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Opinion piece: "Home-schooling is just another way for controlling parents to dominate and diminish their children’s lives"

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From The Independent
I received this link in an email from a relative. I replied back, "Yep, that's me - rebellious, controlling, and selfish." (Said relative thought it was a pretty funny read & is supportive of homeschooling.)

The part I was most confused about was the author saying that only middle class families can afford to homeschool.

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Now, we have a third tier, and something only middle-class parents, or families where only one parent works, can afford or accommodate.

But she talks about parents being fined for taking their kids out to go on 'foreign holidays.' Is that something that middle class families in the UK can afford on a regular basis? (We sure can't!) Something didn't add up there.

I wasn't sure what to make of her strange analogy here, either:

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Militant parents are outraged  insisting they are legally entitled to educate their children however they want. This is as arrogant as posting your children’s pictures on social media before they have reached the age of consent.

 

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The author has so many unformed thoughts.

From what I could gather, she thinks that community is vitally important and that society has an obligation to make sure every child is educated - something that is hard to do when it comes to homeschooling, even in my high-reg state. And she thinks that parents in general are not giving kids the freedom and space needed to grow within their society.

These basic thoughts are ones I can get behind and respect, though we may disagree on the finer points.  Her arguments, however, are all over the place and full of fluffy self-righteous anger.  Verdict?  Dismissed.

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13 minutes ago, RootAnn said:

 

But she talks about parents being fined for taking their kids out to go on 'foreign holidays.' Is that something that middle class families in the UK can afford on a regular basis? (We sure can't!) Something didn't add up there.

I wasn't sure what to make of her strange analogy here, either:

 

Lots of middle class folks in the US go on vacations to neighboring states.

It isn't particularly difficult or expensive to cross the English Channel.

Middle class gets defined differently by different people though.

Edited by maize
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39 minutes ago, RootAnn said:

The part I was most confused about was the author saying that only middle class families can afford to homeschool.
But she talks about parents being fined for taking their kids out to go on 'foreign holidays.' Is that something that middle class families in the UK can afford on a regular basis? (We sure can't!) Something didn't add up there.

A trip to France via the Channel Tunnel costs around $150 round-trip for the entire family. There are also lots of cheap package deals to places like Tenerife and Ibiza, for a few hundred dollars including airfare and hotel. Like Maize said, it's really not much different from Americans taking a trip to another state.

However, the phrase "middle class" does generally have more affluent connotations in the UK compared to the US.  "Upper class" in the UK generally refers to the aristocracy, so anyone below that, even if quite well off, would be considered middle class. 

Edited by Corraleno
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I think some of the attitudes in the piece are things that are much more British/European than American. The thing about social media, for example... lots of Americans feel it's fine to post their kids on social media. It's hardly a major issue here, even if I know people who feel otherwise. And the thing about the "middle class" being a bit of a privileged notion. In the US, people think of themselves as all part of the middle class for the most part. Even the expectation that schools should be some sort of singular unifier/equalizer - in the US, no one pretends they do that, even if some people would like them to be able to. We don't even have a single system here already - every state and district is already radically different.

Didn't the UK just pass some new homeschool laws? Is that what this is in response to?

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And middle class people go to Europe for holidays from the UK all the time. It's not a big deal. 

They get fined though, if they take their kids during school term...English schools are completely insane when it comes to attendance. 

Anyway. I suppose homeschooling is one way for controlling parents to exercise control, but it's certainly not the easiest or the only way, so whatever, I guess. 

 

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"Home-schooling is just another way for controlling parents to dominate and diminish their children’s lives"

 

I mean, it can be. Abusive, controlling parents are going to be abusive and controlling, and certainly I can see the appeal of homeschool to people like that.

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Oh ffs, the UK and much of the EU has funky attitudes about home education - I run into them with online friends I know through different hobbies.  But given the outcomes and abuses done to children enrolled in public education, too, there isn’t a big stone to throw at home educators.  

