fusion of biology and IT. And whose to say he's wrong since it's already happening and the increasing pace of change will doubtless speed up the arrival of many more possibilities.
From the New Scientist, (sadly under sub):
"Exponential growth in computing power drives growth in other technologies. For example, the cost of sequencing a single letter of DNA, a task requiring immense amounts of processing power, has halved every 23 months since 1990. It took 15 years to sequence the genome of HIV; SARS was done in 31 days. The resolution of brain scanners is doubling every 18 months. The number of nanotechnoology patents filed in the US has doubled every two years or so since 1990. And so on. According to the NSF, nano-bio-info-cogno all have the capacity to grow exponentially for decades to come."
So what could this mean for education? There will, in all probability, be some tough questions. Would we, for example, be prepared to dose our kids up on smart drugs? In fact, this is already a question: take Modafinil, a drug developed to treat narcolepsy, which has been shown to improve problem solving by significant amounts, with apparently few serious side-effects. But this is just for starters. There are currently at least 15 molecular pathways in the brain that are under active investigation as targets for cognitive enhancement.
Of course this issue isn't limited to questions about pharmaceutical interventions. What will we make, for example, of "brain implants that allow direct mind-to-mind communication; memory chips that let you upload new knowledge directly into your brain; genetic upgrades that can be reversibly slotted into all the cells in your body..."? (New Scientist again).
Oh well. Must ponder at a later date. In the meantime the Nick Jr website is calling.
Things are slightly different over there it seems, so I quibbled pedantically in the comment section. (Jealousy with regards to my own favorite HE blogs knows no bounds!)
Thursday, May 11, 2006
I do see, from what I've just said, that it might not look so good but the thing is, I took it much better than last time - which was the occasion when I started shouting about raspberries in library books fairly soon after I walked through the front door.
This was a first day in a kind of work that is entirely new to me. It dawned on me rather quickly that I haven't done work with which I am not mostly familiar for at least a decade. It's quite likely that it is useful to be reminded how it feels to learn a ton of new stuff very rapidly. It most reminded me of my first driving lesson: the same intensity of learning a bundle of individually straight-forward skills which somehow become highly complex because you have to put them all together in rapid succession, straight away, without making any mistakes and without killing anyone. I suppose it would have been quite hard to actually kill anybody doing what I was doing today, but the stakes felt high.
Not so incidentally, thanks so much to the person who helped me out. Honestly, I'm really not a complete klutz, I swear. Please give me another chance!
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
1. The Children's Database ( see The Database Masterclass) will result in de-facto registration, which will increase the opportunities for more of the type of abuse from local authorities that we read about yesterday.
2. The Children Missing from Education initiative will result in further chasing by the authorities in order to check that a home educated child is in receipt of whatever happens to be their perception of an education on that particular day.
3. There is a creeping change in the definition of children "at risk" to now include children who are in danger of not receiving services. This means that home educated kids are increasingly likely to find themselves flagged on the database. (See The Database Masterclass again.)
4. And then there is the problem of the minimum two day delay in de-registration from schools which will almost certainly result in more of the type of hassle from educrats as mentioned in the post below. The delay also carries a symbolic implication since in those minumum two days, parents can no longer decide the place of education for their children and are therefore no longer responsible for it.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
The EWO went on to insist that HE mum must conform to something very similar to the National Curriculum and that she would be prosecuted if she didn't. Again HE mum protested, saying that this is not prescribed by law, but all to no avail.
Things did look up when the EWO passed the case on to the LEA officer, but one wonders how many new HEors would have been put off their stride by such an aggressive intrusiveness; and this is under current regulations where it is clear that the LEAs have no duty at all to find children missing from education. It will undoubtedly be much harder to argue our case against such interference in the very near future.
(JB are you out there...this was one of yours!)
Monday, May 08, 2006
He is equally tantalizing in the podcast at TCS Daily. The bit on education starts at the 27th minute, (with his view on blogging as part of the 'prosumer economy' coming in just before that).
It would be nice to think that home education groups could fit into the category of civil collective groups - ie: improving at 90mph, and perhaps it's not a stretch of the imagination to think of the technology-driven personalised style of home education as an effective way of keeping up with the rate of change in the rest of the world.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
"The Open University today announced a GBP £5.65 million (US $9.9 million) project to make a selection of its learning materials available free of charge to educators and learners around the world. Supported by a grant of US $4.45 million from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the University will launch the website in October 2006. "
So we can forget the funding problems for under 16 year old HEKs. We'll skip straight to university thanks, (given that the project lasts for the next 12 years or so, of course.)
The errors in parental thinking that are revealed here can be traced to the instinct for authoritarianism. Instead of attempting to find out what caused Sean to wander at night, instead of seeking to find consensual solutions to the problem (you know, like take him into one's bed for a cuddle...that sort of thing?), she believed that instant obedience through physical force was the way to go and it ain't that hard to see how she could extrapolate in such a way from the teachings of the Pearls. *
And note this from the same article:
"Investigators say Paddock had also been whipping Sean's 8-year-old sister and 9-year-old brother with the thin, flexible pipes. She faces felony child abuse charges in connection with their injuries."
