Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Book learnin'

I see via Bishop Hill that UK Home Educators are coming under the totalitarian spotlight yet again. The furore over the Badman report continues to rear its ugly head.

What many UK politico's seem to miss is that the majority of people who 'Home School' are often more committed to their child's future well being than those who utilise the state system. Yet there is a vociferous 'child protection' lobby that appears to think that all adults have evil intentions towards their own offspring, or that children will suffer if not dumped in with mixed ability classes and 'socialised'.

Here in BC we have a system that does not penalise the home schooling parent if they are doing their job properly. Anyone who wants to home school has to sign up for one of several 'programmes' which have proper academic monitoring built in. For this the parents receive funding for academic materials, textbooks.etc. Works out at around eighteen hundred pounds a year. How it works is as follows, the parent is responsible for ensuring their children get on with learning at their own pace. The parent gives in brief weekly reports to their teaching support worker who is usually a part time teacher who does 'supply' or is semi retired. The teaching support worker talks to the parents on a weekly basis if need be, helping them past problems if they have any, and ensures that reports are passed on so that funding flows to support the home schooled childs education.

Home visits by support workers are usually only at the request of the parents. Most parents get the chance to spend an hour or two with the teaching support worker they choose at the start of each academic year getting to know them and deciding whether they like them or not. Discussions are held re curriculum and at what pace the child is capable of learning and the rest is down to the home schooling parent. The support worker is there to advise and work with the parents. It's all done with a very light touch. Each child gets as much or as little assistance as the parent sees fit.

The problem with the UK is with the lightness of touch. Most of the time that approach doesn't exist. There's no in between, no compromise, no quiet 'word to the wise'. The box tickers have to justify their existence and that means penalties, regardless that any particular so-called infraction isn't really a problem. Failing that they don't act at all. No inbetween. One off duty day in the UK I had an 'inspector' try to barge into my house, telling me I had to let them in because it was 'the law'. All right, it was someone from 'child services', but if I were a home schooler I would find that type of high handed intrusion extremely offensive to say the least. There would be a distinct probability that anyone showing me or my family that kind of disrespect in my own home would be abruptly manhandled out of the door with my size 12 firmly and sharply applied to their sorry buttocks.

Addendum; I was looking for the blog post detailing the events I've referred to in 'Walking the streets'. Did I really take that much shit on a daily basis and still emerge with my beliefs and values intact? Bloody hell, I must be one heck of a guy. How I didn't just turn around and let rip sometimes is in retrospect completely beyond me. The sheer casual rudeness I faced day on day just for doing an unpleasant job now staggers belief. I remember hating being dragged down towards that level, and taking what delight I could in all the little victories I could score against both the system I worked under, and the people who really were the authors of their own undoing.

From Hunter S Thompson's Hells Angels I recall the following quotation; "I'm bound to go to heaven 'cause I've served my time in hell." which in turn originates from a ditty penned in WWII by a US Marine. Reading my old blog and looking out of the window this afternoon, I see this saying contains both synergy and elegance enough to raise a smile on my face. I've done my version of hell, now I have my own version of heaven right outside my door, even if it has been raining today.

The irony is so utterly delicious. All the people who ever threw unjustified insults in my face, all the ones who left their poisonous bile in the blog comments; all the ill-wishers and knee jerk spite merchants. They are probably still stuck doing the same old day to day in the UK; while I, the object of their opprobrium, now live and work in one of the best places on Gods Earth. There is justice in this life. You'll forgive me, but Mrs S has just poked her head round the door, wondering what the hell I'm laughing at.

1 comment:

delcatto said...

Good for you, making the decision to change your life and going for it.

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