The world *is* changing
So, 97% of the people who responded to yesterday's poll aren't intending to kick their home educated children out at any point to 'fend for themselves', let alone when they're sixteen. This corresponds with my own plans too and I think it's fair to conclude that home educating families tend to be very cohesive, supportive structures: the real value of which probably can't be estimated, though I'd like to see some attempts. (We see enough of the other sort!)
Mr Mooney would no doubt tell us that the majority of 'his children' have illiterate parents who wouldn't be reading my blog, but if that's the case, then presumably most of them went to school..?
But to look at his point more closely, he's not talking about illiteracy, or about children leaving home per se, is he?
"A lot of my children, who are mainly on council estates, don’t actually sit any GCSEs or any examinations of any kind when they’ve been home educated and they just go out into the world of work and fend for themselves. I think it’s an indictment of the education they get at home. Um, you see often we get newspaper articles showing affluent, middle-class families educating their children. That’s not what I see most of the time. I do see some very good teaching, by people who know what they’re doing, but the great majority of my children don’t get GCSEs when they’ve finished and go out into.. onto the workforce, just trying to fend for themselves."
I can spot as many as four erroneous assumptions in that paragraph (apart from the obvious one about whose children they are):
- That parents who live on council estates are somehow less competent in their ability to educate their own children. I just can't believe this is true: the kind of house you live in has no impact on your intelligence.
- That starting work without qualifications somehow equates to 'fending for yourself' in ways that starting with qualifications doesn't. This was the part I was struggling to understand. Isn't all money-earning work about 'fending for yourself'? I get that having certain qualifications helps you - may even be necessary - to get certain jobs, but if you don't want that kind of a job, then why get the qualifications? What if, like my sons so far, you can't find courses that suit what you want to do and you conclude that your time would be better spent enhancing your skills in self-directed study? If your parents are supporting you to do that, how is that 'fending for yourself'? (I've asked my dad for a translation: I think he's of a similar age and background to Mr Mooney. And, I suspect, ideology.)
- That being affluent or middle class makes you better able to educate your children. I can understand that if we want a world full of affluent, middle class people - impossible by its own definition though that would be - then we must only allow them to home educate, because people like me who are happy to live on less money are likely to bring their children up to be the same. Not deliberately, and other ways of life are not foreclosed to them, but I suppose parental values do tend to rub off sometimes. (Not always though: my affluent middle-class mother and stepdad's values weren't taken up by me, and I know plenty of people who became affluent and middle-class from impoverished backgrounds.) But to try and change that would be the most blatant social engineering, wouldn't it?
- That you have to have "good teaching, by people who know what they’re doing" for a child to learn well, or properly. I just don't think that's true, unless by 'good teaching' he really means 'good learning facilitation', and actually someone posted to the lists to say that they'd met with him and he was an advocate of autonomous learning. But only for the middle classes, it seems! The best kind of home education I've seen is just an extension of the best kind of early years parenting. Enabling children to learn; guiding them in their exploration of the world, surely comes instinctively to most parents. And books are cheap, computers are cheap, the internet is cheap, many educational outings are now free, our home ed meeting (for example) is free.. You do not need to spend a lot of money to home educate well.
It feels like open season on home education at the moment. Even the British Humanist Association thinks we need monitoring and regulating (Carlotta has responded.) Why do they all think we need "bringing into line with school children"? Is it the British obsession with queuing? If not, (and to be serious I assume not) then how many generations did it take us to go from the advent of compulsory education to the assumption of parental guilt? Not many. Not enough, though I suppose those two World Wars will have helped the process, as well as everything else.
Childhood does not need to be monitored and regulated. Childhood should be exciting, happy and free. The application by parents of something called 'common sense' should be assumed and any serious problems resulting from that, then dealt with accordingly. As with road traffic management systems, a proliferation of control mechanisms actually makes life more dangerous. Anyone who's ever had care of a child knows that lack of trust results in oppositional behaviour. Why shouldn't the same be true of parents? Where has society's trust in parents gone?
The legal complications of the Revised statutory guidance for local authorities in England to identify children not receiving a suitable education and associated clauses in the Education Act seem to be saying, as Carlotta and I both concluded, that local authorities - not parents - should now assess children's needs and what constitutes a 'suitable education'. Taken literally, this means that every time my baby cries, I should phone the council to ask for advice. Every time a child asks a curious question, we should ask the local authority to please supply a 'suitable' answer. I should stop there actually, because I know there are some people who really would advocate such a system. As if being employed by the local authority suddenly confers a person with untold wisdom and superiority.
Charlotte Iserbyt, who I've been watching on YouTube again, thinks that the one-world government plan intends to cut out the national level of government, but not the local one, which is why (in her opinion) local government structures are currently - and rapidly - being strengthened. She says that local government groups will speak directly to the international one, and take their instructions in the same way, so there won't even be the pretence of a democratic representation. I feel already, being in the receipt of statements like: "The crux of the matter however is that the Better Regulation Executive in BERR does not have the power to stop policy development in its tracks," that no single body or political procedure has the power now to stop this policy development in its tracks and it's a depressing realisation, but I don't know what to do about it. Except blog.