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David Semple on home education

This is a response to an article by David Semple on home education. David Semple is an Oxford-educated teacher and a state-worshipper: the kind of person who has got the country into the authoritarian mess it's in now. I don't normally do swear-blogging, but unfortunately I may have lapsed once or twice during this posting. Semple is basicly a fascist though and I think he deserves it.

Firstly, as a teacher, I’m not willing to be told what I can and can’t empirically examine by a political lobby. Those who provide education in schools are in a position to examine the education provided by home educators.

Bullshit. Teaching one-to-one is completely different to teaching one on thirty. Teachers know precisely nothing about home educated children, either individually or collectively. In fact, teachers know nothing about providing an education to anyone. They don't provide an education in their own schools, they provide indoctrination in left-wingnuttery and environmentalism. David Semple says himself that teachers are not properly trained and that they are delivering a deficient educaiton and yet here he is at the same time saying we should listen to what he and his ilk have to say about home education. The nerve of the man is astonishing.

It may be that the home school lobby don’t want to listen to some of the things which have to be said - but that’s a different issue.

Too right they don't want to listen to you. But you are going to try to force them to listen to you, and moreover to do what you tell them to, anyway. I can think of no better word for this than "fascist".

My concerns are as follows: a) what does the child want

This doesn't bother teachers in schools does it? The child gets the education the school is willing to give them, not the one the child wants. My son wants to learn history and geography and has been told in no uncertain terms that he lump it until high school. This is gross hypocrisy by David Semple, demanding things of home educators that he knows full well are not delivered and can never be delivered in schools.

b) is the child getting the same breadth of education as in a classroom;

Almost certainly. As we've heard in the news this week schools are delivering only English and Maths and not much else, a fact that David Semple even quotes himself! It would be astonishing if home educators could deliver anything quite as crap as Semple and his colleagues manage, and yet here he is questioning HE families.

c) is the child simply being taught to regurgitate the world-view of the parents;

Rather than being taught to regurgitate your worldview I suppose? If I had a penny for every time my children had been indoctrinated into some facet of environmentalism I would be a wealthy man. Oh, but wait a minute, you know better than me, don't you?

d) does the child have access to sufficient resources to support learning to a level equal to that which his or her peers will reach by the same age.

Give tax refunds to home educators. Problem solved. The problem is there is not a teacher in the country who would support this because for these parasites the education system is for feathering their own nests rather than providing a service. And anyway, just how much do you need by way of resources?

All of these things can be measured. I have always been particularly concerned about c) since I know that in the United States, home schooling is increasingly prevalent among extreme Christians and I have seen it suggested that this trend is the same in the UK. If home schooling can be a vehicle to prevent scientific learning, then we should regulate it.

Not only a fascist but an ignorant fascist. Home educators in the UK largely report that religion is not a reason for taking their children out of school. It's because they think that the education provided by Mr Semple and his ilk is crap. And what business is it of yours anyway if parents want to teach their children religious stuff? It doesn't affect you, you fascist prick.

The consequences for science of d) are equally important. If a child is to be kept out of primary school, this is of less importance, but post-11, large swathes of science teaching is practice-led. Titrations, dissections, circuit-building, oscillations and so forth are just some of the practicals for which the equipment is unlikely to be just lying around one’s house.

I am not so narrow minded, of course, to suggest that the lack of this equipment means that home schooling should be dispensed with.

You are pretty narrow-minded though aren't you?

It may simply mean that the LEA should have a remit extending to the provision of such equipment to community centres, where home schooling families can access it. Whether or not it gets used needs to be monitored.

Jesus, can you just for once open your slobbering fascist mouth without demanding that the state monitor somebody. Can you conceive of no human activity that shouldn't be snooped on and checked up on by the state?

I’ve never believed in measuring skirt lengths, tucking in shirts and so forth - and one-to-one teaching obviously gets rid of this sort of requirement. Additional time, with a suitably able parent, also offers the chance for a much broader range of activities - from mechanics to ornithology to wood work. However its a big step from saying, “This is possible” to ensuring that every home schooled child has these opportunities.

Ensuring these opportunities needs to be the responsibility of a body with no intellectual bias towards one form of education or the other - but since primary legislation is the responsibility of the State, it is to the State such a body must answer.

