Sunday, September 30, 2007

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Watch Online

Here's some videos about the reality of children's lives in the 21st century. To watch them just click on the title.

School Bullies - Japan
"A lot of children crack up under the pressure and there are a lot of negative things that happen like bullying. The Hiranos' son committed suicide after he was bullied at a new school. The school authorities made no comment. Satoru Ikeda, teacher, thinks that many students have lost their identity because of a harsh education system in Japan which does not tolerate individuality."

Brat Camp - China
"The Chinese have come up with a unique way of reforming naughty children or bad students. They're sent to 'walking school' and forced to march up to 800 km across the country."

Children of Blessing - China
"Flower, Rascal and their friends come from a remote village in the Chinese mountains and speak only Lahu. Now, they must leave their beautiful home for boarding school in the city. We follow them through their first year at primary school as they're modelled into good socialist workers."

George Carlin: education and the owners of America
Clip from George Carlin's 'This life is worth losing'

And I'll leave you today with some news from the USA:

School Guard Thugs Break Child's Arm And Arrest Her For Dropping Cake
'School security guards in Palmdale, CA have been caught on camera assaulting a 16-year-old girl and breaking her arm after she spilled some cake during lunch and left some crumbs on the floor after cleaning it up. The incident occurred last week at Knight High School in Palmdale and was caught on a cell phone camera by another pupil who was then also assaulted by the security guards. Watch video of the incident here and here.'

Friday, September 28, 2007

UK home-school cases soar

Watch the report from Channel 4 News here.

An article on the Yorkshire Post mentions Home Education briefly; here's what Lucy Lyon had to say: "As the mother of two young children, with another one on the way, to say education is at the top of my priorities is an understatement to say the least. Here in Hull we have a long and troubled education history but we are by no means the only ones who will be looking to Brown to start delivering on his words and put an end to some of the more farcical aspects of trying to secure a decent education for our children.

Like many people, I have friends currently professing an allegiance to a religion with which they have previously had barely a passing acquaintance in order to get their children into a faith school. I also know of couples putting their stress levels through the roof by braving a cross-city drive during rush hour because their local school is so dire they prefer the risk of high blood pressure than sending their children there.

I even know of families who have – against their wishes – resorted to home education because they felt their children would fail to flourish in the only school available to them."

The case for home-education: autism

[from Channel 4 News by: Mark Greaves, 26 Sep 2007]

Married mother-of-two Carole Rutherford, 50, withdrew her autistic children from school amid fears the state system could not offer them support.

"The decision to home educate was taken for us when our eldest son James - then aged 11 - had a breakdown after being hit by a car while on his way to school. James was finally diagnosed with autism two years after the accident. He never returned to school. Spending eight years in the school system unsupported and without having his needs met was just too much for him.

We had been raising concerns about James for all of those years and were ignored. James received his diagnosis six weeks after our youngest son Hew was diagnosed with autism aged three. We felt sure that because Hew had been diagnosed so young that he would receive the support and resources that James had never been able to access in school.

I was actually chair of governors at Hew's school when he received his diagnosis and so I was not unfamiliar with the system and how it worked. Hew managed nursery without too many problems but when he went into reception the cracks were already beginning to show. Hew was becoming very distressed mainly because of his literal interpretation of the school rules and his ongoing problems in comprehending much of what was being asked of him.

We asked about a statement of special educational needs but were told that it was much too soon to be thinking about a statement, and anyway he was far too intelligent to need a statement. A high IQ does not diminish the level of autism. When Hew went into year one he developed something called cyclical vomiting syndrome which can often be as a result of extreme stress. Within weeks of going into year one Hew was off school more than he was there.

Because of my involvement in internet based groups for autism I was aware that parents often had to fight the system for years before managing to get a statement for their children, if in fact they ever won the fight. All of the time you fight your child is the meat in the sandwich. Having seen one son crash and burn we did not want this happening to another, so we made the decision to home educate Hew along with James.

Home education has allowed us to teach our son about themselves which we believe is very important. How can you ever hope to make sense of other people and the world around you if you can not make sense of yourself? We are sometimes accused of isolating our sons when in fact this could not be further from the truth. Both of our sons are active members of our local community with the youngest being a member of St John's Ambulance Brigade and a local football group.

