Tag Archives: education

Malala – a true heroine.

Watch as Malala Yousafzai tells Jon Stewart what she planned to say to the Taliban man who came to kill her.

She was shot two years ago when she was 14. She nearly died but the British army flew her out and brought her to my local hospital where she was treated and is looking very well!

Now 16 she is an amazing young woman.

The complete interview is here:

Will the changes in GCSEs help home educators?

The Conservatives Hold Their Annual Party Conference - Day 4Michael Gove is setting about changing the way GCSEs are done. My dh says one of the changes will be that pupils will be reading whole books for English. That has to be a change for the better – if it happens.

Gove is ditching course work and continual assessment, probably, in light of the unsurprising news that parents and even teachers were doing the coursework for pupils, on a rather embarrassingly regular basis. So, those who cheated were getting better results than those who did the work for themselves.   Gove is moving to an exam only GCSE. Is this a good thing? Umm, I don’t know, but it might make life just a tiny bit easier for home ed children.

If this actually happens then I wonder if home educators might feasibly have an easier time accessing exams.

As it stands most people seem to either send their children to school or college for GCSEs or they (like us) go through the IGCSE route with the massive exam costs that go with it.

There had been some colleges willing to take pupils at any age, so long as they were ready, but that door got slammed when funding changes ensured that pupils able to take GSCEs at 13 or 14 would not be able to and would therefore have to wait until they were of a bureaucratically acknowledged age. I can’t help wondering, sometimes, if Gove et al actually want children to be educated.

Gove has also announced that GCSE exams will be harder. I wonder if this means GCSE and IGCSEs will now be on the same level. At the moment it is generally recognised that IGCEs are harder and therefore of a higher quality.

While on the surface these changes might look good, I’ll wait and see. It’s under this Government that UCAS as ditched equivalencies making Open University points worthless while easier exams are accepted.  It is going to be a massive shift in emphasis from getting an education to jumping through hoops and I am yet to be convinced that this will happen.

It is very frustrating to see that in America many universities are welcoming homeschooled students with open arms because they have noticed how much better educated they are, on average, than schooled children; that over here doors that were open or opening have been shut. UCAS needs scrapping completely, as it’s nothing more than a tick box machine that rejects well qualified students simply because there isn’t a box to tick.

American universities have a massive advantage in that they still meet with would-be students and actually interview them. This helps form a view of whether a student can actually do the work of the degree. Having a box ticked that shows a student has a good memory, is hardly a ringing endorsement as far as I can see. Having a folder full of lovely exam results but an inability to work independently or treat other people with respect is not a good start in adult life.

I am glad I don’t have children old enough for any of this right now. Whether it will be better or worse by the time they are old enough I don’t know.  I did think the children could get work and do a part-time degree with the Open University but they have jumped on the “charge excessively” bandwagon and their courses are simply no longer affordable.

As things stand I would prefer my children to do one of the very good quality homeschool Highschool Diplomas, but as UCAS narrows it’s boxes this might not be the right choice – unless they don’t want to go to Uni over here or at all.

As more distance learning is launched I’ll be keeping an eye on what options the children might have.

Sir Ken Robinson speaks on the need for a learning revolution.

This is a continuation of the excellent talk Sir Ken gave a few years ago about how schools were destroying children’s creativity. His critique of the massive use of Ritalin for children stuck in my mind from that one.

This speech is just as good and just as true and will be just as ignored. I was interested when he commented that people in the audience were from various places, including industry.

I would love to believe that this means a change in tack from industry and they are actually, genuinely, appalled by the standard of education and instead of using it as a great excuse to push for slavery by the back door – bringing in lots of people from Eastern Europe and paying them £2 a hour or less and saying it’s because home grown kids won’t work. Do I sound a little cynical? Sorry, seeing what is happening around me is making me feel like Cassandra and there isn’t even a Greek gift!

