Monthly Archives: August 2010

Do home educated youngsters need GCSEs?

I know the question of whether young adults actually need GCSEs gets asked a lot. On the whole I think a lot of HE families are of the opinion that the answer depends on what the child wants to do work and future education wise and whether those things they might need can be taken when they come to cross that bridge.

For many there is also the very real problem that for home educaters GCSEs and IGSCEs cost a massive amount of money. Quite a shocking mark up seems to be made for “private candidates” which leaves many of us paying off those exams for some months.  So if we are going to get our children to take these exams they need to be worth it. It’s a bit of a nightmare finding places within sensible travel distance that will take candidates as well. Perhaps with Michael Gove in charge we might see some changes in this area- but he has such a huge mess to sort out I’m not holding my breath.

My daughter is just starting her second 10 point course at level 1 with the Open University.  As she is 16 the OU like to have someone talk her through what will be expected of her for this course. They did this for her last OU course as well and from what I can gather they will continue this very supportive approach until she reaches 18. I am quite impressed. They do not simply take the money and leave the student to sink or swim. If they don’t think a student is up to the work, apparently, they say so. 

In her phone interview Iona was told that she would need a GCSE or IGCSE in English at some point if she was going to complete a full degree with the OU or any other University.  She has IGCSE in Maths (grade B).  I was interested in this advice because it would mean that although her CV would have University level points, including ones in English type subjects, that she would still need to go back and do the IGCSE level. Is that bizarre or what? I am not criticising the OU on this; I am sure they are right. The boxes must be ticked and proving your ability to study at Uni level at the age of 16 doesn’t have a box.

Before we jump in there though and take on more debt, I think we need to see if she really does need it.

My oldest has 12 GCSEs I think (or 13 I lost count) and these haven’t made it any easier for him to get employment or the right kind of degree than his brother who has one IGCSE in Maths (B) and an IGCSE in English (D). He has just finished his BTEC Diploma in Art and Design and has an interview for a job coming up. Bizarrly Labour apparently banned IGCSEs in schools under their control because-get this- they are not compatable with the (laughably awful) National Curriculum!

Iona already has two litte jobs from people who know her well enough know she can be trusted. Would not the fact that her CV already shows she is employed, working at Uni level and has interests outside of “school” hours, stand her in good stead with an employer?

Are employers really still only looking at boxes that are ticked or do they want to ensure someone can actually do the job? I used to short list and interview in my olden days and I remember we were more interested in what they wrote on the back page than the school guff.  Perhaps things have changed.

I’ve got to say I have met a lot of the people my kids have been to school, college and Uni with and, with one or two notable exceptions, I would have be paid to employ some of them! I don’t care what boxes of GCSEs they can tick- they don’t have what it takes to hold down a job; speak with custumers; make eye contact; get there on time; listen and get the istructions; use common sense… the list goes on.

I can only imagine that employers who actually want to make money and save it, are more interested in a personable, appropriately dressed and not too heavily metalled person, than some GCSEs of dubious quality.

But I could be wrong.

[ If you want to know what Iona is studying this time click on the Gift of Learning pic above]

Could we start an educational revolution in home education?

With the launch of Kelly’s book and some musings on the subject by Danae, I’ve been thinking about how Home Education could change the face of education as a whole in the UK. Scotland have their own little battle going on at the moment thanks to the astonishing crassness of a Labour SMP and his remarks about the horrific tragedy of the Riggi case. It is a case that has had horrible echoes for me of something closer to home (though no HE children involved). Perhaps if the Labour SMP could spend some time considering the horror of divorce and it’s impact on children? No? Thought not.

Meanwhile I have been wondering if it is time for more home education to happen, lots more of it.

Could we spread the message so far that more and more parents decide that a suitable education is one that the family offers the children? In a strange way we even seem to have the MSM on our side, in as much as it is filled with so many horror stories of what goes on in schools and the state of pupils that come out of institutional education. Perhaps as more teachers are sacked for trying to do their job properly, and while Ofsted gets it wrong so often, and more and more children are leaving school illiterate, tbere just has to be a better way. Couldn’t that better way be home education?

