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More kids being alternatively schooled

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Choccy's picture
Choccy
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Feb 9 2008 22:59
More kids being alternatively schooled

Guardian today had a story relating to reports on primary schools, saying kids are increasingly being either home-schooled or educated at alternative like Steiner schools.

"Both the numbers opting for home schooling and the range of motivations of those wishing to do so have expanded considerably in recent years. One substantial and growing group is comprised of those who have abandoned formal schooling because they believe it to be too constrained," according to a paper by James Conroy and colleagues at Glasgow University. An estimated 50,000 children are being educated at home. A second paper, also released today, reveals that English children are attending school earlier, and spend more days a year at school, and in increasingly large institutions.

However shite mainstream schools are, I am glad that I went to one and wasn't home-schooled or go to some hippy school. It's valuable that a study is finding kids are tested too much, go to school for too long and parents are increasingly seeking alternatives but isn't everyone who gets homeschooled kids of either: a) right-wing christian fundamentalist stock, b) middle-class hippies, c) nut-job survivalists?
As for Steiner schools - aren't they just crap and pay their staff fuck-all? I mean the local Steiner schools pay teachers 10grand a year the last advert I saw.

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Feb 9 2008 23:18

I know a few folk who home schooled that don't fit into those categories. They only home schooled up until the kids were old enough to attend comprehensive school. When they sent the kids to school they told the teachers that they were home ed so they had to sit tests to see if they had recieved the proper level of education and did really well, higher than average apparently.
The middle class hippies I know who said they were going to home school seem to do it for a wee bit before sending the kids to school after a couple of years.
Wouldn't surprise me if it was mostly a middle class guardian reader thing mind.

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Feb 10 2008 00:00

I don't know anyone who was home-schooled, every single one of my mates went to a mainstrem school.
There was a Guardian article about Steiner-type schools in Dec/Jan that challenged the assumptions I've made, but on anecdotal article won't really convince me that they are, as they stand now, anything more than full of smug liberal middle class hippies. I'm definitely open to being proved wrong or at least hearing something positive about them. If I ever have kids they be going to a normal school instead of hanging about with weirdoes all day wink

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Feb 10 2008 01:07

I'd agree with you about steiner schools but I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to give any evidence about home schooling that wasn't anecdotal. Like I said the people I know who have home schooled properly have only done it till the kids were old enough to attend comp. I more wanted to point out that it's not not just mental christians, militias and middle class guardian readers that home shool. As far as primary education (4-10) goes I think home schooling is grand as long as the kids have a proper ability to socialise with other kids.

Jason Cortez
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Feb 10 2008 01:11

My son was home educated for a number of years. i don't which of your categories i fit in? I suggest that you go and read any of a number of books written on the subject. If you are really interested, i will give a list of good starters.

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Feb 10 2008 01:14

Oh for fuck sake I'm not ACTUALLY suggesting every homeschooled kid is like that jesus.

I've read bit and bobs about homeschooling, mainly mental nut home-schooling, and I'd agree with welshboy about the primary thing.
I just know I'm glad I went to primary school with my mates and trade football stickers, play football, play with WWF toys, talk about computer games and have a laugh generally instead of sitting at home.

Randy
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Feb 10 2008 01:49
choccy wrote:
I don't know anyone who was home-schooled...

Well no wonder you're such an expert on the subject!

Jason Cortez
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Feb 10 2008 01:51
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I just know I'm glad I went to primary school with my mates and trade football stickers, play football, play with WWF toys, talk about computer games and have a laugh generally instead of sitting at home.

I think this fairly reflected my son's experience of growing up too (even including 2 years of primary school). He certainly hasn't expressed any major misgivings about being home educated, although i do know a couple of people who do, but given i also know many people who were unhappy with their schooling, so what. i relly don't think you do want to question your assumptions. wink

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Feb 10 2008 01:53
Randy wrote:
choccy wrote:
I don't know anyone who was home-schooled...

Well no wonder you're such an expert on the subject!

Is that it? That's your input?
I'm admitting my ignorance, stated my experience and made clear my assumptions up-front. You've said NOTHING, nice one.

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Feb 10 2008 02:02
Jason Cortez wrote:
I think this fairly reflected my son's experience of growing up too (even including 2 years of primary school). He certainly hasn't expressed any major misgivings about being home educated, although i do know a couple of people who do, but given i also know many people who were unhappy with their schooling, so what. i relly don't think you do want to question your assumptions. wink

Well from what I've read most home-schoolers aren't like yourself and usually are hippies or mental christians - but it's cool that it worked-out for you. I'd be curious how you came about the decision and what way you went about it. If you point me to a few non-mental, non-hippy, non-antisocial books/articles/sites about it I'm genuinely interested.

