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Category archive: Home education

Tuesday July 01 2008

Indeed.  The Bishop takes a bash at eco-brainwashing in a (private) school:

Not if we should recycle, or when we should recycle, but why we should recycle. The person who wrote this is clearly intellectually challenged. Do they really believe that it is always best to recycle? No matter what level of resources is required? Who would want their children taught by someone who believed such nonsense?

If he can teach reading, writing, grammar, comprehension, manners, then maybe yes.  And perhaps yes because they also want recycling to be taught also.  The market will decide.  The Bishop’s most pertinent complaint is that the teacher didn’t capitalise a film title.

A national religion (and I do agree that this is that) is a very hard thing to resist.  Next: home-ed by anti-environmentalists.

Tuesday June 24 2008

I just clocked this:

Walking along the road, half watching the oncoming traffic, as you do. Car, car, truck with “beer” written on it, car, car.  Daughter - “I hate beer” … long pause … me - “did you just read that?”, daughter - “yes” (like it’s no big deal). OK. I guess she’s started reading then.

That’s the entire posting.  But what a posting.

Wednesday May 28 2008

A few days ago the dog ate my homework.  Remember that?  Probably not, because, who reads this that devotedly?  (If anyone does, feel free to comment to that effect.  By the way, don’t you think that this dog, a real dog this time, is very amusing?  I do.)

So anyway, what was this metaphorical dog?  Basically, what happened was that as the deadline for posting here approached, I got stuck into a domestic housekeeping job.  Arranging my embarrassingly large collection of movie DVDs recorded from off the telly in alphabetical order, as it happens.  And I found myself enjoying it.  Something about the fact that I wasn’t doing it for anybody else, and thus nobody was bossing me, and the fact that I’d been meaning to do this for ages, and knew that the sense of increased order and driven-back entropy would please me greatly, once the task was done.  So, instead of breaking that off and writing some piece of drivel for this blog, I carried right on into the small hours of the next morning (not that small actually) and only when it was done did I put the posting for what had become yesterday, to the effect that there would basically not be a proper posting. And that was the dog that ate my homework.

I permitted this canine consumption because I was treating myself the way I believe that children should be treated.  The most depressing thing about regular school-type schools, such as I help out in, is the way that children are constantly interrupted.  There they are, often concentrating on something else with amazing completeness, and they are interrupted, and told to do some “work”.  If they allowed their extraordinarily expressive bodies to communicate that they would much rather not be doing this “work”, insult is often added to injury, in the form of a teacher telling them that they must “learn to concentrate”.  I sometimes think that this is the most damaging lesson that schools ever teach.  Someone who can and did concentrate is turned into someone who not only doesn’t, but who ends up believing that they can’t.

We all know how to influence humans, small or big.  Wait for them to do what you want, and then thank them, praise them, compliment them.  I recall one of my early sessions with Small Boy, where the body language in response to all my “suggestions” about what we should do was deafeningly hostile.  He did it (probably because he feared a scene with his deceptively small and charming mother if I snitched on him) but made it clear that he was not amused.  In the end, in sheer desperation, I got him to just draw something.  Anything.  What he drew had, I thought, little merit, and I said, well, I don’t much care for it.  If you like it, then great because at least one of us did, but I’m not impressed.  I don’t believe in lying about things like this, which may make me a pompous swine, but there you go, I don’t.  But nor do I believe in withholding praise where praise is due.  I also told Small Boy that he had concentrated on his task superbly, and I now knew that his powers of concentration were considerable.  My goal is now to have him choosing activities which he knows I regard as appropriately educational, from an ever expanding menu, as it were, so that he is able to get that little bit more into the habit of doing concentrated work, of a sort that he finds not uncongenial.  (This is a compromise between the authoritarian ethos of the school, and the anti-authoritarian ethos of yours truly.)

Once again, I don’t believe I have to explain much of this to the home-educators.  They know all about the almost superhuman powers of concentration that an uninterrupted child is able to wield.

And just as I don’t like interrupting children who are concentrating on something, almost anything, so too, I thought, I would refrain, that evening, from interrupting myself.  I’d put up a holding post saying: sorry, nothing here today.  And then explain the very educational principle being upheld later.  I.e. now.

Good night, and back to arranging my embarrassingly large classical CD collection into chronological order by composer.  Which I am actually not enjoying that much, and from which I needed a break.

Friday May 23 2008

Yesterday, I think it was, I was half-listening to some TV news coverage of the case of Kyra Ishaq, who has just been imprisoned to death in Birmingham.  And I heard something to the effect that Kyra was “taken out of school”, or some such phrase.  I may even have heard the phrase “home schooling”, or something like it.  I do hope that this one horrific case is not used as an all-purpose excuse to restrict the right to home educate.

