Thursday, 25 November 2010

Making a name for myself

The extraordinary suggestion was made in a comment yesterday that I am engaged in a crusade, the supposed reason being that I am determined to make a name for myself. This is a pretty odd idea, but I thought that I would examine it anyway, because this is not the first time that this notion has cropped up here. Just to remind readers, over a year ago I had a couple of short articles published on home education. Since then, I have kept a little blog on the subject. This is hardly 'making a name' for myself! I doubt that anybody other than those who come onto this blog know my name.

Of course, there is my famous book. Another suggestion which has been made is that this blog is acting as publicity for the book, which is all part of a long term plan of mine to make money at the expense of home educating parents. If only that were true! The fact is that academic works of this sort do not make money for their authors. Most people buying it will be professionals working in the field of education. A great deal of work has gone into the thing and I will be lucky to break even. Whatever motive anybody has for writing a book like that; it is certainly not financial.

Why did I write the book, if not for financial gain? Was it just to advertise myself, as some of those who comment here evidently believe? The reason was simpler than that. I wrote it because there is a good deal of ignorance about home education among teachers and local authority officers. as well as ordinary non-home educators, and I wanted to produce something which would provide them with a bit of background knowledge. I am aware that there are already books on home education, but these tend to be either self-published or from very small presses. I wanted something from a major publisher which would be available in big commercial outlets. That way, both professionals and parents could find it freely available without having to hunt through obscure sources to find it. It is being sold everywhere; from WH Smith to The Guardian bookshop and The Stationery Office. For those who fear that this is little more than a collection of my rants, I can assure them that it is nothing of the sort. The first six chapters are an objective survey of the phenomenon of home education, starting with the Sumerians four thousand years ago and covering up to the Ofsted report on local authorities released in the Summer. The seventh chapter is less objective and sets out my own prescription for how home education should be regulated in this country.

I should remind readers that I originally appealed on this blog for any autonomous educators to help, by contributing to a dialogue between local authority officers and home educating parents. I did plan to have a chapter where autonomously educating parents could speak directly to local authorities and local authority officers would put their concerns. I had some people from local authorities who were prepared to be named and give their views, but not a single parent wished to take part, even anonymously. I also emailed a number of the more vociferous people on the Internet lists, but nobody wanted to have their views included. I did not think it fair to allow the local authorities to have their say without a response and so scrapped this idea and put the case for both sides myself. This is shame. It would have been good for autonomous educators to have a platform of this sort in a book which is likely to be widely read by those who shape and implement policy, but obviously I couldn't twist anybody's arm!

20 comments:

  1. There is not much point reading your book though Simon as you are not a reliable person.
    You selectively quote people to change the meaning of what they say, in fact you have done this to me twice now on this blog.
    You are happy to be called a liar.
    You cannot give a straight answer to a straight question and you are rude.
    Not the sort of person I would want to look to as an authority on anything.


    Darren

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  2. 'You are happy to be called a liar.
    You cannot give a straight answer to a straight question and you are rude.'

    Explains a polite and truthful person.

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  3. Simon wrote,
    "Of course, there is my famous book. Another suggestion which has been made is that this blog is acting as publicity for the book, which is all part of a long term plan of mine to make money at the expense of home educating parents. If only that were true! "

    I suppose part of the reason for this belief is the amount of time you spend here. It appears as though you still only work part time for a charity (unlikely to be well paid!) and appear to have just switched from spending your time teaching your daughter to this blog and writing your HE book. Given your comments about people wasting their time on the internet it seems likely that the amount of time you spend here must be for a good reason. Your attitude also suggests that you wouldn't want to be a kept man, so of course people are likely to conclude that you hope to earn an income from these activities.

    "I should remind readers that I originally appealed on this blog for any autonomous educators to help, by contributing to a dialogue between local authority officers and home educating parents."

    Why on earth do you think autonomous educators would want to cooperate with someone who has been so hostile to them?

    "I had some people from local authorities who were prepared to be named and give their views, but not a single parent wished to take part, even anonymously."

    What, not even the people that you claim contact you off list with their views? This says more about home educators opinion of you than anything. This attitude to you and your lack of contact with home educators makes me wonder what LA officials who deal with home educators are likely to learn from your book. They have more contact with HE families than you ever have!

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  4. You show me where I have said something that is not true Simon.
    Back up your statement.

    Darren

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  5. 'Back up your statement.

    What are you asking me to back up; the suggestion that you are a polite and truthful person? I am happy to withdrew this damaging allegation, for which there is not a shred of evidence. I hope that you will now feel able to discuss home education, which is after all the purpose of this blog!

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  6. 'Why on earth do you think autonomous educators would want to cooperate with someone who has been so hostile to them?'

    I was not asking them to cooperate with me. I was offering a very public platform and the chance to address local authorties directly.

    'What, not even the people that you claim contact you off list with their views? This says more about home educators opinion of you than anything.'

    Well yes, I did have offers of contributions from structured home educators. Since these are in the main people who have regular dealings with their local authority, this would not help with the tensions between some home educators and some local authorities. It is those who refuse to provide curricula and detailed information who worry local authorities and it was these parents to whom I was offering an opportunity to put their case. There would be little point in putting the views of parents who are happy to cooperate with their local authority; it is not from these that the difficulties are arising.

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  7. "What are you asking me to back up; the suggestion that you are a polite and truthful person? I am happy to withdrew this damaging allegation, for which there is not a shred of evidence."

    How childish.


