Saturday, June 30, 2007

Education Quotes

The following quotes are from Daisaku Ikeda,
a Buddhist philosopher, educator, writer and poet:

Education must be based on the fundamental rhythm of life itself - the wish to grow, to extend oneself, to break out of one's shell. It cannot be authoritarian; it must seek to enhance a person's progress with his agreement and to his satisfaction.

The genuine goal of education must be the life-long happiness of those who learn. Education should never be subordinated to the demands of national ego, or of corporations searching for profit-generating employees. Human beings, human happiness, must always be the goal and objective.

Knowledge itself is a neutral tool that can be used for good or evil. Wisdom, in contrast, always directs us toward happiness. The task of education must be to stimulate and unleash the wisdom that lies dormant in the lives of all young people. This is not a forced process, like pressing something into a preformed mold, but rather drawing out the potential which exists within.

Education should not be based on or limited by a nationalist agenda. Education must cultivate the wisdom to reject and resist violence in all its forms. It must foster people who intuitively understand and know-in their mind, in their heart, with their entire being-the irreplaceable value of human beings and the natural world. I believe such education embodies the timeless struggle of human civilization to create an unerring path to peace.

The task of education must be fundamentally to ensure that knowledge serves to further the cause of human happiness and peace.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Messing about

More photos

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Loving Kindness

[from amtbweb]

Monday, June 25, 2007

Jean Jacques Rousseau

[what follows is from Rousseau's Emile, or On Education, Book III]

We are never able to put ourselves in the child's place, we fail to enter into his thoughts, we invest him with our own ideas, and while we are following our own chain of reasoning, we merely fill his head with errors and absurdities.

[612:] Let the child do nothing on anyone's word. Nothing is good for him but what he recognises as good. By always pushing him beyond his present enlightenment, you believe you are exercising a foresight which you really lack. To arm him with a few vain tools which he may never use, you deprive him of man's most universal tool -- common-sense. You accustom him to being always led, of never being anything but a machine in the hands of others. You wish him to be docile when he is little; that is to wish that he will be gullible and easily duped when he grows up. You ceaselessly tell him, "What I ask is for your good, though you cannot understand it. What does it matter to me whether you do what I'm asking or not? It is for you alone that I am making this effort." With all these fine speeches you give him now to make him wise, you are paving the way for a fortune-teller, pied-piper, quack, imposter, or some kind of crazy person to catch him in his snare or draw him into his folly.

[613:] A man must know many things which seem useless to a child, but need the child learn, or can he indeed learn, all that the man must know? Try to teach the child everything that is useful to his age and you will find that his time will be well filled. Why impose on him the studies of an age he may never reach while neglecting those studies which are right for him today? But, you ask, will there be time for him to learn what he ought to know when the time comes to use it? I do not know; but this I do know, that it is impossible to teach it sooner, for our real teachers are experience and feeling.

[618:] In the first place you must realize that it is rarely up to you to propose what he ought to learn. It is for him to desire it, to seek it, and to find it -- to you to put it within reach, to skilfully give birth to this desire, and to furnish him with the means of satisfying it.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Plato's Republic

[extract from Book VII]

And, therefore, calculation and geometry and all the other elements of instruction, which are a preparation for dialectic, should be presented to the mind in childhood; not, however, under any notion of forcing our system of education.

Why not?

Because a freeman ought not to be a slave in the acquisition of knowledge of any kind. Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.

Very true.

Then, my good friend, I said, do not use compulsion, but let early education be a sort of amusement; you will then be better able to find out the natural bent.

That is a very rational notion, he said.


War is sell
Did You Know II
Education's hidden messages

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Democratic education

[Also here]

Photo & Quote

[Corsham: Alms Houses]

Today's quote: Kahlil Gibran

'Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry,
the philosophy which does not laugh
and the greatness which does not bow before children'

On the news: Teacher jailed for sex with pupil

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Another slide show

Painting classes at the local college


Today I heard that another home educating mum was arrested in Germany. It's sickening... and sad...

When I decided to home educate I was merely driven by the desire to provide a non-harmful learning environment. That was all I was concerned about, after realising what most people from the teaching and caring professions don't seem to; that "school is one of the most challenging environments for children with ASDs" and that "the sheer number of pupils and the consequent additional noise and confusion in secondary schools can make this a very difficult environment." At least I had become aware that children with ASDs are "expected to fit into existing routines and structures... with distressing results..." [G.Jones]

When I first embarked on this home-educating journey, I didn't realise that I'd come to question the whole idea of state controlled compulsory education. I was too busy dealing with the "distressing results" of schooling. That I hadn't questioned it before shows how well the unwritten curriculum works.

Education, education, education!
The answer for all things!
Education, education, education!
The new holy cow, complete with blind-faith and all!
Education, education, education!
The Education Emperor Has No Clothes

I also didn't fully realise the political dimension of claiming the right to educate my child. In Germany, where home education is illegal, this political dimension is very clear, making it easier to see how "the rights of parents and of the state are in conflict with each other." [T.Spiegler]

Here I am, 16 months into home-education, not only questioning the whole idea of state controlled compulsory education but also government's authority to interfere in private life. I'm also becoming aware of how these two are interconnected.

In England, "the setting up of a compulsory education system [from 1881] was a landmark in the development of the state's role in the life of the individual. [...] At these initial stages, that relationship was one that encouraged the freedom of the citizen... As any state develops, this must remain the standard by which further intervention is measured. If it increases the freedoms of the people and improves their lives, it is acceptable. If, however, it merely imposes unnecessary restrictions on the lives of individuals, it is unacceptable." [R.Huntington, The Nanny State]

I'm also realising how education has been, and continues to be, used for all sorts of different purposes. Waking up to worldly reality can be painful process. Despite the pain that arises from letting go of denial and facing the unsatisfactoriness of the way things are, I still thrive on finding things out, accessing new information, coming across new ideas, playing with them and gaining new insights... Of course, I love it because I am in control of the process in the sense that I'm able to choose what to learn, where to learn, when to learn, how to learn and so on.

