Monday, 28 December 2015

But we Home EDUCATE and we're ATHEISTS!

Just because I now lost TWO arguments doesn't mean I'm going quietly.

Swinging punches on the way down with Argument One:
We Home EDUCATE. We do not Home SCHOOL. 

School is about training to shut up and sit quiet while knowledge is transmitted to you. It usually filters from top to bottom. To allow that process to happen, you have to accept procedures, restraints, limitations. Did you hear that bell sound? Change what you are doing. Shut up that you were 'just getting into it'. Time to do something else.

Of course we are not trying to reproduce school in a kitchen. What would be the sodding point? If we wanted schooling then we could send the kids to school, duh.

Wot we do - we swotty Ancient Classics types staring specky-eyed at our Western philosophical tradition - we like to call our stuff, Education.

Education, well, that never stops. It's not timed, it's not disciplined, nor delimited by hours, and it includes the observation of dust trickling in sunset, the way sound scatters across a marble floor, and the entire works of Shakespeare if that is your passion.

Education is free-flowing; it requires your active thinking, pursuit, and construction of knowledge. The knowledge you construct, you call your own. You, thinker, doer, expert, you find out what you like, when you like.

This wonderful segue of learning about life does not mean your learning comes without structure. As you approach anything you want to learn about, you begin to find the way the subject organises itself; you learn the language of the area you study; you discover the rationales, reasonings, labellings and semantics of the discipline.

Quickly you realise that if you're going to get far into any area, then you must bring some self-discipline to the study. You organise your time and articulate your motivations; you discover the things which facilitate your learning and the things which prohibit your learning. You learn not only the discipline you've chosen, you also learn how to learn. Welcome to our philosophy of education.

Personally I don't believe the way schools are now structured, supervised and managed allows for much of that free-ranging discovery to happen.

Chewing at anyone's ankles while flat on the floor, losing Argument Two:
Religion has nothing to do with our choice to Home Educate. We are ATHEISTS.

I now routinely face the idea that we home educate because of our religious conviction. We must be Christian / Muslims / Jews, otherwise we would send our kids to school, right?

All I'm saying, is that I'm equipping the entire family with colanders.

Yes, of course there are children who are told to believe that a virgin can conceive a child after a shadow passes over her, Gabriel speaks to some bloke holding a rock, and Moses can't find the path out a desert for 40 years, and I call this passing on your values and beliefs to the next generation.

Good luck to you. Showing your child the cultural community they are born into, what beliefs can give comfort in times of crisis, and what guides can help aspire to kindness is no bad thing. If it involves a rock, a piece of thread, or a bird that the landed gentry didn't shoot already, then so what?

But it seems to me that every parent in this land is under assault for trying to pass on their beliefs.

And if only the kids would listen to us, right? I mean, kids got Planet Internet, Wikipedia, every media resource going, the news on the TV, the shops filled with people, and the street where they live.

So the idea that a child's only source of knowledge is their parents?


PS. If you want the Religion of Grit, it is Do to others as you would have done to you, and From little acorns grow big trees.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Death of Trust

Thanks, Independent on Sunday! Thanks for dramatically opening the flood gates to every vile thing that can be said about us; we quietly studious, we quiet minorities; we not-up-to-much home educators.

Now we're tarred. Parents who take direct responsibility for their child's education? We're poison.

Right now, in law, all us parents, every one of us, we all have the duty to educate the children we bring into the world: we have the moral responsibility, a trusted position, to choose the education we believe matches our child best. That is the law, today. And trust has long underpinned that treasured position.

But look now, how trust was killed.

Parents, trust is an inconvenient legacy. There are reasons you're not to be trusted. Why you're not to be trusted to make decisions for your children. Unregistered schools are just an excuse.

Follow the money. Your children need monitoring by central government so they can be handed over to the companies who have steadily, gradually, taken control of public funds to create large private educational ventures with global reach. Your children are theirs.

When registration is implemented, when a definitive curriculum introduced, when any school inspector can do away with any educational philosophy or style not approved, then you don't have a choice, we don't have a choice.

Trust? Trust can be redefined. The old trust, the one that came with old parents, with philosophical convictions, with history, with assumed duties, obligations, responsibilities, ideas about duties of parenthood; the simple notion that a parent knows their own child best? It's gone, it's gone.

