Friday, 28 June 2013


There you go:  back to the old title scheme for now.

If you're here for my ed phil, here it is in full:

The advantages of school are as follows:  charismatic teachers who can enthuse children about their subjects, the acquisition of useful skills which children wouldn't otherwise learn, a gradual process of increasing independence which occurs without parental intervention and the ability to escape from a harmful family environment.  It's important not to be reactive to the school environment, but these are relevant issues and should be addressed.

I freely chose to have them and the option existed not to bear children.  Therefore, I am responsible for their long-term wellbeing and education, along with other aspects of their life.  It would be irresponsible of me to hand those tasks over to strangers, regardless of their outlook or personality.  It may also be my duty to protect children at school from my own children: to prevent schoolchildren from suffering at their hands.  For instance, a child who is not being approached in an individually tailored manner may become disruptive and disturb the learning or positive experience of other children, or cause distress to adults involved in their education.

My approach has a tendency towards autonomy but is not entirely autonomous, and in fact i believe that complete educational autonomy is impossible.  It is important to offer children a wide range of educational opportunities in order that they can find what interests them and pursue it, and to an extent, to encourage them to learn skills which would not normally interest them, although it is also important to make such things seem relevant and interesting to them.

I do not believe a set curriculum to be appropriate for most children, although it may be for certain children who are not neurotypical where they thrive on routine.  However, such an approach could be compromised by school attendance if the child is not already institutionalised, as this could be a disruption to their routine.

In the following, I refer to the curriculum.  By this, I mean something analogous to what children are intended to learn explicitly in lessons and through homework at school, as opposed to the "hidden" curriculum.  A literal interpretation of the content of the National Curriculum is an example of what I mean by the word "curriculum".  I acknowledge that there are other kinds of curriculum which all children experience, which are tacit and reflect implicit values and goals which may or may not be congruent with the children's, family's or society's long-term health.

I wish to make these points regarding the curriculum in the sense outlined above.  It is problematic and inefficient in a number of ways:

There is a relatively narrow range of subjects.  Examples of subjects which are not covered include Philosophy, certain world languages and first aid. [Check this].  Philosophy is an innate human approach to apprehending reality and is implicit in all interaction.  It can be emphasised consciously but in a school setting this is often done in a relatively unreflective and formulaic manner.  Having said this, I would be in favour of P4C and critical thinking as part of this.  For example, Accelerated Learning is not Philosophy, nor is Neurolinguistic Programming or NVC.  This is not to criticise those programs, but there must be no confusion.
There is a presumption of inappropriateness for certain age groups and levels of development.
It is more difficult to exploit motivation if the curriculum is inflexible.
It is more difficult to present the subject matter of the curriculum at the appropriate level for individual children.  If it is pitched either too high or too low, it is likely to reduce motivation to learn and lead to anxiety, boredom or depression for certain children.
Children's own interests and talents are not easy to pursue.
It is more difficult for those whose task it is to deliver the curriculum to be creative or original within its structure.
It can be socially inappropriate.  For example, it may be more apt for a child to maintain or achieve competence in Gujarati as a second language than to do the same in French if their family has it as a first language.  Conversely, a situation where a child's family's mother tongue is French but the child is not permitted to pursue French at school because they have not been assessed as achieving a particular standard in an unrelated subject is plainly ridiculous.

As a result of this, I have no plans to include a formal curriculum in my educational plans for the children.  However, I do refer to curricula and syllabuses in order to ensure that they are learning in a relatively balanced way which is comparable to schooling, and I engage in retrospective assessment of the children's learning for the purposes of testimonial and the compilation of portfolios.

Social aspects of a relatively formal group learning exercise.

The appeal of school to many children is its social dimension, that is, the opportunity to meet friends and socialise with them.  This aspect is also widely acknowledged by adults in families associated with children educated otherwise than at school, and consequently my children participate in some formal communal learning.  The chief appeal of such an exercise may be the chance to interact with friends, and in such circumstances, children with an enthusiasm or aptitude for a particular area may be able to interest other children in them where a parent or other adult could not.  Moreover, a session undertaken with other children may be more interesting in itself than alone, and such possibilities as cooperative learning and role-playing  may emerge.  This is not so easy to reproduce at school due to its formal nature.  A common mindset among children at school is based on an opposition between adults involved in the learning process on one side and children on the other, which can lead to disruptive behaviour and the sense that academic work is boring and irrelevant.

My educational philosophy therefore includes the following ideals:

I aim to encourage my children to pursue their own interests in the full expectation that this will enable them to learn a wide variety of skills and acquire a similarly broad range of information in a motivated way during their childhood and prepare them adequately for learning as adults.  To this end, I facilitate their learning through conversation, activities and the provision of resources and opportunities, recognising that much of this is available in daily life where its application is clear and therefore easier to motivate and remember.  Their education is pursued in various environments, including home, workshops organised for children by organisations such as museums, libraries, leisure centres and art galleries, and activities arranged informally and formally with other families involved in education otherwise than at school.

The place of education for the children is emphatically not the home.  Whereas learning takes place in the home, it also takes place wherever the children happen to be.  The home is not a specific premise for education and this fact cannot be overstressed.  Family life does not end at the front door, nor does religion end at the church gate.  Similarly, education does not have a spatial location.

It should go without saying that I acknowledge the importance of social interaction with a wide range of other individuals in children's development.  This is often understood to be more difficult to achieve if a child is not at school.  To this end, I shall now set out a list of social situations in which my children have participated or still do so which provide such opportunities:

Interaction with relatives, friends and acquaintances who are currently going through school.

Youth clubs

Drama groups

Art groups


Martial arts

After school and out of school clubs

Attendance at church events

Musical activities

Participation in wider projects involving the general public, for example extras in film-making.

We never used it in anger because the LA never found out the children God lent us weren't at school.  This forms the doobley-do to the video, so i'll just post it: