Home Schooling and liberty

I was inspired by Ruth to have a look at this subject, though I have always been someting of a fan of alternative education in general.

I have to say I did not pay much attention to my kids' formal primary education. They had gone to private nurseries - much against my will, actually, and went on to the local state primary where, at best they coasted, and at worst fell a long way behind. Their further education took place in the independent sector, and I have to say, it was the making of them and it corrected the years in which my children fell behind. A lot of the decisions about their education were taken away from me by my first wife, who did everything she could to serve her own needs above theirs. (Bitter twisted bit over)

This is all a pre-amble to say that I have always felt that the home schoolers had a point. This point being that education is something that happens naturally, with a bit of simple help. You do not need to be an expert to teach, most of the real work is done by the kids themselves. In the early years, a teacher is merely a facilitator. Growth, in terms of education and as a person, is dependent upon quality of interaction and the inculcation of desire for knowledge. It is also something that should not be too heavily subject to tests and trials at the beginning, for, kids evolve at different rates and this should be reflected in the challenges placed before them. This just cannot happen in a class of 30 children.

We are all also individuals and notionally free. We deserve the right to educate our offspring as we see fit, provided that the core tools of reading, writing and rithmatic are also taught. The rest is so arbitrary, as are pedagogic theories, that all attempts to go beyond the basics have always been political rather than practical.

So where is this country at as far as home schooling is concerned? Nobody knows how many kids are home-schooled and estimates vary from 20-80,000 - which is not a lot. Oddly, local authorities are not required to find out.
The first fright headline I found was "home schooled children at double risk of abuse", which is nonsense. This of course is a precursor to justifying even more heavy handedness from local authorities.

The crux of this article is here:

The Children, Schools and Families Bill, which is going through Parliament, will implement Mr Badman’s recommendations, which mean local authorities will set up registers of home-educating parents in their area.
Officials will also have new powers to visit the home and, crucially, speak to the children involved. Under current law they can inspect the part of a home to be used for home schooling, but do have not power to see the children.
However the Conservatives say they will scrap the new law as it stigmatises home educators.
Michael Gove, Shadow Schools Secretary, said parents who educated their children at home did a wonderful job. "Government should support them and we won’t allow the current Government’s plans to stigmatise home educators to get through," he said.
Did you know this bill was on the cards? No, neither did I, but it is interesting that at last, here is one area where there is a real difference of opinion between the Tories and Labour, the latter, as usual, using any means, any justification, to control our lives that little bit more.
Home schoolers already cooperate with schools inspectors, so why more legislation and more control?

Well, you can see where this is going can't you? "We feel, Mrs Smith, that Jimmy should be learning about Climate Change, and Gay Sex, and Multiculturalism"

We are lucky in the UK. Home Schooling is banned in Germany. There was a case recently of a family who sought and got political asylum in the United States because they were being harassed by German authorities for attempting to home-school.

The best piece I could find, one that seemed balanced, was this:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/mortarboard/2009/jun/05/home-education-badman

which highlights the way Labour and Ed Balls are planning to plug this particular gap in their brainwashing programme. The article cites research: a comprehensive study by academics at the University of London recently concluded that such informal learning at home was an "astonishingly efficient way to learn".

I shall not go into the Badman report here, or why Ed Balls is so keen on it, but it appears to be yet another way of chipping away at civil liberties on the specious pretext of some sort of extreme behaviour which, inevitably in this case was predicated on the tragic death of a poor child whose incredibly stupid and evil Muslim parents have now set the bar low enough to accommodate them, and with them, the rest of us.

3 comments:

denverthen said...

Well done!

That's it. Sorry.

Ruth@VS said...

A good post, WW, which summarises the issues nicely. At one time I wasn't in favour of home education, but I changed my mind having looked into it and seen the results of the factory system which currently operates in our state schools. Actually, I learned to read at the age of 3, taught by my parents - because I wanted to learn, not because it was dictated by Key Stage Whatever.

And to add, Khyra Ishaq is a red herring - there were more than enough warning signs before she was withdrawn from school.

Thanks, WW.

Richard said...

Good post, WW. I said something similar here. If the state can determine how we educate our kids (rather then provide a convenient and efficient was of doing so which we are free to choose or not), then we have totalitarianism. Your comment about 'hmm, let's see about climate change' is very apt. That's the first thing they will do if they get the chance.