I had a discussion with a girl at work who just decided to send her son to a mainstream primary after trying to set-up a small "concerned parents" type educational support group after replying to an ad. She's really sound, kinda liberal ex-art teacher disillusioned with mainstream education, and thought she'd give a home/small-community school thing a try. She said when she got there after a few sessions she immediately realised they were all nuts and went with the mainstream primary. I know it's anecdotal but it got me thinking that's all.
My impression I get of homeschooling is that in its effect it's educational equivalent or dropping-out; analogous to "living outside the system maan". Am I way off?

Jason Cortez
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Feb 10 2008 02:16

I think you see the extremes Xians - hippies and don't realise the majority of folks are clustered around the middle. I am off to bed now, will post more soon.

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Feb 10 2008 02:28

Believe me I'm not going out of my way to look for the mentals mate!!! It's all I've ever been made aware of. Like I said no-one I know was homeschooled, the one person I know that thought about it found out the rest were mental, and most reports, articles I've come across have been about the extremes, although you've not said anything to suggest there actually are "lots of people in the middle".

Surely the fact that home-schooling simply isn't an option for a lot of working-class parents, like mine, who both had fulltime jobs since before I was born, and still do, is pretty important. And for those parents who stay at home, I'm guessing other responsibilities might mean they don't have time, resources to educate their kids to a level where they can hang with others in later life.

Welshboy's point about doing it in the primary sort-of years I find reasonable. I certainly know after that I reckon if I had kids (I'd like to someday), I'd feel a bit out of my depth teaching subjects I don't know shit about. Like, i can't teach, eh i mean facilitate the learning of, history, I could try, and probably do a half-arsed job at it, but why when there's someone who knows more and might make it interesting?
I'm not suggesting for a second that mainstream schools make their subjects interesting or engaging, but my experience, certainly in the subjects I ended up pursuing (science, maths) was generally decent. I'm glad I got taught chemistry by someone with a phd in chemistry, and not my ma or da wink

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Feb 10 2008 11:12

Have you looked into Montessori type schools? They're apparently pretty good alternative schooling for younger kids. I know quite a few folks that have gone to Steiner schools and their experiences are mixed. One guy was just mental all the time (got into fights, didn't do shit etc) but as soon as he transferred to the public school system he did really really well. Others usually liked the school when they were young kids but started hating it as they got older. According to them the Steiner school treated them as primary school children all the way up to last year of high-school.

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Feb 10 2008 11:59

I've a mate who's been teaching in a Montessori school in Austria for the last year but haven't seen him since he left so dunno wat his experience has been - he seemed positive when he was heading over.

Randy
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Feb 10 2008 12:44

My daughter just turned eight (she would be in the second grade). I have cared for her since she was two or three, and schooled her since she was four. She reads for pleasure, with inflection, sans the public school monotone. She adds and subtracts two and three digit numbers in her head, and is learning multiplication by fours (calculating again in her head, not memorizing tables.) She complains about history class, because sometimes my impromptu monologues on class struggle (that the text book fails to address adequately), are, well, lengthy and impassioned. Most of her science education takes place outdoors, hands on.

I'll be the first to admit she is an exceptionally able child, but none can claim her education is inferior. Seeing to her socialization needs as she matures is becoming increasingly difficult , but we are working on that. Last semester we attended a DIY community school, but dropped out this term. The reason we quit was, for the expenditure of time and energy involved on my part, the experience was not contributing sufficiently towards our rather traditional curriculum. Our family hopes to have her in a larger school setting at some point. Maybe. We are deciding a year at a time. Oh, and a troubled cousin from the urban mean streets nearby is coming to stay with us. I guess I'll be teaching him as well. He is what we call "black" here in the usa (though his ancestry is less than %50 African. Mostly German and Puerto Rican.) He's a bright kid, but it freaks him out when he sits in on my daughter's classes: "You're doing that already?"

I'm not a fundamentalist, ergo I'm a hippie, right? In spite of the fact that I talk like a redneck, and once identified as a long haired country boy of the Charlie Daniels variety (prior to the Reagen era when Charlie recorded the patriotic tune "In America", and I disowned him.) If I had a purple mohawk instead of hair over my collar, and my ring was in my eye or tongue rather than my ear, and I traded all my Stones vinyl in for Ramones CD's, would I then have the libcom poster's seal of approval to educate my child? To place her outside the reach of the post Columbine metal detectors that can land a boy in jail for carrying a pocket knife (happened to a friend of mine), the rent a cops who patrol the school grounds, and the routine searches of personal property that typify the War on Drugs era? All that, without even going into the abysmal excuse for an education that public schools offer/require.

