Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Some quotes

What we are teaches the child far more than what we say, so we must be what we want our children to become.
J. C. Pearce

If there is anything that we wish to change in our children, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.
Carl Jung

When looking at your child, you can always choose your focus. You can look at their behaviour from your point of view, from your desires and your judgements. Or you can look at them from their point of view, with respect to how they are feeling and what they need.
S. Hart & V.K. Hodson

More HE News

'I had to try to glue her back together'

Within six weeks of starting at a local state secondary school De Voysey's 12-year-old autistic daughter had changed from a good-natured, funny child, into an angry, isolated, person whose confidence had been shot to pieces. "We lost her," says her mother. "She was a tormented, frightened soul who couldn't sleep, couldn't stop crying and was demonstrating anger at a level we had never seen before.

"But the (school's) lack of understanding of her condition was staggering. What is a parent to do? Stand by and watch as ignorance and a lack of training systematically destroy your child? There was only ever one 'choice' to be made when I realised she was being damaged by her school experience – to remove her altogether and educate her myself. She was so freaked out by the prospect of returning after half term that it would have been cruel to send her back."

"To watch a basically happy soul reduced to a ranting monster because no one understood her needs is frankly disgusting. The school experience was so traumatic she did not want to go out or do anything. I was left to try to glue her back together."

‘My son is better off being taught at home’
Schools out!

Other Links
HE discussion online
Boycott Germany Until Melissa Is Returned To Her Family

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

On the news

Letter in favour of HE from Hannah Walker in Bristol
No need for more rules on Home Education

"Inside Learning" podcast
Check the last quarter of the podcast for the HE piece

Daily Star February 24, 2007
Mums joining school revolt

SOARING numbers of parents are teaching their children at home because they are not happy with the quality of state education. At least 16,000 children are now being taught at home, three times as many as in 1999. Many parents said they were worried about bullying and poor discipline. Others thought children are required to start formal schooling at too early an age, said the study for the Department for Education and Skills.

The report stated:"Some of the parents interviewed felt that standards of education had declined. This, coupled with a view that the current education system is overly bureaucratic, inflexible and assessment-driven, prompted some parents to home educate."

Children were withdrawn from school due to bullying, as well as concern over antisocial behaviour and poor levels of conduct by other pupils. The majority of parents who took their children out of school were white British. They told researchers a home education brought significant benefits for children, including giving "high levels of confidence and self-esteem". It also helped develop a close bond between the parent or carer and the child.

THE JOURNAL (Newcastle, UK)February 24, 2007
More and more children learn at home
Similar to the above, although it goes on to say:

The majority of parents who took their children out of school were white British. But religious and cultural reasons prompted Muslim, Christian, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller families to teach youngsters at home.

Parents told the researchers that a home education brought significant benefits for their children in a variety of areas concerning their development. The report said: "Beneficial effects reported by parents included high levels of confidence and self-esteem, a close relationship between parent/carer and child, self-directed learning and the development of skills in line with, or in advance of, age-related peers."

The study suggested the figure of 16,000 children in home education could significantly underestimate the true picture because the official records were poor.

The Northern Echo February 24, 2007

SOARING numbers of parents are teaching their children at home because they are not happy with the quality of state education, according to Government research. The study said at least 16,000 children in England may now be educated at home, which would be a three-fold increase since 1999. Many parents are worried about bullying and poor discipline in state schools and are dissatisfied with the quality of state education, the research found. Others thought children were required to start formal schooling too young, the study by York Consulting for the Department for Education and Skills said.

"Some of the parents interviewed felt that standards of education had declined," the report said. This, coupled with a view that the current education system is overly bureaucratic, inflexible and assessment-driven, prompted some parents to home educate. The majority of parents who took their children out of school were white British. But religious and cultural reasons prompted Muslim, Christian, gipsy and traveller families to teach youngsters at home.

The researchers found that children tended to be removed from state education between finishing primary and starting secondary school. Some parents used formal methods, following the national curriculum and hiring tutors. Others were less conventional.

