Alexander Averin

Sunday, 14 June 2009

In which I make a confession

Dear Diary,

We live at the level of our language. Whatever we can articulate we can imagine or explore. All you have to do to educate a child is leave him alone and teach him to read. The rest is brainwashing.

Ellen Gilchrist

OK I am going to make a confession now. For several weeks now I have been buying The Mail on Sunday. There, that’s got that out and over with. I used to buy the Guardian on a Saturday but it was expensive and all I enjoyed was the Review section, mainly the book reviews and the poetry. And the peek into Writers’ Rooms, I loved that. But I had no need of Business news or Travel or Sport and didn’t want to read Politics in such detail. Life’s too short don’t you know? Then I discovered the Guardian online so didn’t really need to buy the paper. And all the other papers are online too which is great. However I did need to know what was on TV but it was time consuming checking the TV listings online. So I started buying the Mail, only on a Sunday I hasten to add! I suspect it is aimed at women and to be honest the magazine is more like a woman’s magazine. Just lately I have found myself enjoying some of the articles and this week is no exception. I ignore Liz Jones’ articles though, (how did that woman get such a high profile position on the paper)? The other woman Suzanne Moore is a good writer, she speaks very Good Sense.

I digress as usual. Now to the nitty gritty.

I have never ever been a fan of the columnist Peter Hitchens but he has stolen my (literal) thunder as his column today is about the two very things that, such was my anger, I was going to blog about this morning! He has expressed my feelings perfectly and has saved me writing about them myself.

Do go and read it and let me know your views. Two concerns are MMR and home schooling and parental choice. You may/ may not agree with me or Hitchens.

Vince Cable is a man I do admire, he seems to be one of the very few politicians with an excellent brain and he sees things as they are (and as they are going to be). I have tried in vain to put up a link to his excellent article in today’s Mail but please do go and read it online for yourself. He recently underwent emergency surgery for appendicitis and has written such a true account of what is wrong with our NHS. As an ex-nurse I can only echo every word he writes as they all ring true to me. Thank God we do have some dedicated staff still working on bravely for us under such stress and under the most horrendous management regimes. Or should I say mis-management.

Vince Cable is the best Prime Minister we have never had and why he is not leader of the Liberal Democrats God alone knows but it is One Big Mistake (their thinking being that he doesn’t look young and trendy enough for them and won’t attract younger voters methinks).

I apologise if this blog has been a bit of a rant on such a sunny Sunday but the subject of Peter Hitchen’s article has been festering within me all week. I thought I was alone in my anger. I also thought it ironical that the day that home schoolers came under the microscope for being possible potential child abusers, a nursery worker in Plymouth was up before the courts for sexual abuse charges regarding children in a public nursery.

The words thin end and wedge are playing a great part in my thoughts of late and in my concerns. What worries me is that so many of our society seem to be asleep and literally sleepwalking into the arms of Big Brother - the younger generation especially seem to be particularly passive and accepting of our governance as being quite ’normal’. The words ’brain’ and ’washing’ come to mind. One day they may wake up and realise that they have no freedom of choice left in their lives and it may be too late.

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,


Elizabethd said...

I read the very interesting article, and sit slightly on the fence here as an ex teacher. I taught children who were labelled 'school refusers' in their own homes, before the words 'home schooled' hit the UK.
As a teacher I knew how to guide a child into a love of learning, and how to set up a system for home learning, tied in with the school exam system.
Do you think that every parent is qualified and able to do that? So much depends on the individual, how much time/preparation they are prepared to do, how much knowledge of the system they have. I watched a child on TV recently saying how much he loved being home schooled as he could choose whether to do Maths that day..or not at all. I do feel that children need boundaries.

Cait O'Connor said...

My blog is not about the pros. and cons. of home teaching, rather it is about the freedom of parental choice and the targeting of homeschoolers (hate that term) as possible potential child abusers. I see this as being the thin edge of the wedge. Of course not every parent could, should or would teach their own child(ren) - at the same time there are some very good and very bad teachers in the system.

Pondside said...

I haven't been able to access the article, but will do a google search as it is a subject that interests me.

Kaycie said...

As the daughter of a teacher and a former secondary school administration employee, I have deep concern for homeschooling students, primarily because of parental choice. In my state in the US, there are no homeschooling curriculum requirements (that I am aware of) for parents to follow. Students would come to us and apply for admittance to the public schools in their first or second year of high school (age 14 or so) in order to have a diploma to enter college. We had to do testing for class placement. It was exceedingly rare for a homeschooled child to score at their own grade level. Usually, they were at least two grades behind their public school peers. This sometimes happened even with the most well meaning parents. Most parents are simply not equipped to teach their children a modern curriculum.

But some parents simply could not be bothered to enroll their children in school, transport them each day, and deal with the public school system so they opted to claim to be homeschooling. In my personal opinion, that is parental neglect and certainly a form of child abuse.

Even with some well meaning parents, many children who are homeschooled end up either entering public schools and graduating a year or two later due to placement issues, or find themselves at the age to enter college without the knowledge required to score well on college entrance exams. They have developed few learning and study habits. Sometimes social interaction is hampered. At best, it is a difficult and long road to a college degree and they arrive there later than their peers by several years, if at all.

I would think that loving parents would want to give their children a better start in life.

Cait O'Connor said...

There are already strict and regular checks on parents who teach their children at home - regarding the education they receive. This is not what I am complaining about, perhaps I have not made myself clear and Peter Hitchens hasn't either?


Cait, Oh, I so agree with your last para - 100% . I hope they wake up soon and smell the coffee! TFx

LittleBrownDog said...

It is an interesting debate, Cait. I followed your link ((I think you may have copied an extra http// on your link - I had to edit it to make it work)). I understand your point is not purely about home schooling. It's a difficult one, though, because child abuse is a real issue - not just our perception of it - and I truly believe the situation is better now there are proper channels for picking it up, even though a casualty of this is possibly the freedom in some circumstances to raise children in the way we see fit. In the olden days few people would question institutions like the Church and terrible abuse went on; children were evacuated far from their families during the war for months on end - some had happy experiences, however many others faced abuse. Most people, I'm sure, are perfectly trustworthy, but there are a small minority who are not, and we need to protect our children from them. In a world ordered by adults, children are powerless - they rely on checks and balances for their safety.

It's a difficult one, I know, but personally I would prefer to give up a hundred personal freedoms if it meant saving a single child from harm.

Cait O'Connor said...

Thanks LBD, I have redone the link and it works now. Children can still be abused when they get home from school you know.

Elizabethd said...

Oh Cait, sorry for going off on a tangent not really connected with your point. I suppose I found the reason for controlling home schooling (child abuse)so amazing that I went off on another line.

LittleBrownDog said...

But that's just the point, Cait. Schools, by law, have to have a Child Protection policy and staff are trained to pick up on any signs of abuse, whether it's happening at home, at school or elsewhere. That wouldn't happen if the child was home edded. I'm not saying anything either way about the pros and cons of home education or the rights of parents to choose. As a society, we need to protect our most vulnerable citizens and if that means checking up on parents who have chosen to home educate, so be it. Sorry, I think it's the Daily Mail that's doing the brainwashing here.

Cait O'Connor said...

The Mail is not alone among the press and other folk from media in its condemnation and I was going to blog about this and also the MMR issue long before I read the Mail. The attack on our civil liberty via intrusion and surveillance in all areas of our life is such a serious and extremely worrying issue.

Cait O'Connor said...

This link covers the subject in some detail with links to click on for other articles of interest.