There now. I feel better. smile

Oh yeah. I should add that home schooling, useful though it is for rearing children who can think outside the corporate/governmental norms, does not constitute a revolutionary strategy, or even a component of one. Because (as has been said) most working folks simply don't have the option. We are fortunate, and old (the younger the parents, the less likely they can afford to home school, i would think.)

petey
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Feb 10 2008 14:05
Randy wrote:
a long haired country boy of the Charlie Daniels variety

i knew a few of them from queens once grin
could yiz let up on conor? homeschooling has always been misprepresented in the press as a right-wing christian thing and if you weren't familiar with it you wouldn't know otherwise. it's always seemed to me that the plutrality of homeschooling parents were brainiacs and/or had children they thought were brainiacs, and considered the public school curriculum unchallenging. frank zappa came from a family of autodidacts, iirc, and fit into this category.

Randy
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Feb 10 2008 16:59
newyawka wrote:
..could yiz let up on conor? ...

Yeah, I could do that. He is catching some pent up frustration of mine, resulting from a series of other people's posts, that i have let slide. Sorry, X.

Thora
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Feb 10 2008 17:03

I get the impression that more and more "normal" (though mostly middle class) people are choosing to homeschool these days rather than just the stereotypical religious nutters/crazy hippies. A friend of mine who home educates was involved in the local Education Otherwise group and there were lots of families doing it, quite a range of people and few overtly hippies.

I'm not so keen on Steiner tbh but I have a friend who went to a Steiner school and had no problems, went on to uni etc.

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Feb 10 2008 18:35

I'm sorry but not a single thing is selling me to this idea or suggesting how most working-class families could make home-schooling work. My parents, their parents, my cousins, my mates' parent all both worked - homeschooling was not an option.
The tone I'm getting is smug as fuck "oh public school give such a terrible education" - yeah well sorry to say it's fucking reality for most people who have to work fulltime just to pay their bills and don't have the luxury of sitting at home reading their kids all the masterpieces of the world. Sucks, but I'm not seeing how people are going to have access to the resources to homeschool their kids well under capitalism.

Cheers for taking the time to expand Randy. Don't get me wrong, sounds fucking awesome what you're doing and well done and all, but really, if you suggested it to my broke-as-fuck 22 yr mum (when I was born), a nurse who has worked 28yrs (16yrs of which were night-shift) while raising me and my bros, or my dad (same age ) who has worked a soul-destroying bank teller job for almost 30yrs they'd slap you across the face wink I for one am glad I wasn't homeschooled. I actually loved going to meet my mates in school and play football at lunchtime and go on school trips and whatever - I made friends (lifetime ones) in school I'd NEVER have made in my street or at home. Sure public schools are fucked and having worked in them I'd be the first to acknowledge much of what goes on is shite, but I'm still glad I was educated around other kids and had that opportunity to socialise that simply doesn't exist at home.

Can someone please expand on how they think homeschooling isn't the educational analog to drop-out politics?

Caiman del Barrio
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Feb 10 2008 18:49

Yeah homeschooling's another individualised solution to a collective problem. I think for some people it's a response to the growing climate of the fear of community and the outside world. The whole discourse of paedophiles, muggers, and kids going outside being "threatening" in themselves means that most parents think their little darlings are simply too precious for this cruel world. I mean, I'm not directing that at Randy or Jason, but I think there is a certain element in the decision of many parents.

And I know two Steiner School kids from uni. One's a really well-rounded, if slightly quiet and kinda introverted guy who's a really good friend of mine, but yeah has hippy parents who encourage him and his girlfriend to have a baby slapbang in the middle of their final year of uni 6 months after they split up and got back together again. The other one's a bit of a funny case, think he might be autistic. Incredibly talented musician (and for that reason he went to Steiner School I think) but dropped out of the final year of his music degree in order to work fulltime in pyramid scheme selling fruit juice that he thinks literally cures back pain.

So yeah, some shit anecdotal evidence to counter the positive stories here, in the interests of balance obviously. wink In the second case, he appears to struggle to relate to people and has an...intermittent relationship with reality and rationality. Whether that's Steiner School I dunno.

petey
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Feb 10 2008 19:30
randy wrote:
newyawka wrote:
..could yiz let up on choccy? ...

