Monthly Archives: November 2009

The Colour Purple

The First Sunday of Advent is upon us and Roni went up to light the first candle at Mass this morning. The readings were about God’s Promise being fulfilled with both the first and second comings of the Messiah. It is the time of purple vestments and tabernacle curtain reminding me of the sky just before dawn-just waiting for the Son to rise. Obviously the readings were meant to remind us that we were not just looking forward to looking back at the Birth of Christ, but were also looking forward to the Second Coming- when after things look pretty bleak for people (like the days of Noah) Christ will return and then there is Judgement followed by Heaven or Hell -and that’s it.

We have been reminded over and over that we have a choice-we are free to make this choice- we can go down the road to Mercy or we can choose Judgement.  When I read St Faustina’s diaries one year as my Lent reading I remember thinking that no one would want to walk the road towards Judgement. The fact that there is mercy is a great comfort surely.

As we head through the last couple of weeks before the Christmas hols the children will be making decorations for a Jesse Tree with the O Antiphons. There are Christmas chocs, cakes and buscuits to make too.

In the Catholic Herald this week I was pleased to see a letter published under the title “ A Tragic Outcome” supporting my letter and one from a Fr Cahill in the previous weeks edition against the CES stance on Home Education and sex education in schools. (20th Nov) scroll down to “It’s as if we no longer believe the young are capable of virtue” and my letter further down “The Bishop must defend homeschooling”. It is indeed tragic that the CES seem able to sacrifice children to the government without anyone who ought to speaking out!

Never a boring moment.

Party dude Alex and a cup of tea.

Alex is 18 and so when he and a whole bunch of mates of similar ages went off to a party last night I was, well, a bit tense. He left his girlfriend and away he went with the college crowd to a friend’s house the other side of the city.

 ChuggerI think I have been too taken in by the general MSM view of our youngsters, and I was concerned at the amount of alchohol and drugs that would be around. Alex said he wouldn’t be drinking (or taking drugs) but nevertheless a mother worries.

As it happened Alex was up this morning ready for Mass and said he had a good time last night. He drank lots of Schloer and Coke and although plenty of booze was on offer, he declined and no one tried to force him to drink. There were drugs but no one tried to push that on him either. One person got stupidly drunk and threw up all over the place, but that was all. As the evening drew to a close and people began to make their way home, the late stayers waiting for lifts, like Alex, helped clear up and sat down for a nice cup of tea. Chatting with the crowd it emerged that most people there had deliberately avoided too much alcohol as they were all off to Church the next morning!

Having finished his cup of tea his lift arrived and he came home.

Home Education -doing it, showing it and handing in the petition

Nature study is a core part of the early years of Miss Mason’s epistemological approach. A walk to the park and a game of Pooh sticks is a wonderful way for children to learn. When it comes to seeing and appreciating the local wildlife however, my children are never going to make it as the next David Attenborough as the enthusiasm of the Mighty 2 Year Old gets the better of her and she keeps bellowing “LOOK!” which immediately causes the receiver of her cheerful and loud attention to make a dash for it.

On our trip to the park I went with the petition in my crip-scooter basket and I stopped people along the way and asked them to sign. It was worth a try I thought. Reports from my son who had a page in his place of work, was that lots of people wouldn’t sign because they didn’t understand the wording and there were a lot of teachers who go there who (to be honest to my surprise) were not willing to sign it either. I did note one teacher legging it when he thought he might be asked to sign it the other day.

Meanwhile home education continues. Ronan enjoyed the story writing activity Classics for Kids set this week and there was yet more Chinese being spoken around the house. Even Heleyna is picking it up! (I’m not. It’s too hard!)

In Geography the children cut out copies of South America and Africa and looked at how they used to fit together. They learned a bit more about plate tectonics and how the plates make mountains and earthquakes.

On Thursday their dad had a day off so not much formal stuff was done but he did sit with Ronan and Avila so they could read to him.

