Posts Tagged ‘home education’

How do you recognise education when you see it? Can you be educated while wearing pyjamas or dressed as a dog? What about while climbing a tree or building a den in the woods? It is one of many things that bothers me about the new Children, Schools and Families bill currently at the committee stage in parliament, specifically as it relates to home education. The Government proposes, amongst other things that you can read about here, to license parents before they will be “allowed” to educate their child outside the school system. The power to grant this licence would rest with the local authority education departments. Many of these officers have been teachers, a head teacher in the case of the Home Ed liaison person in our LA. How well equipped is someone who has spent her professional career in a classroom, where children sit at tables or desks and often wear uniform to recognise that an education can be found anywhere and wearing anything we damn well please? Our LA’s policy on home education already states they expect to see evidence of 25 hours per week of structured work? So pretty much school then, which is absurd. One or two or three or five children with readily available adults to facilitate their learning do not need the same thing as 30 children in a room with one teacher and one classroom assistant. They just don’t. Does the time she spends learning add up to 25 hours a week? I don’t see how it could fail to when you take into consideration all the time spend poring over books and being creative. Above all the time spent asking questions and getting answers or help to find answers about periscopes and what unit of time is smaller than a second or bigger than a year, or telephones in the 1970s, or what kind of rock is this.

Supposing this person thinks as a friend did in a discussion on the subject, that a child who is often in just pyjamas cannot be getting a suitable education? Can we just stop and think about that logically for a moment? Do our brains switch off when we change daytime clothing for nightwear? I don’t mean when we go to sleep. It is the change in our state of consciousness that matters, not what we wear to do it. My daughter often stays in her pyjamas much of the day. If we’re not going anywhere, why should she not? Her other preferred form of dress is as a dog, often complete with harness and lead. She’s six and inhabits a world of vivid imagination.

Not that much of her education comes from sitting at a table doing worksheets either. Some does; she enjoys doing them. But it might equally be playing chess with Daddy or making a swamp for her dinosaurs out of kitchen ingredients, or emailing her uncle to ask about rocks or my personal favourite, the long and rather philosophical conversations about maths that seem to be triggered by car journeys. How is the person from the LA going to come and inspect something that doesn’t look anything like education as she knows it?

I don’t think you can separate education from life really. There are no “premises where education takes place”, at least there is no one place. Are they going to follow me to the shops where my daughter writes the list and works out how much money we need to give and what change to expect? Or come to our friends’ houses and home ed. groups, to museums and galleries, to parks and forests and swimming pools and stables and sweaty sports halls, to her science lessons and to theatres and to chess club? She gets her education in all these places and more. She does it wearing pyjamas and fancy dress and jeans and jodhpurs and tracksuits and swimming costumes.

One thing I often hear about my daughter is that she is always the one asking questions. And that, to me, is what an education looks like…an enquiring mind and the tools to find answers.


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