Yeah, I could do that.

besides, i just called you and your kid brainiacs.

and choccy, what crawled up your ass? nobody said this was a cure for capitalism, randy knows that he's in a special situation that allows him to do what he's doing, and i was mostly wretched in school and would have loved learning at home. i taught two years in a public school and it was a good school so nobody here is ragging on public school in itself, either. but if you can take control, why not? in many places one parent will take in the children of maybe a half-dozen families who help with expenses and that's one way working class people can swing it.

Pepe
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Feb 10 2008 19:42

Can someone explain what a steiner school is? I've had a quick google but I can't work out how they're different to normal schools.

ein auslander
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Feb 10 2008 20:43

don't reckon home-schooling is all that great, socialising is probably one of the key things you learn at school. watched a doc about japanese schools they have really strict schools where they actually encourage bullying amongst the students:

http://www.pep-web.org/document.php?id=jaa.029.0085a

don't think they encourage bullying so much in chinese schools but think the competitive climate out there isn't good for the kids - because of the one child policy adults put all the pressure on just one kid - they have to do well - they become introverted and turn to the internet:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article1294058.ece

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Feb 10 2008 20:58
newyawka wrote:
and choccy, what crawled up your ass? nobody said this was a cure for capitalism, randy knows that he's in a special situation that allows him to do what he's doing, and i was mostly wretched in school and would have loved learning at home. i taught two years in a public school and it was a good school so nobody here is ragging on public school in itself, either. but if you can take control, why not? in many places one parent will take in the children of maybe a half-dozen families who help with expenses and that's one way working class people can swing it.

Taking control in the most individualised way possible. Even the small-group idea would have massive limitations. What age do you stop teaching them at and let them get instruction who knows what the fuck they''re talkin about? I mean unless of course you think every sttreet has a chemist, phyicist, geographer, art, music etc type kicking about. Seriously like I said, I'm glad I got taught chemistry, and geography and shit by people with degrees in it than my ma or my mate's uncle or whatever.

Pepe
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Feb 10 2008 21:05

Why don't we get a group of adults together, each specialising in a different area, and they could facilitate the learning of all the children in the community.

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Feb 10 2008 21:14

Yeah we could give it a name like, i dunno "school" or something wink

Because that's based on a couple of assumptions:

- you have people that cover a decent enough spread of specialisms and are knowledgable to facilitate a nice level of engagement from pupils (seriously, a historian cannot stimulate discussion in physics nor learn em lab-methods) in your immediate area, which is doubtful
- said specialists don't have fulltime jobs/responsibilities that might otherwise get in the way of facilitating community learning

petey
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Feb 10 2008 22:01
Quote:
don't reckon home-schooling is all that great, socialising is probably one of the key things you learn at school. watched a doc about japanese schools they have really strict schools where they actually encourage bullying amongst the students:

not sure i follow the logic there. shouldn't we be trying to socialize the bullying out of people?

Quote:
I mean unless of course you think every sttreet has a chemist, phyicist, geographer, art, music etc type kicking about.

so the teacher/s you had when you were seven had degrees in all these things?

Quote:
I'm glad I got taught chemistry, and geography and shit by people with degrees in it than my ma or my mate's uncle or whatever.

ok, randy, sorry, go ahead, start pissing on him again

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Feb 10 2008 22:06

Eh no read my posts Newyawka - I can understand some sort of place for it up to a certain age and I asked where do you stop?
Did you actually read any of my posts - I think I've actually words to that effect 3 times in this thread, seconding Welshboy twice I think. Jesus.

petey
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Feb 10 2008 22:17
choccy wrote:
Did you actually read any of my posts .

i'm quoting them, aren't i

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Feb 10 2008 22:26

Yes, completely out of context.

Randy
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Feb 11 2008 00:06

There's no question that, as X says, an age is reached when no individual is qualified to teach a varied curriculum. (But I think any reasonably intelligent adult should be able to teach second grade, as i am doing. Economics and time management is the problem there.) I am not sure where the point of incompetence is reached. Many kids are home schooled throughout grade school, i am told, then excel in college. I doubt most parents are up to that, but apparently some are.

i agree with Jess that a non-governmental community school seems the ideal. That might not suffice throughout all learning levels, but could reasonably be expected to extend the years. That is, the pooled knowledge would be greater than any individuals. So I was really disappointed that we had to pull our lil one out of the local effort. What i learned was, there needs to be a certain level of agreement regrading educational goals--a measure of theoretical unity, if you will--for community schooling to work. That level of agreement was just not present.