A Bit of Political Advice to Home Educators
The Editor would like to mention two things: When to speak and when not to speak.
The news that there will no longer be regular blanket reviews of everyone of us but only reviews of those over which there are specific questions isundoubtedly good news.
But this is the kind of news to keep to ourselves. We do not need to speak of this to anyone outside. Why? Because those who do not like home education could use this news to claim we are not being monitored properly, but that we “unqualified” parents are free to teach — or not to teach — as we please. Ed Balls in the UK is using this argument to
justify vast new interventions by the state to make sure the children are safe. After all, if state agents don’t get to see the children on a regular basis, who will be able to tell whether they are being abused in the home or not? That is, parents are all guilty until proven innocent. There are too many out there who think that way. And there are some within the home education community who think this way too.
Last time reviews were stopped, in 1994 by Lockwood Smith, the NZ Home Schooling Association (NZHSA), also known as the Federation (now defunct), screamed to the press that we were being abandoned, that we needed and wanted reviews!! Their logic was that the Federation wanted to get in on the reviews, and had circulated a document to every library in the country explaining their rationale and offering to do this for the ERO for a mere $6M anually!
Home educators were shocked to find such manipulation for personal gain within our own ranks. And the MoE and ERO declined the offer.
That’s when we should not speak. We need to speak clearly, however, when we write our exemptions. Most of us do, but there is some thinking out there which says, “we need to play games by writing our exemption applications in School-ese, so that MoE staff can hopefully understand. They can only assess the exemption application in terms
they understand, which is compulsory schooling. But we are not schooling institutions, we are families, and most people in the school industry cannot grasp that fairly basic idea.”
OK, we must not let them think of us as schooling institutions, I agree, and so we call ourselves “home educators” rather than “home schoolers.” But although MoE personel are a varied lot from anti- to pro-HE, they are able to grasp HE (home education) and even unschooling, autonomous learning ideas….they are just biased, some more than others, and school stuff is how they’ve been trained. They have a professional and personal stake in seeing things from school” perspectives. But they can think, and some are actually interested in learning theory and educational alternatives. Writing exemptions is the primary way we HEs educate the MoE into the mysteries of home education, unschooling, thematic studies, classical, Charlotte Mason, Steiner, mastery, principle approach, delight directed, etc., etc. Because there are no standards, no objective checklist of specific items against which the MoE can measure or even scale our exemption applications (no legal standards), but only their policy documents and professional opinion, we need to insist on our independence and the maximum scope allowed by the legal parameters of “at least as regularly and well as in a registered school.” This is pretty wide, for a registered school is not the same as a state school but encompasses every school in the land from the most straight laced Auckland Grammar and Rangitoto College to the most alternative Tamariki and Discovery 1 in Canterbury.
Writing exemptions in school-ese can make them think we are schooling institutions just like them or that we’re trying to be like them: nothing could be further from the truth. Write just what you are.
If they insist we need to have a technology or social studies component, simply ask them to produce the Education Act chapter and verse that says so, which of course they cannot do. If they get stroppy on that one, let me know and I’ll send you a copy of a letter I have from the MoE making it clear that we do not have to include any specific topic or follow the National Curriculum Guidelines. If they say that they “must be satisfied that the child will be taught at least…” with the emphasis on “satisfied”, point out that they have to be satisfied with “regular and well”, not any particular subject.
And their list of subjects is pretty pathetic compared to all the subjects there are in the world: and they don’t even include law or politics or religion or economics or ethics or philosophy or budgeting or logistics…..subjects we each deal with every single day of our lives. So their National Curriculum Guidelines aren’t too hot anyway.
My position is that they do not have any legitimate or moral authority in the area of education, and I only cooperate with them grudgingly and only so far as needed to stay within the law. But we cannot let them stray outside the law nor require us to adopt subject A or skill B when neither A nor B is legally required. If we do not monitor the MoE, who will?
“State schooling in this country is an inherently political instrument for social and cultural reproduction…[T]he state controls what knowledge is taught in schools…through a regulated core curriculum and…through teacher education and certification…[U]niversal compulsory schooling for the working classes has always been concerned with social control. This was a major theme in the parliamentary debates that preceded the Education Act of 1877, and political
socialization has continued to be an important function of schools…the schools have always been required to transmit state ideology.” Who wrote that? John Codd, Richard Harker and Roy Nash, professors of education at Massey University on pp.10-12 in their 1985 book Political Issues in New Zealand Education. The funny thing is that they aren’t against this, but were complaining that their pet ideology wasn’t the one being pushed through the schools at that time!
All the more reason to be out of that system, to stay out of that system and to warn all others to get their dear children out of that system of state indoctrination and propaganda.
From TEACH Bulletin
No 130 July 2009
To see the rest of the articles in the July 2009 TEACH Bulletin:
July TEACH Bulletin 2009
NO MORE Reviews!!! Page 1 http://hef.org.nz/2009/no-more-ero-reviews/
The Excellence of Home Education Page 1
Inter-Party Working Group – for increasing parental and student choice in education Page 2
Sweden Page 3
United Kingdom Page 4
NCEA Grades Dubious Page 5
A Bit of Political Advice to Home Educators page 5
Coming Events page 8