Then on Thursday evening we left Alex and his Beloved with Heleyna and the rest of us went off to watch Josh in panto. It was a production of Jack and the Bean Stalk in which Josh starred in the first half as the back end of Daisy the cow and had a strange script consisting of the word “Moo!” In the second half he played a wizard and was very funny indeed. The show was lots of fun and the audience were appreciative. It was lovely to see how much Avila enjoyed herself. I think she might want to follow in her biggest brother’s footsteps one day- if she doesn’t fulfil her present ambition to be a builder.

Then yesterday was our Home Education Open Art Display afternoon. This was the suggestion in the Artistics Pursuits course we are doing as a group. We had been to the museum and taken note of how things were displayed in the Art Gallery and then the children spent a lot of time mounting and putting up their work.

Not all of it was pictures on the wall-though the walls were duly covered with paintings, drawings, colourings, and photos; but we also had a little display of decorated Christmas cakes the children had done under the tutelage of “Hiona the Professional”.

While neighbours and friends came over to have a look at the children’s work Al came home early and we went off to hand in the petition. It’s in and done.

It occurred to us mums that there was quite a lot of work in display considering it was only from September. We realised that usually once a piece of work is finished it gets put in a box, or folder and we rarely, if ever, look at it again. Some pieces get put on the wall for a while, but this huge display of what the group has produced was quite an eye opener.

We have decided that we would like to do something like this at the end of each term. We would invite people in to see the work and maybe look at curricula and whatever other stuff might be of interest. It would be a good way for the children to see what they have achieved (oooh enjoy and achieve!-sorry, I’ll stop it now)and for us to perhaps lift some of the strange mystique around the whole idea of EHE. Or perhaps we just want any excuse for a bit of a party:)


Dropping paranoia for practicality and fun.

Partly because I have such a bad memory I was keeping a ‘brain book’ to remind me of things I needed to remember. With the Badman review and the constant attacks and insinuations from the Govt that somehow EHE was not real education and only a cover for abuse, my paranoia got the better of me and I began writing detailed accounts of each bloomin’ day. Instead of taking a bit of extra time in the evening to chill or read, there I was writing out what we had done that day. ARRGH!

Fortunately I have a rather sensible 15 year old daughter who pointed out that as I wasn’t going to comply with the silly DCSF anyway and the LA officer was hardly-even if I wanted him to- going to read through a whole diary’s worth of educational events, then I was getting stressed for nothing. Too right.

She suggested that as I had also been taking photos and some films of the children learning, for me, that these things would be nicer in the diary and something the children could look back on later.

So this is what I have been doing. It still shows a good over view of the work and learning they do and I write notes, but aimed at them, not some stranger from the LA. It takes a lot less time and is more enjoyable.

I think I will be keeping the diaries to look back on.

Perhaps it will help on those “Why don’t I send them to school!?!” days. Hopefully it will help keep me focused on what a truly ‘suitable education’ is and how children need to be allowed the space to learn and grow.

I am not educating my children so that someone else can tick a box, or so that they can jump through exam hoops. I need to remember that education is to help them think, discern and want to learn so that they can be independent and so they can be good.


Badman and Balls- I stood up in Church today!

Before going off to Mass this morning I read the following quote from THIS DOC (scroll down to page 83 + for the Home Education part.
First year of registration
Children in the first year will all receive 2 * 4 hour meetings with LA officer (includes planning, travel time
50% of children in the first year will receive an additional 2 * 4 hour sessions. This is an estimate about
what % of initial assessments will require further action. There is little data, because the scheme has not
yet been implemented, but we are as confident as we can be that this is a high end estimation.
Monitoring visits
All children receive 1 x 8 hour visit at the end of the year.
50% will receive an additional 1 x 8 hour visit.
On no account do I intend to comply with the above utterly ridiculous, expensive and malicious plan. What kind of LA officer wants to spent 4 hrs in someone’s home disrupting their days and the children’s education? What kind of person would ever agree to a job that included 8 hrs with ONE family?
All this is written based on conjecture and the false stats that have already been dismantled and yet, there they still are!
I took the petition to Church and at the end of Mass, thanks to Father agreeing, I was able to stand up and speak to everyone. It is utterly nerve wracking but I explained what was happening to us and asked for the petition to be signed.
Iona noted that while families and a lot of the older men signed, it was the grandmothers who really took the situation on board. They have brought up their children and are the traditional grandparent type who believe in being a parent forever and caring for their children and grandchildren. They truly understand what removing parental rights means.
I am truly grateful.

