Governmental visitors

Whilst all are welcome to come and browse here, should tax payers be subsidising government browsing?

More worrying is the Windows/Internet Explorer 6 thing. Do these people know nothing about security?

Of course the [W:IP address] is generic and could be from anywhere within Let’s hope they enjoyed, and were educated by, the silliness.

See also:
FreeBorn John

Spy Blog (Watching Them, Watching Us)

Library Books software for Gloucestershire

Harold Chu’s Library Books software for Mac OS X tracks your borrowings and reminds you when they need returning/renewing. I had messed with an earlier version but never managed to get it to connect to the local library service. A new version was in today’s MacUpdate listing but as Gloucestershire was not included in the preset UK libraries I had another go at getting it to work. Success 🙂

So if you live in [W:Gloucestershire], are a member of the library, have a Mac and a tendency to forget to return stuff this is what you need.

Install and run the Library Books software. It only appears as a star icon in the menu bar. Click on the star icon and select Preferences. Select the Logins section and click the + button to add a new library.
From the Library drop down menu select Generic Catalogue Systems – TalisPrism / Talis Catalogue System.

The Library Books Settings Pane
The Library Books Settings Pane

In the General settings add a Name and your Borrower numbet. PIN can be left blank.

In the Catalogue section add:
Catalogue host:
Library Web Page:
Date format: dd/mm/yyyy
Click the Save button.

That’s it!

Click on the Star icon and select Update and it will fetch a list of your borrowed items. The number of items are displayed next to the star. You can make the star change colour the day before an item is due to be returned and/or add the dates to iCal so that it will also remind you.

The software is free and no more late return charges 😉

Update: The details were sent to Harold Chu the developer who says that they will added to the Preset list in future versions.

The curious case of the missing "Badman" page


What do you get when you subtract….

This search


an identical search?

The Dark Lord Badman’s Guide to Home Education – Arranging An Inspection


Missing page
Missing page

Update 28th July 2009:
This piece had a lot of visitors yesterday (but not a single comment ;-)) most of whom were from the UK. A couple of visitors from [W:Google] itself passed through – probably in response to this link.

Of course Google searches are dynamic things and this page itself is now appearing in the .com listing. So for the record here is a picture of the original listings.

Google search listings
Google search listings

Update 2nd August: Curiouser and curiouser.

Back to basics: education otherwise than by mass schooling after Badman

Now that the dust has started to settle on the initial indignant ranting of the home educators it may be safe to pop above the parapet and float a few random thoughts….

The response to the Badman report should be on two discrete fronts, the civil liberties issues and the education issues, with each branch being argued separately.

One needs to acknowledge the limited world view of the professional educators. They went to school. They went to university. They went back to school. Any ideas that are outside this scenario can be difficult for them to grasp. Showing workings and adding labels to an illustrative diagram often helps.

The Badman report is a huge leap backwards to where we were decades ago so perhaps we should retrace our steps a few decades and find some other educational path to follow; one that does not lead to the odious home education model that is so common today.

Perhaps a starting point might be the description of various forms of education defined by Combs with Prosser and Ahmed in 1973 which included:

Informal education: the truly lifelong process whereby every individual acquires attitudes, values, skills and knowledge from daily experience and the educative influences and resources in his or her environment – from family and neighbours, from work and play, from the market place, the library and the mass media.

Which itself followed on from a 1972 [W:UNESCO] report called “Learning To Be” which raised the notion that…

education should enable each person to be able to solve his own problems, make his own decisions and shoulder his own responsibilities.

Learning To Be was adopted as one of The Four Pillars in Education for the 21st century (1996 – hence the ugly web site ;-). Etc. Etc. It would be far easier to defend from such extant heights than from the piddling [W:molehill] that is home education.

Someone should thank [W:Gordon Brown] for his vociferous support in a speech about education on the 5th May 2009 (my emphasis):

An alternative approach would be a significantly increased top-down role for government in the education system, local authorities running every school to meet centrally-set targets and regulations. I reject this approach. It would stifle innovation, deny teachers and school leaders the freedom they need to drive change. It would cut parents out of any role in improving education standards.

Bear in mind that the government’s response to the petition regarding the review said:

One of the key principles underpinning The Children’s Plan published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families is that the government does not bring up children – parents do.

Laughing out loud at those who suggest that a child’s safety and or well being are best monitored by professionals in a formal environment is really bad form.

On the other hand laughing at the home educators, and their posturing that has so successfully landed them in this pickle, is quite acceptable.

The damned and the dumb.