However, I'm not so sure about education any more. I really don't know what people mean by it because they might mean all sorts of things, even mutually exclusive things. There's always the possibility that they might be using the word deceitfully, giving the impression that they mean one thing when actually they mean another.

It's kinda freaky to think that there's people out there sitting around tables deciding what kind of human capital is required for their new global economy; designing strategies and implementation plans [like raising the compulsory education age to 18 and introducing new training programs], in order to "supply businesses with the skilled workers that they require," all in name of our children's well-being.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Slide show

I'm just trying this out to see if it works.
Home-educators development week
Monkton Wyld (March 2007)

Day trip to Lyme Regis (March 2007)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

River photo

"Solitude shows us what should be; society shows us what we are."
Robert Cecil

Education in England

While exploring the origins of compulsory education I came across Derek Gillard's website,Education in England. If you're interested, here's a little taster:

"The philosophy of this government seems to me to be based on the utilitarian view that the child is a unit to be prepared for a life of work, that the child has no individuality of his/her own." - Gillard D. (1992)

Elsewhere he points out Tony Blair's argument: 'Education throughout life is central to our economic and social policy'. A similar argument was behind the Foster Act of 1870, which made education compulsory: 'upon the speedy provision of elementary education depends our industrial prosperity'. This type of thinking results in redefining education as preparation for work, as a tool for shaping attitudes and behaviours; e.g. by enforcing 'habits of regularity, "self-discipline", obedience, and trained effort'. (Williams 1965)"

Government propaganda tells us: "the undeniable truth is that if a young person continues their education post-16 they are more likely to achieve valuable qualifications, earn more, and lead happier, healthier lives." [here p.7]

How can a mere likelihood ever be an undeniable truth? I agree that all things arise due to causes and conditions, but compulsory education, post or pre 16, is obviously NOT the cause of health and happiness, nor necessarily of higher earnings. The undeniable truth is that, for many children, forced schooling is the main cause of suffering in their lives; well, at least enough to lead them to suicide.

Sabrina Broadbent, an English teacher, sees it first hand: "Frightened, tearful and exhausted, my students are ground down by the pressure to succeed. We must reform this cruel education system.... the pressure, the endless exhortations to succeed ... when I asked how school made them feel, they complained that at the end of the week they felt hopeless, exhausted, flat.... Schools have become like factories: productivity may have gone up, but at what human cost?"

I think this cartoon shows us the kind of happiness and physical well-being government and corporate power really want for our children.

Before you leave, make sure you check out today's link:
What If...? by Ian Gilbert

Today's quote

It is the duty of a citizen in a free country not to fit into society, but to make society. - John Holt

Monday, June 18, 2007

Photo & Quotes

Rivers know this: there is no hurry.

A. A. Milne
[Pooh's Little Instruction Book]

Education Politics

Those intent on raising the compulsory school age to 18 use, as one of their arguments, the nonsensical idea that "compulsory schooling lowers the likelihood of committing crime or going to prison". This argument is not new - in fact, it has been used to support the very establishment of state controlled mass compulsory schooling.

Many voices have argued the contrary; here's just a few:

"For all the propaganda about the inexhaustible benefits of an ever expanding educational estate, it is at times nearer the truth to identify education as linked to insurrection and disorder. In Britain, for example, the huge expansion in secondary education has gone hand in hand with an equally significant increase in juvenile crime. At best the former did not prevent the latter. In my view, on the contrary, it fuelled it."
[D.O'Keeffe Compulsory Education: An Oxymoron of Modernity]

[State] schools... do not tend to reduce crime. There is even tentative evidence of reverse causality: juvenile crime actually increases with an increase in size of the [state] school sector. [Edwin G. West, 1980]

"It is strange that as education spreads and poverty decreases, juvenile crime should steadily rise." [The Times Educational Supplement, 1963]

"There is a growing body of opinion which believes that our educational system must bear its share of responsibility for many of the problems of behavior, which show themselves in juvenile delinquency and vandalism." [W.Singer, Ulster Teachers' Union President, 1965, seen here]

If we go back to the origins of compulsory education, we might get a better idea of other possible reasons - other than crime reduction - for its establishment.

Adam Smith was an influential figure who held that "the State had every right, not only to take over education as a state function but also to make it compulsory." In his book Wealth of Nations (1776), he argued that it "was a matter of state interest that "the inferior ranks of the people" be instructed to make them socially useful and to render them "less apt to be misled into any wanton or unnecessary opposition to measures of government."

David Botsford explains it flat out: "The purpose of compulsory state schooling was and is to shape the individual’s attitudes, perceptions, conditioned reflexes and entire psychology in such a way as to make him or her a useful tool of the political authorities, a tool whom those authorities can manipulate and control by means of propaganda in adult life."

This is his ending paragraph: "George Orwell’s classic story Animal Farm, in which the pigs gradually, by a series of almost imperceptible steps, established a tyranny on the farm while claiming that they were acting for the benefit of the animals there, could have been written as a history of the British educational system over the past 160 years. Truly the price of liberty is eternal vigilance."

Before I finish, I just want to go back to Adam Smith, who also said:
"No discipline is ever requisite to force attendance upon lectures which are really worth the attending, as is well known wherever any such lectures are given."

Our 'democratic' politicians, who want to force people old enough to leave home, get a full time job, pay taxes, raise children and join the army into an extra two-year sentence of enforced schooling, must be very aware that whatever 'education' they're planning to offer isn't worth the attending - hence the need to introduce an enforcement system with the power to penalise and criminalise innocent young people and their parents.

Raising expectations makes it clear that parents will be expected to "encourage and facilitate their child’s participation, and if there is evidence that a parent of a young person is helping them to break to law it should be possible to hold them accountable as well."

What's the message here? That parents, despite their children being old enough to leave home, get a full time job, pay taxes, raise children and join the army, are responsible for their children's decisions? That young citizens don't belong to themselves but to the state? That, should they decide to pursue their education otherwise, their parents should become agents of the state?

