Wednesday, January 31, 2007


This week's painting...

We're still focusing on Business Studies and we're now on part 11 of the Corporation documentary film. You'll find ideas for discussion questions here.

This afternoon we looked at how corporations aim to create wealth and seem willing to exploit anything for profit, from patenting your DNA to world disasters and wars - even water and air space are now privatised. We talked about how corporations get us to buy their products and how advertising manipulates very young children. We discussed corporations' control of the media and how they keep them quiet about what they don't want consumers to know.

Today's Links
Children's Complaints Choir

On The News
Primary schools urged to stop homework after a study claimed it was a source of family conflict with no educational benefit.
'Bullying video' posted onto web
Pupils suspended for showing an autistic pupil being bullied at school on the internet.
Rise and rise of autism is a riddle the experts can't crack
Punished, betrayed, sidelined: how the education system is failing a whole generation of autistic children and bringing misery to families.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

On The News

'My Mum Is Best Teacher For Me'

Mother buys school to give her son a proper education A single mother felt taking personal control was the only way to guarantee that her mildly autistic 13 y.o. son receives the education he deserves.

Teacher 'seduced four teenage girls from his school'
The science teacher "invited one teenager to his home while his wife was out, took another's virginity in his BMW after she turned 16 and had sex regularly with a third girl in a school toilet."

Teacher's 'photocopier' gaffe lands pupil in hospital When the teacher "told him to put his head on the glass screen of a school photocopier", the 5 y.o. child's eyes were "exposed to intense flashes of ultraviolet light and he developed a serious eye infection (...), headaches and was treated in hospital." urged to rethink education super-database The argument is that "Instead of storing all the information in one central location (with the DfES deciding who can access what), it should be up to individuals themselves to supply their information (...) The analogy is showing your exam certificates to an employer or your driving licence to a car-hire company, rather than have those companies go direct to government for proof."

School refuses to overturn ban on pupil's cross and chain
"...the school's chairman of governors said 'Samantha is free to wear a crucifix as a symbol of her religious beliefs, but as a small lapel badge, not on a necklace."

Schools 'must teach Britishness' Teachers' representatives "warned that it might be difficult to add the new themes to an already-crowded curriculum" and that "It would not be appropriate to promote an imperial British myth by teaching that values such as democracy, justice and fair play are exclusively British or implying that Britain is superior to other countries."

Children put into care for being fat "Overweight children are being placed in foster care on the grounds that they are victims of child abuse."

Monday, January 29, 2007

Business Studies

At the moment I'm reading The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power by Joel Bakan - it's a great book and the documentary film is available online - it is a great eye-opener and definitely worth watching!
The Corporation Movie Part 1
The Corporation Movie Part 2
Free Teacher's Resources
You can also find it at YouTube, where it is available in 16 parts - so far we've watched parts 1 to 4.

As a follow up we've also watched Panorama: Secrets of the Drugs Trials, investigating claims that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) misled doctors into prescribing Seroxat to teenagers by advertising it as safe despite their trials having shown that people were 6 times more likely to commit suicide after taking it. There's an article about it here.

After having learned about externalities, tonight's Panorama gave us a good example of a negative 'externality': the effect of an economic transaction between 2 parties (the pharmaceutical company and the medical profession) on a 3rd party who wasn't involved in the business deal (the patients).

Today's Quote: Marc Barry
"We're predators. It about competition, it's about market share, it's about being aggressive, it's about shareholder value. What is your stock at today? If you're a CEO, do you think your shareholders really care? Do you think that they really would prefer you to be a nice guy? Over having money in their pocket? I don't think so. I think people want money. That's the bottom line."

History - Cold War: We've also been following the Nuclear Secrets series...

Home-education links
Home Education in Dorset
Why I'm an Unschooling Mom
(Thanks Carlotta!)

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Today is Holocaust Memorial Day.
If you're interested, you can watch this short film:
Dignity of Difference Part 1
Dignity of Difference Part 2
For activities and notes linked with the film click here.
(Thanks Sue O)

Mad World

Thanks Ann for reminding me of this song and it's lyrics:

Children waiting for the day they feel good...
and... the way that every child should
Sit and listen, Sit and listen

Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, No one knew me
Hello teacher tell me what's my lesson
Look right through me, Look right through me...

And on the topic of songs, Eminem goes anti-Bush with Mosh. Half-way through the song this is what we hear:

Let the president answer...
Strap him with an Ak-47, let him go, fight his own war
Let him impress daddy that way
No more blood for oil, we got our own battles to fight on our own soil
No more psychological warfare, to trick us to thinking that we ain't loyal
If we don't serve our own country, we're patronizing a hero
Look in his eyes its all lies...

...we set aside our differences...
To disarm this Weapon of Mass Destruction
That we call our President, for the present
And Mosh for the future of our next generation
To speak and be heard
Mr. President, Mr. Senator
Do you guy's hear us...hear us...

So children out there, here's a chance to speak up:

From CRAE: "The Government is running an online children's rights survey to find out the views and experiences of children and young people (under 18 year-olds) in England. This is the first time the Government has asked children and young people about the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The results will be included in the UK Government's report next year to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child." You can read a letter from the Children's Minister Beverley Hughes MP and do the survey now!

