Home Education

Discuss church-state separation issues that are relevant in Ireland.
sharon
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Home Education

Post by sharon » Fri Jun 22, 2007 12:46 pm

My children don't go to school. They learn at home. Lots of the other home educators I know here in Northern Ireland, are fundamentalist christians, but many of us have no place for religion.

It's especially important to me that our children are not sorted into one tribe or another. They are now growing up and playing with their friends, and I don't know in most cases what religious background they're from.

We can choose ourselves what to learn and are not constrained by the state curriculum.
brianmmulligan
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Post by brianmmulligan » Fri Jun 22, 2007 2:11 pm

sharon wrote:My children don't go to school. They learn at home. Lots of the other home educators I know here in Northern Ireland, are fundamentalist christians, but many of us have no place for religion.

It's especially important to me that our children are not sorted into one tribe or another. They are now growing up and playing with their friends, and I don't know in most cases what religious background they're from.

We can choose ourselves what to learn and are not constrained by the state curriculum.
My kids are always saying that they hate school as they are bored. I tell them I am thinking of home schooling them and they beg me not to. I wonder why? (genuinely)
Brian
bipedalhumanoid
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Post by bipedalhumanoid » Fri Jun 22, 2007 2:15 pm

sharon wrote:My children don't go to school. They learn at home. Lots of the other home educators I know here in Northern Ireland, are fundamentalist christians, but many of us have no place for religion.

It's especially important to me that our children are not sorted into one tribe or another. They are now growing up and playing with their friends, and I don't know in most cases what religious background they're from.

We can choose ourselves what to learn and are not constrained by the state curriculum.
What does it take to be a home educator in Northern Ireland? Are there specific curricula you have to comply to? Are you a qualified school teacher or did you you have to undertake some form of training to be allowed to educate your kids at home? Are you allowed to educate other children if you want to?
sharon
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Post by sharon » Mon Jun 25, 2007 9:07 am

bipedalhumanoid wrote: What does it take to be a home educator in Northern Ireland? Are there specific curricula you have to comply to? Are you a qualified school teacher or did you you have to undertake some form of training to be allowed to educate your kids at home? Are you allowed to educate other children if you want to?
It's so much easier than that.
I'm not a teacher and you don't have to be or train as a teacher to educate your children yourself. This applies to Ireland, north and south.

The wording of the NI law is;
1. The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
(My bold.)

Home-education is legal in the ROI too. Anyone can deregister their children from school, although the law was changed recently so that parents have to register their home-educated children with the Education and Welfare Board, who do an initial check that a minimum standard of education is being met.

So far, UK home-educators have resisted government efforts to effect compulsory registration.

All kinds of people are doing this. It is true that most of the other home-educators here in NI are creationist christians, but not all of us. Increasing numbers of children are being home-educated, for lots of reasons.

We do it because it's the best way of meeting the individual needs of my children, because I can let them learn what they're interested in. They each work at a level that is exactly right for them. We are free to do what we want with our days; we're not constrained by uniforms, school terms, homework, the ridiculous testing of young children, forced religious instruction, segregation, and of course, the school run.

I know it sounds like a totally crazy idea to most people when they first encounter it. But I don't know of a single family who have regretted doing this, even if their children later return to school.
sharon
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Post by sharon » Mon Jun 25, 2007 9:54 am

brianmmulligan wrote: My kids are always saying that they hate school as they are bored. I tell them I am thinking of home schooling them and they beg me not to. I wonder why? (genuinely)
I'd say it's far more difficult to conceive of not going to school as an older child. I have no idea of course, what age your children are, but their response makes me think they're older than my children. They probably think that home-education means sitting around the kitchen table being 'taught' by mum or dad. That's not how has to be, especially not for older children. The parents can act for as facilitators, getting the resources the child needs. So if my daughter continues to be very interested in natural history, I'll show her where to get appropriate books, web sites, DVDs, encourage her to join a conservation group or whatever is most appropriate, or maybe find a course she can take to increase her knowledge.

This thing works best when it's more learner directed.

I've been told that a good book for older children is The Teenage Liberation Handbook, by Grace Llewellyn, though I've not read the whole thing myself.

