Tag Archives: news

State attacks on the family. The water around that frog is getting very hot indeed.

A few days ago  there is a referendum in Ireland on what is euphemistically called “children’s rights“. In reality it is an attack on the rights of families and an attempt to make children the property of the state. Sadly the news is that the vote went against the rights of families and has made a giant step down the slope to state ownership of children. I’ve been wondering what on earth is the matter with so many people that they will vote away rights and vote more oppression for themselves.

Ireland has a written constitution; (from the linked article)

Articles 41 and 42.5 of the Irish Constitution are the basis upon which the Irish State relates to the family. It recognises that the family is the bedrock of society (article 41), pledges to respect it as an entity where children are born and raised by their parents in a spirit of love and responsibility towards society. It also makes provision for obligatory intervention to protect children when parents do not fulfil their duties of love, care, protection or education towards their children (42.5). The type of relationship between the family and the State under the Irish Constitution is therefore based on the philosophy that the family is the best place for a child to be, that the State has the obligation to support families in their endeavour to raise and educate their children..

This is a great bit of constitutional writing and this is what the Irish Government want to change to give themselves more power over families. (from linked article) my bolding:

What is proposed in the amendment is a subtle, yet definite philosophical shift short of being the legal maid-of-all work that it may or may not be. The threshold of intervention in article 42A2.1 reveals this new approach: “when the safety or welfare” of children “is likely to be prejudicially affected”, the State can intervene, and take various kinds of measures, from family support to compulsory adoption (in article 42A2.2). The semantic variation from “when the parents fail” in current article 42.5 to “when the safety or welfare of children is likely to be prejudicially affected” is revealing of the paradigm shift. Indeed, a precautionary approach is proposed: an assessment will be required of the likelihood of occurrence of harm to children, instead of the evidence that the parents have failed.

This slippery political language should be well known to British home educators who have faced this “children’s rights” meaning “children belong to the state” way of thinking a great deal. The whole Badman and Balls attack on family rights was under the banner of state being the primary protectors of children. The biggest danger in this is something that American’s will be learning a lot about over the next few years.

A state that decides it can GIVE rights, rather than merely protect inherent rights, is a state that will REMOVE those rights when it sees fit to do so.

I am still struggling to see why so many people actually vote to remove their own intrinsic rights.

The Spartacus Report as the Government tries to get the sick and disabled to pay for the bankers crisis.

I haven’t been paying attention. I heard a few muffled rumours that this Government, being not so different from the last one had targeted sick and disabled people to claw back the money lost by the economic crash. You know, the one with the bankers who were bailed out and other corruptions in finance around MPs and such.

Anyway, sorting out the economy and helping to kick start some jobs must wait. First the Government are going to take the money from the seriously ill and disabled. SEE HEREWE HAVE UNTIL TUESDAY TO GET THE PETITION DONE SO PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO SIGN

There had been a bit of a media campaign last year – again I missed it – that was aimed at saying those of us claiming DLA are faking it. Thanks Mr. Cameron. As it happens less than 1 % of DLA claims are false, but why let reality get in the way of a good bit of propaganda and we all know how the mainstream media love it too. It’s why I barely read or watch the stuff – and that’s also why I was a bit out of the loop on DLA.

There had even been a vagueish promise that DLA was safe. HA! If I had seen that promise I would have known straight away it wasn’t. There had been some rumblings back in October.

The way the Government has been rather sneaky has caused a firestorm and the Spartacus Report showing how dishonest and just basically nasty this is has gone viral. Good. I was especially shocked by the idea that cancer patients should wait six months before they could claim – hoping they would be too sick or dead eh? Really that is low. It’s effect on carers is noted too.

Boris Johnson the Mayor of London has stepped up to the plate on this, and as I have never been a fan of his, I would like to say I respect him a bit more now. Even the Daily Mail covered it, although of course they had to have the poor pitiful cripple in a wheelchair picture (blergh!) Actually i don’t like having my photo taken but those pitiful-crip pictures are as bad as the oh-so-brave-crip ones; perhaps a cheerful, normal(ish) badly behaved cripple picture is required.

In the House of Lords today the “reforms” (how often that word is misused) were defeated. Nevertheless there are some fears that the Government will do an Ed Balls and simply trample over anything that smacks of democracy or simple justice.

