Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Doing it for ourselves

The gritlets attend an art lesson. One of those lessons home educators will recognise. Someone in our local home ed group has a skill they can share, they tell everyone about it, they hire a hall, and invite the kids along.

The older the children are, the easier it is for the home educating parent unit to push off and do the shopping.

So that is what I do. I sign up Shark, Squirrel and Tiger to C's art, take them to the local community hall, leave them with the other eight kids, then I drive off. When I pick them up, they show me circles and spirals and boast about the things a pencil can do, then they say the session was good, C is fun and she does interesting things.

Yah boo sucks to the naysayers. Home education offers individual routes into experience, teaches children how to take control of their own learning, values the family input, draws on so many skills from so many different people, and actively uses the community facilities that are here. Really, it provides an educational model for the mainstream. It shouldn't be the exception.

But I believe the educational landscape in this country will change. It's inevitable. The Victorian factory model this country still employs - where you lock up kids, dress the girls like boys, and render pupils in black-and-white service uniforms while dividing them up into pass/fail - show that schools are fundamentally about social control rather than freedom to learn.

The fact that successive governments try to control various aspects of this system, seek to intimidate and covertly threaten teachers, then impose on parents a hierarchy of sanctioned knowledge from ever-earlier ages, using moral threats and fears of exclusion, these are all indicators to me that the structure is already feeling vulnerable. Good.

You can't stop learning. Whether it takes place down the high street, in the village hall, in a field or a front room. People out here are already taking learning away from the school setting and offering it widely. The options to take up an education entirely suited to the individual are all around us.

And if the naysayers bleat exams and certification, then that too is under erosion. When the universities are experimenting with accreditation, we can say it's only a matter of time before the breakdown of your Victorian system begins.

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