It was great to see DJ go through the lot just now :-)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Reading & ICT

J.C. came over yesterday afternoon and brought some stilts.
At bed time I found DJ reading Creating Web Pages, a 15 hour weekend crash course by Charlie Morris. He now wants to make his own forum from scratch.
Other than that, he still loves gaming! He's now into the
World of Warcraft and Pardus.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Breaking Down

Everything around me seems to be breaking down: first was the fridge, then washing machine. The computer crashed and once again I've lost everything - that should teach me a lesson! It's the 3rd time now and have I done a backup? Not yet!! Anyway, today the vacuum cleaner died, my car's 'outside-little-mirror' was smashed (3rd time too!!!) and I was told I've got Sacroiliitis!

What better example of Life-Learning? I now know that Sacroiliitis is an inflammation of the sacroiliac joint. Had never heard of that before! I wonder what next?! I also wonder whether to believe in this or not, as I've stopped trusting the medical profession some time ago... Hmmm


Forwarded message from ARCH:

" We really need your urgent help! As you know, we’ve been working hard on the use of children’s fingerprints in school. Increasing numbers of schools are installing systems that use fingerprints as identifiers in the school library or canteen and also for registration purposes. We are at last making some real progress, and there are indications that the Information Commissioner may even seek amendment to the Data Protection Act. We must keep up the pressure now. Greg Mulholland MP has tabled Early Day Motion 686 which you can see here.

Please, please contact your MP as soon as possible, asking him/her to sign this EDM. The more signatures it receives, the better the chance that we can get this worrying practice stopped, or at least tightly regulated.

It doesn’t matter if your child is not at school: it’s the whole principle of using biometrics for low-level purposes that is at stake here. If we simply let it carry on in schools, there is a real risk that these systems could become routine in other situations – the local library? The leisure centre?

Pippa and I have been working closely with

LTKA - Against Schools Fingerprinting Our Children

BWs, Terri


Thanks Fiona for this update on the DfES Consultation on the Statutory Framework for Home Education. You can find background information here.

"There have been a number of indications that the DfES are hanging back from letting this consultation go live and someone has just had a letter saying that they have to finish consulting stakeholders. This was discussed yesterday on HE consult list.

I personally believe that the DfES did not anticipate the level of objections raised and it is also possible that the LAs are saying behind the scenes to the DfES that this whole new thing is unworkable and too expensive.

Now WE are stakeholders under the 2004 children act. What we say and do now is going to affect how they DfES frame the consultation and whether they decide to go ahead at all or whether they severely restrict the terms of the consultation and pull back from their inital repressive prescriptive thoughts.

I think we need to make approaches to our LAs and try and work with them because (sad but true) the DfES listens to LAs more than it listens to home educators and we have to do what WORKS.

I believe we can also profitably speak/write to MPs and local councillors and talk to the media about the positives of the current level of monitoring and the negatives of any proposed change to make home ed more like "school at home". (I'm not saying that "school at home" is a bad choice for home ed families to make, I'm saying that we want FREEDOM to choose because whatever else we don't agree on, I think we might agree that on balance we are not in the school system because One Size Does Not Fit All)

I have heard a rumour that the DfES are also waiting for the outcome of two pieces of "research" into home education (... and )the next round is FOCUS GROUPS. There would be no harm in volunteering - the number is: 01904 433439

And of course the NFER website questionnaire deadline end of January is very relevant here too...the first stage of the NFER "research" consisted of testimony from FOUR home ed families who were known to their LAs and who wanted a lot of support and to pick a balanced word "interference." And all of us who DON'T feel that way need to be heard as well..."

On The News
Home Education is a Viable Alternative
Christopher Wardell's letter
(Thanks to Carlotta for posting these links)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Genes & Ethics

Today we finished watching Cracking the Code of Life - still learning about the human genome project and its implications. The project claims to be devoted to decoding and understanding the genome and to offer a system of early warning for a host of diseases - however it is common knowledge that finding cures requires much more than merely knowing the sequence of DNA.

We learned that private companies are involved and that the human genome is being privatised and patented. Governments are involved, scientists are competing for fame and further funding, and private investors are in it for profits. National DNA databases are already in place despite controversy and privacy concerns, etc, etc.

Related Links:
Gene Watch UK
The Genetic Bill Of Rights



On The News

This week's Times Educational Supplement has an article about a teacher who "had always been sceptical about school phobia until her son threatened to jump from the window sill." This is what the teacher had to say:

"Six months ago I de-registered my 13-year-old son from school. As a former teacher and head of year, home education had seemed a foolhardy thing to undertake. But as a parent, I had reached the end of the road with mainstream schooling."

For more, read When School Is Too Scary

Also on the news
Pupils suspended following protest demonstration

Check this out
Education Otherwise Briefing Paper For Home Educators
NFER Survey of Home Education

Today's Quote - from Educentre
“Life in Classrooms” the classic 1968 study by anthropologist Philip Jackson showed that children in school spent up to 50% of their time waiting. Roland Meighan, formerly a special professor of education at Nottingham University measured children in a primary school spending 60% of their time “waiting for something to happen”.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Psychiatry in Schools

Science: This afternoon we started to investigate stuff like DNA, genes, the Human Genome Project, and so on by watching the first 9 chapters of Cracking the Code of Life.