It does make me very much appreciate the flexibility and freedom I have to teach the kids here, and that’s why I don’t personally chafe at the minimums like testing or portfolio submittals as the bars for doing so.  Because this whack nonsense is the alternative.

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1 hour ago, Corraleno said:

A trip to France via the Channel Tunnel costs around $150 round-trip for the entire family. There are also lots of cheap package deals to places like Tenerife and Ibiza, for a few hundred dollars including airfare and hotel. Like Maize said, it's really not much different from Americans taking a trip to another state.

However, the phrase "middle class" does generally have more affluent connotations in the UK compared to the US.  "Upper class" in the UK generally refers to the aristocracy, so anyone below that, even if quite well off, would be considered middle class. 

Thanks for explaining the difference between the US & UK understanding of the term "middle class." 

I was seeing trips in light of my own experience -- our honeymoon was a "trip" (drive) to see DH's relatives, our vacations are also drives to see DH's family (usually involving staying either at BIL's house or in a tent on FIL's farm), and our only trips lately have been college visits (& we only take the high school senior with us). I forget other people take real vacations to other states.

Edited by RootAnn
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I couldn't finish it, her article jumped all over the place, with zero transition from one unrelated idea to the next. And I lost interest real quickly. 

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Oh wow!  This is why I homeschool my kids! So they learn to do some actual research and not write and publish ridiculous articles about something they don’t have any idea about!

there were a lot of half formed ideas in that that could have done with more exploring but that was really really badly written.  If that quality of writing is reresentative of the anti home school viewpoint we are pretty safe!

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A friend is homeschooling her dyslexic son in UK. They are UK citizens. It’s easy for her to homeschool and they do travel to other countries when her oldest son in private school is on school holidays.

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I'm unfortunately familiar enough with Janet Street Porter (who has literally been voted "Most Annoying Voice in the UK" lol), that the article was kind of a painful read since I "heard" it in my head in her voice! Notice that she also says if she were in charge of education, she would abolish all private schools as well, so she's not just anti-homeschooling, she's basically against everything except state schools. She's a bit of a nutter. 

I honestly don't see a problem with registering as a homeschooler, though. Is there more to the new law than that? Do they have to get approval or do testing or anything? When I pulled DS out of private kindergarten there, I didn't have to register since he had never been in the public (state) system, but I wouldn't have objected at all if I'd had to register, as long as they weren't going to control curriculum choices or anything.

However, one of the main reasons we moved back to the States just before DS turned 7 was that I felt the UK educational system was not a good match for an extremely bright but dyslexic and ADD kid. At the time, there were no accommodations for LDs in the schools we talked to, and I was told by several people that "ADD doesn't exist," and that it's basically just an American invention to excuse bad behavior. 🙄 Kindergarten there (aka Reception) is a full day at 4 years old, and my son was constantly being told that he was "a very naughty boy" for not sitting still and being quiet — at 4! One day when I picked him up from school he was crying and said his teacher told him "no one will ever love a boy like me," so that was the last day he ever attended school in the UK.  😢

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17 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

I'm unfortunately familiar enough with Janet Street Porter (who has literally been voted "Most Annoying Voice in the UK" lol), that the article was kind of a painful read since I "heard" it in my head in her voice! Notice that she also says if she were in charge of education, she would abolish all private schools as well, so she's not just anti-homeschooling, she's basically against everything except state schools. She's a bit of a nutter. 

 

 

So she is a control freak? 😁

I didn't read the article since I didn't want it to get traffic but that stuck out to me.