I know Michael Gove hopes more free schools will come into existence but I think he is stimmied on that for the forseeable future because of the appalling amount of beaurocracy any groups of parents would have to wade through to get the thing off the ground. And let’s face it; there is massive opposition to the idea of mere parents, especially if they happen to be middle class, taking their children’s education too seriously. We haven’t got past the horrible cultural view of “leave it to the experts” yet by an stretch.

Home Education could be the answer for so many children stagnating in a system that doesn’t help them learn or grow. If more parents took the optionand offered their children a truly flexible and worthwhile form of educaiton we might find lots of cultural problems could at least be curbed a little.

I am not saying all home educating families are saints and that all home ed parents put the welfare and education of their children first. I know some HE parents seem to think that, but I have a long and broad experience of HE and have come across  a couple of families over the years who just weren’t good at parenting, let alone educating their children. Chaos and sheer nastiness ensued.  Those families, however, have proved thankfully rare and anyway most HEers steer clear once burned.  In school children are forced to get burned over and over and the horrible behaviour, far from being shunned is enabled by the system.

Perhaps if more and more parents pulled out of the broken system and demand a new one was thought of there could be change. Meanwhile the basis of this system, which was to feed workers to the factories Ofsted thinks should upfront be financed by these private firms. If this isn’t telling is what Ofsted and the Government structure think education is for, I don’t know what does.

Of course many parents who tell me they would love to HE are stuck in the economics of needing two incomes. They are in so deep they can’t even see themselve managing on one and half wages.  I can’t say I blame them. Managing on one wage is extrememly difficult and that’s with doing without a load of stuff these other families take for granted.  But perhaps if enough parents thought the sacrifice was worth it…

I wonder if it would change the way people think. Would more families lean towards a distributist way of life as communities grew stronger with more families living their lives in these communities. No more streets emptied all day as mum goes one way, dad the other way and the children to the locked building up the road. What if instead the families lived and worked together and shared their resources?  It would surely make life easier for single parents too, to be more involved in their local community and able to home ed and work because other families would assist.

There is a move to make school attendence voluntary- but the fact is, as the law stands now, no one HAS to go to school. The question then is, why do so many parents send their children to school? Why is that normal, and home education seen as weird?

Theology of Suffering from Fr Stan

Get a grip of this suffering malarky by listening and watching Fr Stan teach on it. You can click on the bookcase at the top of my side bar or you can click HERE and HERE and HERE. He doesn’t just rap you know :)

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Four Last Things (pt 2) with the Theology of suffering

Purgatory is not one of the Four Last Things but as it is a sort of antechamber to heaven I thought it deserved a mention. It is a state of suffering where, as St Paul describes it, the straw of life gets burned away leaving only the gold, bright and shiny that can enter heaven. It is through God’s Mercy that such a thing can happen and is a direct result of His saving act on the Cross and the Resurrection. I know that many protestant Christian’s don’t accept the existence of this purging before heaven but all the ones that phone Catholic Answers with their questions or statements on it, end up saying something along the same lines as Catholic teaching on the matter, so I suspect there’s at least a vague acknowledgement that as nothing unclean can live with God, that there’s a process of cleaning to ensure that.

Quite a few Biblical scholars (Hahn for one) see purgatory as linked with the old Jewish place of the dead Sheol. The Church inherited a lot of Jewish teaching, obviously as the Jesus didn’t come to change the Law but to fulfil it. Praying for the dead is age old therefore.

It is also argued that hell is part of God’s mercy. He never forces His love on anyone, but the fact is His love is a burning fire and as He is omnipresent it just is there. People in Hell are as far away from God as they can get.  Some argue that true mercy in the case of those who hate God so much would be annihilation. It’s a tricky theological argument that has books written on it. The short version is God’s nature is to life and existence so annihilation goes against His nature. I’m not sure of all the arguments on this matter, but it is something interesting.