Yup, that's right. Lynn Paddock faces felony child abuse charges, as indeed should all those who follow the child beating teachings of the Pearls.
*From another article in the News and Observer (all credit to that journalist for sticking with this story):
"This is a sampling of Pearl's advice from "To Train Up a Child" and his newsletter, "No Greater Joy":
PROBLEM Baby bites during breast-feeding
SOLUTION Pull baby's hair
PROBLEM Boy is a crybaby
SOLUTION "When he begins to scream his defiance or hurt, just ignore him. ... If he demands attention to a supposed wound, then reach in your purse, pull out a terrible tasting herbal potion and give him a spoonful. After he gets through gagging on the vitamin and mineral supplement, tell him that he is now completely healed, and invite him to come back for another dose if he again gets hurt."
PROBLEM Rebellious child who runs from discipline
SOLUTION "If you have to sit on him to spank him, then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he has surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring, and are unmoved by his wailing. Hold the resisting child in a helpless position for several minutes, or until he is totally surrendered. Accept no conditions for surrender -- no compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final."
PROBLEM Child whines to mother after father disciplines him
SOLUTION Mother must go over to child and "give him one or two licks on his exposed ankles or legs while commanding, 'Obey your father.' "
PROBLEM Child lies
SOLUTION Switch him 10 times at noon each day. Make him pick the tree branch.
PROBLEM What to use for a rod
SOLUTION For babies under age 1, a footlong willow branch shaved of its knots. For older kids, plastic plumbing pipe, a 3-foot shrub cutting or a belt to help turn a child "back from the road to hell."
Saturday, May 06, 2006
The first member of staff we met she quizzed on the number of computers in the establishment and was immediately unimpressed by the answer of two per classroom (of approx 14 kids), plus some others in the library. She was equally unimpressed by the thought of not having instant access to Children's Beeb and Sesame Street websites. She also says she won't be able to see her friends when she wants to and she will HAVE to brush her hair in the mornings.
I think these are good enough reasons. Why brush your hair when you could be getting on with other things?
Recent changes in funding have made it impossible for many under 16s to get onto part-time college courses or adult education classses that they could easily have accessed only a year or two ago. This can be a big problem for HEKs who want to get GCSE and other qualifications before they reach 16, since paying the going rate of £7 to £8 an hour to the colleges which do accept independently funded under 16 year olds is simply too much for many HEors and doing these exams independently has become so awkward, what with the on-going assessment of course-work that is now involved. Apparently the Learning and Skills Councils don't have the cash and are saying that the money to fund under 16s must come from LEAs. However, LEAs do not get any funding for HEors because HEors aren't on the school roll and LEAs are not prepared to fork out from their general fund.
Education Otherwise have raised this issue with ministers but have not received a reply and are therefore asking home educators who are likely to be affected by the change to write to their MP, Ruth Kelly - er, hold that...I mean Alan Johnson...(thanks Jax), and Jacqui Smith... (Oh actually don't bother with the last one. She's Chief Whip as of yesterday - the Schools Minister's post is still vacant...thanks Julie.)
At least EO have made the actual letter writing simple:
"What we need is for the minister to tell the Learning and Skills councils that they must fund part-time courses for 14-16 year old home educated young peopleas they will for over 16's. You can get contact details for your MP at www.writetothem.com
Points you could make are:
1) The government talks a lot about 14-19 education, about choice, flexibility, etc. To quote, they want to provide " a system where all young people have opportunities to learn in ways which motivate and stretch them".
2) Your child is eager to access qualifications to prepare him/her for work or further study at 16 but does not wish to forgo the benefits of home education which has worked well for him/her thus far by enrolling full-time at a school.
3) Part-time courses are a good introduction to formal classroom experience for young people who have had little or no experience of school, OR they are a good way of reintroducing classroom experiences to young people who had to leave school because of school related stress, bullying, etc (depending on your circumstances).
4) In the past home-educated young people under 16 have frequently attended part time college courses and adult education classes at community colleges as a route to acquiring GCSE and other qualifications. They have usually done well and were able to go on to further study post 16.
5) Your child would like to attend a part-time course this year, next year, in the near future, in the next couple of years (or any other timing) but you cannot find a college willing to take him/her OR you cannot afford the fee OR you understand that this will be a problem. Please contact me either on or off list if you'd like more information."
I have to admit that the prospect of begging is not appealing. On the other hand, what are we saying here? That HE teens must go into school to get their qualifications? Hmmm. On balance, I reckon I'll be writing that letter.
Friday, May 05, 2006
When I think about it, I have always asked a lot of Dd, dragging her around to every possible event, keeping her up all hours, expecting her to cope. I doubt if it has had any damaging effects other than experiencing my extremely short temper come Friday evening...
Oh well, she is currently singing at my elbow, writing out my name underlined with kisses, so things can't really be as bad as I imagined.
And we are off to look round a local school tomorrow. Yesterday she announced firmly that she wants to be home edjumicated, but this comes after a string of assertions to the contrary, so a bit of fact finding seemed called for.