As it happens I have great reservations about benefits even though I receive DLA. I actually found the process of claiming horrible and can only think it could be damaging and deeply humiliating to a lot of people. Probably why over £13m in benefits remained unclaimed last year.

The idea of changing over a benefit from DLA to PIP or whatever is surely going to cost a small fortune and while it will undoubtedly keep pencil pushers and clip board carriers in work – it is a costly way to deny help to the disabled.

I think families should look after their sick and disabled and should be enabled to do so through tax allowances, which would mean keeping the money earned, far cheaper than taking it away, renaming it a benefit and giving bits back,  that help someone be home with the person who needs care. If families were not being so heavily taxed in every way shape and form we could probably afford some of the extra costs of having a dilapidated old cripple in our midst. It would also, perhaps, iron out some of the awful injustices I am aware of. For example I get DLA and have had, so far, no problems with this. But I am aware of others with similar disability levels to me who can’t get it for some reason and are put through astonishingly stressful processes to prove how sick they are.

The bizarre idea that many disabled people could find work leaves me stunned. There are so many able-bodied healthy people who can’t get work. On what grounds do these clip board carriers believe someone who can barely get upstairs or who is so ill they can’t stay awake by 2pm is going to get a job?

It’s a bit of a sad irony that only days after my reminiscence over Maggie Thatcher’s attack on the long-term sick – that Dave is up to the same.

Nordisk has pulled out of Greece. Hope it doesn’t do that to the UK!

Say a prayer for the diabetics of Greece facing what must be a pretty frightening prospect that Nordisk is pulling out of their health system.

If our own broke country follows Greece and our NHS finds it can’t be bothered to sack people with clipboards and stop so much unnecessary stuff (like abortions) then we might face the same problem. I would be very very scared if Josh couldn’t access his insulin. (He would be scared too.)

I pray that when the cuts come to our NHS it will be where cuts are needed and not to life saving drugs like insulin.

UPDATE Josh tells me Nordisk made a 21% profit last year globally. He learned this off his diabetes forum. Now if they are that financially healthly it seems to me they could try something better than they are offering Greek diabetics right now. Perhaps they could say children and those who are still unstable could keep Novo Rapid and Glargene while the others change over to the older cheaper insulins and the freebie they are offering.

I can see they are trying to offer something to Greece and truly the Greek government and their fiscal irresponsibility are to blame; same as here in the UK; bit the Govt wont suffer over this-people with diabetes will.

Kindess and Concerns

My sister in law was over today and we got talking about the way communities seem to work. She is working with people who live in a more rural area than she used to. She feels she relates better to them than her old client group who tended to live in high rise flats and housing estates. In many of these places people, even the worst of estates, can find a kind of community. Certainly it may be easier in rural places where there is a village culture, but even inner city places can have these little oasis of kindness and community.

With the way the economy is going there is a lot of worry that people will be left destitute.lancasterbishop1 Bishop Patrick O’Donaghue, affectionately referred to as POD, has talked of how this time around the economic downturn could have serious effects on families because families and communities simply are not as strong as they were even in the 80’s when we had the last massive problem economically.

He pointed out that families simply seem not to be taking care of one another these days and that a change in behaviour was desperately needed to ensure people got through what could be a number of very difficult years.

I think there are real signs that people are trying to care for one another even in the most difficult circumstances. I know of one case where a friend came and stayed with a friend of mine while her baby was in hospital and helped out. I know of a sister who has offered to pay the gas bill for her sister because she has no children and understands the problems of heating a home with little ones in it.

In my own life I love how the mums share so much so that we all have a way of caring for our children and for each other.

I think it was St Francis of Assisi who said that anyone who owns more than he directly needs is in effect stealing from those who are in need. It’s a good thing to remember as I think it won’t hurt to hoard all those kids clothes for a while.

A lot of support I see in my local area is done quietly. It’s the neighbour who takes care of a garden for someone less able. That same neighbour who kindly gives you a lift on the day the tutor at college phones to say he has called an Ambulance for your son (as happened to me last year).

It’s the person at Church who asks what help you might need when a new baby is due-or a child is sick.

It’s the time taken after Mass to offer support to a mum with a concern about her child, or the mother who has just lost her baby.

I know of parents who are working when they could be retired to help out their children and grandchildren.

I know of teenagers willing to help someone sort out a house they are moving into.