According to this BBC News story nobody never learns nothing after they leave school. But judging by the quality of the BBC report…

it is already known that dementia is less likely in people who been (sic) educated for longer.
Previous research has shown that education is beneficial because it increases the number of neural connections in the brain.

…the original Cambridge report probably does not say any such thing. On the other hand it may, possibly. As Dr David Llewellyn himself says:

exposure to secondhand smoke may be associated with increased odds of cognitive impairment.

I suppose it may; or it may not. Tricky stuff this scientific research. Could we at least conclude with some certainty that someone’s research funding is due for renewal?

Homeschooling and baking controversy spoof

An anonymous editor added a splendid story to the [W:Wikipedia] [W:Homeschooling] article. It was quickly removed but I post it here for prosperity:

In 2001 the Wonderbread company introduced a class action lawsuit against the US government–specifically targeting homeschool families. The company charged homeschool families with saturating the market with their homemade, wholegrain products and hand churned butter. Spokesman for the Homeschool Commission for Fair and Equal Baking Practices, Leonard Norton, defended American Homeschooled families by saying: “Homeschooling and wholewheat baking are almost synonymous. It would be a tragedy to see honest, hardworking, homeschooling Americans see their right to wholewheat baking taken away.”

Note the Spotify link below – this stuff isn’t just thrown together 😉

At last… the home education review

Far be it from me to say “I told you so” but… The only surprising thing about the current review of home education is that it has taken so long to arrive. Home educators have been (mixed metaphors alert!) relentlessly painting themselves into a corner for some years now, with their heads in the sand, hiding behind the sofa when someone from the council comes round.

The home educators have been so effective they have even managed to establish a whole new form of education…

According to the review’s top man Graham Badman::

… Legislation affords every parent the right to choose to educate their child at home…

Really? What legislation is that?

In Mr. Badman’s defence he has only ever experienced life through the education system so may well not have much real world/life experience to draw upon.

The legislation requires all parents to ensure their children are educated, either by going to school or otherwise. There is no mention of educating children at home. Alas the home educators have managed to usurp the otherwise bit so that it is commonly seen to mean education at home rather then anything that anyone might imagine it to mean. Even the comedy group [W:Education Otherwise] has sunk to a mere “home education support charity”.

Of course it was never meant to be thus. The “otherwise” clause was included in the 1944 Education Act which followed on from The Hadow Reports: A good school…

“… is not a place of compulsory instruction, but a community of old and young, engaged in learning by cooperative experiment”

Alas bureaucracy and finance meant that the ideals of the 1944 act; that each child is afforded an education according to their individual age, aptitude and ability, never transpired and the bog standard became the norm for most children – despite the notable efforts of Clegg, Duane et. al.

Royston Lambert’s “Alternatives to school” speech (University of Exeter, 19th November 1971) denounced, what were then called, progressive models of education as mere dressing of education in different clothes. While explicitly (note the year) acknowledging the influence of “American un-schoolers” (such as [W:Ivan Illich] and [W:Everett Reimer]) he anticipated an open flexible form of education that gave children “…a base other than home from which to operate…”

And now… This has been sitting in the Draft box for the past week. Perhaps I am not that bothered. Perhaps I just don’t care that much anymore.

I could go on about how [W:Seymour Papert] and his [W:Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas] is today far more relevant than he could have imagined at the time. One branch of his thinking has grown into the Scratch community (although this can become a little too schooly at times) and things like BlueJ / Greenfoot open routes for education once unimaginable – there was a recent exchange on a discussion list where someone was having problems with a game they were creating. “Ah! This is where you need [W:Trigonometry]” came the gentle nudging reply.

Similarly with Illich’s learning webs:

The operation of a peer-matching network would be simple. The user would identify himself by name and address and describe the activity for which he sought a peer. A computer would send him back the names and addresses of all those who had inserted the same description. It is amazing that such a simple utility has never been used on a broad scale for publicly valued activity.

Today there are probably such networks for just about every subject and yet little has changed in mainstream education. There are still the Browns,Jones and Robinsons some of the first two will be home educated while few of the Robinsons will be; even though it is they who would benefit most from an education otherwise than by schooling.

The ridiculous idea of mass schooling can be dismissed on, at the very least, educational, financial and environmental grounds but you rarely hear such arguments. I am sure the poor hapless home educators will be huffing and puffing and prattling on about “their rights” and writing letters and signing petitions and all that other stuff they do. I am pretty sure they will not be talking about education. Which is a shame because they can have interesting ideas but sadly these are rarely explored beyond their own little world. If they had talked about education more then perhaps they would not need reviewing.

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