No mention of any such thing in this report.  In this report, the school angle is prominent, but again, no suggestion that removing children from school is inherently evil.  Let’s hope it stays that way.

I see that Carlotta has been having the same thoughts.

Thursday April 24 2008

At English Russia, there are some delightful pictures of a fishing lesson:


Who says parents can’t teach?

Monday April 21 2008

I have now read the first of these three pieces, and am greatly looking forward to reading the other two.  Here’s how the first one starts:

My husband Jason is a major video game geek. We have boxes in the garage, full of all his old game systems, and the games he couldn’t trade back in for credit on newer ones. The guys at the local GameCrazy don’t know his name; they just call him “big spender.”

I’ve known about this fascination since we started dating, and in fact, his ability to press the pause button and continue to interact with the people in the room was one of the things about him that impressed me to begin with. We’d curl up together, him with the latest Zelda, me with my laptop, and I’d cheer with him when he beat a level, and be dutifully sad when the solution to the puzzle eluded him. We discussed the ethics of cheats, and whether it was worth it or not. To this day, I get all nostalgic about our dating days when I hear the startup music to “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.”

When we had our first child, Jason and Rowan spent many the happy hour cuddling together, while Jason narrated game strategy, and Rowan soaked up the comfort and security of being in his Papa’s arms. That’s not a direct benefit of game playing by any stretch, but it does set the scene for What Happened Next.

Rowan pretty much demanded a controller of his own from the time he could make his hands obey his direction. And he knew the difference between when the controller was connected, and when it was not. No substitutions tolerated; he wanted to play.

Some amazing father-son bonding times have happened in front of The Box. Sometimes, it’s a game that Rowan can play, sometimes, Rowan sits and watches Jason play and asks questions. Part collaboration, part adoration, it’s precious time that the two of them share together. Usually, I go to bed pretty early, so the two pals hang out, and more nights than not, Rowan still falls asleep in Papa’s arms while they play together.

Just for that alone, I’d say video games were worth it and then some.

Deep thanks to Adriana for alerting me to this lady (see in particularly this).  She and Adriana are collaborating on, if I understand it right, stuff like this.

Wednesday April 16 2008

The usual assumption, which I have tended to some extent to accept (in the absence of knowing any evidence about it), is that home-schooling is fine when done by well-educated parents, but perhaps rather less fine when done by less well-educated parents.  But now read this, from the Fraser Institute:

TORONTO, ON—Home schooling appears to improve the academic performance of children from families with low levels of education, according to a report on home schooling released today by independent research organization The Fraser Institute.

“The evidence is particularly interesting for students who traditionally fall through the cracks in the public system,” said Claudia Hepburn, co-author of Home Schooling: From the Extreme to the Mainstream, 2nd edition and Director of Education Policy with The Fraser Institute.

“Poorly educated parents who choose to teach their children at home produce better academic results for their children than public schools do. One study we reviewed found that students taught at home by mothers who never finished high school scored a full 55 percentage points higher than public school students from families with comparable education levels.”

Thanks to Carlotta for the link.  I’m sure that the home-schooling fraternity/sorority has known that for years, but if true it can stand any amount of repetition, don’t you think?  It would, however, be interesting to know if this was so true before the internet.  My guess is: yes.

Sunday April 13 2008

Now this is what I call parental choice:

The extraordinary thing about the Stockman siblings, who were adopted from an orphanage in China, is that they have never been near a school and never will, if their parents, film-makers Annabel and Olivier Stockman, have anything to do with it.

Chung Chung and Hua Hua are what is known as “home-eds”, raised entirely outside the school system. Their parents did consider local primary schools, but were unimpressed: the children emerging from the schools seemed alarmingly regimented, drilled to act and behave in a certain way rather than try to discover themselves as individuals.

Home-eds are in such a small minority that most people, myself included, have only the sketchiest notion of what it entails. Does mum have to mug up on algebra? Does dad give PE lessons? Do snoops from the local council come knocking on the door?

The answer, in a nutshell, is none of the above. The education Chung Chung and Hua Hua are receiving is gloriously eclectic. ...

Sounds about par for the course.  You can read the whole thing here.

Never been near a school
South West Surrey Home Education
More about home versus school in the USA
Threat to many home-schooling families in California
Fleeing from a law introduced by Hitler
Education as making Prussian soldiers
Home education grows because of bullying and testing
Action for Home Education wiki
Home-schooling at Samizdata
“Each one processes information differently …”
Home education under attack in Scotland
Butterfly Book in short supply
Bad education?
Continuing education
NZ stuff
Two American Carnivals
The economists can tell you how heretics are treated because they are heretics
Yet another perverse incentive