This is not about learning, it is about control. This is not about the needs of our children but the desires of the few. This is not about social justice but about maintaining and increasing corporate power. This is not about social justice; it's about further eroding our children's freedoms and opportunities.

It's about using 'educational qualifications' as tools for discrimination. It's about narrowing the meaning and purpose of education, reducing it to an offensive, demeaning, abusive, coercive system whose function is not to create healthy and happy individuals but obedient little cogs in a rotten, unsustainable machine.

Not only it redefines education to something that happens only in prescribed settings but also redefines the purpose of our children's existence - no options but to become a rat; or a criminal, if you dare have other plans...

I wonder how they're planning to 'encourage' children with diffabilities... Let's not even mention young entrepreneurs, the future Richard Bransons...

Related links
Raising expectations
What Effect Does School Attendance Have on the Crime Rate?

Home Ed Politics

In the USA, "Senator Bruce Starr defends the right to homeschool and the success of homeschooling."

Today's quote
I remind you that what is right for systems is often wrong for human beings. Translated into a recommendation, that means that... we must be prepared to insult systems for the convenience of humanity, not the other way around. - J.T.Gatto

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Free from school
Education e-books
The History of Education by Ellwood P. Cubberley
Democracy and Education by Dewey
What's wrong with the world - G. K. Chesterton, 1874-1936

Here's a taster of Chesterton, from part 4:

"There are no uneducated people. Anyone will tell you that the trouble with the poor is not so much that the old are still foolish, but rather that the young are already wise.

Without going to school at all, the gutter-boy would be educated. Without going to school at all, he would be over-educated. You will hear venerable idealists declare we must make war on the ignorance of the poor; but, indeed, we have rather to make war on their knowledge.
Real educationists have to resist a kind of roaring cataract of culture. The truant is being taught all day. If the children do not look at the large letters in the spelling-book, they need only walk outside and look at the large letters on the poster. If they do not care for the colored maps provided by the school, they can gape at the colored maps provided by the Daily Mail. If they will not work so as to get a prize from their school, they may work to get a prize from Prizy Bits. If they cannot learn enough about law and citizenship to please the teacher, they learn enough about them to avoid the policeman. If they will not learn history forwards from the right end in the history books, they will learn it backwards from the wrong end in the party newspapers.

And this is the tragedy of the whole affair: that the London poor, a particularly quick-witted and civilized class, learn everything tail foremost, learn even what is right in the way of what is wrong. They do not see the first principles of law in a law book; they only see its last results in the police news. They do not see the truths of politics in a general survey. They only see the lies of politics, at a General Election.

I will not question that our elementary education is better than barbaric ignorance. But there is no barbaric ignorance. I do not doubt that our schools would be good for uninstructed boys. But there are no uninstructed boys."

On The News

Schools to select pupils by lottery
Right at the end: "Schools 4 Communities, a protest group in Brighton opposed to the new system, now plans to mount a legal challenge. If that fails, members of the group who cannot afford to go private say they will consider joining together to provide home education."

Now education really IS a lottery
Right at the end: "Other parents are planning joint home education. A police officer told me: "My neighbours and I can't afford private schools but we can probably cover most subjects between us. We're not sending our children to a bad school and that's it."

A poem

If I Had My Child to Raise Over Again

If I had my child to raise all over again,
I'd finger-paint more and point the finger less.
I'd do less correcting and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I would care to know less and know to care more.
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I'd run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging and less tugging.
I would be firm less often, and affirm much more.
I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I'd teach less about the love of power,
And more about the power of love.

— Diane Loomans
Full Esteem Ahead, 100 Ways to Build Self-Esteem in Children & Adults, © 1994

Corsham photos

Saturday, June 16, 2007

"Inclusion" as abuse

[one of many great cartoons from gaping void]

I just came across another online petition: "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Abolish the concept of Inclusive Education."

Pat Smith, the Petition Creator, explains: "My Asperger child was both failed and damaged by the UK education system. Every day, thousands of children with autism / aspergers syndrome are being put through hell by being "included", just to save the government money. Statements are not worth the paper they are written on. Abolish Inclusive Education Now. Fund specialist units instead."

Read: The Cost of Inclusion

What follows is an excerpt of Chapter 5, The Impact on Pupils:

Parents’ criticisms were... at systems and structures which were simply not equipped to deal with the kinds of needs and demands these children and young people brought with them. Some of these may be depicted as pace, speed and fragmentation of the secondary school day, differing pedagogies and subject demands, inconsistencies among teachers, communication flow and information exchange within and between schools, and resourcing to meet differing individual needs.

Pace and speed of the secondary school day

Pupils and teachers spoke about the speed and ‘urgency’ of a secondary school day, bells directing pupils and teachers to the next in the series of lessons, moving rapidly down crowded corridors to reach the next learning episode, getting books out quickly, settling down, maintaining a pace and variety in the three/four part lesson, an impatience to cover the ground, keeping to task and achievement of objectives with the spectre of testing ever present in the background.

The secondary school day, fragmented into periods with rapid switches of subject and teacher, in which a child finds herself working with different class group from one period to the next requires constant psychological and social adjustment. Each new situation and subject demands new adjustments and behaviours to be learned, which have not been provided for in the familiar routines and comfort zones of the primary school. Many pupils simply become ‘lost’, sometimes physically but often in a psychological sense, disorientated by the logic, or illogic, of what they were expected to do.

In a secondary school in which a child meets with ten or more teachers in the course of a week it is impossible to expect a consistency of treatment or relationships with a class. Teachers have their own classroom management routines, their own personalities and idiosyncrasies, their own standards and expectations and the disciplines of their own subject which cover a spectrum from mathematics and science to art, music and drama. The onus generally falls on the child to make the adjustment and learn to live with rapidly shifting social norms – a bridge too far for many children.