Bullshit again. This is the connection between leftwingnuttery and fascism made plain. "We demand opportunity for everyone and therefore we must have access to your home to check that you are providing it". Why don't you just go ahead and say that you want CCTV in every room to ensure that nobody is doing anything bad?

Collectively, as a society, we have a responsibility to our children - who are not the property of their parents and shouldn’t be treated as such.

And they are the property of "society" are they? You clearly think so. But if you took the trouble to check it out, you would find that children are legally the responsibility of parents. This is why it is not possible to sue the state when your teenagers take to drugs. Are you advocating that this should be possible? Of course not. When you say that children are the "responsibility of society" you don't mean anything of the sort. You are simply demanding a right to indoctrinate them to your personal preferences while avoiding any actual responsibility. It's the same as every other time you deal with the state - interfering busybodies get to tell you what to do but take no responsibility for the outcome. Teachers are not responsible for delivering a shitty education, child welfare officers are not responsible when children die. As soon as the state starts ruining the lives of home educated children they will not be responsible for that either.

Without taking away the right of a child to learn what interests them, there are also certain necessary things every child should know, whether John Holt and his fellow pro-home schoolers want to admit it or not.

Bullshit again. The majority of children come out of our shitty schools without even a semblance of an education and here is this arrogant prick of a teacher claiming that he knows better. The nerve of the man is astonishing.

I’m referring to things like the scientific method, skepticism and all forms of rational argument and the examination of evidence required to support or disprove such an argument.

I wasn't taught any of these things at my shitty bog standard comp. I learned them myself afterwards.

After all, this is a democracy. However distorted our public sphere is by a bias towards Capital, the opinions of the individual still have social consequences. So, as a fellow citizen in a democracy, I want everyone to know about things like evolution and to be able to judge the merits of an argument on the basis of rational thought, not on the basis of prescribed doctrine.

More ignorant prickery. What kind of a semi-educated halfwit thinks that democracy justifies anything? Vote to send people to the gas chambers and that's OK is it? This is why people don't want to let their children near people like you. What happens if someone doesn't want their children to know about recycling or whatever half-baked trendy idea some fart of a teacher has picked up in the pages of Socialist Worker? You couldn't have rational discussion of environmentalism in schools anyway because it's the new state religion and cannot be questioned. Why should your ideas take precedence anyway? What happens if the child isn't interested in evolution on the day you decide to teach it?

My only problem is that, even in schools, teaching to this standard is far from secure!

Genius! Let's try to stop the only alternative in town anyway!

In conclusion, I haven’t met a teacher yet who will deny the important role that family can play in a child’s learning. Also I don’t doubt, looking at the Swedish model as example, that there are better ways to organise education than what we currently have. Home schooling certainly has the potential to be one of these better ways - but how we talk about it is key.

"We" can talk about it all "we" like. Others just wish you'd shut up and let the rest of us get on with our own lives. But of course the Semples of this world will harass us without end because they're doing it for our own good.

Currently the State may be biased against home schooling - but there is no excuse for the near-hysterical reaction of home schoolers to a desire to regulate what they do. We need to find ways to open opportunities for child learning - at home or in school - and we need to do so knowing that this may be against the express wishes of the parents.

Understand this people. For those on the left they are not your children any more, they belong to the state. This is fascism, pure and simple. The man at the LEA knows better than you what is good for your children. David Semple is on a mission from Gordon and you are just going to have to learn your place.

This is at the core of my problem with home schooling; parents have replaced the absolute authority of the State with the absolute authority of themselves - and both need to be a lot more open to democratic regulation. This is reflected, to some extent, in the US figures below; of particular interest should be the 38% who are home schooled on religious grounds, and the 12% who object to what the school teaches.

Ignorant fascist again. Why quote the US figures? The UK ones are available and only 14% of UK home ed parents give religion as a reason. And regardless of that, what right do you have to demand that your views take preference? Choose liberalism and let people make their own minds up, or choose fascism and tell them what they must do.

Parents do have absolute authority because they are legally absolutely responsible. Get that through your cretinous teacher skull.