Ensino Doméstico

With permission from the author, I'm posting this Portuguese article about Home-Education - thanks Pequete!

Em 2001, o ano em que nasceu a minha filha mais velha, comecei a interessar-me por livros acerca do desenvolvimento das crianças, aprendizagem, educação e temas relacionados. Entre outros, veio-me parar às mãos um livro chamado “Como Aprendem as Crianças”, de um autor americano, John Holt.

Fiquei fascinada com o facto – para mim desconhecido – de haver países onde a frequência da escola não é obrigatória. Mais surpreendida fiquei ainda, quando posteriormente vim a descobrir que Portugal era um deles, e que apesar de ser uma modalidade de ensino praticamente desconhecida entre nós, ela é legalmente possível desde 1957, sob a designação de Ensino Doméstico. Este termo não é o mais feliz, pois transmite frequentemente a ideia de crianças encerradas em casa com um preceptor, à maneira do século passado. Ora, tratase, precisamente, do oposto. A ideia é não obrigar as crianças a ficarem encerradas entre paredes (neste caso as da escola), mas sim colocá-las em contacto com o mundo e a sociedade reais. Em termos práticos, consiste em matricular as crianças na escola e responsabilizar-se pela sua educação, não as obrigando a frequentar as aulas. As rotinas seguidas variam de família para família e não são padronizadas.

Desde então, tenho lido muito sobre o assunto, e apercebi-me que as razões que levam as pessoas a optar por este tipo de ensino são as mais variadas. Há pessoas cujas profissões as obrigam a mudar constantemente de país, outras que julgam o sistema de ensino pouco adequado às suas crenças religiosas, outras ainda possuem razões filosóficas, ou de natureza técnica, não concordando com os métodos de ensino utilizados nas escolas.

No sistema de ensino tradicional, os estudantes têm, inevitavelmente, que seguir a calendarização e o currículo oficialmente impostos, submeter-se a avaliações regulares, etc. Se este método se pode adequar mais ou menos bem às necessidades de algumas crianças, na maior parte dos casos, não é isso que acontece. Mesmo para muitos dos que se tornam “bons alunos” (como era o meu caso), as motivações que lhes são dadas, são – do ponto de vista de quem opta pelo Ensino Doméstico - incorrectas: agradar aos professores, obter boas notas por causa dos pais, ou competir para se sentir superior aos colegas. A longo prazo, qualquer destas motivações ensina que aprender não é, em si mesmo, algo que valha a pena, a menos que exista qualquer tipo de recompensa final. Para além de, na maioria dos casos, não se traduzir numa verdadeira aprendizagem, mas apenas numa mera memorização de factos que são esquecidos pouco tempo depois. Quantos de nós obteriam uma boa nota se neste momento fizéssemos o exame do 9º ano? Ou mesmo do 4º?...

O Ensino Doméstico pode proporcionar um ambiente de aprendizagem totalmente diferente, uma vez que permite dar às crianças a possibilidade de seguirem os seus próprios interesses num dado momento, tirando partido da sua própria motivação. Dispõem, ainda, de tempo para contactar com o mundo “real”. Hoje em dia, as crianças passam cada vez mais horas na escola, num ambiente que não traduz aquilo que se irá encontrar no dia em que, terminado o percurso escolar, se decida entrar no mercado de trabalho. Muitas crianças saem de casa de madrugada e regressam ao fim do dia, dispondo apenas de tempo para fazer os trabalhos de casa, jantar, ver um pouco de TV e ir para a cama. Sabem o nome das profissões dos pais, mas na maior parte dos casos, não fazem a mínima ideia daquilo que eles fazem durante todo o dia. O mesmo em relação aos tios, vizinhos, etc.

Neste contexto, será assim tão surpreendente que a maioria dos alunos termine a escola sem fazer ideia da profissão que quer seguir? As escolas, para além de nos subtraírem durante demasiado tempo ao "mundo real", ainda nos compartimentam em turmas de acordo com idades (quando o natural, nas sociedades humanas, é que os mais novos aprendam com os mais velhos) e por vezes de acordo com os desempenhos (turmas de "bons” e turmas de “maus” alunos). No sítio onde vivo – e imagino que também em muitos outros – são ainda criadas turmas de alunos “da cidade” e turmas de alunos “das aldeias”. A intenção não é má, prendendo-se com razões práticas relacionadas com os horários dos transportes escolares, mas como é evidente, não contribui em nada para uma boa integração social das crianças...

Estas foram apenas algumas das razões que me levaram a mim e ao meu marido, a considerar a possibilidade do Ensino Doméstico para as nossas duas filhas, neste momento com dois e cinco anos de idade. Podia ainda falar da indiferença que se vai
aprendendo cada vez que um assunto que nos interessa é interrompido pelo toque de uma campainha, da dependência intelectual que se desenvolve quando nos habituamos a esperar que alguém – superior e mais conhecedor do que nós – nos diga o que fazer e como fazer, e finalmente, mas sem surpresas, da irrisória autoestima que nos vai sendo incutida, como corolário de tantas dependências de terceiros.