In a secondary school children encounter a much wider range of teaching and learning styles than in the primary. Classroom layouts differ from subject to subject reflecting different teaching approaches. Teacher exposition is more common in some subjects in which children quickly get lost in the flow of the narrative or try to concentrate on a TA sitting beside them, mediating and translating the rapid flow of words and ideas. Paired or group work presents other kinds of challenges to the peer group. Video, use of interactive whiteboard, experiments in science, coping with activities in P.E., all demand a flexibility, an ability to cope with diversity and the constantly unexpected.


Few secondary schools are equipped with the special resources that would be available in a special school or in a primary school equipped to deal with special needs.


The flow of information about children’s needs is in part a function of size, in part down to management and monitoring and the ability of numerous staff to translate information about special needs into strategy and practice. This is often in a context of a high staff turnover and temporary supply teaching. It is easy for children to slip through the safety net when all staff are not fully conversant with special needs, the myriad ways in which they may express themselves, and the critical do’s and don’ts in addressing them.

The peer group
Most challenging of all for young people in moving to the secondary school environment is the volatility and unpredictability of new constellations of peers, some understanding and sympathetic, some hostile, requiring a sophisticated reading and coming to terms with different personalities and group norms. For young people on
the Autistic spectrum this is particularly bewildering as they cannot interpret the underlying intent in social behaviour or the nuances in humour, irony or teasing by young people who do not understand, or constantly misinterpret, their response. With the best will in the world it is unrealistic to expect secondary school pupils to look after’ and ‘hang out with’ another pupil in their class who, although is at the same chronological age, becomes increasingly distanced as the developmental age difference increases.

Watch Online
School Matters: SEN Inclusion [30mns video]
Every Child Matters [30mns video]

Jail terms for school abuse pair
'Up to 40 staff' abused children
"As many as 40 care workers abused children at an Ayrshire school for vulnerable youngsters, a report claims."

O abuso da "integração"

Pat Smith: “O meu filho com síndrome de Asperger foi falhado e danificado pelo sistema de educação britanico. Diariamente, milhares de crianças com autismo ou síndrome de Asperger passam pelo inferno de serem “incluídas”, apenas para poupar dinheiro ao governo."

O que se segue é um excerpto de um estudo entitulado O Custo da Integração; e parte do capítulo 5, O Impacto nos Alunos:

Os criticismos dos pais era que os sistemas e as estruturas simplesmente não estão equipados para lidar com os tipos de necessidades que estas crianças e jovens trazem consigo. Alguns destes criticismos podem ser descritos como:

Ritmo e velocidade da escola secundária

Os alunos e os professores falam sobre a urgência e a velocidade na rotina quotidiana da escola secundária, com campaínhas dirigindo os alunos e os professores às aulas seguintes, apressando-se rapidamente pelos corredores aglomerados para chegarem ao episódio seguinte de aprendizagem, tirando os livros rapidamente para fora, sentando-se e preparando-se para o ritmo e variedade do conteúdo da lição, cobrindo a matéria impacientemente, concentrando-se na tarefa e na realização dos objetivos com o fantasma dos testes sempre presente.

O dia da escola secundária, fragmentado em períodos com mudancas rápidas de matéria e de professor, em que as crianças se encontram a trabalhar com grupos diferentes em cada aula, requer um constante ajuste psicológico e social. Cada nova situação requer novos ajustes e novos comportamentos de acordo com as diferentes disciplinas. Muitos alunos sentem-se `perdidos' psicologicamente, desorientados pela lógica, ou falta de lógica, daquilo que esperam deles.

Na escola secundária, em que a criança se encontra com dez ou mais professores no curso de uma semana, é impossível esperar-se uma consistência no tratamento ou nos relacionamentos com uma classe. Os professores têm suas próprias rotinas de manter a ordem na sala de aula, as suas próprias personalidades e idiosincrasias, os seus próprios hábitos e expectativas e as disciplinas que ensinam cobrem uma gama que vai da matemática e da ciência à arte, à música e ao drama. O onus cai geralmente na criança para fazer este ajuste.

Friday, June 15, 2007


Cartoon © Phi Delta Kappan [as seen here]

Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper social order and the securing of the right social growth. - John Dewey (1897)

[Schools should be factories] "in which raw products, children, are to be shaped and formed into finished products...manufactured like nails, and the specifications for manufacturing will come from government and industry." - Elwood Cubberly, Dean of Education at Stanford (1905)

In our dreams...people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple...we will organize children...and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way. - Statement by the Rockefeller Education Board (1906)

Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual. - William Torrey Harris, US Commissioner of Education (1889-1906)


Cada professor deve compreender que ele é um agente do estado empregado para a manutenção da adequada ordem social e para assegurar o correto desenvolvimento social. - John Dewey (1897)

[As escolas devem ser fábricas] “onde produtos naturais, as crianças, devem ser moldadas e transformadas em certos productos… manufaturadas como pregos, e as especificações para a manufactura vêm do governo e da indústria.” - Elwood Cubberly (1905)

Nos nossos sonhos… as pessoas submetem-se a si próprias com perfeita docilidade às nossas mãos moldadoras. As convenções educacionais actuais [educação intelectual e de carácter] desaparecem nas nossas mentes e, livres da tradição, trabalhamos a nossa vontade sobre um povo grato e responsivo. Não tentaremos fazer destas pessoas, nem das suas crianças, filósofos, homens de aprendizagem ou homens de ciência. Não tentaremos fazer deles autores, educadores, poetas ou homens de letras. Não procuraremos encontrar, entre eles, o embrião de grandes artistas, pintores, músicos, nem de grandes advogados, doutores, pregadores, políticos, homens do estado, de quem temos uma ampla fonte. A tarefa que temos diante de nós é muito simples… organizarmos as crianças… e ensiná-las a fazer de uma maneira perfeita as coisas que os seus pais e mães fizeram de uma maneira imperfeita. - Visão do Conselho de Educação Rockefeller (1906)

Noventa e nove [estudantes] em cada cem são autômatos, cuidadosos de percorrer os caminhos prescritos, cuidadosos de seguir os costumes prescritos. Isto não é um acidente mas o resultado de uma quantidade enorme de educação que, definida cientificamente, é o processo de subordinação do indivíduo. - William Torrey Harris, comissário de educação dos E.U.(1889-1906)

AS on the news

Josiah celebrates dance victories
Unbearable sound of pealing potatoes

Thursday, June 14, 2007

LEA Inspection

Over and done with. The ex-Ofsted inspector seemed to have some understanding of the advantages of home education.