The Express February 24, 2007 Saturday, U.K.
Classes at home

A SOARING number of parents are teaching their children at home because they are unhappy with the quality of state education, new research shows.
A Government-backed study by York Consulting says at least 16,000 children in England may now be educated at home - a three-fold rise since 1999. Parents worry about bullying and poor school discipline, while others think children are required to start formal school too young.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Daniel Monk

I've just finished reading Daniel Monk's research paper Problematising home education: challenging ‘parental rights’ and 'socialisation'(2004). Here's some bits that caught my attention:

" label home education as harmful would be an oversimplification and in particular would in effect be to claim and to impose a universal knowledge of childhood and of what is 'in the best interests of the child' and such a claim would overlook ... the state’s interest in education"

"Constructing education as a form of ‘welfare’ enables state involvement to be distinguished from totalitarian control. Consequently, in the context of home education there is a potential tension ... between the ‘liberty’ rights of parents to educate their children as they wish and the ‘claim’ rights of children for the state to protect their right to education and to monitor how parents exercise their duty to provide education."

"Despite the common sense perception that attending school is necessary for child development there appears to be remarkably little evidence or research to support this claim, rather school attendance simply appears to be ‘the normal thing to do’."

"...attempts to raise awareness of the potential harms and dangers to children within ... schools causes unease and has been strongly resisted as (it poses) a threat to the social and political investment and construction of them as child friendly and child appropriate is only in the last couple of years that bullying has been identified as a problem that needs to be addressed and that school refusal has been acknowledged to be a rational reaction to school."

"Acknowledging the public interest in education is not fatal to the case for compulsory schooling – socialisation is clearly not the only purpose of education. But there is a risk that the socialisation argument – as a neutral best interests argument – could be used to mask traditional or collectivist and community based public interest concerns, as these concerns might not cohere with all parents or children’s aspirations and expectations of education. (...) public interest based concerns about home education (...) are inherently political and so distinct from the socialization argument."

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Nothing much...

We've just spent some time practicing the 4 step process of NV Communication, which requires us to be self-aware and clearly express our observations, feelings, needs and wants. After demonstrating the process and practicing together for a while DJ said:

When I hear you talk like that
I feel annoyed
because I'm needing you to talk properly
so I would like you to shut up

I just love the way he instantly grasps new concepts and the way he applies them - he has such a great sense of humour!

Today's Quote
The hardest battle is to be nobody but yourself in a world that is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else.
E. E. Cummings

Today's Link

OpenCourseWare Consortium

On The News
Home teaching on the rise
In search of inner space
"Most people there were with children, including a few with special needs, who were being educated at home and who had a rare form of wisdom from which the rest of us could learn. Many friends voiced bafflement that there could be any "retreat" that involved children. All I can say is that children on retreat can teach us more than we can imagine"

Saturday, February 24, 2007

NVC & News

Here's my latest experiment with watercolours.
I'm looking forward to a weekend of Non-Violent Communication with Seed of Peace.

Today's Poem
by Ruth Bebermeyer

I feel so sentenced by your words,
I feel so judged and sent away,
Before I go I’ve got to know
Is that what you mean to say?

Before I rise to my defence,
Before I speak in hurt or fear,
Before I build that wall of words,
Tell me, did I really hear?

Words are windows, or they’re walls,
They sentence us, or set us free.
When I speak and when I hear,
Let the love light shine through me.

There are things I need to say,
Things that mean so much to me,
If my words don’t make me clear,
Will you help me to be free?

If I seemed to put you down,
If you felt I didn’t care,
Try to listen through my words
To the feelings that we share. –R.B.

Today's Quotes
Nothing creates more resistance than telling people they "should" or "have to" or "must" or "ought to" do something. These terms eliminate choice. Without the freedom to choose, life becomes slave like. "I had to do it, superior's orders" is the response of people robbed of their free will. Prompted by directives and injunctions, people do not take responsibility for their actions. - Marshall B. Rosenberg

Better than a thousand useless words is one single word, hearing which one attains peace - Buddha

On The News
Home schooling 'triples in eight years'
'150,000 children' educated at home
Home education 'needs monitoring'
A happy, fulfilled life free of school
Why more parents opt for home education
Big rise in home education
Worried Parents Turn To Home
Kids Home Learn Rise
Children 'harmed by starting school aged four'

A Feasibility Study

The Prevalence of Home Education in England

Friday, February 23, 2007


Inquisition season continues: today we have been exploring the Roman Inquisition and its beginning in 16th century Venice. Key words: Roman Catholic Church; heresy; Martin Luther; Protestantism; censorship of printed literature; Paul IV attack on the Jews, condemning them to live in ghettos and forbidden them to own any Hebrew books except the Old Testament; etc

Last night we had a lovely talk about the meaning of life and taking responsibility for our actions and their consequences. This led us to talk about Buddhist philosophy and their views on cause and effect and the origins of human suffering...