One area of this theology that interests me is the view that all three states; hell, purgatory and heaven are present here on earth and that you really can and do take it with you. It’s something you make for others too. Obviously as Christians we are called to make a bit of heaven on earth and accept the offer of it from God, but Free Will also allows us to make other people’s lives purgatory and hell, not just by what we do, but far more often (I think) by what we don’t do. (Take a look at the Parable of the Good Samaritan for example).

Purgatory, as a state of suffering- the last bit of cross carrying- is surely something we go through here on earth. No suffering need be without merit and use. We can offer our suffering with the Cross of Christ as St Paul teaches. All the suffering we are allowed to go through is for something. It isn’t meaningless. How we handle our suffering is important. While it is true that we are called to assist those who suffer and should never just walk on by or say something platitudinous while doing nothing; neither should the person who suffers inflict that on other people.

It is too easy, when struggling with horrible things to give out rather than offer it up. After all as the song says, “Everybody gotta suffer.”

For those of us going through it now we need to remember that this too will pass and we are already called to take one day at a time. We must resist the temptation to take it out on those around us. We mustn’t try and stop others having what they need because of what we want just because we are struggling at the moment.

I actually think that those who try to pull others down with them are creating a small circle of hell around themselves. Something terrible they will take with them. While suffering can be a beautiful opportunity to atone and offer, it can be a time of temptation to make others suffer too. We really mustn’t go there. Suffering in no way exempts us from trying to follow Christ. “Take up your cross and follow Me,” He said. Not ‘take up your cross and bash other people with it.’ We must look past our own pain to other people’s needs and still do what we can for them, no matter how hard, how exhausting that is.

I think I’ll post some more Fr Stan on this subject. He is clearer than I am-perhaps because he hasn’t filled himself with drugs!

A day for Mothers and Alcoholics.

One day people will look back on these days of the 20 and 21st century and call them the dark ages. They will see so much intellectual pride and not much intellectual substance. They will shake their heads at the shallowness of thought and refusal to listen, especially to stories. Our understanding of who we are is deeply rooted in stories, mainly true ones but fairy tales have a place too.

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Four Last Things (pt 1

A few things that have happened recently have had me thinking more about outcomes in life and eternal life. I didn’t get to Mass on Sunday but THIS WAS A GOOD READ on the Scriptures for that day. Then this morning I was reading about how in New York they have grown so dim as to not understand the fast chasm of difference between palliative care and killing the patient. Even in this horrible brain-fog state I still know the difference; what IS their excuse?

One comment said that we need more instruction on the Four Last Things and I think that is true. I have never heard anything about them in Church. In fact the last time I heard anyone speak on the matter it was Fr John Corapi’s little series. I like his talks because they are clear for someone who needs it-like me. The comment also mentioned that if people understood these matters better they wouldn’t be so afraid of death.

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Quick update…

ECG was normal this am which is good. BP is down a bit too. I tell you what, this new drug is making a new woman out of me; no more sausage fingers; I have my ankles back (mostly) and my face and neck are coming and going. That is weird I grant you- yesterday I suddenly noticed my face and neck swelling had just gone. No more double chin. Today it’s back but nowhere near as bad as before. I do get oedema in the oddest of places.

Anyway; blood tests on Friday and then doc again in 2 weeks and probably be seeing the Cardiologist after that.  A normal ECG doesn’t rule out renal and heart failure but it does mean if I do have it I have a better prognosis than if the ECG showed anomalies as well. That’s good.

A friend took me to the docs this am. I told him I thought this was God’s way of having a go at me. I absolutely LOATHE going to the doctors and thanks to this business I have already been 3 times in 3 weeks and have to go back on Friday. Somebody is having a right larf at my expense! Still, He does seem to be hearig all those prayers. I am coping much better with both the pain and exhaustion- which is marvellous. Thank you so much all those of you with sore knees on my behalf :)

Anyway we’ll see what happens next.