Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Let's not scare the middle-class readers

The best place today is over here.

Enough material to keep this blog going for months.

I tutted and eyeball-rolled, of course, about the general tone and direction of the article. But I'm kind. It's the Guardian. And I'm giving the writer the benefit of the doubt; Jeevan probably wrote this piece for the paper's tender and delicate middle-class audience. Surely he knows what education is really out here. He only assumed the voice character type naive!

I say, everyone! Isn't it astonishing what some parents will do?!

Maybe it's right to keep the Guardian readers dipping their toes into the shallow end, Jeevan. Don't let them over the boundary, or near the deep end, thick with the radical unschooled working classes! These people will blow your mind!

It was a bit irritating, the oooh-aren't-we-daring, middle classness; the lurking fears on 'losing out', 'missing out' and blahblah how 'families will have to work hard to ensure they're up to speed with the curriculum in later years'.

There, you let it out. The National Curriculum is the middle-class code book of Acceptable Knowledge. Go beyond the boundary at your peril.

But I was grateful too for the article, because it brought out this fantastic comment, which I totally adored. I'm almost tempted to hunt down SwissedCottage and give them a big smackeroo.
Sounds like the newest craze for upper-middle class yummy mummies - perhaps something to fill the day for the ladies-who-lunch crowd? Their Tarquins and Saskias will be learning about artisanal cheeses and mid-20th century interpretive dance, whilst the Shanes and Jodis on the estates learn about whatever is on Sky TV...
It perfectly picked up the tone of the article, yet missed the point of learning outside school completely.

But say they're a little bit right! Because when a family takes a child out of school, their approach will probably promote that family's values and culture. So yes, you could say a middle-class family will seek to raise a middle-class child, like a Jewish family will raise a Jewish child. What? Did anyone know that?

But I'm not so sure you can say the same about ideas.

Once you come out of school, out here in the real world, what we learn comes from people in society. Guess what! There are different social groups out here!

Learning out of school is the most astonishingly egalitarian experience. You meet all sorts. Everyone is a teacher for your child. And, unlike school, you can't control the ideas people come with; you can't say what your child will learn or not; you can't predict or measure what your child will take away from any experience or interaction in the real world.

In my experience, learning outside the boundaries has been far more socially broadening than at school, where the intake can be narrowly focused. Out here you can rub shoulders with the family who live in the rough side of town, and the family who live at t'Hall, and both of you have got to help each other's kid build that space rocket.

See? Ideas are even stronger than class. Ideas that bring people together, regardless of whether we wear clogs or Manolos. Ideas about education, freedom, about learning, of choice, and autonomy.

With those ideas, people can tear up the middle-class code book. Yes, I know! We can even think dangerous ideas.

Now I've let out one of the secrets about knowledge! But shhh. We don't want to give anyone the vapours. Better not tell the Guardian readers.


Gweipo said...

I had to think about you (a lot) but in a very good way when I read "room" ...

KP Nuts said...

My award for home ed journalism goes to Woman magazine. Did you see that one? There was a fab article about home ed in the guardian back in 2008 which interviewed a wide variety of families. I didn't watch The Wright Stuff but I gather that was pretty shocking,
I suppose every publication knows its target audience TES and the guardian are both popular with teachers and might not wish to challange the status quo.

Witness the reaction to the story about the new phonics test this week as an example.

KP Nuts said...


Here is the Guardian one - I only saw a scan of The Woman one as I don't think they publish all of their content on line

Grit said...

gweipo i shall put room on my reading list! (it looks scary)

i haven't seen the woman article, nor the wright stuff; i liked the guardian article, especially at the end when mr smithers came on. the assumption from then seemed to be that home ed people naturally find no work, never go to college, and do not function in society ... as if they were the goals of home ed all along.

maybe it needs to be said much louder that home ed prepares people for college, university, work, and adulthood from the word go, instead of treating those issues as if they were PSHE lessons to be delivered in years 10 and 11.

KP Nuts said...

Mr Smithers - I think Fiona calls him Rent-a-Quote.

Yes - Like food - If shopping and cooking are an integral part of your day it is unlikely you will need lessons on boiling eggs shortly before you leave home.