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3 hours ago, Corraleno said:

I

However, one of the main reasons we moved back to the States just before DS turned 7 was that I felt the UK educational system was not a good match for an extremely bright but dyslexic and ADD kid. At the time, there were no accommodations for LDs in the schools we talked to, and I was told by several people that "ADD doesn't exist," and that it's basically just an American invention to excuse bad behavior. 🙄 Kindergarten there (aka Reception) is a full day at 4 years old, and my son was constantly being told that he was "a very naughty boy" for not sitting still and being quiet — at 4! One day when I picked him up from school he was crying and said his teacher told him "no one will ever love a boy like me," so that was the last day he ever attended school in the UK.  😢

We're in the UK and cannot wait to leave, and the schools are one of the main reasons. The independent sector suited DS1, but DS2 has hearing loss and mild ADHD. He was routinely seated at the back of the class. If he wanted a seat near the front, he would have to run to class (they switched each subject) to get a seat in the front. If these were full (boys liked to take them so he couldn't sit there), he would ask for a switch and the kids would tell him he didn't have a hearing problem at all. He was called "ret&&** Chinese" "flatface" and all sorts of things by other kids. He ran up the stairs with his buddies once and was told the three of them were the worst-behaved kids in school. When I confronted the teacher, he admitted it. His hand got slammed in a door by another boy (required X-rays) and the teacher blamed him because he was waving his school tie at the boy. I could go on. This is why many people in the UK homeschool, and why so many do not want registration. We would be subjecting ourself to inspection by the same system that has abysmally failed our children. They can't even run schools properly; how could they supervise homeschool?

Here's another example. I took DS to the ER a few weeks ago for a hurt finger. Once the GP found out that we homeschool (we had to write it on the intake form), she asked many, many intrusive questions. She then consulted with someone else and came back to tell us she had reported us to our local government (in charge of welfare and schools) because my son was homeschooled. She told us it was the law that children unknown to the local council be reported. I know of other families who have been visited and cold-called by government officials demanding information about their homeschool. I'm a lawyer, so she picked the wrong mom, lol. I filed a complaint with the hospital and have received a verbal apology, as the GP was bang out of line. I am chasing the written apology. The poor hand surgeon to whom we were referred a week later got an earful from me when she dared ask "how's school". Turned out she was pro-homeschool. 

Anyway, long story to say that while I personally have no issue with registration or even supervision (to a degree), I do have major issues with the attitude of the government to homeschoolers here in the UK and no confidence at all that anyone in the educational department would be able to do the job. 

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I didn’t click, but I find the picture thing amusing. I have years and years of little kid pictures on the internet, but I only post “big kid” pictures with their permission, now that they have their own lives and some real agency.

I fully admit to dominating my kids when they’re young. (Dominant - adjective - most important, powerful, or influential.) Seems wise.  But I dare anyone to try to label me as controlling once they meet my kids and discover what they’re like and what they’re up to!

Dummies gonna dumb.

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14 hours ago, Corraleno said:

A trip to France via the Channel Tunnel costs around $150 round-trip for the entire family. There are also lots of cheap package deals to places like Tenerife and Ibiza, for a few hundred dollars including airfare and hotel. Like Maize said, it's really not much different from Americans taking a trip to another state.

However, the phrase "middle class" does generally have more affluent connotations in the UK compared to the US.  "Upper class" in the UK generally refers to the aristocracy, so anyone below that, even if quite well off, would be considered middle class. 

Yes, that.  And just for cost comparison...it cost us between 1/2 and 1/3 of the price to fly from Italy to France and spend a week at Disney than it did to fly from Texas to Orlando and spend the same at WDW. 

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5 hours ago, saw said:

I filed a complaint with the hospital and have received a verbal apology, as the GP was bang out of line. I am chasing the written apology.

I didn't want to just plain "like" this, I wanted to "💪" this. Awesome.

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Oh wow!  That article is so U.K. and I home schooled there for many years.