We met at the local library, just me and him - DJ didn't want to go and I didn't pressure him - no comments about his absence were made. I had booked an hour on the internet as I had all my 'evidence' online. The systems went down after a few minutes - fortunately, he was happy with what he saw.

I then asked about the LA's attitude towards home-ed in general and this led to an interesting chat about possible changes in the way we are monitored, how the 5 every child matters outcomes relate to education and the move towards raising compulsory education to 18 from 2013.

He reckons I have nothing to worry about, now or in the future.


Education is a weapon, whose effect depends on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed. – Joseph Stalin

Schools have not necessarily much to do with education... they are mainly institutions of control, where basic habits must be inculcated in the young. Education is quite different and has little place in school. - Winston Churchill

Wherever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education. It has been discovered that the best way to insure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery. - Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister (1874)


A instrução é uma arma, cujo efeito depende de quem a segura nas suas mãos e a quem é apontada. - Joseph Stalin

As escolas não estão necessariamente relacionadas com a educação… elas são principalmente instituições de controlo, aonde certos hábitos são impostos aos jovens. A educação é algo completamente diferente e tem pouco lugar nas escolas. - Winston Churchill

Today's video: I have to get ready

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Watch online

George Orwell's Animal Farm

Out from animals

Another YouTube video, this time Out From Animals.
You can sing along: lyrics below.

I Never Let My Schooling Interfere With My Education

Value, respect and meaning learnt for equality. It doesn’t cost them much to teach my child to read. Schooling and education have a deviating means. My education’s not the same as my academy.

Dictate and talk about it, don’t make a chore of knowledge. Literacy and numeracy are relevant to everybody. A child will learn by aptitude (it’s) not a empty vessel to be filled. Teach me how not what so I can define and adjust my views.

It’s how I learnt not what I learned.

What need of institution? Do you tell your children twice? What need of force to induce a child to read and write? If they’re leaving school able to live happy and peaceful lives who cares if they can solve x+1=y?

Talking with people instead them talking to me.

Other video links

White Under-Achievement - 1 of 3
White Under-Achievement - 2 of 3
White Under Achievement 3 of 3
Who Controls Our Children?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Nothing lasts forever.

My computer died...

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Home Ed Politics

The following was found at they work for you. This got me wondering whether having citizens who can actually see what's going would be something politicians would be interested in or whether they'd prefer them blinded to the truth... Anyway, here it goes:

Health Eyesight: Testing - written answers on 6 Jun 2007

John Baron (Billericay, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether children in full time education being educated at home have the same rights to (a) free NHS sight tests and (b) vouchers to cover other costs of ophthalmology as children in full-time education being educated in institutions; what guidance she has issued to (i) opticians and (ii) local authorities to reflect these entitlements; and what evidence must be accepted as proof of a child being in full-time education at home.

Rosie Winterton
(Minister of State, Department of Health) - holding answer 4 June 2007

All children under the age of 16 are entitled to national health service sight tests and vouchers for optical appliances, as are children aged 16, 17 and 18 who are being educated full-time in a recognised educational establishment. The Department has not previously issued specific guidance on this subject. Where children aged 16 to 18 are being educated at home, the local primary care trust would need to seek advice from the local education authority to assess whether these arrangements are comparable to fulltime education in such an establishment.

Shena Deuchars - Posted 8 Jun 2007

According to s7 of the Education Act, parents have a duty to educate their children. They may discharge this duty by sending their children to school or otherwise. If the Education Act does not stipulate that education must take place in a school, how can the Health Act 2006 make that more stringent requirement?

When Rosie Winterton says "the local primary care trust would need to seek advice from the local education authority to assess whether these arrangements are comparable to full-time education in such an establishment", she demonstrates her ignorance of education law. Education authorities have no jurisdiction over education for over-16s.

The Child Benefit Agency accepts continuing home education over 16 as conferring entitlement to Child Benefit. Surely the same test should be applied by the Department of Health?

You Gotta Go To School

Another YouTube video for you to enjoy!
Here's the blurb introducing it:

"A "Schoolhouse Rock"-inspired look at the origins of the American education system. Originally recorded with a live audience for "In The Loop" at Minnesota Public Radio in May, 2007. Music and lyrics by Jeff Horwich."

Friday, June 08, 2007

British injustice

It's not only in Germany that home educators are persecuted...
The info attached to this video on Youtube says: "This is what happens when the government pretends to know what is best. Don't be fooled, Britain has become a nanny state that is totally based upon being politically correct. We suffered at the hands of do-gooders."

No British Justice BBC 2005

If you want to find out more about their story,
read Injustice through Legal Manipulation by Duncan J Sibley

AS News and ED links

Expert says new hospital not needed
"...controversial plans to build a 54-bed medium-secure hospital for people suffering from personality disorders and Asperger's syndrome near Brigstock. [...] Care Principles director Tom Burns said: "Many people are not getting the treatment they deserve now. For instance, it has been acknowledged that there are many people in prisons who suffer with Asperger's syndrome... Their condition is not recognised and they end up in the criminal justice system rather than receiving treatment, but if in the future there is a policy-change and these prisoners require treatment, it would strain existing services. A site at Brigstock would complement the current provision for mental health care."

Ed. Links

Language games

School stories
Socratic arts

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Aspergers... again!

Read: Man's IQ 'too high' for treatment

Listen: Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane Real audio feed of hour long public radio segment on coping with Asperger's (2007 February 7)

Watch: Documentary about Asperger's Syndrome

Home Ed in Germany

Germany's asking: can religious parents educate their children at home?

