E is for Education

Who does not love learning something new? I know I do and these days we have so many opportunities to satiate our lust for learning. Alas for most children they do not get to learn very much as they go to school. Why this is still the case remains a mystery. There can be no logical reason for herding children together who have nothing in common other than the fact that they were born around the same time and live in the same area. It is a patently silly idea that has never worked and never will work. Successive governments keep coming up with some novel idea they claim will make it work – usually involving doing more of what is not working now… more testing, longer hours, shorter holidays etc.


Fortunately here in the UK one need not bother with such nonsense. The law requires that parents provide their children with a suitable education. This can be in any form that suits the child and the family. Attendance at school is not a legal requirement. The original thinking was that there would be an education service along the lines of the health service – available to all as and when required.

A good school, in short, is not a place of compulsory instruction, but a community of old and young, engaged in learning by co-operative experiment.

The Hadow Report (1931)

Such a radical idea was crippled by the machinations of the church, existing school system and the limitations of post war funding and was, alas, never realised in the 1944 Education Act and that “triumph for progressive reform” was a pallid interpretation of what was envisaged and possible.

One looks forward to the day when the nonsensical schooling system is disrupted and we can start to build something better.

Captain Beefheart (1941 – 2010)

I used the instrumental “Best Batch Yet” for the Jam Making Movie so here is [wikipop]Captain Beefheart[/wikipop] in 1980 with a vocal version…

The offerings on YouTube seem decidedly low Def so I shall rummage in my boxes and see what I can fish out… “if you want to be a different fish, you’ve got to jump out of the school.”… Beefheart said claiming he tried school for half a day and never went back. His high school graduation photograph somewhat counters the claim.

The BBC obituary

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 gov.uk. Let’s hope they enjoyed, and were educated by, the silliness.

See also:
FreeBorn John

Spy Blog (Watching Them, Watching Us)

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?

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