Monday, 14 June 2010

Anyone wearing an official hat needs to know this

I home educate triplet girls.

By home, I mean sometimes we are in the house, and sometimes we are out the house. I cannot tell you where we will be tomorrow.

By educate, I mean we learn stuff. I cannot tell you what we'll learn today.

By triplet girls, I mean Shark, Squirrel and Tiger. I cannot find anyone else in England who home educates triplet girls, but if you come across them, let me know.

Shark, Squirrel and Tiger are feisty and mostly self-directed and have their own strong opinions about what they will learn. Often they are the teachers, and I am the one who puts up my hand and says, Please help me draw a diagram of the ear.

At this point, if you wear an official hat, you should already have picked up that home education is not some sort of patternbook that means the same to everyone, and everyone does the same.

You will find very different people home educate. They have many different reasons.

They might home educate because children are so emotionally wrecked by the machine of a uniformed school that parents no longer recognise the sparkling child they gave birth to.

Sometimes their child is not stretched enough, and school feels like a boring show with a one-trick pony. There's no hope of a performing bison, because a brain-dead Ofsted drone with a clipboard says it is good to standardise on one-trick ponies.

Some people want there to be more to life than the life school offers, and they may have a strong community already elsewhere, so off they go to better.

And sometimes there are uniquely made those wonderful, weird, one-off kids. The type who only think in wonderful, weird, one-off ways, like every detail in the universe must relate to vacuum cleaners or the whole world doesn't make sense, so school is a pointless interruption to real vacuum cleaner living.

Some parents, like Grit, just can't be arsed to get out of bed in the morning, so justify their idleness and general critical slouching with a cover of edubabble and a scattering of nonsense she once read in a book.

I accept all of that difference is mind blowing if you are the type of person who likes everything to be the same. So the most important thing to know is that anyone who wants to home educate doesn't have to ask permission.

Really, we don't have to. I have proof. Look at this. The Education Act 1996, Section 7:

'The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable:

1. to his age, ability and aptitude, and
2. to any special educational needs he may have,

either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.'

A parent can choose home education to suit their child. No-one has authority over a parent when it comes to choosing an education for their child.

Some kids already know whether they want to go to school or not, and they don't mind saying. So it's not easy to persuade them they have false consciousness and really want to go, or that they will get used to it after the first three years, or maybe if they give it another ten years they will be a better person for the experience.

They might tell you outright that you are wrong, and yell at you repeatedly, I DON'T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL. Or they might tell you in other ways. Like weeping every morning at 7.30am, freezing in terror when the school holidays end, or smashing up the house and locking themselves in their bedrooms at 4pm Monday to Friday.

From what I've heard, you can only coerce a child to go to school so much when all this bad stuff is happening, so from that point of view, home education can't be any worse. It might even be better.

Then, in my experience, kids who are home educated quickly get to know their rights, and you spend a long time persuading them about their responsibilities, like getting out of bed and drawing a diagram of the ear.

Anyway, I thought maybe it was worth repeating all this wonderful difference and diversity that exists in our world, and the legal right we have to maintain it, since today I had a troubling conversation with someone who wore an official hat.

They seemed to have the idea that education out of a conventional school system was something that only a particular type of God-fearing person did, and that anyway, we had to apply to do it, and ask permission to do it, probably from the local authority. Once authorised, we then must be checked that we are doing it right, to the pattern book.

No. None of that applies. I could be anyone. All I need do is listen to my child. Think. And carry out my legal duty.


Claire said...

I like it - got to keep people on their toes depite the demise of Badman and Balls!

sharon said...

I really thought that with the passing of the Brown Balls Badman regime that this questioning of your rights crap would have come to an end.

Ruth said...

Was the official hat person seeking to impose this stuff upon you, or just expressing their obviously infallible opinion?

The official hat brigade's most infuriating position, to me, is that it is possible, nay, likely, for a long-term truant to get a worse education at home than they weren't getting at school - and that good could come from their parents going to jail over it. Since when has parental imprisonment improved the situation of a family which was clearly already facing problems? And how can home education EVER be worse than NO education?

Deb said...

Yes, more on the Official Hat Person.

Also - Go Grit!

Grit said...

hi folks! I think Official Hat was fumbling, expressing an opinion and trying to make it sound authoritative. it was a fairly easy going conversation, but makes me aware how much ignorance there is about home ed, and in places where there should not be such a lack of knowledge.

and is there anywhere we have a home educated alumni site?

Clare said...

Here's one:

American, natch, but has members from all over apparently.

Mieke said...

Have not yet read yr entire post, but I *do* know other home educated triplets! Three girls! And their older sister. You're not alone, Grit :) xx

Kestrel said...

Here in Australia there is still that ridiculously troubling notion that only the righteously god fearing home educate.

I adore your lines about learning their rights and then teaching responsibilities. Perhaps I'll have my righteous 10 year old read your blog post tomorrow and see what happens.

Did that diagram of an ear ever happen?