From Germany to the USA with an insight into Christian Homeschooling


From Compulsory Education: An Oxymoron of Modernity
by Professor Dennis O'Keeffethe:

"First of all, are the two components of "compulsory education" mutually contradictory, an oxymoron? Might one say, to parody Hobhouse on Rousseau, that:

"Insofar as it is educational, it is not compulsory;

And insofar as it is compulsory, it is not educational."?"

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Thoughts on aspergers...

So what do I think about Aspergers Syndrome? After all, the title of this blog is Aspie HE, this blog is a Autism Hub member, and I rarely post about it.

After going through the phase of reading and learning about AS as much as I possibly could I eventually got tired of it all. There's a huge difference between 'what is' and all the concepts our minds create in our attempt to understand and relate to things and people as they are.

I came to a point where I'm not interested in theories any more, let alone seeing so-called experts. Neither I nor my son have benefited from doing so in the past.

So what is Aspergers? As someone interested in Buddhist philosophy, I'd say that, like any other phenomena, Asperger's Syndrome is empty of inherent existence. That means that AS is not a thing that exists in and of itself, independently, from its own side.

It exists conventionally in dependence upon causes and conditions, parts, concepts and labelling. I don't know what the causes of AS are and neither do the 'experts': there's all sorts of theories out there, from refrigerator mothers, mercury poisoning, genes and so on - does it really matter?

This reminds me of a Buddhist story. At one time the Buddha said, "Suppose a man is struck by a poisoned arrow and the doctor wishes to take out the arrow immediately. Suppose the man does not want the arrow removed until he knows who shot it, his age, his parents, and why he shot it. What would happen? If he were to wait until all these questions have been answered, the man might die first."

So I could either spend my energy trying to learn and keep up with the latest scientific research and the politics of it all, or I could get on with life ['take out the arrow'] and make the most of this amazing opportunity to witness the development of another human being, who happens to be my son. Life is such a gift, far too precious to be wasted in a quest for the real causes of AS and the most effective cure and treatment. As I personally don't see AS as a disease I'm definitely not looking for a cure!

Aspergers Syndrome exists because a guy noticed some traits in some people and, in his quest to find meaning and to understand what he had observed, he mentally constructed the idea of a condition which then became known as 'Asperger's Syndrome'. I personally don't have an issue with labels as long as people see them for what they are. When I use the word aspie, I'm referring to a set of personality traits, those which I observe in my son and myself that match the official list. It's convenient to use the word 'aspie' because it takes less time than having to go through the traits one by one.

Many people will use the word as meaning something different. As meaning the set of traits they or someone they know have. DJ has a great sense of humour and loves comedy. He gets it. He doesn't take things literally. So, when I use the word 'aspie' to describe myself or my son, I'm not including that particular trait. And so, due to the spectrum-nature of Aspergers Syndrome, its easy to get it all wrong, to assume you know what the other person is talking about when actually the only thing you really know is your own mental construct.

That's why I say that Aspergers Syndrome is empty. It depends on the mind that labels it and on what each individual mind makes of it. [Unfortunately, we also tend to grasp onto our much cherished views and to want to be right, which creates a lot of conflict, but let's leave that aside...] However, it also depends on the object which is a basis for that labelling. After all, there is something there, there is a human being. A human being who may thrive on quietude and solitude. A human being who is passionate about the things which interest him. A human being who is alive, who has an immensely rich inner life, who enjoys his own company, who has his own thoughts and feelings, and who is constantly changing, constantly becoming...

How could a human being ever be reduced to a mere word? Don't get me wrong. Words themselves are totally neutral. I have nothing against them. It's just a question of how we relate to them, how we use them. Words can be windows or can be walls. I like to think of 'aspie' as a window, a way of giving others a glimpse into a few facets of myself or my son. But I have no control over the way others will interpret my words...

Is true communication ever possible?

Pensamentos sobre Aspergers

Afinal o que é que eu penso sobre o Sindroma de Asperger? O título deste blog é Aspie: Ensino Doméstico, e o blog faz parte do clube de autismo, mas raramente falo sobre esse assunto.

Depois de ter atravessado uma fase de ler e aprender tudo quanto possivel sobre o sindroma, cheguei a um ponto em que simplesmente me fartei de o fazer.

Cheguei à conclusão que há uma diferença enorme entre “o que é” e todos os conceitos que as nossas mentes críam na tentativa de compreender e de se relacionar com “o que é”, com as pessoas tal qual elas são. Cheguei ao ponto em que perdi todo o interesse pelas teorias e em consultar supostos peritos. Afinal, nem eu, nem o meu filho, beneficiámos de o fazer no passado.

Então qual é a minha perspectiva sobre o sindroma de asperger? Como alguém interessado em filosofia oriental, eu diria que, tal como qualquer outro fenômeno, o sindroma de asperger é vazio de existência inerente. Isso significa que o sindroma de asperger não é algo que existe independentemente, do seu próprio lado. Existe apenas convencionalmente, em dependência de causas e condições, partes, conceitos e rótulos.

Nem eu, nem os supostos peritos na matéria, sabemos quais são as causas do sindroma: há uma série de teorias por aí, desde as mães-frias, mercúrio, genes e assim por diante - mas não posso dizer que a existência dessas teorias tenham feito uma diferenca positiva nas nossas vidas, muito pelo contrário...

Isto faz-me lembrar de uma história budista. Uma vez o Buda disse, “Suponham que um homem é golpeado por uma seta envenenada e que alguém quer remover imediatamente a seta. Suponham que o homem não deixa ninguém remover a seta antes dele descobrir quem foi que a disparou e porque razão o fez. O que aconteceria? Se ficásse a espera destas respostas poderia morrer antes de as encontrar.”

Assim, tenho duas opções: 1) perder o meu tempo a tentar acompanhar e compreender as últimas pesquisa científicas e o que se passa no 'mundo do autismo', ou 2) viver o melhor possível [“remover a seta”] e aproveitar esta oportunidade incrível que é acompanhar o desenvolvimento de outro ser humano, que por acaso é meu filho. A vida é curta e preciosa demais para ser desperdiçada à procura das verdadeiras causas do sindroma, de uma cura e do tratamento mais eficaz. Como pessoalmente não considero o sindroma de asperger uma doença, não ando à procura de uma cura!