Some odd things to remember about schools in England is every school has its own board.  Both Dh and I have been asked to be on different school boards in the past but we refused.  So obviously there can be quite a mixture sitting on each board.  The board picks the dates for each set holiday like half term....approximately after six weeks of term time.  Every school board in your area moves their dates around to suit themselves so every primary school in your district does not automatically have the same days off.......they generally do but don’t count on it.  Add living in a village that sits where three separate government entities intercept like I do which makes it possible to end up with a kid in each which causes even more variation......week long holidays like half term are always over two weeks, occasionally three for our area.    It’s a recipe for a family with children 7,  12, and 17 having very few school holiday dates that intercept.  I knew a family that had roughly two weeks in the summer and December 23 to )an 2 in common one year.  Not a lot of holiday choice.  The fine for more than four days out of school a year (includes sick days that aren’t verified somehow) is about £100 to the school for each day you remove the child for a holiday,  it is just Wild from an American perspective.  Local parents are getting more vocal about paying these fines.  

Grade level in England is totally off your child’s date of birth.  I have never ever heard of a child being held back or advanced,  they simply move through the system with an occasional standardized exam to determine how they meet the requirements for the next school application round.  We are currently waiting to hear where our neighbor’s oldest child will be placed for secondary......applied in October and results come out sometime in April.  It’s a big deal because their younger child with special LD’s will automatically follow the older no LD child.  There is little chance of changing the secondary for the younger apparently.  I have known these kids for most of their lives and am frankly terrified because the local secondary is dreadful and the younger will not do well, I don’t think the older will do well there either if I am being honest.  Only one experimental new school works for the younger and it is not a common one for our  village.   Home ed is actually on the table for next year as the alternative plan which makes me sad because it is not what the mom wants to do......I wanted to home ed.

My family never registered in England although we are British because we always planned on the US exams when the time came and felt the LA would be of little use in preparing my children for exams they were unfamiliar with.  Also Uni in the US for one degree was always the plan and we made sure that was known.....I always declined the need for the LA but always had current US exam results which complied with my US home state’s laws and a US umbrella school.  The retired LA from the neighboring district attended our church which was unpleasant but we survived.....he loved to explain how my kids were thriving currently but home ed children are being cheated of the “experience” and were never going to succeed in life.  He probably would have reported us happily but knew we had too much in terms of documentation etc.  Rather like the article!  🤣 We never did the UK exams because finding a place to sit them is so hard......we had planned to do one for the experience. 😉

Which brings me to.....Most of my friends registered their children when they started home ed or ended up registered when they removed their children from school.  Working with an LA through the primary years was not a problem.  A couple of hours and a relatively pleasant report to prove to relatives you were doing just fine was how my friends saw it.  They assumed this meant seats for exams at GCSE level would be found by the LA for their children.  No deal.  Useless.  Hours wasted talking to the LA.......

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On 4/5/2019 at 7:21 PM, hjffkj said:

I couldn't finish it, her article jumped all over the place, with zero transition from one unrelated idea to the next. And I lost interest real quickly. 

I agree.

Maybe if she had been homeschooled, she would have been able to express her opinions in a more cohesive, well researched article. 

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Well, goodness knows I couldn't diminish my kids' lives this well if they were in school. My hat is really off to those moms who try to do all the diminishing after school and on weekends.

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On 4/6/2019 at 7:43 AM, saw said:

We're in the UK and cannot wait to leave, and the schools are one of the main reasons. The independent sector suited DS1, but DS2 has hearing loss and mild ADHD. He was routinely seated at the back of the class. If he wanted a seat near the front, he would have to run to class (they switched each subject) to get a seat in the front. If these were full (boys liked to take them so he couldn't sit there), he would ask for a switch and the kids would tell him he didn't have a hearing problem at all. He was called "ret&&** Chinese" "flatface" and all sorts of things by other kids. He ran up the stairs with his buddies once and was told the three of them were the worst-behaved kids in school. When I confronted the teacher, he admitted it. His hand got slammed in a door by another boy (required X-rays) and the teacher blamed him because he was waving his school tie at the boy. I could go on. This is why many people in the UK homeschool, and why so many do not want registration. We would be subjecting ourself to inspection by the same system that has abysmally failed our children. They can't even run schools properly; how could they supervise homeschool?