Today's Quotes
We worry about what a child will be tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today. Stacia Tauscher

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow; it only robs today of its strength. A. J. Cronin

To know yet to think that one does not know is best; Not to know yet to think that one knows will lead to difficulty.

Isn't it amazing how we grasp onto our views as the right ones? How we think we know what's best not just for us but for other people as well? Isn't it amazing how we assume we've got it all figured out? How we think our views on how to live life are the Right ones? To the point we find ourselves concerned when others don't follow our Guaranteed Path?

This much you think you know,
you think you know what's best for my child...

Well, I've listened to your words. I can sense your certainties and your deeply felt beliefs - you've made your views very clear. You are concerned because you see us walking a different path, a path unknown to you, a path that you, with your narrow imagination, can only imagine leading to gloom and doom...

This much I know - I don't need your worries. Your concerns are of no help - would you really want me bathing in the festering stream of your worries and concerns?

The negative visions you have for my son's future are of no help. Your worrying about him does not help him in any way. In fact, it simply reveals your low expectation of him and for him; it merely shows that you don't trust his capabilities. And in what way can that be helpful?

I know you only want to be of help. But in your willingness to be of benefit please don't go round projecting your own problems.

"In a broad sense, a problem exists when an individual becomes aware of a significant difference between what actually is and what is desired."

Please be aware of the difference between what you desire for someone and what they desire for themselves and consider the possibility that those you so desperately want to help out might actually be very happy with the way things are!

And, if someone feels they have a problem they'd like help with:

“The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.” Theodore Rubin

"Every problem has a gift for you in its hands." Richard Bach

Today's Links
HE Rights e-petition
HE in England: DfES Research
Turning Off My Brain 17 y.o. aspie talks about his sleeping difficulties

On The News
Home schooling numbers uncertain
Should home schooling be more closely monitored?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

All sorts

Last night's choice was Troy, an adaptation of Homer's great epic Iliad: Ancient History, Greek Mythology, Achilles, Paris and Helen of Troy, Agamemnon and his brother Menelaus, Trojan War, Trojan Horse, etc

Resources: bought some art materials (acrylic and watercolour paints, canvas and brushes) plus 3 'geography' DVDs.

JC came round in the afternoon: 2 hrs of animated non-stop discussion covering all sorts - from maths (large numbers and matrices) and practical uses of science to formal education, motivation, society, values, etc, etc

More Ancient History in the evening: this time looking at The Fall of the Persian Empire: Darius; Achaemenid Empire; Zoroastrianism; Macedonian; Alexander the Great; Persepolis; etc. Good to have an insight into the history of Iran...

Today's Poem - The School Day Begins
It's Monday morning at 7:01.
You’re still half asleep; your homework’s half done.
Your shower is cold; your oatmeal’s dry.
Your mother forgets to kiss you good-bye.
You’re walking to school; it’s thirty degrees.
Your fingers won’t work; your toes and ears freeze.
Your zipper is stuck; your left sneaker squeaks.
Your backpack strap snaps; your soup thermos leaks.
You slip on school steps; you trip in the hall.
The toilet floods in the bathroom stall.
The gym door is locked; library’s the same.
The principal greets you by the wrong name.
Your classroom is hot; the coat rack is packed.
Your bean sprout is dead; your clay pot is cracked.
Your pencils are dull; the sharpener jams.
Your fingers get crunched when your desktop slams.
Your math partner’s gone; your neighbor is rude.
Your teacher’s again in a crabby mood.
The morning bell rings; it is 8:01.
Come cozy up to the blackboard,
Another school day’s begun.

Today's Link: 'EHE & Travellers' children'

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Inquisition

Last night we watched a documentary about Stonehenge, exploring a new theory that it was built to honour both the moon and the sun.

Today we've been exploring
the Spanish Inquisition with
History of the Inquisition part 2.

The Inquisition in film & TV:
Mel Brooks' History of the World: Part I
Monty Python - The Spanish Inquisition.

We might watch Troy later on...
or My Family and Autism on BBC2...

DfES Reply

Thank you for your email of 10 February, addressed to Jim Knight, about elective home education. I have been asked to reply.

