Friday, January 19, 2007

Homeschoolers isolated from the real world

In a couple of her recent blog posts, Daisy rebutted the surprisingly commonly held view that children who homeschool are isolated from the real world.

Sometimes I think if I could isolate my children I would. Despite homeschooling, I have failed to protect my children from unsavoury aspects of the real world. From neighbouring kids, my children have heard pretty much any swear word you can think of. Out visiting, they've watched adult television, been fed high quantities of processed sugar, trans fats and salt, and have been exposed to restrictive gender stereotypes. Gathering with fellow Christians, they have come across the view that limiting the freedom of homosexuals is a higher Christian priority than combating poverty. Just this week, our six-year-old neighbour brought toy machine guns into our home that keep a record of how many times each shooter has been shot. 'You wanna kill me? You wanna kill me?' taunted our neighbour as he waited for Josiah to reset one of the guns ready for a new gunfight.

What homeschooling does allow a family to do is to take as long as we wish to discuss "real world" issues as they arise, exploring them from various angles, reaching our own opinions and choosing our responses to each.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Another reason not to go to school

Stuff reports that the teachers struck off by the Teachers' Council disciplinary tribunal in its first 14 months of existence include:

  • "Three who had inappropriate relationships with students.
  • "Four who inappropriately used laptops.
  • "One who imported child pornography.
  • "One who tried to intimidate and injure a 15-year-old.
  • "One who bruised his six-year-old grandson's head.
  • "One who indecently assaulted a girl.
  • "Three who faced drugs or drink-drive accusations."

  • Allowed to continue teaching is the boss of a child care centre where young children were slapped, force-fed, and ignored for long periods when they cried. This teacher is required to retrain but the course she is required to attend is 50 hours! That is just over one full-time week. Also allowed to continue teaching is a woman convicted three times of drink-driving.

    The thought of large numbers of children being under the authority of these adults - in their sole care - day after day for a year is disturbing to say the least. What kind of impact does such a teacher have on a child's life?

    Tuesday, January 02, 2007


    Watch, wait and wonder.

    Always nice to see Maria Montessori's methods being practised and promoted, even when those doing the practising and promoting appear to have no idea that Maria Montessori went before them. The psychotherapists behind this programme run sessions where they ask parents of infants to:
    • "Get down on the floor with the infant;
    • "Follow the infant's lead;
    • "Not initiate any activities him- or herself;
    • "Be sure to respond when the infant initiates but not to take over the activities in any way;
    • "Allow the infant freedom to explore, whatever the infant wants to do is okay as long as it is safe; and
    • "Remember to Watch, Wait and Wonder."*

    Summer holidays

    What did my son who hates writing do with this rainy day of his summer holidays? He spent half of it writing a letter! Not even a compulsory thank-you-for-the-Christmas-present letter. He finished those yesterday and asked me this morning who else he could write to as he wanted to do another Inkscape letter. Josiah and Tessa have been exploring Inkscape for the last couple of days, creating shapes and adding text and colour.

    Meanwhile, I read Eoin Colfer's The Supernaturalists, one of Josiah's Christmas presents. Josiah and Tessa each read it in a couple of days so I thought it might be gripping and it was - absorbing and fun - reminiscent of an action movie. I liked it much more than Colfer's earlier book Artemis Fowl, which in fact I didn't like at all; I like to be inspired by the virtue of fictional heroes, not depressed by their unpleasantness.

    It was great to see Josiah spontaneously writing several sentences. I had begun wondering how to encourage some academic work over the holidays with the children having got out of work mode. I'm glad now that I didn't come up with anything. I think the children needed a quiet week to recover from a busy end to the term and the family gatherings over Christmas. They have been reading till late at night, getting up late in the morning, reading some more. Josiah has worked on his globe puzzle and played lots of chess with Geoff. Tessa has created a bed and various other accessories in anticipation of the delivery of a doll she's purchased in an online auction. She's also played outside a lot despite the bad weather, sometimes with a neighbour or with Josiah but mostly on her own. Tessa and I have been for a few walks, and played a game of cricket with a neighbour (if you could call it cricket considering none of us can bowl accurately).

    I won't try to instigate school work at this stage but will "watch, wait and wonder" for a while instead.

    I certainly needed a quiet week. I have felt burnt out for most of the last three weeks. I have been getting up late and have skipped some of my morning exercise sessions, which means I start the day feeling that I've already failed at something. Hopefully some rest time will be what I need to get re-motivated.