There are loads of these little things going on just around here. It’s not too gloomy is it?

Another reason to homeschool.

The National Union of Teachers (not called NUTs for nothing) is the biggest teaching union in the UK. Recently the other big teachers union the NASUWT complained that too many kids in the classroom where ‘little princesses and little princes’ who had simply never had anyone say ‘no’ to them before. Teachers face abuse in the form of swearing, personal attacks and violence; I know this from friends who are teachers. However for some considerable time instead of being in loco parentis teachers have made themselves powerless in the face of this behaviour. The unions stratch their heads and suddenly say that parents need to take control of their children. Ah yes, but when we try the schools frequently over-ride us.

So there are all these really nasty children in school. You would think the unions would look at the schools where this sort of behaviour is somewhat less and think-how can we do that? Er, no. The nuts of NUT are actually looking at a vote AGAINST faith schools. Now, my experience of Catholic schools is hardly stella-but the fact is Catholic schools (and I think the few Jewish schools we have) are far far better than state schools. Other Christian schools some in close behind us and still ahead of state schools.

After Bishop O’Donaghue was subjected to bullying and “bizarre” questioning by Barry Sheerman et al in behalf of the ever tolerant government I am not surprised at yet another attack on faith schools.

Soon homeschoolers will be back in the line of fire.

Reasons to Homeschool

Homeschooling can be hard work and I am sure I am not the only one who occasionally wishes she was sending her children to school. But there are so many reasons I am glad I homeschool.

On the negative side there is the national curriculum, which here in the UK is appalling in standard. Mac at Mulier Fortis has written her response to the latest Government plan. Knowing she was a science teacher I asked her before what she thought of the content of the present GCSE and she didn’t mince her words. I had begun to teach Iona (13) the beginning of the course to give her a head start-but I was astonished at the poor standard and even obvious mistakes-theories presented as facts and the low level of actual science in the workbooks.

Alex sat the International GCSE which is exam only and far more science than faff and fad. I had phoned the universities before embarking on IGCSE’s because I had never heard of them before I began homeschooling and was told they preferred them. They are generally considered higher quality and of course being exam only (some of them) cheat proof.  When Mac wrote THIS post a commentator recommended IGCSEs.

The children expected to listen to the twaddle they are being fed are truanting in massive numbers. They can hardly be afraid of missing anything can they? Mac points out that all the fun bits of science have been removed and the recycling and tree hugging is bulking up the worksheets.

But it isn’t only science that has suffered. English has been feminised to the point where even girls get bored. Where are the books for boys to read? Where are the books that have something other than misery and depression in them? The IGCSE offered Pride and Prejudice and The Importance of Being Ernest as well as Julius Caesar- well written and interesting and the last two actually had some interest for my son. He loved The Importance of Being Ernest.

Another good reason to homeschool is that my children will not only have time to read-something not done in school-but will be able to read well written and good books (no Pullman here) that actually increase their literacy and vocabulary.

To make matters worse in schools, even primary schools, the sex education agenda is being pushed very aggressively.  They are insisting that children need even more explicit information as though this will help in any way. There is NO EVIDENCE that sex ed is reducing teen prenancy rates or disease rates. I’ll write more on this as it is very important and will have a knock on effect on homeschooling families.

Still who cares? So long as schools can reduce their carbon emissions by 2016!!

I am SO grateful I can homeschool my children.

You can download the whole PLAN if you want to.

Ronan’s first skills

Ronan is 4yrs old; he’ll be 5 in Feb. Charlotte Mason would not have considered him ready for formal education until he is at least 6 or 7. Her view is that of most European countries and in the USA where children are not legally obliged to attend school until aged 6. Interestingly while here in the UK we send our children to school aged 4 literacy levels are dropping. A recent report says the UK has slid down the global literacy list. SEE HERE for BBC report.

I am taking Miss Mason’s advice and taking care of the foundational skills he needs for learning before embarking on a formal timetable.  He is learning a lot about self care, and can dress himself, use a knife and fork, clean his teeth, get his own breakfast with supervision and is learning to tidy up after himself. This might not seem like ‘education’ or ‘school’ but these skills are needed if he is going to lead an independent life.

So many children do not have these skills-and I have seen this first hand when I worked in a primary school- that the schools are having to implement lessons in how to sit at a table and use a knife and fork. We spent a lot of time before and after PE having to help children as old as 5 dress themselves.