In 2005 the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) undertook a targeted consultation on draft local authority (LA) guidelines. This included a selection of LAs, as well as the home education support organisations which we were aware of, as this seemed the most effective way of reaching the home educating community. The responses to this consultation included concerns about the lack of LA access to the child, the general difficulty in assessing children's progress and children's view on their education being heard.

The DfES has never said that home educators are an anomaly. As you know, it is every parent’s right to choose this form of education for their children. The issue that the 2005 consultation highlighted is that the Government is less able to ensure improved outcomes for home educated children (in line with the Every Child Matters agenda) compared to children in maintained and independent schools.

However, no decisions have as yet been taken with regard to the contents of the subsequent proposed consultation on elective home education or when it is due to commence.

Please be assured that the consultation will be a full one, open to all stakeholders and conducted via the Department's consultation website. We hope this will ensure that the documents are accessible to as many people as possible and we are currently compiling a list of home educators who have expressed an 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.

Please be assured that I have added your details to our list so that you will be alerted when the consultation starts and afforded the opportunity to feed your views and concerns into the consultation process. Following consultation, if changes to legislation were to be introduced, they would of course, be subject to the full parliamentary process.

Yours sincerely
Matt Vallily
Public Communications Unit
Department for Education and Skills

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Another late night! DJ had a friend sleeping over and D is coming round later on... Playing, socialising, gaming, chatting, laughing, learning, etc

M: What are you doing in RE?

B: The old testament

DJ: God was horrible in the Old Testament!
I learned about Taoism and Confucianism.

M: When?

DJ: I don't know... it was in one of my games!
What does composite mean, anyway?

M: Something made up of different parts.

DJ: Everything is made up of parts!

M: That's a very Buddhist remark...

DJ: If a normal bow has many parts, then what's the difference between a bow and a composite bow?

M:(after checking out on the internet) "A composite bow is a bow made of 3 layers of different materials, usually wood, bone, and sinew." I think here composite refers to the diversity of materials used in one of its parts.

DJ: I still think we should just scrap the word composite...

M: See? This is how we learn at home, we just find out about the things we want to find out...

DJ: ...when we want to find out!

B: Sounds good... I'm happy at school, though.

DJ: And I'm happy at home!
Mum, go away!

Today's Quotes
He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home. Goethe

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort. Jane Austen

Monday, February 19, 2007

I've learned

I've learned that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them. I've learned that you shouldn't compare yourself to others but to the best you can do. I've learned that you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life. I've learned that there are always two sides. I've learned that it takes long time to become the person we want to be. I've learned that it's a lot easier to react than it is to think. I've learned that you can keep going long after you think you can't. I've learned that we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel. I've learned that either you control your attitude or it controls you. I've learned that learning to forgive takes practice. I've learned that some people love you dearly, but don't know how to show it. I've learned that just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have. I've learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become. I've learned that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different. I've learned that no matter how you try to protect your children, they will eventually get hurt and you will hurt in the process. I've learned that credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being. I've learned that it's hard to determine where to draw the line between being nice and not hurting people's feelings and standing up for what you believe.

As seen here.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Mary Seacole

Black History: Last night we watched Mary Seacole: The Real Angel Of the Crimea, a documentary film exploring the achievements of Mary Seacole as a Jamaican heroine. We learned about her experience of racism, her determination to nurse in the Crimea, the role she played in the Crimean War and how she ‘disappeared’ from history. Our 'purposive conversation' covered slavery, racism, self-belief and determination in face of adversity.
Online resources include a short video and this audio clip.

We've just watched "Making Laws", an animation commissioned by the Parliamentary Education Unit about why laws are needed and how they are made. This got us talking about the consultation process of the forthcoming Statutory Changes to Legislation for Home Education. If you're interested, these films can be obtained free of charge here.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Last night

History: last night we watched Nuclear Secrets, and found out about A.Q.Khan, who copied secret blueprints from the Dutch. We learned that the biggest challenge to civilization in recent years came "not from Osama or Saddam Hussein but from Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb" because it is believed that he sold nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

This took us to geography, as we ended up checking the atlas for the exact location of Libya and eventually other European countries like Liechtenstein and Luxembourg.

We watched the news and spend some time discussing current affairs, from gun crime and recent teenage deaths to absent fathers and politicians views on families...

