Monday, 23 April 2018

Light on Ed Inaugural Learning Exchange

I am making a small contribution to this research event at Liverpool Hope University this weekend if anyone fancies it?

"This research network aims to be something a little different, being inclusive of academia but by no means exclusive to it. Light on Ed seeks to develop a multi-level network of researchers originating from schools, colleges, universities, other organisations along with independent researchers and scholars. It seeks to be open, supportive and focussed on accessible and creative communication with mixed audiences and constituencies.
The focus of the network is to shed a critical lens on our mainstream learning systems and look forward to an educational landscape where the learner is put back centre stage. In the process it will shed light on alternative educational settings and projects in addition to radical innovations from within mainstream. The network will serve as a resource for research questions and as a ‘dating agency’ for researchers and potential research projects. Light on Ed will establish a range of platforms for dissemination including websites, social media, forums, journal, digital and hard book publishing assisting with the visibility and archiving of this kind of research. The network will contribute to and emphasise developing informed grassroots narratives and understandings."
Join us at this inaugural LEX. We have a diverse line up and interesting themes running throughout the day. Come along and listen, question, contribute, talk, network and enjoy!

Light On Ed Inaugural Learning Exchange

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Parents Hit Out at Plans to Increase Oversight of Home Education

"Many in the home education community are opposed to a register, claiming it will not make children any safer. They are also concerned that the proposals, if approved, will strangle the home education movement in England, which they regard as a vital alternative to state education."

Parents hit out at plans to increase oversight of home education
Home schooling community says government proposals undermine parental rights and cast suspicion.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

My Own Tutor

My husband, Kaushil, who's a secondary school maths teacher (on supply these days), has a new project: My Own Tutor - an online learning platform with telephone tutor support, if needed.

This may be of interest to some home educators, particularly those who follow the National Curriculum, or are looking for a study programme to help with exam preparation.

It is not an expensive programme, and the money invested can be recouped with Shop to Learn, which gives you discounts on everyday purchases.

Check it out, and please share with anyone you know who might be interested. Thanks. :)

Saturday, 7 April 2018

A Reminder

Sorting through some papers, I came across this piece of writing from my eldest son's brief time at school. He must have been about 6 when he wrote this, and I kept it to remind myself why I took him out of school to educate him alternatively.

My Dad (his grandad) loves teddy bears ....

Monday, 26 March 2018

World Changers

100 years since some women in this country were permitted to vote, my youngest son and I have been enjoying Kate Pankhurst's colourful picture book, "Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World". So, it was great to see a workshop with the author as part of this year's Bournville Bookfest, Birmingham's children's book festival and annual celebration of storytelling fun.

Kate's book - and the new sequel, "Fantastically Great Women who Changed History" - introduces a cast of inspiring and adventurous female world changers, who have been too long overlooked by history. I recommend them. As we listened to Kate talking about her inspiration for the books and the way she learned about the characters she chose to include, it occurred to me how important it is that boys and girls are given both male and female role models. Seeing men and women visibly engaged in varied work and roles inspires our children to believe they can do anything.

Another favourite with my six-year old shark-obsessed little boy is, "Shark Lady" by Jess Keating, "The True Story of how Eugenie Clark became the Ocean's most Fearless Scientist" beautifully illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens. We love the story of how Eugenie's childhood fascination with sharks grows with her until she is exploring the oceans and making new discoveries as a leading ichthyologist. The way the world is right now, how important it is that children are presented with stories of courage and boldness, that they may find their own passion, their own voice and raise it fearlessly.

Listening to Kate Pankhurst, I am thinking of brave little Naomi Wadler and others, who spoke out in Washington this weekend against gun violence. I think of the legacy of Michelle Obama, a role model girls like Naomi have grown up watching. I am sure this has helped them believe they, too, can and should raise their voices and stand up for what they believe in. We need to see women speaking and leading with courage and conviction.

In Kate's books we read of Boudicca and of the Suffragettes, of Marie Curie, Ada Lovelace and many other courageous women in times gone by, but the battles are still there to be fought, and the voices of courage are still so needed. Naomi gives me hope for the future. She reminds us to keep showing our children that our values and our voices matter.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Rootless Urbanite

"The whole time I was at school, I wanted to be at home on the farm. I was convinced then, and I still am, that home was a more interesting and productive place to be for me. Making someone do something they don't want to do with thirty other bored kids seemed to me absolutely pointless. I'd look out of the windows and watch the swifts rising above the town, their scythed wings glistening in the sunshine."

My husband often works in challenging classrooms in our own city here in the Midlands where there seems to be disconnect between the teacher / culture of school and the young people who frequent these classrooms. That is why I said in my TEDx talk we need to profoundly change the way in which we engage these young people. We need to recognise the value of their own stories and the worlds that they inhabit. We need to help them to write their own journeys, discover the dreams and talents within, enabling and facilitating, rather than always thinking that we know better ....

When I was 15, I went to my GCSE Geography teacher with an idea for my coursework, a geographical enquiry. I went to him, a young Sussex girl with my love for the Downs and the Weald, and fascination for the geographical features I encountered walking the local hills with my friends. I wanted to investigate the strata of the hillsides; I certainly wanted a project rooted in the local countryside I loved. But the teacher didn't encourage my interest .... "You should do urbanisation," he said. Urbanisation? What did I know about urbanisation? But, ever the compliant student, I spent the weeks that followed studying global urbanisation, and drawing seemingly endless pie-charts, all beautifully coloured and nicely presented. I got an A in GCSE Geography, but a line of self-initiated enquiry was closed to me and, a few years later, life and education moved me away from those Downs I so love. I miss them still ....

"Students learn to pass, not to know. They do pass, and they don’t know."(Thomas Huxley)

"The question is not - How much does the youth know when he has finished his education - but how much does he care?" (Charlotte Mason)

Though I no longer dwell in the South Downs, the South Downs will always dwell in me.

Now as fracking companies threaten those hills of mine, who will stand before the destructive machinery and say, "No" if we do not care? Who will stand with the native American communities at Standing Rock and say, "Save our Water" unless we care? The Grade A is not so important, really, is it? Not for a rootless urbanite who really just wants to go home ....

"I sometimes think we are so independently minded because we have seen just enough of the wider world to know we like our own old ways and independence best. My grandfather went as far as Paris for a trip to an agricultural fair once. He knew what cities had to offer, but also had a sense that they would leave you uprooted, anonymous and pushed about by the world you lived in, rather than having some freedom and control. The potential wealth on offer counted for little or nothing set against the sense of belonging and purpose that existed at home." (James Rebanks in "The Shepherd's Life)

True Unschooler

He is cross with me because I tried to show him something ... "No, don't show me. I want to discover the world myself!" True unschooler!