Next on my list of foundational skills is the all important habit of attention or listening. We are building this habit through story time and instructions for cooking. It is part of his learning road safety and lessons in groups.

I am also working on the all important narrationwhich I think is a corner stone of the CM approach. Ronan can tell some basic stories in his own words such as the Gingerbread Man. But just as importantly he is beginning to be able to tell his day to his dad as we sit for our evening meal.  The family meal was another of the important things in a child’s life that Charlotte Mason wrote about.

r4254474207.jpg Pope Benedict VI has published his new encyclical which you can read HERE

“Spe salvi facti sumus” it begins quoting St Paul’s letter to the Romans-in hope we are saved.

So Papa has covered the cardinal virtues in his two encyclicals, Charitas (love) and now faith and hope.


As I have a rather unwell baby to take care of I have been stuck under her and that gave me time to have a quick read through of ‘Spe Salvi’. I love the way the Holy Father writes. He is not difficult to understand at all and yet he manages to ack so much meaning into a small number of words. The encyclical is deeply rooted in Scripture as one would expect.

He speaks of the real Christian hope of redemption comparing it with the rather limited hopes of those who only have things to hope for. He points out how St Paul and the author of Hebrews have a much deeper and more substantial grasp of hope.

Salvation is not simply given, writes the Holy Father, it is offered…and we are on a journey to attain it. He then begins the journey with the nothingness we are tempted to live within-the old gods who can lead us from nothing to nothing-to slavery.

He then tells us the story of St Josephine Bakhita. I love this saint and have been working on writing a children’s version of her lifestory for my godchildren for some time. One of my godchildren is called Josephine and I don’t think there are other saints with that name.

bakhita5.jpg St Josephine was kidnapped from her village in Darfur, Sudan by muslim slave traders. She was sold and resold, tortured and abused until at last she came to the house of the Italian consulate and began nurse to his friend’s daughter.

Finally in Italy she found the God she had always sought in the tortured Christ-a God who loved her with every drop of blood from his wounded heart. She was baptised and joined the Canossian sisters and lived her life sharing the love of God she had found. The children loved her too and called her their Black Mama.

Pope Benedict links the story of St Josephine with St Paul’s letter written in prison as he sends back the slave Onesimus to his master -no longer as a slave, but as a brother in Christ.

From there we journey deeper into an understanding of this hope. We are not called as isolated individuals but as a people; family, community. Papa is clear that we are not meant to see our salvation as just for ‘me’ and each man’s relationship with God being purely personal-it is communal.

He writes of the 19th Century modernity and it’s loss of hope. We must pray and we must suffer and be willing to suffer for other people. We must embrace the cross as Christ commanded. It is part of the journey-it is how we offer “com-passion”. He reminds us we need to “offer it up” but he isn’t being trite-it is part of hope and the gift of redemption.

Having given a view of hell and human made justice he goes on to look briefly at purgatory and then we are brought back to heaven. He calls on Mary Ave Marie Stella to be our guiding star and help to bring us home.

Read it all-it will be well worth your time. We are well blessed to have a pope like this.

Children are persons – not hot-house plants.

Charlotte warned that children should not be treated as hot-house plants forced to grow in an unnatural environment “The world suffered that morning when the happy name of ‘kindergarten’ suggested itself to the greatest among educational ‘Fathers'” she wrote (Home Education p189). She has not been the only warning voice against the early forced education of little ones. Over the years more and more experienced educators have spoken out against this including Holt and Gatto of course.

The UK Govt however lacking any form of common sense and being swamped in their own twaddle have decided that the way to tackle the appallingly low standard of literacy in this country is to ignore the research and force 3 and 4 year olds to learn to read.

My fellow homeschooler and friend Amanda has sent me this link to a BBC report that repeats, through the research Dr Lilian Katz what most of us who homeschool have been saying for some time. It is a mistake to try and force little children to read. Dr Katz points out that Scandinavian children do not attend school until the ages of 6 or 7 and they have no literacy problems like we do here in the UK.

Years and years of research backs up the view that children need time to grow and speak and form their habits (as Charlotte would say) before formal classroom education is required. It is important for a child to want to read-putting them off is hardly a good idea.

Unfortunately in the UK twaddle reigns supreme.

Another good reason to homeschool.