Quando chegar a altura, matricularemos as nossas filhas, e dar-lhes-emos a possibilidade de escolher entre frequentar ou não a escola. Até lá, procuramos não as
influenciar num ou noutro sentido, apesar de preferirmos claramente a segunda hipótese. Até à data, nenhuma delas esteve a cargo de amas ou infantários, pelo que nos consideramos já a fazer Ensino Doméstico. O que – não nos iludamos – não tem sido fácil.

Com a família longe, não possuímos a preciosa ajuda dos avós a que a maioria das famílias recorre com alguma regularidade. O facto de eu trabalhar por conta própria e possuir o meu escritório em casa ajuda bastante, mas não seria suficiente se o meu marido não tivesse optado por trabalhar em regime de jornada contínua. Esta modalidade de trabalho, acessível tanto a trabalhadores do estado, como aos de instituições privadas com filhos pequenos, permite trabalhar seis horas seguidas, com meia hora de descanso, distribuídas por um horário proposto pelo trabalhador e sujeito a aprovação da entidade patronal. No nosso caso, eu encarrego-me das crianças durante a parte da manhã e almoço, até ao regresso a casa do pai, entre as três e as quatro horas da tarde. Mesmo assim, ainda são algumas as noites em que tenho que reduzir as horas de sono para pôr o trabalho em dia. E tudo se complica quando tenho que viajar, o que acontece de vez em quando e obriga a alguma ginástica logística.

Algumas pessoas optam por um dos elementos do casal deixar de trabalhar para se dedicar totalmente às crianças. No nosso caso, isso não é possível, não só por questões financeiras, mas também porque ambos gostamos bastante daquilo que fazemos, e procuramos envolver as crianças, na medida do possível e tendo em conta as suas idades, nas nossas actividades, para que entendam exactamente em que consistem as nossas profissões.

Ainda assim, a não frequência da escola apresenta algumas vantagens em termos económicos. Poupa-se nas mensalidades dos colégios se são privados e ainda bastante se são públicos, pois há sempre gastos com gasolina nas deslocações diárias para levar e trazer as crianças (frequentemente em horas de ponta) ou no extra que custa o
transporte escolar, poupa-se nas refeições da cantina (sem mencionar a fraca qualidade da comida), nas actividades extracurriculares, livros, materiais, explicações... É claro que fazer ensino doméstico não significa ficar fechado em casa com as crianças mas muitas deslocações podem fazer-se de transportes públicos, ou mesmo a pé, e, se se optar por usar o carro, podem sempre evitar-se as horas de maior trânsito e é possível usufruir de preços especiais em museus, etc. para os miúdos.

Quanto a livros e materiais, a página internet do Ministério da Educação disponibiliza os programas gratuitamente (para sabermos o que é que é suposto "saber-se") e hoje em dia há imensas informações na internet, nas bibliotecas, nos museus e outras instituições, que até à data nos têm sempre recebido da melhor maneira e onde, em muitos casos, nos conhecem pelos nomes.

Na realidade, penso que esta é mesmo uma das vantagens do ensino doméstico: as crianças perceberem no seu dia-a-dia que a sabedoria não vem enlatada em manuais escolares, mas está por todo o lado e que há que aprender a procurar e a seleccionar o que é importante no meio da enorme oferta existente.

O texto já vai longo e muito mais haveria para dizer. Fica apenas uma nota final para realçar que passar o dia (mesmo que não seja todo)com crianças dá muito trabalho. Para além das questões óbvias do vestir, mudar fraldas, dar banhos, preparar refeições, etc., a casa de uma família que faz Ensino Doméstico parece estar permanentemente desarrumada. É incrível a velocidade a que eles desarrumam e o caos que parece estar sempre a querer instalar-se, apesar de irmos arrumando ao longo do dia. A mais velha já interiorizou alguns hábitos de arrumação, mas a mais pequena, com apenas dois anos é, naturalmente, o caos personificado. E depois, há trabalhos em curso, que simplesmente não se podem deslocar enquanto não ficam completos: o dinossauro em pasta de papel que vai crescendo a ritmo lento, a grande colagem que ocupa metade do chão do escritório...

Acrescem as saídas frequentes, para a cidade ou para o campo, que acarretam uma necessidade extra de planificação, mudança de roupas, calçado... No fim de tudo isto, saber que a maior parte das pessoas acha que temos imensa sorte por estar em casa "sem fazer nada" pode ser um pouco frustrante...

Felizmente, ver as crianças a crescer saudáveis, a aprender ao seu ritmo, sem ressões e sem dramas, verificar como vão ultrapassando obstáculos e fazendo progressos, por vezes surpreendentes, tudo isto é largamente compensador.

Ana Guimarães Ferreira

Monday, January 22, 2007

Cure for Ignorance

I'm joining the Cure for Ignorance Campaign, which advocates social acceptance of neurodiversity. Why? Well, isn't that obvious?

A few decades ago homosexuals were considered mentally ill. One hundred and fifty years ago black slaves who tried to escape were believed to suffer from Drapetomania, the madness of freedom; the recommended treatment was whipping and the amputation of the toes. The slaves who didn't dare run away but showed no motivation were diagnosed with Dysaethesia Aethiopica, also to be cured by whipping.

Nowadays, in the 21st century, we have a cure for children who show no motivation to serve their 12 year sentence of compulsory education: we give their parents prison sentences! This is not just happening in the UK - it is also happening in the US and across Europe (e.g. Czech Republic).