Christ the King and the end at the beginning.

If you have ever watched the amazing film Into Great Silence you will have seen, felt and sensed the rhythm of the Liturgical year-moving with the breath of the world somehow. The man who made that film truly understood how the seasons of prayer works.

Today is the end of the year, marked by the fulfilment of history, Christ the King. This is the “already but not yet” before we plunge back into the darkness of waiting for the Light through Advent, and so the year begins again.

It’s the same with Divine Office (again used beautifully in Into Great Silence) which begins with the morning prayer based on our recognition of needing a Saviour and of waiting, through the day of work and thanksgiving for family and life and to Night Prayer with its fear of sickness and death that ends with the peacefulness of the Prayer of Simeon, “Now let your servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen the salvation…” and the words of Christ “Into Your hands Lord I commend my spirit.”

The Liturgical year recognises the human condition and the human spirit in a way no psychologist I have ever read has grasped. It takes Scripture and uses it to illustrate and high light the longing of the soul and through the prayers of the day and the year shows us how to get rid of guilt, to find forgiveness, salvation and peace and how not ever to need to fear death.

Do not be afraid.

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Lack of ANY evidence doesn’t stop Balls and pals calling home educated children vulnerable!

The Queen’s speech yesterday was almost embarrassing, but at least it didn’t mention home education. But having the words come from Her Majesty doesn’t mean they weren’t there. Under the spurious title Safeguarding the vulnerable we have

Safeguarding the vulnerable – strengthening the powers of local authorities and others with regards to registration, inspection and intervention will mean effective systems are in place to protect those that most need it. The Bill will introduce a new home educators’ registration system and take new powers for Secretaries of State to intervene in youth offending teams that are failing and potentially putting young people and their communities at risk.

I just wonder what on earth the Badman review, the consultation, the incredibly bad stuff put before the Select Committee, the protest, the letters and just the whole shebang was for. All this had been decided and was ready to be rolled out, regardless.

It is well past time that someone from the Tory side gave families and especially home educating families a clear and definitive promise that NONE OF THIS will come about under them. Surely we should have had a straight answer by now. Perhaps they feel they don’t need our votes and simply don’t care enough. That’s not to say I am not grateful for the work of Douglas Caswell and Graham Stuart who have shown a willingness to both understand home education and support it.

Let’s make something quite clear; the only vulnerable children I come across are children in school. The ones bullied, the ones with porn mags pushed under their noses, the ones with breakfast club, all day school and every evening club going-because going home isn’t an option; the ones with so many exams to sit they haven’t time to think straight; the ones having to listen to or be the receiver of the foul language and casual violence that happens down our street every ‘home time.’

Home educated children are not vulnerable and neither Badman nor any of his cronies have been able to show one instance where they have been! They have had to misuse case studies to try and squeeze a ‘home ed children vulnerable’ headline out here and there.

Of course they rely on the thoughtless opinionated public constantly making their silly assertions about ‘socialisation’ and ‘but they can’t do science can they’ and the ‘children shouldn’t be with their parents’ rubbish that gets answered and answered but still gets repeated.

The backlash is getting bigger and louder. More and more parents are saying they will not comply with anything this Government tries to do-and have put the Tories on notice that they wont be complying  any of it under them either.

Meanwhile I will continue to give my children a better than mediocre education in a loving family among good friends. Some people don’t approve I know-and frankly I don’t care.