It was a late night for us, watching Platoon - which got DJ wondering about the real reasons behind the Vietnam War and wanting to find out about communism...

Today's Links

Home schooling Interesting to see how statistics distort reality: Do you educate your children at home? 63% said yes (out of 338 votes)

Special Intelligence An article from the Guardian about Asperger's Syndrome and Work.

Friday, February 16, 2007


Today's Quote: Joshua Muggleton

"Who picks up the pieces when their aspie kid comes home from school in tears because the teachers just don’t understand, or even just don’t care? Who calms them down when they are in a rage about what they have to go through in school? Who finds out they are depressed, or even trying to kill themselves, and has to deal with that torment – being unable to do anything to stop your child suffering? ... If you are a parent of an ASD child. This is for you. This is me, giving you credit for all you do. You may not think you do that much, but trust me, you do. Be proud." from A salute to parents

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Hyperland - Virtual reality; Multimedia; you can see the documentary on Google Video.


I'm learning to say thank you.
And I'm learning to say please.
And I'm learning to use Kleenex,
Not my sweater, when I sneeze.
And I'm learning not to dribble.
And I'm learning not to slurp.
And I'm learning (though it sometimes really hurts me)
Not to burp.
And I'm learning to chew softer
When I eat corn on the cob.
And I'm learning that it's much
Much easier to be a slob.

by Judith Viorst

Natural learning

Natural learning

water trickles into rivulets
rivulets flow down to the streams
streams rush down the mountainside

streams form rivers
rivers flow to seas
seas disappear into thin air
rain drops from the sky
nature always flows

the natural learner
hops off the treadmill
blocks artifice
accepts what is
breathes in, out
and joins the eternal flow

your cycles match nature’s
you feel right with the world
you no longer fight the current
you join it

as far as the stream is concerned
you’re no longer moving
but those along the shore
see that you’re getting ahead
you float, you learn, it’s natural

this learning comes from deep inside
it makes you feel right with the world
you’re thinking without thinking
your mind has a mind of its own
it knows what to do
you let it

it’s making connections
travelling new paths
matching patterns
putting things together

you can’t force it
you must simply be open to it
there’s no secret formula
it comes when you merge with
everything around you

enlightenment comes
when you’re ready

you’ll know it from your smile
as you return to shore

breathe in, out

nature will always be there
inviting you to take your natural place
synchronizing to the earth’s beat
mind-dancing in the flow of life

I don’t know who I am
but life is for learning

Posted by Jay Cross

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Fun Stuff

Philosophy: Philosophers song - lyrics
Science: Galaxy Song - lyrics
Music: The Decomposing Composers - lyrics
English: The Many Uses Of The Word Fuck

Today's Quotes
"Humour is by far the most significant activity of the human brain." Edward De Bono

"For a small child there is no division between playing and learning; between the things he or she does 'just for fun' and things that are 'educational.' The child learns while living and any part of living that is enjoyable is also play." Penelope Leach

On The News UK is accused of failing children
Today's Link Home-Ed Forum Thread

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

ICT & Maths

ICT: Google Behind the Screen
Maths: calculating interest rates
Money: loans; credit & debit cards

On The News
Mother kept girls locked away from the world for seven years - apparently the mother withdrew her 3 children from school claiming that she would give them private tuition at home...

Monday, February 12, 2007

All sorts

Technology: Some days ago I found DJ flipping through this book and this afternoon we spent some time learning about the life and inventions of Nikola Tesla. We've also been doing some history, talking about the Sumerians, their beliefs, cuneiform scripts, astronomical knowledge, etc. Earlier on I heard DJ listening to classical music...

Yesterday we learned a bit about HAARP and enjoyed Spamalot's behind-the-scenes at the South Bank Show. We love comedy - DJ has recently discovered Ben Elton and never misses Mock The Week - here you have the panel discussing the latest educational proposals:

From Comedy To Tragedy: Bullied Giggles hanged himself
BULLIED Ben Vodden hugged his mum, said "I'm sorry" then went to his bedroom and hanged himself. The happy-go-lucky 11-year-old had only started secondary school in September, but school bus bullies stopped him seeing Christmas.

Today's Quote - Jill Kirby
"In the guise of a caring, child-centred administration, this Government is making a radical change in the balance of authority between parents, children and the state. It is nationalising the upbringing of children."