We are giving our sons an education fit for life and the mainstream world in which we live. At the moment only 12 per cent of adults with autism are in some kind of employment. Maybe part of the reason is because these adults were never given the effective communication and socialisation skills required to hold down a job.

Since we took our leap into the wonderful world of home education nine years ago many families who have autistic children have also taken that leap. Numbers of parents' home educating children with autism is rising steadily."

Home Ed Week

Sun: Monkton Wyld Tour & Harvesting, Clay and Tie Dye
Mon: Walk to Lyme Regis, Glass Outlines, Dances Universal Peace
Tue: Felt Making, Anne Rix, Wood & Glass Painting, Circle Dance
Wed: Funding, Pottery Painting, Drumming, Calico Collages, Bonfire
Thu: Making Pizzas

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Crewkerne Museum

We stopped at Crewkerne this afternoon.

DJ was craving a hot chocolate deluxe!

After that we decided to check the local museum.

Here's Thomas Masterman Hardy. Born in Dorset in 1769, he went to the local school, which he left at 11 to join the Navy as a Captain's Servant.

Eventually he commanded HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar
[War of 1812; Napoleonic Wars]

A woman from the museum asked me if we were on holidays and which school did DJ attend. I proudly told her about home education. Looking at the Victorian Education misinformation, I started to talk about the links between the Education Act of 1880, which made education, not schooling, compulsory, the artificial extension of childhood, and the invention of adolescence. Had Thomas Masterman Hardy been born 11 years ago, his life would have been much less adventurous!

Here's William Blake,
the Justice of the Peace (magistrate), not the poet!

William Dampier (1651 – 1715), the English buccaneer, sea captain, author and scientific observer, was sent to a school in Crewkerne. He was the first Englishman to explore Australia and New Guinea, and the first person to circumnavigate the world twice - he then went on to complete a third circumnavigation!

Don't you just love that kitchen? Apparently it's from the 1950s.

And that's enough museum stuff, I think...
Time to get some fruit and veg from the local shop!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Home Education News

"Channel 4 News Online reveals that the number of children being schooled at home has risen by more than 60% in the past 5 years.

More than 80% of education authorities reported hikes in the number of children being educated at home, according to the Freedom of Information (FoI) probe.

In one area the increase was as big as 800%; with campaigners blaming bullying, special needs provision and too many school tests as reasons for the national hike."

Check it out here and here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

School memories of an aspie

My Future
by Joshua Muggleton

My future, my present, my past, are all controlled
The horror, the memories of my past, stop me from resting
What happened is seared on my mind
Never to forget the pain of school

The memories haunts me, in my dreams
The memories torments me in my thoughts
The memories kills me in my hopes
The memories chokes me in my life

Part of my sanity, lies in the school yard
Screaming in agony in what it has to endure.
What is left of my sanity, weeps for the rest
In drowning sorrow, and merciless hate

The memories follow me, a shadow of my being
When I run, it runs with me, when I hide, it hides with me
When I travel, it travels with me, when I speak, it speaks with me
The Hyde to my Jeckyll, the devil to my angel, the darkness to my light

The strength of the memories, the pain, is unimaginable
Harnessed, it fuels my fire for change,
For speaking out for those who can’t
Living my life to make a difference

The strength of my memories, the pain, is unimaginable
Let loose, it controls me, and I relive the horror
I feel nothing but indescribable hate for so many people and places
It removes any joy in my life, because the places still stand, and the people still laugh

In my mind, a never ending war is faught
The Angel, against the devil
The armies fight, day and night, and no winner will ever be determined
But I feel every blow, every wound, every death, as if it were my own.

Some nights, I cry myself to sleep, at the memories of what happened
Some days, I can do naught but feel a burning hate for what happened
Some nights, I go to sleep with a smile, for the change it made me make
Some days, I can do naught but feel elated, for the lives I have changed

These memories, are as valuable as diamonds
Yet as valuable as a rotting fish
These memories are as desired as fame, fortune, glory
Yet as desired as manure

I am taught to forgive, to move on
Yet how can I move on from this?
I may have left the school
But the school has not left me

Friday, September 21, 2007

Things have been

quite inspiring lately... So much seems be to happening at the moment! There's a new Raising Aspies group, which I'm trying to get off the ground; a new study group [Eastern Philosophy], and an Action For The Planet group on the horizon...

