We are in that lovely time after a storm when all has fallen quiet on the island. Although the sun has not managed to break through I have had a sneak at the forecast and the coming week promises much. Spring is such a busy time for us on the smallholding but a spell of dry and warm weather is just what we need to bring everything on.
As always I continue to juggle my time outside on the land with time in my studio writing or making crafts for the upcoming markets. I am delighted to say that I am finally on with my education ebook and I even have a working title that I am quite pleased with. Education Untethered will allow me to record the last 10 years in home education in a way that I hope will appeal to all parents, not just though considering home educating. I have a working structure that I am also pleased with that moves between context and practice with a strong emphasis on practice. True to the spirit that surrounds our own experience of education the book is question led as I attempt to answer as many questions as possible that parents ask me on a very regular basis. I have been working with an American parenting site called Ourmomspot and it has been very illuminating looking through their discussion forums. Questions that I get asked regularly also appear on Ourmomspot and it is uplifting to see how positive the responses are. There is a huge place for parenting forums in the virtual world as they provide a place for reflection and contemplation.
As a parent we reflect all the time and sometimes it is useful to do that we other parents. Networking through forums is just one way but Ourmomspot also features a series of useful articles on issues raised in the discussions. Scottish island mum has an article being published in the coming week on homeschooling so I will post the link here when it is live and would be grateful for all feedback.
Education Untethered as a title stems from my strong belief that education in this country needs untethering from far too many interventions from successive government ministers who bring very little understanding to the debates surrounding education. Currently, I believe we face the biggest crisis for some years with an education minister that seems determined to shape a system based on his own personal beliefs and experience. At a guess I would suggest that Michael Gove was good at exams and did well as a result. This has led to a really unhealthy obsession with assessment and he is determined to add to the already existing heavy burden of assessment faced by our children. It would be easy for me to distance myself from this crisis as I home educate and I am also in the final years of this process as my children are now much older. However, the education professional in me prevents me from stepping away from the debate and even the buffer presented by living in Scotland is not enough comfort. Scotland has a horrid habit of copying education legislation in England and Wales, albeit some years later.
All children should have access to quality education and that is the bottom line that I refuse to shift from. I seem to be dividing my time between battling with the UK agenda in education for a better system with my work as a Children’s Champion for UNICEF where we are battling for education to be provided in places around the globe where it doesn’t even exist. The children of Syria remain my number one priority as we now have children that have lost three years of schooling due to the conflict still raging in their country.
I am quite sure that even when my children are through home education I will still be engaged in these dual debates because education is a life long passion. Home education has allowed me the very great joy of truly understanding the intricacies of the learning mind and how it differs, even within siblings. It has enabled me to work with my children to create dynamic and engaging learning activities that have, in turn, fostered real passions for a variety of aspects from the world in which we live. I have been able to put the breaks on when needed and extend when that is the more appropriate option. All four of my children are heading in completely different directions in life and this is a true reflection of their differing interests as they moved through childhood. Together we have captured curiosity as a life long pursuit and developed knowledge and skills relevant for the world we inhabit. I have learnt just as much as my children and we all understand the value of continuing to learn until our last breath.
Now, I have a chance to put some of this back into a system that is, in this country, seriously damaged. When we put academic achievement before child welfare we should know we have lost our way. When we truly believe that assessment defines learning we have misunderstood the essence of education. When we have over burdened our children leading to far too many cases of severely stressed young people we should be prepared to put the breaks on and fast.
Scottish island mum has, thus, arrived at Education Untethered and I can’t help feeling that this book and its subsequent interventions is almost designed for the children whose voices have yet to be heard. As Michael Gove makes his move to reintroduce formal testing for 4 year olds Scottish island mum is working on an alternative entry in the world of school. This alternative captures early curiosity and allows our very young children find their voice in order to begin expressing their uniqueness to the world. For children working under this model it is the beginning of the most wonderful journey of discovery leading to the development of a satchel of goodies that will prepare them for the complexities of the modern world and allow them to make a real and lasting contribution. I will leave Mr Gove to his marking of all these additional tests and the reporting to concerned parents. Oh, I forget he doesn’t actually do that does he? He leaves that to the teachers and walks away damage well done.
Speak very soon. xx
Education Untethered will be published in E-book format in the coming months. If you would like to be notified when it is ready please complete the form below and I will add you to the distribution list. Many thanks.