Time to fight back on education


Modern societies tend to shelter children from experiences and responsibilities which would be invaluable training for the future. Most of us live in a risk-aversive culture which protects children from “dangerous” learning situations which might eventually save their lives — and the lives of many others — in the future.

A movement of sorts is growing in opposition to this overprotective culture. From Gever Tulley’s Tinkering School to Hal Iggulden’s Dangerous Book for Boys to a wide variety of wilderness adventure programs for youth, several people and organisations are pushing back against the stifling atmosphere of a risk-free upbringing.

Gets no argument from me.  Education needs to be about knowledge and skills presented at the appropriate juncture for the emotional and cognitive age – early, it should be diverse and later more specialized.  Everyone knew that some time back.

The article mentions ‘modern societies’ but I use the term ‘matriarchal’ for it’s in the nature of mothers to nurture and protect from harm.  Where most of us are agreed is that while that’s not a bad thing in a family, society is not a big family and does not need mummy or nanny State.  All the required nurturing can be done by the two parents and the kid’s class teacher for that year, providing the class teacher is of the sane type [rare to find these days].

Chuckles links to another article on a similar theme.  And what of these teachers who’ve lost or never really found the way?  Hardly surprising in the light of the recent posts on education on this site.  Hardly surprising in the light of people such as this [below right].

I mean, seriously – just look at her!

Believe me bad women headteachers are not exclusive to the UK. Met one here already in my five years in German schools. I WILL agree however with the earlier post from the Irish lady. The UK’s schools are run – intentionally I think….it cannot be coincidence – by insecure bullies with few people skills or no aptitude. Poor children! German schools are in the main much more friendly and cohesive! The percentage of male heads and deputies here at secondary level is huge compared to the handbag swinging lot in charge in the UK. [Germany ex UK]

How frustrating that bullies such as these are given positions of responsibility in our schools. They often have favourite members of staff and seek to boot out anyone they don’t like (regardless of their teaching ability). It ought to be easier for members of staff to speak out about bullying members of senior management in schools. [Laura, Carlisle]

Obvious question – what, practically, can be done.  The only way is for a bunch of highly regarded teachers [through parental feedback] to get together with people from industry to form the nucleus of a Council for Standards in Education or whatever you’d like to call it – presumably retired people now because of the time requirement – to issue accreditation criteria and start accrediting teachers UK-wide.

The second step would be to set up schools which, if they’re in line with parent’s concerns, would attract many.  Cost can be hugely mitigated by using online facilities and the old slates in the lessons, in a largely cooperative way, i.e. participating parents would allow their home computers to be part of it.

Yes, I can see some of the immediate problems – security, curriculum etc.  Curriculum is not difficult – the archives have full curricula in place and they can be tweaked for modern tech developments.  Seriously, that is the least of the problems.

The major problem will come from the government through its zoning.  If anyone attempted to run a ‘school’ from home, local authorities get drawn in and CCHQ are implacably opposed to the ‘wrong’ messages being given to children by parents and teachers, e.g. learning about our heritage, survival skills, developing solid literacy and numeracy – you know, subversive stuff like that.

And the media blackout would be complete although word would get out online and if a proper organization was in place, parents could be welcomed and directed to approved people in their area [even using CRB for the nonce] who were coordinating such things.

It’s so integral to what a goodly proportion of parents are crying out for at this time, let alone those in business, that it would most certainly grow and stand or fall by its own efforts.  So, just as you had Montessori schools and other types, this might be CSE-approved schools and the name would count for a commitment to all the things we’ve been writing about education in the past few years.

It needs one or two – as I say, probably retired now – to get this thing moving.

7 comments for “Time to fight back on education

  1. Andrew
    February 25, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Hi James,

    You might want to have a look at the Khan Academy if you haven’t already come across it.

    To quote their ‘About’ page – “We’re a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere.”


    I was thinking something similar could be developed here to act as a hub for home schooling.

  2. Sheila
    February 25, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Hi James and Andrew,

    1. School (at the moment the law refers to physical attendance ) is not compulsory although tptb are desperate to change this.

    The service resistant will be tracked down and monitored wrt state determined outcomes- socially included whether they like it or not – if we let them away with it.

    2. Andrew is right but the Khan Academy is just one example of the vast array of resources available to parents who decide not to delegate what is in law still THEIR responsibility to educate THEIR child.

    There is so much out there in the way of support and resources already- this site is run by a friend of mine who has observed that self-employment and providing a home-based education is quite a common experience: http://www.home-education.biz/

    The forums can get quite lively 😀

    3. A wee history lesson 😉


    You can listen to a condensed version by the man himself here:


  3. February 25, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Well, that interested a lot of people, didn’t it. 🙂

    • David A. Evans
      February 26, 2012 at 1:24 am

      I am interested.
      I live in an area that some would count as, underprivileged and would love to help the local kids, most of whom will leave school unable to read or write to an acceptable standard.

      Obstacle No.1 for me is a CRB check. I was arrested but never charged for an offence which would preclude me from participating in such a scheme! Innocence is no longer a valid excuse! 🙁

      • February 26, 2012 at 6:17 am

        I thought the ConDems were working on resolving that sort of idiocy?

        • February 26, 2012 at 11:46 am

          Kinda. They stopped the giant sucking demon which was the ISA and got it back in line. They are trying to hammer out the correct lines to draw with regard to Criminal Records in the Protection of Freedoms bill.


          The trouble is the CRB system which, as we’ve observed many times, makes an arrest in to a criminal record with real effects, permanently, regardless of there being no conviction.

          It is being discussed as to where to draw the line. The government is trying to get people to behave reasonably but it is coming up against the classic problem that if a CRB system is available, people use it to show diligence and cover their arses, rather than exercise judgement about whether or not to ask the question in the first place.

          The issue is likely to become more prominent in the coming months as we are ten years on from the Soham murders.

          This is the bill so far:

          The pdf of the act is listed from there, which is where you need to look, but it is one of the harder ones to read.

          Much clearer is the discussion in Committee a few days ago which shows much better what the government is aiming for.


          I haven’t been through the act yet but it looks – and I could be wrong – as if you could get an arrest ‘disregarded’, which is where the Secretary of State puts a note on the file making it officially Not Relevant.

          • David A. Evans
            February 27, 2012 at 8:07 pm

            Thing is, arrest is all it was.

            They later claimed to have caught the miscreant, however, given the way I was treated, I have no confidence at all that they did.

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