We're off to Monkton Wyld Court tomorrow, for another Home Educators Week! Isn't life exciting and wonderful? Aren't all these grass roots movements so inspiring?

According to Bill Ellis, movements like these are "not only addressing the why, how, when and what all citizens learn, but also rebuilding the foundation for the society in which we all live. How we learn determines the kind of society we build. Authoritarian, hierarchal, undemocratic schools prepare future citizens for an authoritarian, hierarchal, undemocratic society. A life-long learning system based in family, community, society and nature could be the foundation for new democracies of freedom, equity and justice."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Original Music

Get this widget | Track details |eSnips Social DNA

Jamming with a friend, seven years ago...

Out Walking

Wide World of Intellectual Iliteracy

Slavery Institutionalized Slavery

You didn’t take me away from a place
You extricated me from a sacred space

You developed and trained my mind
To blend in with your kind
To put you in the fore front
And leave myself behind

My mind was open to assimilation
And closed to self-realization
Education was the agent of control
Substituting society for my soul
An act of self-suicide for the good of the whole

Was it not the great minds of our times that sanctioned
Self hatred
Made the truth oblique
Made education a conditioning process
To obliterate being unique

Seek a role model, seek a hero
Don’t seek being yourself, you are a zero
If education is the answer
It has a function similar to cancer

Americanization another appellation for education

Mind control, behavioral modification
Violence is a form of militaristic communication
I’m a clone, a mere cheap imitation

If I kill it’s because I’m trained
If I hate it’s because I’m trained
If I steal it’s because I’m trained

I don’t know who I am but because I am trained
I Am A Professional

Poem by Josephine Dixon Banks

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Home Ed on Roker Radio

Rokker Radio, the only radio programme for the travelling community in the UK, featured home education last night, focusing on the Lighthouse Project in Epsom. The Romani journalist enabled Gypsy and Traveller children to present their experiences in their own words. Education Otherwise contributed to this feature. To listen click here [approx. 50 mns into the programme - fast forward to 45 mns - home ed starts at 47mns].

The Schoolboy

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Work That Reconnects

Same but with a different soundtrack and without any quotes...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Home Education News

From BBC News, Going to School at Home: "Increasing numbers of parents in the North West are educating their children at home rather than at school." Watch the 5mn video interview here.

In the USA, more choose to educate children at home,
and in Belgium more parents home school.

Off to Monkton!

We're off to Monkton Wyld Court once again, this time for a long weekend with Alex Wildwood, Chris Johnstone and Jenni Horsfall. It will be another introduction to the Work That Reconnects, an empowerment approach developed by eco-philosopher Joanna Macy, for those concerned about the condition of our world and who would like to strengthen their ability to respond. It will be about deepening feelings of connection with life, and opening up spiritual and psychological resources needed to face and respond to global issues. It will be an experiential exploration of how to use the energy of our emotional responses, reconnect with our passion and creativity. And most of all, it will be about catching up with Monkton friends.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Student's Prayer

Morning walk

This morning the cows were out in the field...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Schooling Nature

This is getting addictive.
Here's another one I made earlier!

My First Photo Story

Photos from the Home Educators Development Week in Monkton Wyld Court. It included a day trip to Lyme Regis and a workshop with representatives from Education Otherwise and Human Scale Education. There's a slightly longer version here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

News links

Happiness classes ‘depress pupils’
Children wear body armour school uniform
Report: School Shootings Prepare Students For the Real World
The university degrees that may add nothing to lifetime’s salary

Fun with Apples

We got some apples...

Cooked them in water with a little dark sugar, raisins, cinnamon and Port Wine...

Tried them like this...

And like this...

We've also had some dopiaza [a curry with tomato, onion and roasted cumin] with gluten free garlic and coriander naan bread.