It is good to see that Sir Ken recognises and supports the place of Home Education. It would be nice to think that the youngest MIT Professor having been homeschooled might be a plus for us too.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not suddenly saying that home education is to ensure more and more prodigies. No. Children can grow and learn to be all sorts of people; so long as they are good people, moral thoughtful, discerning people. But the occasional MIT Prof from our rank is good too 🙂

If you have the time you can watch the first speech on education illustrated wonderfully by RSA Animate.

The more I talk to people who work in schools, or have children in them the more I am left wondering why we keep doing this to our children.

Home Education; the purpose of education and the method.

There are a few high profile “thinkers” for want of a better label, who are beginning to speak more often on how schools are not educating our children.

Meanwhile we here more stories of Taliban and Al Qaeda dominated countries who are determined to deny woman and girls the opportunity of an education.

Most people, as far as I can tell, do believe that giving a good education to children and adults is a good in itself. Under natural law we know that parents have a right and a great obligation to ensure the education of our children. For us education isn’t simply opening the empty head and pouring in the information. Education, which comes from the words meaning “to lead out” is a way of helping our children develop and people, morally, socially, physically and academically.

There is a great danger, it seems to me, in reducing education down to holding information and methods of pouring information into children. I am also very suspicious of the push to make all education “Machine” based.  Children need more ways of learning than just what a computer can give them. We use the computer in our Home education, but really there’s very little “online” work that the children do. Starfall and more.Starfall is great, but even there I download and print the stories, workbooks and sheets. So a lot of the time the children are looking at paper, not a screen.

I have a number of reasons for this. First I don’t think the high colour, loud sound, and busyness of online lessons is good for the development of concentration.  Low stimulus is better for younger children as they begin to explore the world around them, build their senses and train their senses. It’s interesting how the Montessori early years curriculum is very much about training the senses of the child so that the gross and fine motor skills are built on strong foundations.

One of the most repetitive and annoying questions home educators get asked is what we call “The S word question.” Someone inevitably says  “What about socialisation?”

Children need to be properly socialised. That is they need to learn to be with other people, good manners, kindness, listening skills, sharing, conflict solving, turn taking in conversation, and all manner of other social skills are needed to get a child and adult through life. You simply cannot learn this, sat at a computer all day.

If the video maker in the link above is saying we have the technology in most western homes, libraries and community centres to make schools unnecessary, then I would agree. I would say the school system is a failed experiment and it has failed spectacularly; unless, as some people believe, the school system really was set up to de-educate the masses. Even if you put aside the dreadful academic outcomes, schools are not producing well socialised adults.

I think most of us have seen the inability of too many young adults to behave in a “normal” way at mixed aged gatherings. They sit, plugged into their technology, texting people who aren’t there, or playing games or whatever. Anything other than be with other people who are not their immediate peers of their immediate peer group.  My daughter faced a weird issue because she didn’t have a mobile phone. One friend was horrified that instead of texting ahead and have my dd meet her on the pavement, she would have to ring the doorbell and possibly (oh the horror) speak to an adult or a younger child!

One of the things I am sold on with Montessori is her insistence that children be in mixed aged classes. She saw this work really well at ensuring the younger children were taken care of and helped by older ones and that aggressive competition was diminished. She called this “peaceful education” because it encouraged true social behaviour.

If we reduce the purpose of education down to feeding information at children, that is a very narrow and dangerous view. It is certainly the view of those who want to control the information and make it suit their agenda. If we reduce education down to what a machine can tell us, that is more dangerous still. No parents wants their children sat, hunched over a computer all day.

An education needs to be more catholic than that, rounder, broader, deeper. We want our children to know how to learn, how to discern and think things through. That comes through relationships with real, loving people.

Real Education is a dangerous thing for some

This article via Nonna reports that the German minister Norbert Blum has spoken out for intrinsic family rights.

In Germany parents are not allowed to decide for themselves what is the best form of education for their children. They are forced, violently at times, to send their children to school, no matter how bad the school might be.

Parents who have removed children to home educate – which is an intrinsic right – have been persecuted, their children forcibly removed, and parents threatened with prison.

