Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The effects of home education

My daughter and I were musing recently upon how differently she might have turned out had she gone to school rather than been taught at home. It is true that she is fairly sociable and reasonably well balanced, but it is interesting to wonder if the very experience of spending her formative years largely in the company of adults has affected her adversely in any way. She suggested that the best way of testing this would be if we could get hold of some pairs of identical twins and try sending one to school and keeping the other at home. I was compelled to point out to her that experiments like this with twins have rather a bad image since Dr Mengeles activities during the war!

One thing which does stand out with her, and I have noticed this with other home educated teenagers, is that she shows little respect and no deference at all to adults simply because they are adults. This can make her appear arrogant or rude sometimes. The only problem here is that I am myself a very rude and arrogant person, so this might just be a bad habit which she has picked up from me, rather than anything particularly to do with being home educated. I think though that there might be a bit more to it than that. One of things she noticed when she started college was that many of the other sixteen year olds called the lecturers 'Sir' or 'Miss' as a matter of routine. This really is a bit strange. When did you last here a woman being addressed as 'Miss'? Come to that, how many people address superiors as 'Sir'?

There is no doubt that schools teach this weird attitude that adults are somehow deserving of respect simply by virtue of being adults and not children. This has the effect of creating a peculiar relationship between the ages which more or less precludes friendship and equality. I don't personally find this a brilliant thing and I'm not sorry that my daughter never acquired this mindset. Apart from anything else, it can be quite dangerous. If children grow up thinking that adults are usually right and their wishes must be heeded, then one is setting the stage for all sorts of dodgy situations! An awful lot of the sexual abuse of children stems from precisely this sort of power imbalance, where children's inbred desire to please and obey adults is exploited for the gratification of a pervert.

In a more general sense, I don't find this whole respect for adults thing very good because it has the effect of stopping children from thinking for themselves. If adults are viewed as being wise and knowledgeable, then there is no need for children to think things out for themselves. The adult already knows best, knows all the answers. This is the sort of thinking which is useful in schools of course. If you are teaching thirty children, you really don't want them all arguing you and challenging what you say. It is enough if they simply learn what you say and believe you to be the fount of all wisdom.

For my own part, I was always pleased when my child refused to take my word for something. It showed that she had a mind of her own. If this has developed over the years into a tendency to be sceptical of what she is told and a determination to find out for herself; well, there are worse things.


  1. One of the valuable lessons I learned at school is that teachers can be wrong. Some were even prepared to admit it - I had a maths teacher who told me that if his answer differed from mine, or a few others at the top of the class, he'd always go check his before telling us we were wrong.

    My son will talk to adults politely, but not with the deference that schoolchildren show. He's usually asking questions, so he knows that coming across as rude may not get him a helpful answer.

    However, there has to be some degree of respect and distance at school to maintain discipline - a direct result of the system as it is set up. Even to the point where a teacher I knew socially because we went to the same local chess club was on first-name terms outside school, but more formal in school. It just seemed to be the way to do it in different contexts.

  2. It is very quite around here - well around everywhere really - a sort of pre election calm until everyone decides what will happen next?

  3. No Julie nothing is going to happen after the election We won we beat Balls?DCSF its over we can now do as we like we much stronger they(LA's) throw everthing at us and we won! complaint is going well against Jan Lewis. you chose the wrong side Julie like old Simon did!

  4. Julie Reply from HCC about Jan Lewis she has been mandated to work with ALL home educating families.
    Which she is clearly not been doing so the complaint has been pushed to stage 2 by Peter.It talks about your group Julie its written by David Harvey.
    Peter just posted the letter of complaint to HCC its a anther really good letter by him!

  5. I can't think it is our group Peter, David Harvey is N Hants - what does it say? Don't you mean NHEO ( which isn't us?)

  6. Julie its a long letter from David Harvey the letters always are but Peter complaint back is lomger LOL

    David says HCC are committed to working with EHE to promte best outcomes for young people and the strategy HCC/Jan Lewis have is to began engagement with several Home Educating groups! he says these groups have indicated that they wish to begin a dialogue to explore the possibility of working together to achieve postive out comes for home educated children.David not sure how he HCC can assist home educating families yet but he hopes one day or maybe he means years LOL

    David also says that Jan Lewis has been Mandated to work with ALL home Educatting familes (something she clearly is not doing! Part of Peter complaint about her)) he goes on to say about some families do not engage with us directly LOL!
    David has put Jan Lewis contact detail up on HCC web site at last you can thank Peter for that as this was part of his complaint Peter soon gets them mmoving LOL!
    David Title is Area Strategic Manger(Alternative Provision? he sounds a right ass bit like old S Mellor(im sure they sacked him) and Jack Cawthra. heard a rumour crazy Jack gone to?

  7. Hmm, Think they are mostly taking about NHEO (I have only met Jan once) because we already have a reasonable relationship with our own local manager. I think she has been pretty busy in the north of the county. S Mellor works for WSCCI think now. Never had any contact with the other man so don't know!

  8. Have you all seen this?
    is it a ruse or is it genuine?

    If someone 'asks' will theirs be a case where the LA 'agrees' to pay and are there strings attached?

    Monday 26 April

    DCSF guarantee: LAs can recoup money for college fees 14-16s in AP census January 2011

    Education Otherwise has just had the following statement confirmed by DCSF:

    "Parents of home educated young people between the age of 14 and 16 who have the offer of a place at college 2010-2011 subject to funding can ask their local authority to pay the college fees. In all cases where the LA agrees to pay the fees, the LA is guaranteed to be able to recoup the money by including the young person in the Alternative Provision census in January 2011"

  9. I can see various hiccups, although we do already have a couple of young people locally on college courses ( arranged by the LA, but eventually funded by being on a school roll).

    The main issue I can see is the nature of the courses likely to be available. Most colleges now have some provision for 14-16 year olds; so I expect they will only want other 14-16 year olds on those courses.. Locally they are the NVQ1 vocational type course, which school children can take for 1 day a week for 2 years. Fine if that is what your child wants to do.

    It isn't likely to be of much use to anyone wanting to do GCSES, since most colleges don't offer them at all anyway, let alone to 14-16's- because schools do them.

    The third category is the new Diploma- but these are full time and often offered in partnership with schools, so the young person would spend sometime in a normal school setting. I can't see any difference between this and being in school and accessing them that way, so I am not sure they will be much taken up by this route.

    Then space - I wonder how oversubscribed some of these courses are - will they have been snapped up by schools already? Interesting though - although the cynic in me is somewhat aware of the timing!

  10. Julie says I think she has been pretty busy in the north of the county. S Mellor works for WSCCI think now.

    Jan not been busy in this part of Hampshire that is why the complaint is being looked into by HCC!

    I wonder if silly Mellor was pushed out by HCC? he wanted to know what exams child age 7 was taking LOL.

    You not thanked Peter for geting Jan Lewis contact details up on the HCC web site Julie?