Other than that, we've been up and down the REC early this morning and DJ is totally concentrated in his new media project.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Out and About Walking

Home Sweet Home

Salads: lettuce, tomatoes and onions & yellow pepper and celery
Vegetable Soup: potatoes, carrots, squash, onions, celery, garlic, olive oil and grated cheese. And for DJ, freshly squeezed orange juice and buckwheat pasta with green pesto, turkey and lettuce.

AS Support Group

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Home Education News

In Australia, school’s in at home as more parents opt out.

In the USA, home education has soared in recent years.
Check out the latest news from Seattle, Rochester, Chicago.

And finally, there's also news from South Africa.


Oats, water, a little organic vanilla flavoured soya milk, hemp seed oil, honey, and cinnamon.


Mixed salad: lettuce, carrot, celery, yellow pepper, sweet corn, avocado, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, seasoned with olive oil and white wine vinager.

Carrot, butternut squash and parsley soup.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Home Education News

Schools snubbed as more children learn at home
By Claire Marshall

HOME educating is a controversial life choice, but the number of parents deciding not to send their children to school has soared in recent years. Government research reveals that around 16,000 children in England were being educated at home last year, which showed a 39 per cent increase on the previous year. A group of mothers who meet in Cam twice a month explained why they made the decision to teach their children at home.

Paula Hopkins, of Cam, who set up the group for parents who home educate, has been teaching her two sons, now aged eight and 15, at home for the last three years. "We started looking for alternative education because my youngest son did not like school at all - he hated it and didn't want to go," said Paula. "We found out he was being bullied, which was very upsetting for the whole family. So I took them both out of school. I just wanted to give them a nice childhood where they are happy with the environment they learn in. Home education is a different way of life, it is a lifestyle choice. Some mothers say they can't wait for the summer holidays to end, but I love spending time with my family. We gave birth to them, we taught them how to walk and how to play. All of a sudden to stop that and put them into a different system is not natural."

Abbey Green, of Tetbury, decided to home educate her son when she found out he had Asperger's syndrome, a disorder which means children affected are usually very intelligent but can find social interaction and communication difficult. She looked around for alternative education, but couldn't find anything suitable. "School is about fitting the child to the system instead of finding a system that fits the child," said Abbey.

Critics of home education say that children who do not go to school and mix with other children have fewer social skills.

But Abbey responded: "I would not want my son to get the kind of social skills they learn in school. Home educated children do not get the same social skills as school children but they can interact with adults. Home education means you are socialised for life."

Diane, who did not want to give her full name, was a maths teacher in North Somerset before she pulled her son out of school and started home educating. "My child hated school, he was bored. Everyone makes you feel like you have to fit in at school," she said. Children are like sponges - you don't really need to teach them, just guide them."

Paula added: "What people should know is that there are thousands of children out there who do not like school and that is ok. We need to understand that we are all different. Home education doesn't suit everyone, but it does suit some of us."

If you would like to join the group or want more information contact Paula Hopkins on 01453 519287 or email

New education guidelines called for [ATL The Teachers Union]

Victoria Park, Bath

Botanical Gardens, Bath

Bean and Spinach Soup

Organic haricot beans, spinach, tomato, onions, celery, garlic, olive oil, and chilli powder. Great with Mango Chutney.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Learning Resources


Home Ed on Times Online

‘Home education serves her better than school would’

Sara Sengenberger lives in Oxford but was brought up and schooled in the US. She delayed formal education for her daughter Catryn, 7, but has found home education suits Catryn so well that she has no plans to send her to school.

“I came across a book published in the 1970s by Raymond Moore called Better Late than Early, which claims that many biological and psychological factors make 8 to 10 the best age to begin structured learning. Young children learn a great deal through play. I don’t require Catryn to do any formal academic work at all. At the age of 6 she decided that she wanted to read; she had been resistant to the idea before then. Because she started on her own initiative she learned very quickly.

