Thursday, 5 November 2009

I think this means I'm not dead yet

Travelling this home education road over the last few years has been an eye-opening and challenging experience. It has taken some toll on me, emotionally and intellectually. And physically, it has trashed me. My withered face now scares horses.

I found an old photograph of me yesterday, one taken way before the responsibility that is children, and I just looked at that open smiling expression and thought such awful innocence. Call the last few years scary, isolating, fretful.

On the plus side, I can find exhilarating, satisfying, rewarding.

And fortunately, my mind can add, never boring.

But you can bet over the years on this home ed journey with triplets, I've seen some things. I've met some wild and wacko parents. And boringly normal ones too. All with as many approaches to education as there are kids.

Some home educators opt for school at home, with timetables and exercise books. Others go for autonomy - and take that to levels of child freedom which to watch at times has both scared me witless and knocked me sideways for the assumptions it has challenged, and the ways forward that approach has confidently found.

Many more people, like me, swing between goalposts, trying this, negotiating that, feeling our way, joining this group, trying that, working with the local authority here, backing off there, hoping this, working towards a future. I am sometimes blindfold, with soapbox, weeping, raising two fingers. Some days I have insisted on worksheets and stuff we need to know, but I do not know why, and some days I waved my kids away, saying Sure! when I am not sure. Pleading, Come back if you need!

Throughout, the huge variety of people and approaches in this world have been a support to me. It has only improved with time. Whereas once I used to feel home educators might be hard pressed to agree about anything, now I think there is such tolerance for each other's styles and ways, the latest attack from the government in the UK can only have helped us overlook our differences; now the loudest voice is about the need to protect our freedoms to choose.

I have seen a wide range of ways of working with local authorities too. Some home educators work closely alongside, supplying information, arranging meetings, building trust, teaching their local authority staff about the huge variety that is education. Others have found ways of working directly with the local authority through schools and local groups, drawing down funds and building flexischool schemes. Other home educators maintain a courteous distance, watchful, reminding authorities of good practice. Yet others refuse to deal with local authority staff, bruised perhaps, bullied, having met a system that has already failed them.

The thing is, what I want to convey, is that this education world is so very complex, so fantastically varied, offers so many options and avenues, that all is possible, and can be much much more than this government would have you believe.

This government wants you to think only in terms of types. Home educators are on the fringes of a normal society. They want you to eliminate all the shades and tones and nuances, all the people and personalities, all the possibilities. They want you to think in black and white, cut and dried, us and them, divide and rule.

The truth is, home educators are drawn from all society. We are you. We are professors of education, builders, teachers, diplomats, caterers, administrators, doctors, journalists, drivers, artists, visiting scholars, office workers, engineers, managers, cleaning staff, community workers, nurses, lawyers, volunteers, people who run their own business, people who employ others, people who work hard for a wage.

We cannot be picked off, isolated, controlled; we are this society.
'The problem Graham Badman, Delyth Morgan and all the other idiots who started on this crusade against Home Education, is that their ignorance of what Home Education really is was deeply profound. I say ‘was’ because now they know that there are a substantial number, probably the majority, of Home Educators who are highly qualified, trained, successful and professional people, who are more than capable of defending themselves, their philosophies, choices and methods of parenting.

They erroneously imagined that they were dealing with a bunch of uneducated, defenceless and deviant people who they could easily steamroller, like they do with every other disadvantaged group. How wrong they were. Out of the woodwork come PHDs and every other type of lettered academic and professionally accredited person, all of whom either Home Educate or fully support Home Education.

They poked their stick in a hornets nest, and now the angry Hornets are coming out and vigorously buzzing around them. There are THOUSANDS of other hornets waiting to emerge if they are needed. And when they get their stingers out, there will be NO MERCY SHOWN.'
If you are finding out today why people are defending this fantastically varied world with all the opportunities, choices and exhilarating ways to make education our own, then take a journey round these thousands and thousands of voices.

You could start from the place where the above quote is taken, here.


gweipo said...

I think you're nuts, but I admire you. Nuts not because you home school, because I sometimes think that really is the way to go with kids, especially some kids, but nuts because you can't and don't palm your kids off to others for a few hours of personal sanity each day.
I would go crazy if I had to educate mine. Even if I think some days I'd do a better job.
I go crazy with the few hours each day I take over from the school and supervise homework and music.

Hat's off to you!

Grit said...

i like your honest talking, gweipo. as they get older, they go off more and do their own thing, so i get a lot more personal space in the day than i used to.

but sometimes i wish i could truant by dressing them up in uniform and slipping them in the back of the classroom down the road.