There's a sizable excerpt from the book here.
brianmmulligan
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Post by brianmmulligan » Wed Jul 11, 2007 10:35 pm

sharon wrote:
bipedalhumanoid wrote: We do it because it's the best way of meeting the individual needs of my children, because I can let them learn what they're interested in. They each work at a level that is exactly right for them. We are free to do what we want with our days; we're not constrained by uniforms, school terms, homework, the ridiculous testing of young children, forced religious instruction, segregation, and of course, the school run.
I would not agree that a parent is necessarily the best person to judge the individual needs of their children (Although most religious people disagree with me on this point). I would not be against home education, but I do believe that it should be done under some sort of supervision. There may be many things that the parent is unable to teach their children (algebra, compound interest). Also, I would guess that many, if not the majority of parents who choose home-schooling do it for the motive of restricting the child's access to knowledge. As for just covering what they are interested in, that could also have some quite negative consequences. Not everything we may need to learn for life is necessarily interesting.
Brian
sharon
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Post by sharon » Thu Jul 12, 2007 11:19 am

brianmmulligan wrote: I would not agree that a parent is necessarily the best person to judge the individual needs of their children (Although most religious people disagree with me on this point).
I wonder who you think is the best person or body to decide what are the best interests of each child? The state? What if the state decided to abolish the teaching of history, or if it was decided that no child should learn the English language, just Irish, or if the state decided that all children must learn creationism as the basis of all life.

Many parents make decisions about what they want their children to learn, and I may disagree with them, but I do think they have more of a right to make that decision that the state. Isn't the state the primary educator in a dictatorship? Parents only have stewardship of their children for a short time, and we can't force our children to be what we want. They grow up and do their own thing, thankfully.

I am trying to raise my children to use reason and logic, to be fair and moral, to have empathy and self respect, to be independent and health conscious. I would prefer to be able to decide what attributes are important, not have them imposed by the state (who probably want them to be merely good consumers, pliable, cogs in the machinary.)

There is the matter of the individual needs of each child to consider too. One of my children is autistic. This child learns best in a particular style and environment that would be very hard to recreate at school. One of my other children learned to read fairly late, she preferred to listen to me read to her. That was OK in the home as I had time to read what she wanted. She then had a much bigger vocabulary when she did learn to read herself and it happened very fast.
I would not be against home education, but I do believe that it should be done under some sort of supervision.


Can I first congratulate you for not bringing up the usual old issue of 'socialisation' as if going to a one-tribe school in NI was going to help my children to mix with a wide range of people. :roll:

Do parents have regular supervision when their children are aged 0-4 or 5? No. They can see health visitors for advice, but it isn't compulsory. It is assumed that the parent knows how to raise their child. Also, parents decide what to feed their children. There are unfortunately, children who suffer from neglect or very poor diets, but the state does not send inspectors in to each house to check out what's in the larder.

Anyway, while schools continue to fail so many children, the state should spend its time getting its own house in order before tackling elective home-education.
The UK and NI law (that I'm most familiar with) states that the education board can only act if it appears that there is evidence that a suitable education is not taking place.
There may be many things that the parent is unable to teach their children (algebra, compound interest). Also, I would guess that many, if not the majority of parents who choose home-schooling do it for the motive of restricting the child's access to knowledge. As for just covering what they are interested in, that could also have some quite negative consequences. Not everything we may need to learn for life is necessarily interesting
Brian, have you come across the Internet? :wink:
The parent does not have to instruct the home-educated child, (once the child can read, write and do basic maths anyway) but guides the learning and helps get the resources the child needs. Do you know just how many learning resources are online? There are full classes in almost any subject you can think of. Couple that with the library, evening classes, college courses, special interest groups and museums (to give just a few examples) there are so many ways to find out what you need to know.

As for your last point, I can only speak for my family. I do not just cover what they are interested in. I do follow their individual learning styles and allow them to spend more time on their interests. My children are still young (between 5 and 8) and most of the time they don't even know they're leaning, because we're playing card games or baking or chatting or reading stuff, but I know how much they learn from all these activities.

This has turned into a bit of an essay, but I could waffle on about HE all day. :)
brianmmulligan
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Post by brianmmulligan » Thu Jul 12, 2007 12:00 pm

sharon wrote:
brianmmulligan wrote: I would not agree that a parent is necessarily the best person to judge the individual needs of their children (Although most religious people disagree with me on this point).
I wonder who you think is the best person or body to decide what are the best interests of each child? The state? What if the state decided to abolish the teaching of history, or if it was decided that no child should learn the English language, just Irish, or if the state decided that all children must learn creationism as the basis of all life.