“We follow an approach called Autonomous Education, or ‘Unschooling’, pioneered by John Holt in the US. The idea is that children are given the freedom to follow their interests, on the principle that they learn better that way. Just as I didn’t teach my daughter to walk and talk when she was a toddler, she doesn’t need me to direct her learning now. We make materials available to Catryn and she decides what she wants to do. She does an astonishing amount of arithmetic every day without us having to make her sit down and do worksheets. It is a very relaxing approach. Because we never force Catryn to do anything we live a very harmonious existence.

“At some point she may decide that she wants to go to school, and that’s fine by us, but for now home education is serving her far better than school would.”

From The Times, September 6, 2007
Related link: Do we send our children to school too young?

Going Loco In Parentis

Inspired by this, Elvis Macgonagall wrote the following poem, which can also be read on Radio 4.

Education, education, education
Decisions, decisions, decisions
The Lord Sebastian Coe Comprehensive For The Gifted And Troublesome or
Home-Sweet-Home Tuition?
Should you have Gordon Brown’s Schooldays
Prudently squaring your hypotenuse
In a Wee Jimmy Krankie uniform
Satchel, short-back-and-sides, shiny shoes?
Or will you escape the chalk-face scrape
Of the blackboard’s logarithm blues
To skateboard around the curriculum
With parental permission to pick’n’mix ’n choose?
Will they muck you up your Mum and Dad?
Will family tutelage all end in tears?
Will she become Miss Jean Brodie?
Is he secretly Wackford Squeers?
Are they walking encyclopaedias
At D-I-Y Domesticity College?
Can they muster their rhomboids and harness their gerunds?
Will they sow the seeds of your knowledge?
Will you have any conception of Nietzsche’s Ubermenschen
Or the annexation of the Sudetenland?
Will you think the Mona Lisa was painted by Di Caprio
And Bunsen Burner is a heavy metal band?
Will your eyes be opened and your mind set free
By edification both fun and far-sighted?
Or will you be the dunce in a class of your own
Joining Nobby-No-Mates Reunited?
Dame Agatha Christie was taught en famille
And didn’t she do well?
But apparently so was Mel Gibson
Which shows that you never can tell
So, is it “Hello St.Custards” or “Goodbye Mr Chips”?
On which method can we depend?
Well, as Nigel Molesworth himself might have said –
“Any fule kno – but can I fone a frend?”

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Home Study is a Good Thing

News from This Is Gloucestershire [August 2007]

Summer is fading. Autumn beckons. The new school term begins. But not all children are returning to school as we know it. More and more parents are turning to home education, even though it has taken such a bashing lately.Not least here in Gloucestershire where it has become indelibly linked to the recent child cruelty case involving Eunice Spry. But there are home educators and there is Eunice Spry. We should not get the two confused.

Tewkesbury-based Spry tortured three children in her care while claiming to teach them at home. She is now serving 14 years in jail. Teaching those children anything was the last thing on Eunice's mind. Nevertheless the Spry case has left home educators feeling threatened. They feel tarred by this grim Gloucestershire tale. It has caused great alarm. Home educators warned that the case's negative publicity would bring calls to tighten regulations.

And they were right. Our very own county council is now saying the latest controls on home educators are still too weak. Tim Browne, head of children and young people's support, claims the new home education monitoring guidelines do not go far enough. He is right to be concerned. Safeguards need to be in place and children protected. But let's not have a knee-jerk reaction which will have huge implications for genuine home educators, while not necessarily guarding against the Eunice Sprys of the future.

First we should remember that Eunice Spry was legally fostering and adopting, and was checked by social services many times. Those regulations are tighter still these days. But even back then the police, local hospital and GPs all had suspicions that all was not well in the Spry household, as was shown in a Serious Case Review into Spry carried out by the Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Board. We now know these agencies did not compare notes, in spite of comments about Eunice's "harsh and punitive parenting".

Home education had nothing to do with Spry's licence to violence. We should not question home education just because this woman said she was a home educator. Clearly she wasn't. Home education is a good thing. Many families do it and they feel strongly that they do not want to be more closely monitored. They say the controls already in place are adequate. Home education is challenging to our society. The truth is that people who teach their children at home do not like the schools we provide for their children.