It highlights the hypocrisy at the heart of the home school movement and begs the question, since when are parents more qualified than teachers to choose what their children can and can’t learn?

Who gives a monkey's about the qualifications? The question is, who gets the better results and the answer is clear - home educating parents without degrees acheive better results for children than degree-educated teachers. Face it, you are working in an industry that does not do anyone any good. You are a waste of space and time. You are a parasite. Go and start doing something useful with your life and stop knackering other people's.

Whether boards of governors, LEAs or some body that will collectively represent home schoolers, this sort of regulation is the right of a democratic society - however we collectively decide to arrange it.

You can collectively naff off.



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Reader Comments (37)


I think you've picked the wrong "ism". I think you mean the last one.

Fascism is an authoritarian nationalist ideology focused on solving economic, political, and social problems that its supporters see as causing national decline or decadence

Communism is a socioeconomic structure and political ideology that promotes the establishment of an egalitarian, classless, stateless society based on common ownership and control of the means of production and property in general.

Totalitarianism (or totalitarian rule) is a concept used to describe political systems whereby a state regulates nearly every aspect of public and private life. Totalitarian regimes or movements maintain themselves in political power by means of an official all-embracing ideology and propaganda disseminated through the state-controlled mass media, a single party that controls the state, personality cults, control over the economy, regulation and restriction of free discussion and criticism, the use of mass surveillance, and widespread use of terror tactics. The term has been applied to many states, including: the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Socialist Republic of Romania, People's Socialist Republic of Albania, Ethiopia, People's Republic of China, Democratic Kampuchea, Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) [2] and Communist Czechoslovakia. Political opposition has also applied this term to the Saudi regime.

Ex Wikipedia.

All those political movements failed to understand that only a meritocracy works. In other words, the only people who should have a right to vote are those with the same or a higher IQ than me. Funny thing is that when I mention this to my friends, they fall over with laughter & suggest that nothing would change & all the present voters would still have the vote.

Where am I going wrong?
Feb 23, 2009 at 4:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterPuzzled of Tunbridge Wells

You may be right. I was spitting so much, I found the Thesaurus beyond me.
Feb 23, 2009 at 4:53 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill
Worth reading just for the swearing.

The essence of fascism is an absolute right of representatives of the State to decide what is right for the People and to impose this, by violence if need be.

In democracy there is no absolute right to decide or impose, because the People must consent to what is decided and are protected by the law from the power of the State.

Fascism in its general sense removes this right and protection from the People and invests it absolutely in those in charge. Fascism is in effect totalitarianism, and Communism becomes fascism when the People are given no choice but to accept it.

I believe we are now seeing a self-serving, political neo-aristocracy rising in Europe, which is fascist in its essence where a self-appointed few are determined to decide what the people should want and will have, irrespective of what the People actually do want and need. Government is being moved further and further away from the People, with the neo-aristocracy passing laws which increasingly bypass the processes of democracy and deprive the People of their rights.

Governments like the idea of the EU because the EU Parliament has no practical democratic function and so decisions can be made by a presidential; political committee of so-called leaders backed up by unelected bureaucrats on salaries fat enough to ensure they will do their paymasters' bidding.

Labour is happy to see power transferred to Brussels because it places less of it in the hands of the British People, and invests it instead in the hands of the bunch of like-minded cronies in Brussels.
Feb 23, 2009 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterLaroquois
"but post-11, large swathes of science teaching is practice-led. Titrations, dissections, circuit-building, oscillations and so forth are just some of the practicals for which the equipment is unlikely to be just lying around one’s house."

No it isn't. 21st Century Science, the 'new curriculum' is all about "understanding science" - so you learn about the environmental (hah!) effects of nuclear power stations, but you don't know how they actually work.

There is very little real practical science of this sort going on in schools - especially in Chemistry, for H&S reasons and the behavioural problems of pupils, and a lot of demonstrations and powerpoint based experiments.

You'll get more Chemistry out of a decent Chemistry Set than you'll do in school.
Feb 23, 2009 at 5:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul
excellent post!
Feb 23, 2009 at 6:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterlori
Great post sir. I agree fully.Your rage however, has hastened your keyboard speed with a corresponding drop in spelling accuracy.

Seeing the post is regarding teaching standards....basicaly (para.1) educaiton (para.2)...