O sindroma de asperger existe porque alguém um dia observou uma série de características em algumas pessoas e, na sua tentativa de fazer sentido e de compreender o que tinha observado, construiu mentalmente a idéia de um sindroma, que se tornou conhecido como “o sindroma de asperger”. Eu pessoalmente não tenho problemas com palavras e rótulos desde que as pessoas os vejam como são.

Quando uso a palavra 'aspie', refero-me a um conjunto de características, aquelas que observo na minha personalidade e na do meu filho e que fazem parte de uma 'lista oficial' de diagnóstico. Acho conveniente usar a palavra “aspie” porque é muito mais rápido do que ter de explicar as características uma a uma. No entanto, muitas pessoas usam a palavra com um significado diferente. Para elas, o termo 'aspie' pode significar o conjunto de características que elas reconhecem nelas próprias, num familiar ou amigo.

DJ tem um sentido de humour incrível e adora comédias. Ele compreende-as perfeitamente e não tem o problema de interpretar as coisas literalmente. Quem por vezes não entende as anedotas sou eu! Assim, quando uso a palavra “aspie” para descrever a mim ou ao meu filho não estou incluindo esta característica. E assim, como o termo refere-se a um espectro, é fácil surgirem mal-entendidos, porque partimos do princípio que entendemos o que a outra pessoa está a dizer quando na verdade a única coisa que temos realmente acesso é à nossa própria construção mental.

É por isso que digo que o sindroma de asperger é vazio. Depende da mente que rotula e da imagem que cada mente faz do sindroma. [Infelizmente, temos a tendência de nos agarrarmos às nossas opiniões e de querer estar certos, o que só cría conflitos, mas deixemos isso de lado por agora…] Depende também do objeto que é a base para o rótulo. Afinal estamos a rotular alguma coisa, um ser humano. Um ser humano que se desenvolve na quietude e no sossego. Um ser humano que é apaixonado pelas coisas que lhe despertam o interesse. Um ser humano que está vivo, que tem uma vida interior imensamente rica, que aprecía a sua própria companhia, que tem seus próprios pensamentos e sentimentos, e que está constantemente a mudar, a transformar-se…

Como poderia um ser humano ser reduzido a uma mera palavra? Não me interpretem mal. As palavras são completamente neutras. Não tenho nada contra elas. É apenas uma questão de como nos relacionamos com elas, como as usamos. As palavras podem ser janelas ou barreiras. Eu gosto de pensar em “aspie” como uma janela, uma maneira de oferecer aos outros um vislumbre de algumas facetas de mim própria ou do meu filho. Mas não tenho o poder de controlar o modo como os outros interpretam as minhas palavras… Nem sei se a verdadeira comunicação é possivel...

On The News

School's out and home's in
"Schools basically teach nothing at all except obedience," Mr Gatto said. "They break the imagination and they break the self-confidence. Testing drives the curriculum, turning teachers into clerks... [With home education] you tailor the procedures to the person you are working with by understanding their strengths and interests. As soon as you see someone working in their area of interest, you don't have to discipline them … they work around the clock."

Plea to Gordon Brown to help autistic find work

Num artigo de jornal, Sr. Gatto disse: “As escolas não ensinam basicamente nada, a não ser a obediência. Arrasam com a imaginação e a auto-confianca. O curriculo é dirigido por testes, transformando os professores em burocratas… [Com o ensino doméstico] podemos adaptar os métodos à pessoa com quem estamos a trabalhar, com base na compreensão dos seus talentos e interesses únicos. Assim que alguém descobre a sua área de interesse, não há necessidade de disciplina: o próprio interesse intrínsico motiva o trabalho.”

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Photo & Quote

“The student arrives at the classroom door as a human being who needs to know, play, explore and feel. Yet once she or he crosses that threshold, her or his own need to know is subordinated to someone else’s idea of what she or he needs to know. The potential for joyful, self-active education is radically reduced by the asceticism of the classroom.”

Berthold Brecht Sears, ‘Learning Freedom’

“O estudante chega à porta da sala de aula enquanto um ser humano com a necessidade de saber, jogar, explorar e sentir. Contudo, mal atravesse aquela porta, a sua própria necessidade de saber fica subordinadas à idéia de uma outra pessoa sobre o que ele necessita de saber. O potencial para a educação alegre e auto-ativada é reduzido radicalmente pelo asceticismo da sala de aula.”

Berthold Brecht Sears, "Liberdade na aprendizagem"

AHED Press Release

For immediate release, Tuesday 5th June 2007

For further information please contact Barbara Stark


Young people in full time education are still being denied National Health Service benefits because of the NHS Act 2006 and the consequent failure of bureaucrats drafting guidance to take into account young people whose further education is based at home. Home based education has equal status in law with that provided by institutions such as schools or colleges and thousands of children are electively home educated with excellent results.

"Our members are reporting a situation" commented Barbara Stark, AHEd spokesperson, "where families are in receipt of child benefit because their children are continuing with full time further education based at home, but help with health services to which they are entitled has been withdrawn this year. It is our understanding that schools and colleges are issued with a registration number for this purpose, but there is no number provided for home education, with the result that our children are denied the right of all children in full time further education. It appears that local authorities have no means to recognize the educational status of these young people. AHEd has been in correspondence with ministers at the department of health about the consequences of this bureaucratic incompetence. We have suggested two efficient solutions that would cost the taxpayer nothing and quickly restore rights to our children, but the government appears to be playing for time and dragging their feet in correcting this anomaly. In the meantime our children are being disadvantaged and discriminated against by the NHS."


Notes to Editors

1. AHEd is an Internet based charitable group supporting home education rights.

2. Dept of Health have responded to AHEd saying the guidance in HC11 booklet "will be amended at the earliest convenience" but the suggested solution would be costly and there is currently no mechanism in place for it. See full details here.