I am occasionally having problems getting the system to accept the word verification, but it only takes two attempts at the very worst.
All in all, happy commenting.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Dr Pirie gives us a good taster in a Spectator article:
"It is actually worth the trouble to identify the invalid forms of argument, and to learn their names. Not only can you then avoid them yourself; you can also identify them in opponents. If you call your opponent's errors by their Latin names, you can make it look as though he or she is suffering from a rare tropical disease.
"A favorite in daily use is called cum hoc ergo propter hoc. It is the supposition that events which occur at the same times must be causally connected. Thatcherism can be linked with rising crime, increased alcohol consumption, greater popularity of country and western music, and just about anything that happened in the 1980s. To use this yourself in argument, all you have to do is ask sarcastically if it was just a a coincidence that the one event accompanied the other. When you hear others using it, though, just ask them to show you the connection. "
There are loads of other similarly anatomized fallacies - one I have suffered from recently - 'tu quoque' where your criticism is deemed too inconsiderable to be worthy of a direct response because of something that you yourself allegedly once did.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
So whilst home educators concentrated on the problem of the two day delay in de-registration from school, we let this issue, as neatly encapsulated in a letter from Schools Minister Jacqui Smith, pass largely unremarked for a good two weeks whilst the government wiggled away at acquiring the most outrageous assumption of responsibility for our children.
You have to give the minister some credit for sleight of hand. For example, she claims that "LAs have a general duty to ensure that all children of compulsory school age in their area are receiving a suitable full-time education by attendance at school or otherwise" when there is, in fact, currently no mention of any such duty in legislation or case law. By pretending that this is already the case, Ms Smith makes it seem that what really would be an introduction of such a duty, as detailed in the current Education and Inspections Bill, will be completely unremarkable and not in the least worrying for home educators.
The reasons we should be worried? Well there are both principles that are compromised and practical complications that will ensue. In principle, who has the right to decide what constitutes an education? Why should we assume that a person's education must include this or that information or meet this or that standard in a certain regard? It is a huge question and certainly one that I don't want answered by some LA nobody who has never even pondered it beyond assuming that it means one must be studying the NC. As a person and parent committed to the notion of the open society, I would say that if someone else applies their criteria of an education to my children over and above my head, despite what Ms Smith claims to the contrary, I will no longer be responsible for the education of my children. Should the state intervene and institute their preferred curriculum, I will do my level best to demonstrate that I am no longer responsible for this huge, almost all-encompassing area of my children's lives and I would sue the state if my children were to fail.
The practical problems: LAs will now have a duty to identify the educational status of all children in their area. We will all have to be subject to scrutiny, and the way Ms Smith plays it, this scrutiny will be intrusive. And as has been touched upon in the paragraph above: we will be at the mercy of completely capricious and to date notoriously unreliable assessments of our educational provision by LAs. Let's not forget that despite guidelines as to how they should behave, there have been instances of LEA officers giving one autonomously educating family the thumbs up and yet getting the next similarly educating family to agree to put their children back in school.
Good grief. It is tempting just to roll over and give up altogether.
From a Spectator article 15th April:
"Brown...has commissioned an academic review of Sure Start, and its interim report six months ago did indeed show little to no impact from the £3.1 billion spent so far. But rather than end the experiment, Brown wants to roll out Sure Start across England by 2010 - pursuing the dream that the state can act in loco parentis."
Monday, May 01, 2006
re: home education, McCarnie wrote:
"if the parent is proficient in the subjects required by law in the National Curriculum, and is able to exhibit to the necessary authority( ies) , at the time of the necessary examinations that this is the case , it would , I am sure have a positive effect on a select amount of , but not all, children. There is always the experience of group living ,working and and playing; social skills all ; which are so important in a young person's education."
To regard the National Curriculum as the sole benchmark of a good education seems very peculiar to many home educators. Karl Popper, the incomparable proponent of the Open Society, was of the firm opinion that the only essential thing that a child must learn is to be able to read and write. Given the enormity of human knowledge out there today, does it really make sense to try to force the same body of knowledge into all our children? Such an aim neither conforms to the needs of the country, nor does it necessarily meet the requirements of educational law where it states that children must be educated according to their age, ability and aptitude.
As home educators, we have the opportunity to tailor learning opportunities to suit the abilities of our children in a way that a teacher with a classroom of 30 kids, constrained by the diktats of NC, cannot possibly hope to do. As a result, we often feel that it is the parents of schooled children who should actually be prosecuted for their failure to meet their responsibilies to educate their child according to the requirements of the law, though this is clearly a bit of a mind-shift for all those who are heavily invested in the school meme.
If the state were to insist that home educators were to follow the NC and take state exams, you can bet that we will start to put the argument for absence of parental responsibility in education, for such would indeed be the case.
And please, (trying not to sound exhausted), do not come up with the oldest canard around, ie: that home educated children lack for opportunities to socialise.
(From an HE parent whose family is alone for the first time in over three weeks...having spent a good proportion of that with approx 30 other HE families...and yes, just in case anyone is STILL worried...we are off again tomorrow with another 30 odd families on an orienteering course. Could that be good enough, yet?)