We now have 'diseases' such as ADHD, Asperger's Syndrome, and the like... If a child pays no attention to their compulsory school work or isn't up to sitting quietly in a classroom hour after hour, day after day... well, she must have ADHD. If a child is thoughtful, has specific interests, resists learning that which appears to be useless or meaningless, enjoys his own company, dislikes noisy environments and doesn't fully appreciate the pleasures of compulsory socialisation in large groups... well, then he must suffer from Asperger's Syndrome!

I fully agree with Thomas Szasz when he states that "no behaviour, or misbehaviour is a disease or can be a disease. That's not what diseases are!" There's a lovely short video here, if you're interested in what Szasz has to say...

I support the neurodiversity movement and Aspergian civil rights because I support the full variety of life's expressions. I support neurodiversity in the same way I support biodiversity. If biodiversity is the measure of the health of biological systems then neurodiversity is the measure of humanity's health.

Who, in their right mind, would perceive and label roses as normal and all other flowers as diseased and therefore in need of treatment? Maybe we should keep it simple and stick to roses:

Wikipedia lists more than 100 rose species. Now imagine some 'experts' come along with the view that all roses should be like Rosa Acicularis. Our 'highly qualified and experienced experts' go on to discover more than a hundred different 'rose diseases'! After years of thorough 'objective' observation, and in comparison to the idealised Rosa Acicularis, all other rose-species now look slightly odd, diseased, in need of a cure. Our experts then come up with 'scientific' treatments: for we now want all rose-species to become 'Rosa acicularis look-alikes' - or rather behave-alikes! If they resist we can always put them in greenhouses!

Maybe our governments should support their research to identify any 'abnormal' genes and help ensure all other rose-species become a thing of the past... Could this be already happening?

I've just been reading an article in which Dr. Joseph Buxbaum, who heads up the Autism Genome Project, states: ‘I think within ten years we'll have found the genes of major affect and most of the genes of minor affect. That will then lead to reasonable targets for drug interventions.’ Of course, Big Pharma is always on the look our for new markets - and new profits. They've already applied for approval of its antipsychotic drug Risperdal for patients with autism. You can read it here.

According to Aspergian Pride, "Government-supported research to identify autism genes, which is expected to result in prenatal testing and routine abortion of autistic babies in just a few years, is a huge threat to the survival of our people. Aspergian Pride intends to combat this threat with a new initiative to educate society about the genocidal lies being spread by the supporters of eugenic abortion."

Plenty of food for thought... I wonder why the image of Hitler has just popped in my mind...


Last night...

Last night we watched Climate Change: Britain Under Threat, a documentary examining the possible effects of climate change, e.g. flooding from winter storms, changes to ecosystems, rising sea levels threatening large areas, etc. (By the way, the Open University has produced a free guide to Climate Change that can be ordered by calling 0870 942 1342.)

DJ watched with interest. Remembering his aversion to geography (he had told me how he'd found his Gg teacher extremely boring), I said something like:

'It looks like you're into geography after all... all this stuff about the weather and climate, Britain's climate and microclimates, ecosystems, population and international migration, settlement patterns, house building, industry and the environment, development, energy sources, alternative energy and sustainable development... all this is part of KS3 geography!'

DJ disagreed: 'No way! I hate geography, geography is boring! This is not geography because this is interesting and useful!'

Isn't it amazing how easily can all these interesting issues become strongly associated with boredom? Or frustration or anger or stress or fear or whatever? Some people out there actually believe this is all part of a deliberate plan to dumb kids down - that by using Skinner's basic principle of operant conditioning you can get kids to associate 'educational' experiences with unpleasant feelings thereby ensuring they'll be put off any real learning in the future - because informed citizens with the capacity for independent and critical thought are harder to control.

Well, I don't know about that... but if you're curious about DJ's thoughts on conspiracy theories click here.

What I know is that if we take Yeats definition of education as "not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire", we'll surely wonder about the amount of fire extinguishers in our schools! For health and safety reasons, of course!

Watch online: Skinner's Shaping Experiment

TODAY - PSHE includes personal finance, political literacy and social and moral responsible behaviour. We've been looking at the following:
Money: 8 mns Educational Video - Price stability & Inflation.
The Army Simpsons do Army Recruiting!

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Space: yesterday we watched Asteroid (ffi check the teacher's guide), The Cosmic Perspective, and Hunting Meteorites. We also watched The 10th Planet (overview here).

DJ has also been cooking: relatively easy things like pasta, chips, and so on... He was also excited about some recent downloads (ICT), although I forget exactly what it was - I just can't keep up!

Proper Education

We don't need your education
We don't need your thought control
No prescriptions for our learning
Please just leave our kids alone

Hey Will you - leave our kids alone
All in all we're just another tick and that's all.

We don't need your education
We don't need your thought control
We can learn without a classroom
Please just leave our kids alone

"Hey! Will you - Leave our kids alone!
All in all we're just another tick and that's all
All in all we're just another tick and that's all

"Wrong, Do it again!"
Your thinking's all wrong, go change your brain
How can you learn when your mind is suppressed?
Home Education will stand your tests.