Here's another example. I took DS to the ER a few weeks ago for a hurt finger. Once the GP found out that we homeschool (we had to write it on the intake form), she asked many, many intrusive questions. She then consulted with someone else and came back to tell us she had reported us to our local government (in charge of welfare and schools) because my son was homeschooled. She told us it was the law that children unknown to the local council be reported. I know of other families who have been visited and cold-called by government officials demanding information about their homeschool. I'm a lawyer, so she picked the wrong mom, lol. I filed a complaint with the hospital and have received a verbal apology, as the GP was bang out of line. I am chasing the written apology. The poor hand surgeon to whom we were referred a week later got an earful from me when she dared ask "how's school". Turned out she was pro-homeschool. 

Anyway, long story to say that while I personally have no issue with registration or even supervision (to a degree), I do have major issues with the attitude of the government to homeschoolers here in the UK and no confidence at all that anyone in the educational department would be able to do the job. 

That all sounds awful.  For a contrasting view, I had no problems with home educating in the UK - nothing from doctors or from our Member of Parliament when we went to talk to him about home education (he was happy to support a motion in parliament to keep low-level regulation).  My boys' experience in school was also totally different; the school was also very positive about the boys' previous home education, saying that they had had really good experience with previously-home-educated pupils.

I can't bear Janet Street-Porter.

Edited by Laura Corin
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This is really interesting to me... I rarely think of the US as ahead on anything compared to other developed nations when it comes to education (individual schools and districts, sure, but not as a whole). But reading these couple of stories, I guess American kids and parents should be really grateful for IDEA. What is done for kids in the UK who have learning disabilities if not accommodations? Are they just... left out? Are there any legal requirements for schools to do anything to test or serve them?

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1 hour ago, Farrar said:

This is really interesting to me... I rarely think of the US as ahead on anything compared to other developed nations when it comes to education (individual schools and districts, sure, but not as a whole). But reading these couple of stories, I guess American kids and parents should be really grateful for IDEA. What is done for kids in the UK who have learning disabilities if not accommodations? Are they just... left out? Are there any legal requirements for schools to do anything to test or serve them?

As far as I know, independent (private) schools have to welcome disabled students by law, but the I don't think that they necessarily have to provide special services for learning difficulties.  State (public) schools have to accommodate children with learning difficulties.  This is the statement for Scotland:

Rights of people with additional support needs

By law, education authorities must identify, provide and review the additional support needs of their pupils which can arise in the short or long term as a result of the learning environment, family circumstances, health, wellbeing needs or a disability. https://www.gov.scot/publications/supporting-childrens-learning-statutory-guidance-education-additional-support-learning-scotland/pages/3/

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8 hours ago, Farrar said:

This is really interesting to me... I rarely think of the US as ahead on anything compared to other developed nations when it comes to education (individual schools and districts, sure, but not as a whole). But reading these couple of stories, I guess American kids and parents should be really grateful for IDEA. What is done for kids in the UK who have learning disabilities if not accommodations? Are they just... left out? Are there any legal requirements for schools to do anything to test or serve them?

My experience is mainly with former foster children (now adopted) and foster children who receive quite a bit of assistance at the primary school level.  I have actually been extremely impressed with the progress one child has made in terms of speech and motor skills.  His improvement is remarkable and all through the school.  The specialists all come to the school in the village and it is quite extensive.....   This being said children who have been in care are given front of the line preference for many services which can be really frustrating for many.  The mentality is to wait and the service will come to you as opposed to the more aggressive attitude I tend to have.😉.

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On 4/5/2019 at 10:47 PM, Corraleno said:

Kindergarten there (aka Reception) is a full day at 4 years old, and my son was constantly being told that he was "a very naughty boy" for not sitting still and being quiet — at 4! One day when I picked him up from school he was crying and said his teacher told him "no one will ever love a boy like me," so that was the last day he ever attended school in the UK.  😢

Holy crap.  😡

 

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