Saturday, March 21, 2009

Autonomous Education Works (Part 2)

Good. There has been at least some criticism of the Reading Recovery Programme which has been featured so favorably on the BBC and is being funded in schools in order to help slow readers catch up.

Autonomous home educators all the while have looked on in dismay at such programmes. They shake their heads at the thought of all that unnecessary effort, all that dreadful labelling, all that wasted time when a child could be doing something so much more constructive. They know from considerable experience now, that if you leave a child alone with the necessary tools (Club Penguin, Runescape, a computer manual, a Star Wars compendium, MSN, the occasional pointer about letter sounds), and then wait until he is ready, the child will shoot through the early stages of reading and become extremely competent very quickly. And he won't have wasted his time in the interim: he will have been learning other things, through conversation, or through visual sources, direct engagement with stuff and he won't have become bored and disheartened or labelled as a failure.

We've seen this happening over and over again now. Children who have been assessed in the school system as having severe dyslexia, completely unable to read and write, come out of school, are left alone and are then doing Open University courses only a couple of years later. No pressure to read in the interim. They just do it WHEN THEY'RE READY.

And yet put an ignorant LA inspector in on a family who has no diagnosis for their child and who would strongly resist the labelling of their child, and like as not this child will be forced to be returned to school and plopped on some dreadful reading recovery programme that they know is redundant.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Nicely put.
I wonder if there is a way the 'status quo' can change-as it obviously is going to-without wrecking the education of families who AE and those of us who while more structured lean towards AE-and want to choose our own curriculum.
Even fully structured HEers who use say a Classic curriculum wont want some of the dafter side of the NC pushed on them.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't have thought they can or would want to force HEers to use the National Curriculum as it isn't even obligatory for schools.


Firebird said...

They won't force the NC on private schools because the rich and powerful send their kids to them and are in a position to stop government in their tracks. HEers OTOH have no such power and influence.

Any system of APPROVAL and monitoring allows the government to define what is a suitable education and once they can do that they can start insisting on first one element of the NC and then another.

It's tragic that the government is using child welfare as the excuse for taking away children's right to set their own goals and control their own educations. In doing so they will damage and abuse children, maybe even kill a few, but don't expect them to see that.

Ruth said...

In doing so they will damage and abuse children, maybe even kill a few, but don't expect them to see that.

I don't actually think they care Firebird. Even the review has been upsetting for my children and has made them anxious and stressed over what they have gleaned or have asked about. I think the plan is to get rid of autonomy and enforce a curriculum they decide on all HE even if they had a curriculum in the first place.

Maire said...

Three of my kids are dyslexic, two have gone all the way through the school system, one was rescued at eight. She is very similar to her brother, both are severely dyslexic but bright. One had extra help at school, did the infamous Dore system, spent 18 months under the wings of the Dyslexia Institute and had lots and lots of 'encouragement' at home. The other has only read when she wanted to, and until recently that was not very often, since leaving school. I scribe for her as I scribed for her schooled brothers. She is beginning to read at exactly the same time.

It seems all our effort was just destructive busy work to allay our own anxieties.

Spelling is another matter, we will have to wait and see.

Maire said...

I am agreeing with you wholeheartedly of course. And the spelling, I am waiting to see if doing it her own way will produce better spelling that her schooled brother's which is still 'creative'.

Not that that worries me or him overmuch, he gets by and will start university in October.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Some of my kids have dyslexic ways of thinking/learning and are currently in school by choice. NC - you'd think reading and writing WAS education...

We've had loads of conversations with school asking what help we think they need. We say - back off, leave them alone, don't pressurise them to write, don't criticise their spelling, don't make them do spelling tests, just try to keep their self esteem up until they are ready to read, thank you.

Have to say have had some success with current school but none at all with old one (hence the move).
our 10 year old went from struggling through captain underpants, to trying goosebumps last september, then artemis fowl and is now finishing the Inkspell trilogy. 'It's funny I've gone from being the worst reader to one of the best.'
I imagine she would have followed a very similar pattern if she had been h.e.'d throughout so the schooling made little difference to when she was ready IMHO. In fact the old school made her probelms much worse by trying to make her fit a rigid scheme and blaming her lack of effort/ability for her failure.
Her current teacher said at last parents' evening, 'OK she'll probably never be a great speller but so what? She'll manage. Let's concentrate on her capabilities as she is very capable.'


Anonymous said...

I Must Fess Up Here!!
The autor of that criticism of Reading Recovery (Diane McGuiness) has written a strucured programme teach children to read called "reading reflex"

In a moment of concern that I should be more structured I made up the games in the book then put them away for another moment of wondering if I should be more structured.

When the other moment occurred I offered the opportunity to my child and was surprised to find he enjoyed them but flew through what should have taken 6 months of short daily sessions in 45 minutes as he constantly wanted to move to the "next hardest please mum" We had alot of fun.

Proving to me at least that autonomy need not mean no structure but that structure if chosen can be efficient.


Anonymous said...

There's no rich and powerful HE'ors?

Carlotta said...

Hi Anon...I did almost exactly the same thing with the same book! I used a lot of the ideas but without any of the coercion that also featured so significantly in the book. It worked a treat!