Sounds like a Nazi regime doesn’t it? And that might be because the law against Homeschooling dates back to 1936. It’s one of the few Third Reich oppressive laws that wasn’t repealed.

from the article:

Michael Donnelly, GHEC2012 secretary and director of international affairs at Home School Legal Defense Association, the world’s largest home education organization, underscored this impact.

“Norbert Blum has said what no one else in Germany has been willing to — that Germany’s iron-fisted monopoly on education is unhealthy for children and families. I hope Angela Merkel and others in her party will listen to the wisdom and advice of this German statesman and take action soon so that parents in Germany can homeschool like millions around the world,” Donnelly said.

The German government have received heavy criticism from those fighting for human rights over the years. unfortunately they are somewhat sheltered from proper condemnation by the strange anti-family culture of European power bases.

I am sure the nod-wink of European politics to family oppression is why Ed Balls and his strange sidekick Badman felt comfortable in citing German law as a reason to come after home educators in this country.

One of the primary goals of most home educating parents (as far as I’ve seen locally and internally) is to teach our children how to learn. We want them to be able to make their own discoveries, to discern right from wrong, truth from twaddle (as Miss Mason would say). We want our children to learn to think critically and be able to understand language use and misuse.

The Taliban are quite right to be deeply afraid of a well-educated populace. They are even more right to be terrified of educated women. It has been shown in missionary work that when the woman and girls are educated they educate the men and boys. Then education spreads from families to local communities and out there. A real education is a genuinely empowering thing.

People who want to bully, control and oppress don’t want people who can think for themselves. Spoon fed education and mass dumb media are great tools for them.

I am grateful I can still home educate my children.

The White Paper on Education; does it mean anything for Home Education?

The awaited white paper on education has been published. The media have various things to say on it, but there seems some sensible suggestions there.  Some of the media report that there will be more freedom in the curriculum but I don’t get the impression this means the banal national curriculum will be scrapped.

Ofsted say that bad teachers need to be sacked! Well Duh! But of course as all the comments below various articles tell us, getting rid of bad teachers is nigh on impossible. There is a view that the unions protect bad teachers at the expense of everyone else.

Then there’s the constant refrain that parents need to be more involved with their children’s education. But despite the fact that under law (Ed Act Section 7) parents have the primary legal right and duty to ensure our children receive a suitable education, parents still send their children to schools where nothing much like education happens.  It is made more difficult by the fact that those of us who did ever try and get to grips with what our children learned and were soon told to butt out and leave it to the “experts” and “professionals”.

Anyway, I can’t help thinking that Mr Gove is attacking the problem from the wrong angle.

Why are so few children able to learn in school? Why do so many leave school and have no literacy or numeracy skills and not enough social skill to get a job? Why are teachers in primary school complaining that children can’t talk?

Why do, apparently intelligent young people who have a string of qualifications to their name so often come across as socially awkward, unreliable and not very sensible?

I think there are a lot of root problems that need some serious weed killer before lopping of the heads of the weeds. The root problem is that families are not caring for their children much these days, institutions are. 

This is thanks to a massive push begun before Labour got their mits on power, to have both parents in work and to force single parents back into work before their children have learned to talk!

The media reports on the white paper don’t even mention the role of parents as primary educators. Is this because of shoddy journalism,  or is it because the paper doesn’t mention parents either?

Does state controlled compulsory education ever work?

I vaguely remember that when we were in the thick of the fight to keep Badman and Balls out of our families lives that there was a small suggestion, that really we should be looking at getting the state out of education all together. There was much talk about how compulsory education had failed so spectacularly that even Oscar Wilde’s Lady Bracknell couldn’t have predicted the direness of the outcome.

Whether we like it or not, or care to admit it, Britain and America tend to follow much the same path in cultural changes especially in areas of education and the more concerning trends. I’ve come to the conclusion if there’s and idea that is going to harm people America will try it and see it is bad and Britain will see what America has done, and do it anyway. Like the fool that has to learn from his own mistakes, rather than the wise man who learns from other peoples.

Then the trailer for ” Waiting For Superman” goes out and the debate heats up.

H/T InsideCatholic

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