Many parents make decisions about what they want their children to learn, and I may disagree with them, but I do think they have more of a right to make that decision that the state. Isn't the state the primary educator in a dictatorship? Parents only have stewardship of their children for a short time, and we can't force our children to be what we want. They grow up and do their own thing, thankfully.

I am trying to raise my children to use reason and logic, to be fair and moral, to have empathy and self respect, to be independent and health conscious. I would prefer to be able to decide what attributes are important, not have them imposed by the state (who probably want them to be merely good consumers, pliable, cogs in the machinary.)

There is the matter of the individual needs of each child to consider too. One of my children is autistic. This child learns best in a particular style and environment that would be very hard to recreate at school. One of my other children learned to read fairly late, she preferred to listen to me read to her. That was OK in the home as I had time to read what she wanted. She then had a much bigger vocabulary when she did learn to read herself and it happened very fast.
It is fine if the parents have the skills and the open minds to do this task, but a huge number would not have this. I would suggest that public education can open children to a wider range of opinions. Although I do have a low opinion of the standard education available, I suspect that some parents would provide an even lower standard. The arguments you are putting forward are the exact same as those being put forward by religious groups - "we have the right to teach the children what we see fit". That tends to polarise communities. I agree that autocratic governments will use education to control the minds of the population, but remember that the parent has influence outside the school. I am constantly telling my children to be skeptical about things their teacher's tell them. Home schooled children have only one influence - their parents.
Brian
brianmmulligan
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Post by brianmmulligan » Thu Jul 12, 2007 12:04 pm

sharon wrote:
brianmmulligan wrote: I would not agree that a parent is necessarily the best person to judge the individual needs of their children (Although most religious people disagree with me on this point).
Can I first congratulate you for not bringing up the usual old issue of 'socialisation' as if going to a one-tribe school in NI was going to help my children to mix with a wide range of people. :roll:
I have never agreed with the socialisation argument for schooling. "Lord of the Flies" argued a long time ago that children are essentially savage and grouping them together is not a good idea. I think that mixing in wider age groups is more beneficial. I have often argued that full-time third level education is an extravagence and that the apprenticeship model is better. People say "what about the socialisation of college life" - they seem to be suggesting that people who never went to college are not properly socialised.
Brian
brianmmulligan
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Post by brianmmulligan » Thu Jul 12, 2007 12:19 pm

sharon wrote:
brianmmulligan wrote:
There may be many things that the parent is unable to teach their children (algebra, compound interest). Also, I would guess that many, if not the majority of parents who choose home-schooling do it for the motive of restricting the child's access to knowledge. As for just covering what they are interested in, that could also have some quite negative consequences. Not everything we may need to learn for life is necessarily interesting
Brian, have you come across the Internet? :wink:
The parent does not have to instruct the home-educated child, (once the child can read, write and do basic maths anyway) but guides the learning and helps get the resources the child needs. Do you know just how many learning resources are online? There are full classes in almost any subject you can think of. Couple that with the library, evening classes, college courses, special interest groups and museums (to give just a few examples) there are so many ways to find out what you need to know.
Sharon, I'm going to have to pull rank on you with this one. I work fulltime now on the development of online learning. The vast majority of parents do not have the skill to access and use educational resources on the Internet. However, if they are committed they can acquire such skills. However, it has generally been shown that using electronic materials without suitable human guidance by someone who understands the topics is not very effective (there is a company in India who will provide english speaking tutors for your child). So in a way the parent has to learn to be a teacher. Not all have the ability or knowledge to do this although most parents who go this route probably have the motivation to achieve this (there are also networks of home school parents on the Internet - you probably already know that).

TO be honest, I worry more about the motivation rather than the ability of home school parents. I suspect that most choose home schooling because of what is taught in school rather than what is NOT taught. In other words they wish to censor what information their child has access to

Can I ask you a few questions?

Do you intend to cover secondary schooling from home?

Are you sure you are covering all the pre-requisites for secondary school?

You probably are, but I am interested as I would worry that all parents might not do this. I personally think it would be a dawdle if you know what you are doing. And you would probably do it better.

By the way here's a great learning tool for kids. It's called Scratch - it's the follow-on from the kids programming language Logo (that I used to teach to kids after school years ago) http://scratch.mit.edu[/url]
Brian
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