Hey! Will you - Leave our kids alone!
All in all we're just another tick and that's all
All in all we're just another tick and that's all
(Thanks to Cat for posting this!)

The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America e-book (736 pages)
When I Become a Teacher
Proper Education
Squashed Frogs
War on Want

Friday, January 19, 2007

Poem, News & Links

About School - Anonymous

He always wanted to explain things, but no one cared.
So he drew.

Sometimes he would just draw and it wasn't anything.
He wanted to carve it in stone or write it in the sky.
He would lie on the grass and look up in the sky and
it would only be the sky and the things inside him that
needed saying.

And it was after that he drew the picture.
It was a beautiful picture.
He kept it under his pillow and would let no one see it.
And he would look at it every night and think about it.
And when it was dark and his eyes were closed he
could see it still.
And it was all of him and he loved it.

When he started school he brought it with him.
Not to show anyone, but just to have it with him like a friend.

It was funny about school.
He sat in a square brown desk like all the other square
desks, and he thought it would be red.
And his room was a square brown room like all the other rooms.
And it was tight and close.
And stiff.

He hated to hold the pencil and chalk, with his arm
stiff and his feet flat on the floor, stiff, with the teacher watching
and watching.

The teacher came and spoke to him.
She told him to wear a tie like all the other boys.
He said he didn't like them and she said it didn't matter.

After that they drew.
And he drew all yellow and it was the way he felt about the morning.
And it was beautiful.

The teacher came and smiled at him.
"What's this?", she said.
"Why don't you draw something like Ken's drawing?
Isn't it beautiful?"
After that his mother bought him a tie and he always drew
aeroplanes and rocket ships like everyone else.

And he threw the old picture away.

And when he lay out alone looking at the sky, it was big
and blue and all of everything, but he wasn't anymore.

He was square and brown inside and his hands were stiff.
And he was like everyone else.
All the things inside him that needed saying didn't need it anymore.
It had stopped pushing.
It was crushed.

Like everything else.

(This Poem was written by a Grade 12 Student who committed suicide some 2 weeks later.) Thanks for posting this poem Dottyspots

Today's Quote Alfie Khon
Kids are not pets to be trained;
they're not clay to be moulded,
they're not computers to be programmed
and, above all,
they're not vessels to be filled.

On The News
Special needs practice 'illegal' A council has been told that the way it is treating children with more serious special educational needs is illegal. Campaigners say similar malpractice is going on elsewhere.

Boy's detention after apple snack The pupil came close to being expelled over the incident after refusing to take his punishment, a detention. He complained to reporters: "The punishments are way too harsh. It just shows you the abuse of power within the school."

Girl has report from wrong school The mother of a 12-year-old girl was shocked to receive a progress report from a school her daughter had never attended.

Link: HE community consultation responses to DfES draft guidelines for LEAs on HE

Watch Online Do you know who I am?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Something I learnt

Using your password (which i know) I have invited myself to become another author of this blog so I can post alone now. I did it with my blog too :D

Take action!

I've just realised we were thanked by Silves - exciting to see our 'names' mentioned on another site! Their gallery is worth a look.

Passing on some information
e-consultation "There is a consultation right now called the Definition of Full Time Education in Independent Schools, which will affect flexi-schoolers/part-timers even if they are at independent schools. It may also lead to intrusion by Ofsted in to small voluntary educational groups and even something like home-ed groups. The consultation is short and only has 4/5 questions that have a yes/no answer. It's very easy to do and will only take people 5 mins to fill in."

AIM-Home Education "This is an open invitation to anyone who home educates a child with SEN to join us in putting together a campaign against any changes to the present law on home education. If the law changes then parents who are home educating children with SEN stand to loose a great deal - as do all parents. However there is much evidence to suggest that the system are getting it wrong for our children so why should we have to be told by them how to provide and 'Suitable and Efficient Education'? We can use this evidence to form a case - please help us. Please come and read our blog and add your views."

Today's Link:
The Underground History of American Education
by John Taylor Gatto - Read the book online

Flowers are Red

Listen to this song here

The little boy went first day of school
He got some crayons and started to draw
He put colors all over the paper
For colors was what he saw
And the teacher said.. What you doin' young man
I'm paintin' flowers he said
She said... It's not the time for art young man
And anyway flowers are green and red
There's a time for everything young man
And a way it should be done
You've got to show concern for everyone else
For you're not the only one

And she said...
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen

But the little boy said...
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one

Well the teacher said.. You're sassy
There's ways that things should be
And you'll paint flowers the way they are
So repeat after me.....

And she said...
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen

But the little boy said...
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one

The teacher put him in a corner
She said.. It's for your own good..
And you won't come out 'til you get it right
And are responding like you should
Well finally he got lonely
Frightened thoughts filled his head
And he went up to the teacher
And this is what he said.. and he said

Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen

Time went by like it always does
And they moved to another town
And the little boy went to another school
And this is what he found
The teacher there was smilin'
She said...Painting should be fun
And there are so many colors in a flower
So let's use every one

But that little boy painted flowers
In neat rows of green and red
And when the teacher asked him why
This is what he said.. and he said

Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen.

There still must be a way, to have our children say
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one

© Copyright 1996-2006 The Harry Chapin Archive.

