Sunday, 10 January 2010

Like going into a butcher's and asking the customers to go vegan

I should follow Tiger's lead. Because we all sit down to supper, and we pursue a conversation about something pointless, like syrup.

And suddenly up shoots Tiger, with urgencies, and imperatives, and important things to think and do, and books to read and no time to waste, and she shouts I'm leaving before this conversation gets any more stupid!

I admire her. That's what I should do. But I don't.

I go back into these online worlds to preach to the non-converted, where no-one gives a rat's arse about home education, and less than a fig about changes to UK educational law, and I post stuff like this:

My strength and my weakness is that I am an active participant in the education of my three children.

By 'active' I mean I take on as much of the everyday education of my daughters as I can. So my children don't go to school. I use services, other professionals, support and help where I feel I need. By this mixed method, I believe that my three daughters, all aged nine, have a fantastic, creative and mind-opening primary education.

It is an education my children lead, and it is built around them. It develops their interests, their expressions and their thirst for knowledges in all different areas. In any random week of the year we might visit an art gallery, join an educational party for a museum workshop, spend the day in a craft project run by a local community group, read a novel together, join a geology walking group, and attend external lessons in languages and sports. It's a wonderful mix; it's a renaissance education; it's an education that draws the best of everyone, and uses the people, experts and professionals in our community to the full.

It's also my weakness.

This government does not trust me to provide this education. And it wants you, other parents, not to trust me either.

Last year, this government spread the news that children who were educated outside of mainstream education were 'hidden'. 'Everyone knows', they said, 'that these children are vulnerable, abused, forced to marry, exploited...' Because they were told this, many people unquestioningly replied, 'yes, we know'.

This laid the groundwork for a fundamental shift in education law. Tomorrow, the Children, Schools and Families Bill has a second reading before parliament. In it, I can be denied my choice to provide the education I have built for my children. The local authority will be given the power to say I am officially untrustworthy; that I cannot prove I am providing a rich education; that my children will be better off, safer, in a school that can monitor them and provide them with a state sanctioned education that is provided for everyone. No choice. No individual education. No personal freedom. It would not matter that my children might be lost in this system, or that they might hate it, find it restrictive, narrow, alien. They would get the same as everyone else and that would be FAIR.

But it won't be me, my family, and my children alone who are punished for being different, for finding different off-template solutions to our problems. The state power held in this bill will limit you, too, whatever educational choice you make. Because it passes the ultimate decision about the education of your child to the hands of the state.

Why doesn't this government trust me? Why doesn't this government trust you? Why does it want to licence my education? Inspect my home? Interrogate my children?

I think this government would simply like to better control everything that we all do.

I don't know why they want to control. Perhaps it is good for business. Perhaps from more control, accurate statistics can be passed over to large-scale enterprises about service provision, shopping habits, our 'lifestyle needs', our basic choices, so that all these areas can become controlled, managed, ordered, and monitored too. Where is the trust in a community then?

Yet they want you to think this is all such a good thing. Of course you can't trust people to make educational decisions for their children! Of course we can't trust YOU. The government might say, 'to show what a good job we are doing, here is the proof! Percentage points on GCSE passes; levels of attainment targets; the number of boxes ticked that your child can achieve in all areas in comparison to any other child!'

I sometimes feel helpless in the face of this controlling, centralising, and mistrustful approach. And I feel if we are passive, if we say nothing, then the state will roll further and further into our homes; into our lives; into our decision-making; into our choices; into the very relationship we build with our children, because ultimately, the state will say to the child, you cannot trust your parent to know what's best for you.

I am involved in education, so maybe I can be discounted, because maybe most people out there trust the government to do that job; maybe people need to have that trust in order to function. I don't know.

But please be aware that changes in any education law potentially affect you. Please find out about them.

Finally, because I cannot sit back and do nothing, say nothing, there is a petition here with the words:

'We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to uphold that parents have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of their child, to not undermine parents legitimately fulfilling their fundamental duties, and to assume that the best interests of their child is the basic concern of parents unless there is specific evidence to the contrary'

Please sign it.

Please Grit, next time, just take the Tiger route.


Jax said...

Fabulous post.

sharon said...

Roll on the general election and a change of government - even if you do have to vote Tory! Yuck, yuck, yuck, I've washed my mouth out with soap now.

Heather said...

Dear God, never take the Tiger route over something as important as this! Over silly discussions about syrup, it may be best, but not this.

Living outside the UK I know nothing about this and the things you report that the government has said about parents wishing to home school their children. I am appalled and disgusted. I sit here from my safe distance from the UK and it's crazy government and watch in wonder as more and more of people's rights are stripped away and people allow them because they believe that the government knows best and knows what it is doing. i wouldn't trust that government to mind my dog for a week let alone anything else.

I think i can understand a little the fearful place this comes from though. from Daily Mail articles about people locking up their children or abusing them, claiming they were home educated in order to hide their evil doings from the world. from the ineptitude of social services over looking certain cases that then end up on the front page of news papers and from the then tarring with the same brush phenomenon that the Brits seems to be very good at. but saying that ALL home schoolers do these things is like saying ALL teachers abuse their children and ALL schools are going to be attacked by a gun toting disgruntled student. It is of course sheer nonsense but the people often believe what they are told.

Have you considered approaching a national newspaper with your story? something perhaps for the supplement section? Raising awareness a little more?

Grit said...

thank you jax! but you are converted! i've positioned myself to speak to the non-converted; to communicate what choices (or not) exist. but is that ever difficult?! why don't i bang myself around the face with a frying pan?

if i step outside of the home ed community, the conversation i am interrupting with my mumbojumbo is sometimes the one about syrup; but when i go in, rattle on about education and receive zero response, i know the syrup conversation is much more important to people.

so what do i do? do i carry on trying to communicate and be ignored, on the hope that one day someone might say, 'hum, you have a point' or do i give up, and just talk inside a community that is aware of the discussion. that last option is both more rewarding, and yet less satisfying.

that was a long winded way of saying AAARRRGGGHHH.

sharon, i cannot vote tory, i really can't do it! right now i do not know what to do!

i understand what you say heather, and i feel we have a largely passive population politically. how do people become interested? when it affects them personally, i guess.

lots of people have put educational issues into the national press and that is ongoing. i have to say the press is pretty feeble on these matters; i have read so much from education journalists over the years where they are not engaging in educational issues at all, they are simply engaging in 'school' issues.

Minnie said...

The press have been pretty feeble about educational issues, haven't they? More interested in celebrity scandals. They'd soon be giving what for if their freedoms were taken away. So, meanwhile, the people remain oblivous to what's really going on and don't seem to be bothered, they are that trusting or maybe can't be arsed to do anything because they think it won't affect them. Sinking in a sea of apathy - definitely.

Vote Tory, Grit. I dare you!!! lol

Grit said...

minnie, i agree that we have a very apathetic population here who seem to want to know very little about politics - but my goodness, by following this bill i am a learning a lot!

and what if the tories repeal the hunt law? do we have to start all over again there?!

Grit said...

i am now quite intrigued. why does this post routinely pop up in my sssh secret statcounter as being of special interest to the same group of people? do tell me. which nails did i miss and which did i hit. don't leave me guessing.