A new parenthood is not so far away. Apply to the government for permissions to educate your child. The set curriculum will be delivered to your home computer via a corporate* who will remotely supervise and evaluate your child, keeping them 'on track' and 'on target' to better feed their test scores into global league tables. A qualified supervisor will visit your home to inspect your child and sanction your environment.

The New Parents, government and corporate, they will take decisions for your child. You, Old Parent, what they tell you to do, you do, or be punished.

* My money's on Pearson.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Christmas preparations underway

We all scour the car boot sale for Christmas presents.

As Squirrel rightly says, we have to do the bootie, because 'the skips have locks on them'.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Arriba! Arriba! Ándale!

Okay! This home education malarky? Okay!

Thanks for asking.

It's just ...well time, please don't assume I teach. Look, my Big Grits are now aged 15. They jolly well teach themselves. They do learny-stuff by their own endeavours; they work out what to know, and how to shake it down in a language that an examiner will tick a box for.

Anyway, my little gribblehoofs busted me when they were aged about 9. I failed their primitive area maths questions! But then, I did teach them life's most useful lesson. It's no use asking your mother. Find out for yourself.

Take it all as living breathing proof that home ed works. The kids must do things for themselves: we can help only with Lingua Latina (aged 95) and Sam Martell. (Shark now allows me to tell you she got A grade in IGCSE Physics this year.)

Ah yes! The children! Shark, Squirrel, Tiger. My experiments! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Well, Shark has set her course for Life Domination. Having ticked Physics, sorted a newspaper delivery job, joined the Sea Cadets, learned how to cook 150 different bread types, and taken a course in Marine Engineering, she is now studying sea maps and has plans to build her own boat. At this point, I understand it is my job to close my mouth and hand out cash.

Squirrel lives in a faraway dimension where everything else makes sense. Squirrel is Shark's identical twin and her binary opposite.

While Shark purposefully handles the family laundry, Squirrel watches dust fall through sunlight. Shark marches off to source ingredients for her new-found bread recipe while Squirrel examines soil. This week, Shark learned how to handle herself on a sail, while Squirrel built a fifteen-foot articulated dragon.

I think no further explanation is needed, except to tell you my fears were unfounded, and four children could indeed hoist a fifteen-foot articulating dragon out of my house. Squirrel may arrive for a Theatre Props or Fine Art instruction near you in due course.

Tiger? Tiger is a swot for Latin, Anglo-Saxon grammar, and I'm damned if I can find a teacher of Ancient Greek.

PUBLIC APPEAL: If you know of, or you are, a teacher of Ancient Greek, please talk to me.

Apart from swotting (making dragons, sub-aqua diving, climbing, joining the stitch 'n' bitchers, taking up with the local park rangers, helping make a panto, and - joy of joys - running in teen spirit about the Wild Woods with The Wide Games Crowd), since my last missive, we have galloped through the following:

British Museum Celts exhibition; to the cinema for Fassbender in Macbeth, girl power with Suffragette, and fun with The Martian.

Live screenings of Our Lord Cumberbatch as Hamlet, the RSC's Henry V, the ENO's Mikado.

To the Globe and Sam Wannamaker theatre for Richard II and The Odyssey: Missing, Presumed Dead by Simon Armitage (I still love him, even though he spoke to me with cold, dead eyes).

Then chuck in Glyndebourne's touring production of Mozart's Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail (I hope you're impressed I typed that from scratch).

And! We did a family team challenge which involved driving a car with a bucket of water strapped to the bonnet. (I say family. Dig was away and Tiger wouldn't join, on the grounds, It Is Silly.)

Somewhere in this, we all went to Mexico. I would tell you more, except it was werk-related and Dig says I ought not to blab about clients on a public blog.

But it wasn't all werk! Have photos! Templo Mayor, Anthropology Museum, to the Belle Arts for Diego Rivera, a couple of hours on the canals (thanks, Shark), Teotihuacan, and Shark cooking us cactus for dinner.

Speaking of clients, one of my finest moments happened recently when I was asked if I 'take part in the sex industry' thanks to my preference for leather.

Just to reassure everyone, I did not go to Mexico looking for work as a hooker. I just dress like that.