(Thanks for this Rosemary)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Science & Maths

Science: Life's Greatest Miracle - microphotography chronicles the growth of a baby from embryo to newborn. FFI check out the teachers guide.

Maths: Prime Numbers

Great Link: Danger School! is a 101 page booklet filled with illustrations.

Today's Quote: "If a man’s house is full of medicine bottles, we infer that the man is probably ill. But if his house is full of books, we conclude that he is intelligent. Surely that is not right?" Vinoba Bhave

On the News: 'End suspicion of school at home'

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Science & Gatto

I'm happy that DJ is willing to do his bit around the house once again - it's great to cook together and to see him take the rubbish out! He's also finally persuaded me to go through one of his game's tutorial - very educational indeed! Other than that, we did a bit of Science: Biochemistry Artificial Life we discussed what life is; scientists' attempts to construct simple life-forms in the lab; and the implications of this.

J.T. Gatto Videos
Meet John Taylor Gatto
John Taylor Gatto - Classrooms of the Heart 1991
J. T. Gatto interviewed by Lennart Mogren, Sweden, March 2003
You can also download audio files of some of Gatto's talks.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Videos & stuff

Carlin - Education and the Elite
Video sent by PigLips

Another video
Animal School
Claudio Naranjo's educational vision

Today's Poem
At History I'm Hopeless
At history I'm hopeless.
At spelling I stink.
In music I'm useless.
From science I shrink.
At art I'm atrocious.
In sports I'm a klutz.
At reading I'm rotten.
And math makes me nuts.
At language I'm lousy.
Computers? I'm cursed.
In drama I'm dreadful.
My writing's the worst.
"I don't understand it,"
my teacher exclaims.
I tell her they ought to teach
video games.
by Kenn Nesbitt

Today's Quote - Aaron Falbel (on “learning” and “education”)
Learning is like breathing. It is a natural, human activity: it is part of being alive. A person who is active, curious, who explores the world using all his or her senses, who meets life with energy and enthusiasm—as all babies do—is learning. Our ability to learn, like our ability to breathe, does not need to be improved or tampered with. It is utter nonsense, not to mention deeply insulting, to say that people need to be taught how to learn or how to think. We are born knowing how to do these things. All that is needed is an interesting, accessible, intelligible world, and a chance to play a meaningful part in it.

If the air is polluted, then it can become difficult to breathe. We cough, wheeze, and gasp for air. Similarly, if our social environment is polluted, it can become difficult to learn. Today our social environment is thoroughly polluted by education—a designed process in which one group of people (educators, social engineers, people shapers) tries to make another group (those who are to be “educated”) learn something, usually without their consent, because they (the "educators”) think it will be good for them. In other words, education is forced, seduced or coerced learning—except that you can’t really make another person learn something that he or she doesn’t want to learn, which is why education doesn’t work and has never worked."

Today's Link: Tagore's Story

On The News

Why the teenage brain needs a lie-in (Thanks for this link Gill)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Another poem

Another poem I liked, as seen on multiworld


Young Colin was born very clever,
Yes, Colin was born very smart,
But although Colin was really clever,
He just couldn't master the art …
Of writing the alphabet letters,
In other than mirrored reverse,
And his teachers attempted to force him,
By making him drill and rehearse …
But Colin just kept on with writing,
Those letters in form so awry,
That they said he had trouble with learning,
And caused Colin's mother to cry …
She'd known from the time he was little,
So small he could only just crawl,
That her Colin was profoundly gifted,
He had no trouble learning at all.
Then pondering, reading and learning,
From every source she could clutch,
She removed him from school and from teachers,
And under her kind, gentle touch …
Young Colin was not made to practise,
Indeed he did not even scribe,
And she offered him nothing of forcing,
Or coaxing or orders or bribes.
Instead he was given resources,
Like T.V., computers and art,
And small batteries, wires, pens and paper,
And love from a mother's warm heart.
As Colin grew older and bigger,
His skills and his knowledge just grew,
He became a great whiz with computers,
And neatness when writing bloomed too.
But Colin would never love writing,
So profound were the lessons at school,
Taught by 'qualified' teachers of children,
Who'd taught him that he was a fool.

The Good Childhood Inquiry launched by The Children’s Society to find out what makes for a good life for children and young people living in the UK.
Check This Out! Ali G - UK education

Saturday, January 13, 2007


River of Freedom by Orson Welles

Had Edison Lived Today.

"This child's dumb and we're going to place him,
With others who'll always come last,
'Cause his constant, disruptive behaviour,
Is disturbing the rest of the class,
And we know that he needs medication,
For his conduct makes us quite aghast.
After all, we're so busy advancing,
Those children with such low I.Q's,
That they need undivided attention,
And the child's far too big for his shoes,
With his endless demands and his questions,
About subjects we don't care to choose.
And when he's not talking, he's dreaming,
Can't concentrate on what we say,
When we want them all to be learning,
Your mad son keeps on turning away,
So we know that he needs medication,
Get him off to a doctor today.
Just look at his big head, it's awful,
His reading and writing are bad,
Go away, take him off to a doctor,
His behaviour is driving us mad,
And we know that some good medication,
Will work and will make us feel glad."
Then the mother of young Thomas Alva,
Herself a schoolteacher by trade,
With the rare gift of great understanding,
Took her bright Thomas home … where he played,
And she knew as she answered his questions,
It was genius her son displayed …
To those teachers whose minds were determined,
That children should all be the same …
And the stance of those foolish schoolteachers,
And their system would both be to blame,
Had the world been denied his inventions,
Had his mom left them his brain to maim.
And this story is not of just Thomas,
Whose spirit his mother reclaimed,
For the clever, maligned young inventor,
Who went on to achieve such great fame,
It's the story of countless lost children,
Who all, due to the world's greatest drain …
Of young genius thirsting for knowledge,
Were condemned to a lifetime of pain,
By the world's worst invention, a system,
Which tries to make people the same,
A foul system of forcing, not learning …
Of society's loss - and its shame.
as seen onTeachers' Thoughts and a Mother's Actions