Today's Links
Sir George launches debate on Home Education
Learning at home

I'm an anomaly

From Action 4 Home Education's "I'm an Anomaly" Campaign.
Download Knowledge is power.pdf
Download homeedflyerpdf.pdf
Download homeedflyer3.doc

Saturday, February 10, 2007

On The News

Terror alert school is shut down "In the past three years more than 45 independent schools have shut down as a consequence of this government's tough approach" Jim Knight, Schools Minister

Whose classroom curriculum is it? "... this ministerial intervention was not welcome at the QCA because the government's stress on compulsion runs completely counter to the message it was trying to give: that there is no "one size fits all" curriculum and schools should have greater flexibility to adapt and design their own curriculum.
This is part of the wider drive towards what is called "personalised learning". Yet, insisting that every pupil studies certain topics contradicts the notion of an individually tailored curriculum."

School puts CCTV in toilets to beat bullies Deputy head said: "They've definitely proved their worth because pupils know they're being watched 24 hours a day."

3,500 schools now use finger print scanners in 'Big Brother state by stealth' As many as 3,500 schools are taking fingerprints from pupils, often without their parents' permission, a new poll revealed yesterday. Soaring numbers require pupils to undergo biometric identity checks before they can register in the mornings, buy canteen meals and use the library.

Leading surveillance societies

John Gatto

"The people who compiled the National Curriculum seem to have a clear idea of what knowledge is worth having. I do not know how they arrived at it. Probably they assumed that the knowledge they happened to possess was valuable because it was theirs, and by making children struggle to learn it they could impose upon the next generation the broad scheme of values they themselves cherished. These people seem to believe that nothing has educational value unless it leads to a test of some sort, designed to prove that the pupil has at least been made to submit to the study of this supposedly 'valuable' knowledge. The pleasure of adding to one's understanding, satisfying one's curiosity or simply doing something enjoyable have no place in their model of education" Chris Shute, in Compulsory Schooling Disease - How children absorb fascist values

On The News: Huge majority say civil liberty curbs a 'price worth paying' to fight terror - Read it here.

Friday, February 09, 2007

We're One!

Today's Quote
"Real education has to draw out the best from the boys and girls to be educated. This can never be done by packing ill-assorted and unwanted information into the heads of the pupils. It becomes a dead weight crushing all originality in them and turning them into mere automata." Gandhi

Happy birthday to us!!!
We've been Home-educating for 1 year today!

History: Today we've been learning about the History of Inquisition: middle ages, Catholic Church, heresy, Cathars, etc

ICT & Citizenship: we talked about the use and misuse of data by looking at the large-scale use of data by commercial organisations. We watched parts of a video about how digital technology is being used by big business to collate personal information without informing consumers and the implications for individuals when things go wrong e.g. data theft, identity theft, invasion of privacy, etc. This topic seems to be covered by the NC - check this scheme of work.

On The News
Boy, 15, Let Off School To Run Website

Today's Links
MP's on HE
French Victory
AMN Blog
A tragic story of misunderstanding

Hands Up 4 Home Ed!

We're joining the campaign! Make sure you join in too! More info here.

Today's Quote

"It is a gross superstition to suppose that knowledge can be obtained only by going to schools and colleges. The world produced brilliant students before schools and colleges came into being. There is nothing so ennobling or lasting as self-study. Schools and colleges make most of us mere receptacles for holding the superfluities of knowledge. Wheat is left out and mere husk is taken in. I do not wish to decry schools and colleges as such. They have their use. But we are making altogether too much of them. They are but one of the many means of gaining knowledge."

Today's Links
Art Games
Maths Games
Springwatch Pack
UK Campaigns Calendar

Thursday, February 08, 2007


History: Finding out about the Ku Klux Klan

On The News
Teacher jailed for pupil affairs

Bullying: The lies that led to death and devastation

Today's Quotes
Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds. The latter cannot understand it when a [person] does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses their intelligence. Einstein

Teenagers are people who act like babies if they're not treated like adults. Unknown

Today's Link: Hand Up 4 Home Ed

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Maths: The Story of 1 - more info here.
We then looked at numbers and statistics, and how people and organizations skew them.

