Monday, October 30, 2006

The State We're In and What to Do Next

Exposing the misery that results from school (bullying children, bullying teachers, bullying system) seems to me to be a thoroughly good thing. It is simply not acceptable that we force tormented children back every day to the place of their torture. Really it is shameful. How on earth do school authorities pretend otherwise since at the last count of which I am aware, some 60% of such children ended up with significant long-term emotional problems. This cannot be viewed as a successful strategy, surely!

Worryingly, Home Education lists are full of stories of the DfES and Local Authorities planning to monitor home education much more rigorously and issuing apparently completely unwarranted School Attendance Orders as a immediate default strategy. As the database component of Every Child Matters starts to bite, fewer and fewer HEors will escape the heavy hand of the law.

The author Sue Townsend nailed it last night in the South Bank Show when she said that it is the combination of government incompetence and increased levels of state control that generates a background hum of anxiety and discontent in Blair's Britain. I think she is spot on. She could also have added that the government strategy to drag everyone into the interrogation room, to make everyone answerable to officialdom as a matter of course is to make suspects of us all for no good reason and distracts disastrously from dealing with the real problems.

Why, for example, do the ptb imagine they should have an automatic right to interfere with all of our children (via, for example, the children's database) when they can't even provide the necessary number of midwives, special care baby units and basic equipment and treatment for disabled children and their families who desperately need it?

Why build a huge expensive database when most children at risk are already known to authorities but there just aren't enough social workers to actually deal with the problems? Why not accept that the big problem of working in child welfare is that you can't tell which monitored parents will end up abusing their kids and since you can't bang em all up, you will always have this problem which again is quite distinctly not solved by a universal database?

Why do educrats think they will do a better job of education when "fifteen million adults would not scrape the lowest G grade in the maths at GCSE since they are "not properly numerate". Another five million "cannot read" despite being of working age"? Yet the apparently logical conclusion is that we must make absolutely sure that school be the educational first choice and that children be returned to there asap. Duh, but I guess you can't blame the ptb since they all went to school.

Why do the government want to interfere in the lives of families when their own record of acting in loco parentis is so shockingly bad?

None of it makes sense.

One way of tackling this idiocy, it seems to me, is to expose the terrible effects of some of these mistakes. At least partially to this end, Bev has set up a website: Cruel at School where she seeks stories of how children's lives were blighted by their experience of school. I'd say "SEND HER YOUR STORIES" and help expose the system for what it really is in order that genuine options, such as Home Education, remain available to children who suffer in such a way.

The litany of instances of bullycide is already shamefully long and we should not tolerate it. With women in the city filing for triple figure sums in instances of bullying through sexual harrassment, we find we don't tolerate it for adults, yet we expect our children to brace themselves and cope. What sort of double standard is that?

Send Bev your stories!


Anonymous said...

What philosophy or pedagody do the educrats study?

Carlotta said...

Would be interesting to know, wouldn't it!!

I do know, from talking to two dear friends who have both bitten the bullet and taken the PGCE, that the educational theories they are taught are risible - often either directly contradictory or simply utterly meaningless. For example, at one moment the tutors will be paying lip service to the notion of personalised learning and the next they will be talking about classroom control and enforcing conformity, with absolutely no apparent awareness that they are talking rubbish.

Very hard to countenance!

They also fail people who point out the contradictions.

Sadie said...

Carlotta, you are so right. Writing as a qualified teacher, who diligently learned the theories of child-centred learning, only to discover (surprise, surprise) that it is not possible to practise these within the constraints of the National Curriculum, I cannot see how schools can meet the needs of any children. Child-centred learning is all about knowing each child as a person in his/her own right, not as part of an amorphous mass of 30 or more children. Unfortunately I saw the light too late to prevent my children being harmed by the system, but I wholeheartedly support my daughter as she home-educates her children.