Friday, March 16, 2007

Extra! Extra! Read all the prejudice...

Shock News Story!!
Same old nonsense spouted about home education

“Dr Philip Dixon, director of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Cymru, said children miss out on wide social interaction if they don't go to school.

Home educators have their children's best interests at heart, but they have a very narrow understanding of what education is. The best service they can give their children is to get them to socialise.”

These quotes are from a newspaper article - see link at the bottom. People who know nothing about home education imagine what they think it might be and then condemn that. It’s great being an ‘expert’ and a ‘professional’, isn’t it?

Ok, so let’s just consider these criticisms– one more time…through gritted teeth...

Do my children “miss out on wide social interaction”?

No, they don’t.

When our daughter was at school she was in a friendship group of lovely little girls – all middle class ‘high achievers’. This was engineered by the school who put them in ‘groups’ – based on how well they could read or do sums. There were certainly children of a range of backgrounds and abilities in her classroom. That didn’t mean she had any meaningful interaction with them. She did get to witness the frequent ‘telling off’ of lively little boys who couldn’t ‘sit still like a lion’ (!) and the total dismay of children who couldn’t understand what was being demanded of them. She spent the day with children all of the same age – and one or two adults. The adults had to maintain constant control in a small room with 30 young children. There was a system of reward and punishment that was used to enforce the adult wishes and ‘resolve’ dispute between children.

Now they are home educated, our children choose to go to many group activities which generally involve children of a wide range of ages – and many adults. In these groups the diversity of the members is appreciated as an asset. Toddlers are respected – and included in older children’s games. Adults talk with and listen to children. If people can’t read then someone reads to them – whenever they need it. The likes and dislikes of group members are valued. If someone is good at climbing they do it for hours – and others applaud their skill. If someone gets hit then people step in to help resolve the conflict. It is not ‘perfect’ and things go wrong but there is not a list of criminals posted up on a notice board at each session. Everyone who is there has choen to bet there. We don't have to send the police out to catch people who have run away.

When not going to group activities my children meet many people. They talk to shopkeepers, bus drivers, neighbours.

My children are not shackled to the kitchen table with a pile of workbooks. Do we really have to keep saying this stuff?

“Home educators…have a very narrow definition of what education is.”

Someone working in an education system that has a National Curriculum, that builds all its structures around ‘progression’ and qualification – accuses others of having a ‘narrow’ definition of education!

I have met many home educating parents (wonder how many Dr Phillip Dixon has met?) and one of their most noticeable characteristics is that they have thought long and hard about what education is. Personally, I think that true education is lifelong, should be led by the heart and is bounded only by the limits of human brain capacity. It can’t be reduced to a list and it should never be declared complete. So, is that a narrow definition?

There is lots of good stuff in the article I have taken these quotes from. Some brave home educators have tried to get the reality across. But it seems that no matter how often, or how well, we explain ourselves and our lives, the assumptions about home education persist. I have thought of something that education should include – open-mindedness, the ability to learn from what you see and hear and adjust your opinions accordingly. The reps that get trotted out by the teaching unions don’t seem able to do that.

The newspaper story is in the Western Mail – available from the web site below.
_http://icwales.http/icwhttp:/icwales.http:/icwales_ ( scroll down to the article "Why we didn't send our children to school"


Gill said...

*Applauding* Well said, Allie!

Julie said...

Very well said Allie
There is a discussion going on about the usual stuff about HE on TES here;

But it is fabulously answered by PoetBlue (ex autonomously home educated now in teacher training young person) in message number 28!
It's a pleasure to read!

Anonymous said...

*sigh* yes it is all rather wearing (about how we have to answer this sort of thing all the time). Thing is that it is such a classic bit of patter that people bring out almost automatically..and I want to know where they are getting these ideas from..because it's the same stock comments about socialization where-ever I am getting them from. This guy might have the clout to say he is qualified to say this stuff..but he holds the same opinion as the man who comes to empty my cess pit and my yoga teacher (etc)...they all say the same thing about the socialising thing.

And they all say it with a really wierd smugness as if they know something we don't..that's the bit that I find so *abrasive*. T'other thing my experience, if I try to explain to anyone who holds the opinion that home ed kids suffer 'socially' that this isn't the case..their eyes glaze over and it is impossible to share the good news.

I am thinking about making a little set of laminated cards with the answer to the question printed on or else an instruction as to what they can do with their socializationalizm...I am tired of arguing the toss with everyone from the binmen to so-called friends..I've got better things to do with my time than let these tiny tiny mindsets encroach on what is a liberated life (sans schooling).

Luv from (The artist formerly known as) Elderfaery x

peri said...

I actually don't answer these questions any more. People who choose school are not expected to justify their decision, so why should I? - this is the only answer I give now to the same ole, same ole questions.

You are so right Allie. J was one of those who suffered under the punish/reward system, who couldn't sit still or be quiet, who was punished and kept in from playtime the day after his Grandad died because he was being disruptive - even though I'd told the teacher he was upset *sigh* he wanted to go into school that day as well.

I can't abide so called experts - they annoy the tits off of me. They need to remove their craniums from their rectums and talk to those in the know before spouting all their psychodrivel.

OK - mini rant over. Thanks again for an interesting read and the articles.

Beth said...

Allie wrote: "My children are not shackled to the kitchen table with a pile of workbooks. Do we really have to keep saying this stuff?"

The reason the answer to that question is "yes" is due to the fact that so few people, overall, homeschool their kids. (Yes, the numbers in both the US and the UK are increasing, yes, homeschooling has been around for a few decades now, yes it is legal; but still, the percentage of families who actually homeschool is still quite small).

Consequently, vast numbers of people still don't know much about it -- anymore than they, or their parents, did twenty years ago.

Which means that misconceptions about homeschooling will continue to flourish, unless we homeschoolers are willing and able to be vocal. It does get tiresome, I agree. I, too, look forward to the day when we no longer have to justify and explain our choice.

Alison said...


I'm glad other people are being more articulate about this, because all I can think is "what a %^&*ing idiot!"

CoralPoetry said...


I noticed that you placed a comment at Professor Hamblin's blog.

This is an open letter to Prof Hamblin who has blocked replies at his blog and has altered the original URL so that it returns an error 404 page. This is the new URL

Professor Hamblin,

Your erroneous original thoughts still stand here. Yes, the Internet is a big place, but not for an 8-year old grieving boy whose name is on your blog.

I actually have more respect for Roy Meadows who has maintained a respectful silence (who carried out his job to the best of his ability, armed with the technology at the time) than I have for you, a person armed with hindsight who says:

“Perhaps Clark was possessed by guilt that she really had killed her kids.”

One of her babies died of a staph infection. How do you justify this argument, which you posted 24 hours after her death? How can she kill her baby by staph? You and I are both armed with hindsight.

One of these “kids” is an 8-year-old boy who is likely to be reading your message.

You also say: "Sally Clark has died in suspicious circumstances."

As a medical professional, how can you suggest these are the circumstances 48 hours before a post mortem?

OK, I accept this is doctor’s jargon for “sudden death” but to the layperson (including an 8-year old boy) this means foul play or murder. How would you explain that supposition to the other occupant of her house when he reads this message at your blog?

If I were you and I chose to leave the original post here indefinitely, I would be looking at compensating this little boy in monetary terms. I think you should admit your error by sending this boy (the deceased's son) a cheque for an amount no less than £100,000 as compensation in the event he reads these inaccurate and malicious slurs against his late mother.