3. AHEd have written to the department of Health today:

"Further to our earlier correspondence, ref DE00000210134, and following an enquiry from one of our members to Rosie Winterton MP, it now appears that the confusing definition of full time further education in the NHS Act 2006, is at the root of reports we have received this year of the withdrawal of health benefits to children of 16, 17 and 18 in full time further education based at home. Guidance clarifying this issue is urgently required.

The Education Act 1996 (7), recognises education otherwise than at school, by the parents, as having equal legal status to a school education. Therefore the Secretary of State for Health must recognise that "elective home education" is compliant with the NHS Act 2006, 180 (7b) and 180 (8) and no further comparison to an institutional education should be required of a home educating parent in order to obtain free ophthalmic services for a child."

Aspie mum?

My Result: 32. Maybe...

"Psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen and his colleagues at Cambridge's Autism Research Centre have created the Autism-Spectrum Quotient, or AQ, as a measure of the extent of autistic traits in adults. In the first major trial using the test, the average score in the control group was 16.4. Eighty percent of those diagnosed with autism or a related disorder scored 32 or higher. The test is not a means for making a diagnosis, however, and many who score above 32 and even meet the diagnostic criteria for mild autism or Asperger's report no difficulty functioning in their everyday lives.

You scored 32 or above. Do with that what you will."
The Asperger's Syndrome Test

Monday, June 04, 2007

Two Kinds of Intelligence

A poem by Rumi

There are two kinds of intelligence: one acquired,
as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts
from books and from what the teacher says,
collecting information from the traditional sciences
as well as from the new sciences.

With such intelligence you rise in the world.
You get ranked ahead or behind others
in regard to your competence in retaining

You stroll with this intelligence
in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more
marks on your preserving tablets.

There is another kind of tablet, one
already completed and preserved inside you.
A spring overflowing its springbox.
A freshness in the centre of the chest.

This other intelligence
does not turn yellow or stagnate.
It's fluid, and it doesn't move from outside to inside
through the conduits of plumbing-learning.
This second knowing is a fountainhead
from within you, moving out.

Dois tipos de inteligência
Há dois tipos de inteligência: um adquirido,
como uma criança na escola, memorizando factos
e conceitos dos livros e do que o professor diz,
coleccionando informação das ciências tradicionais e das ciências novas.

Com tal inteligência erguemo-nos no mundo.
Somos postos no nosso lugar, em frente ou atrás dos outros,
com respeito a nossa competencia em retenção de informação.

Passeamos, com esta inteligência,
para dentro e para fora dos campos de conhecimento,
acumulando palavras em papéis.

Existe um outro tipo de papel, um já completo
e preservado dentro de nós.
Uma fonte transbordando sua nascente.
Um frescor no centro do coração.

Esta outra inteligência não fica amarela nem estagna.
É fluida, e não se move do exterior para o interior
através dos tubos da aprendizagem-canalisação.

Este segundo tipo de saber é uma nascente,
dentro de nós, movendo-se para fora.

[poema de Rumi]

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Bits and bobs

Today's Quote - Anne Sullivan
"I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built upon the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Whereas, if the child is left to himself, he will think more and better, if less showily. Let him go and come freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions for himself, instead of sitting indoors at a little round table, while a sweet-voiced teacher suggests that he build a stone wall with his wooden blocks, or make a rainbow out of strips of coloured paper, or plant straw trees in bead flower-pots. Such teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of, before the child can develop independent ideas out of actual experience."

Citação de hoje - Anne Sullivan
“Estou a começar a suspeitar de todos os sistemas elaborados e especiais de instrução. Parecem-me ter sido construídos a partir da suposição que todas as crianças são uns idiotas que tem de ser ensinados a pensar. No entanto, se a própria criança for deixada em paz e sossego, pensará mais e melhor, embora talvez não o demonstre tanto. Deixem-nas ir e vir livremente, deixem-nas tocar em coisas reais e combinar, elas mesmas, as suas impressões, em vez de as mandarem sentar, dentro de edifícios, em pequenas mesas, enquanto um professor com uma expressão doce sugere que construam uma parede com os seus blocos de madeira, que façam um arco-íris a partir de tiras de papel colorido ou que plantem árvores de palha da planta em jarros de flores. Tal ensino enche a mente com associações artificiais que têm de ser eliminadas antes que as crianças possam desenvolver idéias independentes a partir da experiência real.”

On The News
'Gordon Brown Must Act On Autism'

Links: Re-enactment events
Education content and process assumptions

Saturday, June 02, 2007


A quote by Jan Fortune Wood

We commonly assume that children need boundaries. By that, we do not simply mean that children need real knowledge about the limits of being human. Rather, what we generally mean is that children need to have imposed on them rules of engagement. We often imagine that without these limits children will be in imminent danger of becoming selfish monsters, reckless destroyers of their own and others' chances of happiness or, at least, sadly confused people with no inner sense of security. This common foundation of so much of parenting theory is one that I believe needs to be challenged. Coercion harms rationality and creativity, leaving children less likely to act with the best moral sense of their own and wider interests.

Uma citação de Jan Fortune-Wood

Nós geralmente supomos que as crianças precisam de limites. Com isto não queremos apenas dizer que as crianças precisam de um conhecimento real sobre os limites de ser-se humano. O que geralmente queremos com isto dizer é que as crianças necessitam de ter regras impostas nelas. Imaginamos frequentemente que sem regras e limites estas crianças estão em perigo iminente de se tornarem em monstros egoístas, destruídoras da sua própria felicidade e da dos outros ou, pelo menos, em pessoas infelizmente confusas e sem um sentido interior de segurança. Esta fundação comum de tantas teorias é uma que acredito necessita de ser desafiada. A coerção prejudica a racionalidade e a criatividade, deixando as crianças menos prováveis de agir com o melhor sentido moral dos seus próprios interesses.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Toy Boys

A 20mn film directed by Gabby Dellal (UK) about the "indescribable pressures various parents place on their children to perform well on a school entrance exam."

On the News
'Personal' Ofsted study condemned
School power to search for knives
Gordon Brown urged to take on autism