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_ (http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/1100education/) scroll down to the article "Why we didn't send our children to school"