Today's Quotes

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. Disraeli

The average human has one breast and one testicle. Des McHale

Stuff I want to read whenever I find the time...
Too Cool for School
EO's Response To The Scottish Executive Consultation Draft Guidance On The Circumstances In Which Parents May Choose to Educate Their Children At Home - here

Monday, February 05, 2007

Bits & bobs

DJ spent a little time on Brainpop looking into
Social Studies - War (Quiz 10/10) & Chocolate (Quiz 9/10)
History: We watched Robert Newman's History of Oil stand up act and Nuclear Secrets, about Mordechai Vanunu, a nuclear technician at a clandestine nuclear weapons program. He was sentenced as a spy to 18 years in prison, where he wrote this poem:

I am the clerk, the technician, the mechanic, the driver.
They said, Do this, do that,
don’t look left or right, don’t read the text.
Don’t look at the whole machine.
You are only responsible for this one bolt.
For this one rubber-stamp.
This is your only concern.
Don’t bother with what is above you.
Don’t try to think for us. Go on, drive. Keep going. On, on.
So they thought, the big ones,
the smart ones, the futurologists.
There is nothing to fear. Not to worry.
Everything is ticking just fine.

Our little clerk is a diligent worker.
He’s a simple mechanic. He’s a little man.
Little men’s ears don’t hear, their eyes don’t see.
We have heads, they don’t
Answer them, said he to himself, said the little man,
the man with a head of his own.
Who is in charge? Who knows where this train is going?
Where is their head? I too have a head.
Why do I see the whole engine.
Why do I see the precipice —
is there a driver on this train?

The clerk driver technician mechanic looked up.
He stepped back and saw — what a monster.
Can’t believe it. Rubbed his eyes and — yes,
it’s there all right. I’m all right.
I do see the monster. I’m part of the system. I signed this form.
Only now I am reading the rest of it.
This bolt is part of a bomb. This bolt is me.
How did I fail to see, and how do the others go on fitting bolts.
Who else knows? Who has seen? Who has heard —
The emperor really is naked.
I see him. Why me? It’s not for me. It’s too big.

Rise and cry out. Rise and tell the people. You can.
I, the bolt, the technician, mechanic — Yes, you.
You are the secret agent of the people.
You are the eyes of the nation.
Agent-spy, tell us what you’ve seen.
Tell us what the insiders, the clever ones, have hidden from us.
Without you, there is only the precipice. Only catastrophe.

I have no choice. I’m a little man, a citizen,
one of the people, but I’ll do what I have to.
I’ve heard the voice of my conscience
and there is nowhere to hide.
The world is small, small for Big Brother.
I’m your mission. I’m doing my duty. Take it from me.
Come and see for yourselves. Lighten my burden.
Stop the train. Get off the train.
The next stop — nuclear disaster.
The next book, the next machine. No.
There is no such thing.

If you're interested in this story, you can watch
Israel's Secret Weapon online.

Today's Quotes

And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps. H.L. Mencken

A general state education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another; and (...) the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the dominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, an aristocracy, or a majority of the existing generation... John Stuart Mill

On the news
I'm left wondering what's the real agenda behind articles like these...
My school is like a war-zone
Attacks on teachers 'every day'
Bad parents 'should be punished'

Today's Links
Freedom for Children to Grow
Hands Up 4 Home Ed
Have you waved your hands 4 home ed?

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Near Box...

Today's Quote - Jan Fortune-Wood
If schooling is provided by the state, whose interests does it serve?
Is 'free' schooling really free, or does the apparent freedom mask a range of hidden costs over which consumers of education have very little control?

There is a lot of misery being inflicted on children in order to get them to conform to certain educational agendas. There is an enormous rise in medical, psychological and civil liberty intervention into children's lives and families under the guise of education. Conformity has a high price tag and the emotional costs of bullying and labelling which often accompany school experiences may prove too expensive to both individuality and free society. I am also concerned with how parents and children are deskilled in favour of 'experts'. I want to argue that the cult of expert teachers should be replaced by a culture of mentors and resources.

Watch this: What are we teaching our children?

Scary News
Police take home-taught student to psych ward - the latest horror story to come out of Germany, where homeschooling was placed under a ban by Adolf Hitler and der Fuhrer's law still is enforced.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


Beautiful blue sky today...