Friday, January 12, 2007

Ed News

Schoolboy 'attacked with hammer'
Muggers 'attack 120 pupils a day'
School leaving age set to be 18
Teaching Not Testing

Last night we watched The Truth About Food; Mock the Week; part of a program about Tourette; and Dispatches: Meeting the Taliban. Today we're taking it easy. In the morning I had an appointment with the OT and had the chance to express my thoughts and feelings regarding their services (which IMHO range from useless to harmful). Apologies sometimes are not good enough!

Link: Miniature-Earth

Today's Quotes
"The boy must be transformed into the man; in this school he must not only learn to obey, but must thereby acquire a basis for commanding later. He must learn to be silent not only when he is justly blamed, but must also learn, when necessary, to bear injustice in silence." - Adolf Hitler

"Whatever their claims, schools are training most young people to be habitually subservient." - Chris Shute

"A school, like a fascist state, is about the business of compelling people to conform to a pattern of behaviour and a way of thinking decided by the few who hold power over them." - Chris Shute

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Note to self: update Learning Log (Oct-now)
Reading and Trips pages have now been updated.

After a long festive season spent with family we're now returning to our routine. We've watched and discussed the following:
Science: Call of Life: Facing the Mass Extinction, which brings together biology, psychology and cultural attitudes.
Math & Sc: Power of Ten
Solar System: starts and planets to scale
History: Who has controlled the Middle East over time?
How to ask a woman on a date

How to kiss someone passionately
How to be the perfect boyfriend
Social Intelligence

News: Some schools failing 80% of pupils

Today's Poem
On guard
by Satinath Sarangi (Sathyu)
Children listen with a lot of attention
Children see with a lot of attention
They have just come into this world
And they have so many questions to ask, Like
Why should guavas be always drawn round in pictures?
Why isn't the death of a goat an accident?
Why are there firings across borders?
Why are there firings?
Why are there borders?
They are ignorant
They do not know that it is more important
to brush your teeth in the morning than
to give clothes to someone who doesn't have them.
The system is threatened if too many questions are asked.
If the answers are not approved.
So deploy a parent behind every child.
And for further caution,
Open schools.

HE Consultations

The following email was posted to HE lists and needs to be widely distributed. From Lord Adonis (Lord Adonis was appointed by Tony Blair to the House of Lords to steer Education bills through the Lords.)

"Dear David (The MP who was originally written to),

Thank you for your letter of 12 December, adressed to Alan Johnson, about elective home education. I am replying as this falls within my area of responsibility. I should firstly clarify that there is no specific duty in statute on local authorities to monitor parents' education provision. However, it is our view that the case of Philips vs Brown (1980) allows local authorities to make enquiries of parents to establish whether 'suitable' education is being provided. Following consultation, if changes to legislation were to be introduced, they would of course be subject to the full parliamentary process.

The state does not currently prescribe what form of education parents should provide, whilst all maintained and independent school provision is prescribed in legislation and subject to inspection. This anomaly is at odds with Every Child Matters reforms, supported by the Children Act 2004, which set out the Government's aim to improve educational outcomes for all children, regardless of where they are educated, and to narrow the gap between those who are doing well and those who are not.

Last year's consultation on draft local authority guidelines was a targeted consultation, and included a selection of local autorities, as well as the home education support organisations which we were aware of as this seemed the most effective way of reaching the home education community.

We intend that the forthcoming consultation on elective home education will be a full one, conducted via the Department's consultation website. We hope this will ensure that the documents are accessible to as many people as possible, and officials are currently compiling a list of home educators who have expressed interest in being involved in the consultation.

The aim of the consultation is to open up a constructive debate on whether or not changes are required, and if so what they might be.

As the consultation will primarily be conducted via the Department's website, with support from the Department's in house Consultation Unit, the costs will be minimal and met from general administrative expenditure.

The consultation will adhere to the Cabinet Office code of practice on consultations and the usual lines of Ministerial accountability will apply to this, as with all work undertaken by the Department for Education and Skills.

The concerns about lack of local authority access to the child, expressed by respondents to our previous consultation (which were not necessarily concerns about potential abuse, but rather about the general difficulty in assessing children's progress and children's views on their education being heard) is the reason this further consultation is taking place.

Please re-assure your constituents that officials have added their details to our list so that they will be alerted when the consultation starts and afforded the opportunity to participate."
(thanks Mike HE-UK)
Link: Children's Act 2004

Wednesday, January 10, 2007