But take a look at their complaints and we have to admit they may have a point. They say that despite the Government's claims for its education reforms, many a school's standards have declined. Schools, they, say have lost the ability to respond flexibly to pupils' varied needs because they have, of necessity, to focus so much on constant testing. We hear that significant numbers of children are now leaving school barely able to read and write. Somehow and somewhere in all of this the child gets lost, say the home educators.

A friend of mine home educates. This is what she wrote me about how it works for her family: "We love it. It has suited both my children, and I say this with some surprise as I regard (Child Y) as a more conventional learner, but she too has thrived with the tailored education we can offer her. (Child X) didn't learn to read until he was 8 but is now, only 18 months later, well above his reading age. I am so grateful that his education hasn't suffered, which it would have done had we been required to adhere to age-related norms. He wasn't held back because he had access to a largely aural, conversation-based education and we could tailor the content to his interests. He may have learnt his maths and how the economy works from playing RPG games but it has worked for him. He has great truth-seeking, logical skills and knows how to relate to children of all ages. We have loved the socialisation aspect of it, having found the HE community to be such a warm and welcoming one where there are plenty of close friends for both children, and we have loved taking personal responsibility for our lives like this. We love helping to organise groups in a democratic fashion, learning about the micro-politics of groups and working out how to do things consensually."

It is our job to find and prosecute and imprison the Eunice Sprys of this world. Let us make sure we look for them in the right way and in the right place.

Attack on Educational Freedoms

Cheshire calls for tougher guidelines concerning home education
Source: Cheshire County Council
Published Wednesday, 5 September, 2007

Cheshire County Council is writing to the Government asking for guidelines concerning children educated at home by parental preference to be 'toughened up'. At yesterday's Children's Services Executive a report was considered which stated Cheshire's response to consultation on the guidelines.

Afterwards chairman and Executive Support Member for Children's Services Shirley Harris said: "Some of the guidelines are ambiguous and some simply do not go far enough. For example all children educated at home should be registered as home educated wit the authority. Elective home education is the only area of education and child care that is not subject to more rigorous statutory regulation concerned with quality assurance and accountability. Children should also be involved and consulted if their parents want to elect home education so that their needs and aspirations are taken into account. There is also a need for a standardised system of monitoring visits and reporting to parents which should be applied to all local authorities."

Numbers of children being educated at home in Cheshire are increasing year on year. In 2003/4 the figure was 95 and for 2006/7 it stands at 204. The responsibility for a child's education rests with their parents and in England education is compulsory but schooling is not. Parents are not required to register or seek approval from the local authority to educate their children at home. However they must assume full financial responsibility including bearing the cost of any public examinations.

ALSO: Check the Elective Home Education Guidance from Nottinghamshire that came out just now.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Socialization Blues

From the USA, "Socialization Blues" by Israel Wayne, performed at the 2006 Homeschool Alumni National Reunion, July 28-30.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Schoolboy

by William Blake.

I love to rise in a summer morn
when the birds sing on every tree;
The distant huntsman winds his horn,
And the skylark sings with me;
O what sweet company!

But to go to school in a summer morn,
O it drives all joy away!
Under a cruel eye outworn,
The little ones spend the day
In sighing and dismay.

Ah then at times I drooping sit,
And spend many an anxious hour;
Nor in my book can I take delight,
Nor sit in learning's bower,
Worn through with the dreary shower.

How can the bird that is born for joy
Sit in a cage and sing?
How can a child when fears annoy
But droop his tender wing,
And forget his youthful spring?

O father and mother, if buds are nipped,
And blossoms blown away;
And if the tender plants are stripped
Of their joy in the springing day,
By sorrow and care's dismay,

How shall the summer arise in joy,
Or the summer fruits appear?
Or how shall we gather what griefs destroy,
Or bless the mellowing year,
When the blasts of winter appear?

Banking Education

Find out more about Personalised Education:

Monday, September 03, 2007

Home Ed on BBC Radio 4

"Unlike lots of kids in Britain, Grace, Isaac & William won't be suffering a case of 'back to school blues' this weekend. They're home educated - and they love it - and so do their parents, Barbara & Michael"
Listen here [36mns into the show]

Saturday, September 01, 2007


Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants. - John Gardner