Most of today's links are short animations.
We hope you'll enjoy them as much as we did!
Home Sweet Home
Planet of Peril, Planet of Promise
Mole's Dream
Sense of Self
1/10,000 of a second
Is humanity growing up?
Transition Town Lewes
Lots more here.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Top Corporations

Today we found out that,
comparing corporate sales and country GDPs,*
Of the 100 largest economies in the world,
51 are corporations
only 49 are countries

General Motors is bigger than Denmark
Daimler Chrysler is bigger than Poland
Mitsubishi is bigger than Portugal
Shell is bigger than Venezuela
IBM is bigger than Singapore
Sony is bigger than Pakistan

The 1999 sales of each of the top 5 corporations
are bigger than the GDP’s of 182 countries.

from Top 200: The Rise of Corporate Power

GDP = Gross Domestic Product per capita = "The total value of goods and services produced by a country, divided by its population." It's used as an indicator of wealth despite hiding differences in wealth within a country.


Last night we decided to watch Water, Our Life, Our Hope! The film, which looks at water privatisation, covers quite a lot of KS3 Geography:

1) Environmental and resource issues - water; facts about world water; water supplies (e.g. rivers, wells/aquifers); water shortages - Did you know that 1.1 billion people worldwide lack water for their daily needs and that 2.2 million people die each year from diseases related to contaminated drinking water and poor sanitation. More water facts & figures here.

2) Economic activities - Farming in South America; international trade, transnational corporations, debt. Commercial farming and the environment: pesticides and fertilisers causing pollution and affecting wildlife and people; water pollution e.g. toxic chemicals being released into rivers; land pollution e.g. contaminated soils; negative impact of tourism e.g. unequal water distribution and damage to ecosystems.

3) Weather and climate - how the water cycle works; what causes rain; people and the water cycle (how our survival depends on fresh water and how people modify the cycle to get water for industry, farming and people - e.g. by building dams).

4) Geographical enquiry and skills - the film used pie charts and we looked at the atlas to find the precise location of the various countries mentioned.

5) Ecosystems - how people modify ecosystems: how transnational companies add nutrients e.g. fertilisers to ecosystems.

TODAY we're continuing with the water theme

ICT: DJ just taught me how to embed videos into this blog - I LOVE it when he teaches me things!!! - so I'm adding this 17mns film exploring the global water crisis. The film is called
'Dirty Aid, Dirty Water'.

And here you have some shorter Water Videos we've been using and talking about:
Water for Life
Water Warriors

Later in the afternoon we moved on to Energy Sources with What are we waiting for?

Thursday, February 01, 2007


My friend J's painting...

Business Studies
We've watched & discussed the last chapters of The Corporation

1) the link between transnational corporations and tyrannical governments

"I think one of the greatest untold stories of the twentieth century is the collusion between corporations—especially in America—and Nazi Germany. First in terms of how the corporations from America, helped to essentially rebuild Germany and support the early Nazi regime. And then, when the war broke out, figured out a way to keep everything going." Michael Moore

2) corporations and governments

"Corporations have gone global. And by going global, the governments have lost some control over corporations. Governments today do not have over the corporations the power that they had 50 or 60 years ago. And that’s a major change. So, governments have become powerless compared to what they were before."
Sam Gibara, Chairman, Former CEO, Goodyear

"Capitalism today commands the towering heights, and has displaced politics and politicians as the new high priests, and reigning oligarchs of our system. So, capitalism and its principle protagonists and players, corporate CEOs, have been accorded unusual power and access... these are the new high priests." Ira Jackson, Director, Center for Business & Government, Kennedy School, Harvard

3) Issues around Selling The Commons
natural resources (water, land, air, food, etc)
services(education, health, media, police, etc)
patenting of genes and lifeforms, including the human gene pool
agricultural biotech industry and genetically modified foods

"Over the past decade we have been gaining ground. And when I say we, I mean ordinary people committed to the welfare of all humanity. All people irrespective of gender and class and race and religion. All species on the planet. We managed to take the biggest government and one of the largest chemical companies to court on the case of neem. And win a case against them. We won because we worked together."

"Fifteen corporations would like to control the conditions of our life, and
millions of people are saying not only do we not need you we can do it better. We are going to create systems that nourish the earth and nourish human beings. And these are not marginal experiments they are the mainstay of large numbers of communities across the world. That is where the future lies." Dr. Vandana Shiva, Physicist & ecologist

Today's Links

Vandana Shiva - Corporate Rule
Vandana Shiva - Food Laws
Whose Freedom? Which Freedom?