    "I hope that you will now feel able to discuss home education, which is after all the purpose of this blog!"

    Err, this blog article is about you and your relations (or lack of them) with other home educators. His comment seems entirely on topic!

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  8. Simon wrote,
    "I was not asking them to cooperate with me. I was offering a very public platform and the chance to address local authorties directly."

    Of course your were. You were asking them to contribute to your book. Even if they could trust you to reproduce their words accurately and completely (doubtful), how could they trust that you would not twist their meaning through following comments? They've seen plenty of evidence of this in your articles and on your blog.

    "Since these are in the main people who have regular dealings with their local authority, this would not help with the tensions between some home educators and some local authorities."

    I don't have regular dealings with my LA and there are no tensions, how could there be? Presumably you wanted people who have regular dealings with their LA but have problems.

    "It is those who refuse to provide curricula and detailed information who worry local authorities and it was these parents to whom I was offering an opportunity to put their case."

    There must be very few of these as the vast majority accept that we are wise to answer informal enquiries with information. I don't think I've spoken to anyone either online or off who believes they should not provide information. Even if we don't like Donaldson's judgement we accept that it's the law as it currently stands and challenging is unlikely to change this. Maybe you had trouble finding parents to put this particular case because it's an invention? If LAs decide that the evidence provided is insufficient to convince a reasonable person on the balance of probabilities that a suitable education is being provided they should issue a SAO. Their inability or reluctance to do this has nothing to do with the law as it currently stands.

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  9. 'Even if they could trust you to reproduce their words accurately and completely (doubtful), how could they trust that you would not twist their meaning through following comments? They've seen plenty of evidence of this in your articles and on your blog.'

    In the event, I put the case for informal education myself. I still feel that autonomous educators could have stated their views better, but am flattered that they were prepared to entrust me with the task on their behalf!

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  10. "In the event, I put the case for informal education myself. I still feel that autonomous educators could have stated their views better, but am flattered that they were prepared to entrust me with the task on their behalf!"

    LOL keep on like that Simon, you might eventually convince yourself if nobody else! Given that you are still confusing informal education with autonomous education 'they' (these imaginary home educators that trust you) were obviously mistaken. How can you still get this wrong? Hopefully, if you have made such elementary errors in your book, even LA employees will recognise your lack of knowledge.

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  11. 'Given that you are still confusing informal education with autonomous education'

    This is an error in understanding. I said,

    'In the event, I put the case for informal education myself.'

    I was contrasting here informal education such as natural learning, child-led education and what the Americans call unschooling with formal education of the type that we see in almost all educational institutions bar one or two places like Summerhill. I went on in the next sentence to say,

    'I still feel that autonomous educators could have stated their views better'

    This is because it was specifically autonomous education which had been under discussion. I doubt that anybody would assume from this that autonomous education and informal education are synonomous.

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  12. "I was contrasting here informal education such as natural learning, child-led education and what the Americans call unschooling with formal education"

    But child-led learning can include informal, natural, strucutured or formal education. Autonomous education is virtually identical to unschooling and either could look the same as the education that takes place in a classroom.

    You stated:

    In the event, I put the case for informal education myself. I still feel that autonomous educators could have stated their views better,

    Anyone reading this would expect that the second sentence relates to the first; that you ended up having to put the case that autonomous educators could have stated better. It's as clear as day.

    Not sure why you are trying to wriggle out of this. It's not the first time you've made this mistake so it wouldn't be difficult to find other examples from you blog.

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  13. Why didn't you ask the list owners at AEUK if anyone might like to contribute? This is the first I have heard of this.

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  14. 'Why didn't you ask the list owners at AEUK if anyone might like to contribute? This is the first I have heard of this.'

    I was chucked off most of the lists after the articles which I had published. I felt that even on those which I had not been thrown off, it would be sensitive not to post myself. This is why I started this blog.

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  15. "I should remind readers that I originally appealed on this blog for any autonomous educators to help, by contributing to a dialogue between local authority officers and home educating parents"

    Well there must be hundreds of autonomous educators reading your blog, I wonder why they didn't offer to help you earn some money with your book? Why on earth would thy avoid helping someone who has been so supportive of autonomous education?

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  16. 'I wonder why they didn't offer to help you earn some money with your book? Why on earth would thy avoid helping someone who has been so supportive of autonomous education?'

    As I have pointed out already, I don't expect to make any money from this book; it was a labour of love. As for autonomous educators not wanting a public platform for their views, I am puzzled by this. I thought that having a dialogue between sutonomous educators and local authority officers in this way, with each expressing their concerns, could only have been constructive. The LA officers thought so, autonomous parents did not. This is why in the book local authority officers are given a little more space than autonomous parents.

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  17. "As for autonomous educators not wanting a public platform for their views, I am puzzled by this."

    Why would you assume they didn't want a public platform - there are plenty of web sites that describe AE. home educators (including AE home educators) even started an email list and invited LA officials to join and discuss home education, but they didn't bother. It seems far more likely that they didn't want anything to do with you because they didn't know how you would use/twist what they gave you. Past experience has taught them not to trust you.

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  18. "This is why in the book local authority officers are given a little more space than autonomous parents."

    I do hope they don't moan too much about the naughty taxpayers who pay their salaries. Imagine if whilst on their platform they totally ostracise a whole section of the home ed. *community* ? Now won't that be constructive!

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  19. Wow, Simon, Amazon now have your book in stock! There's even a second hand copy for sale. How about that for a quick turnaround?

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