Not being picky but...
Feb 23, 2009 at 7:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterAyrdale
Excellent post. Our schools in the US are also horrible for the same reasons. A dirty little secret never spoken is the majority (there are a small percentage dedicated and smart) of teachers are the college students that flunked out of their first major.

I witnessed this first hand. Back in 1972 I majored in Nutrition, which was part of the College of Home Economics. Education was also part of the Home Ec college. I took lots of hard sciences and I chose business related electives. The first year I met many students intending to major in many of the hard sciences and business. By the second and third year I was seeing the same students in Home Economics teaching classes because they had all flunked out of their first major and fell back on teaching because the word was out...if you had a pulse you could get a teaching degree.

My wife ( a smart lady) started off majoring in teaching and graduated in it. She lasted one year...about six months into her first year teaching she came home furious and saying...those people are the dumbest people she had ever had to deal with. She was teaching high school and I assumed she was talking about the teenagers...I told her they were just kids and they will learn...she whirled on me and said I am not talking about the students. I am talking about the other teachers and the school administration!

At 33 I went back for another degree in Electronics and later my job required I deal with college professors in the hard sciences. What became obvious was if you are really not that bright, but you do happen to get a degree you don't go out into the workforce, because you can not get a job, you stay for the Masters. If you have any ability at all you go to work after that , but if you truly are the dumbest in your chosen profession you stay (no where else to go) and get a PhD.

So the bottom line is, if you are academia at all, chances are you are the dumbest of the dumb and our teachers prove it day after day.
Feb 23, 2009 at 9:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterVinnster
great post! I had to hold my sides to stop them splitting when I read the part about us being *hysterical* isn't that acusation better fitted to the government who are linking us to child abuse, forced marriage, domestic servitude and today I see child trafficking?!
Feb 23, 2009 at 10:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterTech
"Additional time, with a suitably able parent, also offers the chance for a much broader range of activities - from mechanics to ornithology to wood work."

Semple is really patronising too. I feel embarrassed for him. Yuk.
Feb 23, 2009 at 10:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterJules
It must be tough for many parents to opt for home schooling, given the need for both parents to earn a living just to keep a half-decent roof over the family's head.

Hanging on the wall of a cafe where I ate yesterday was a little board which read "My Dad knows a lot of things; my Grandpa knows everything."

Probably explains why my grandchildren run straight past their immediate ancestors to ask me for information, guidance, and permission to do something daring.

I wish I could afford to retire...
Feb 23, 2009 at 10:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Wood
Good post.

Back in the 1970's, when I was a mere youth, we knew some American Christians who home-schooled their children. We thought they were rather nutty. (They also took the view that salt was bad for you, and . . . but I digress.) My parents told me all the arguments against home schooling.

30 years later, home schooling in America has mushroomed. And that is basically because the arguments against it were all wildly exaggerated. I recently met an American Christian family who home-schooled their children, and those children were pretty amazing - articulate, poised, informed, interested in learning, and with an impressive facility for critical thinking.

My wife teaches at the local comp, and it's not a bad school. But based on what we've seen, the state sector doesn't have anything to teach home schoolers.
Feb 23, 2009 at 11:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterYoung Mr. Brown
What a pity the great educationalist appears unable to spell sceptical.

Physician, heal thyself...

Great post, Bishop!
Feb 24, 2009 at 12:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterGCooper
Wow, that’s obviously a subject that hits a nerve.

I have four sons, and the idea of home schooling had never occurred to me. Whether it’s a matter of my ability, temperament or whatever, I don’t think it would have been a good idea, although I can see some benefits.

I think home schooling can be done for the wrong reasons, starting with over-protectiveness, but as many downsides can equally be found in “normal” schooling. As long as a minimum standard is achieved (and I have no doubt the result of home schooling can well be quite superior), it should be up to the families.

What I like about my schooling in the past, and that of my lads now, is they get to mix it up with the world at large. My three youngest boys go to the same high school, where the biggest ethic grouping is Chinese, followed by Lebanese, Maori/Islander and then the rest, including my Eurasian kids with their Anglo upbringing.

Academically it often leaves a lot to be desired, and effectively we also have to home school to a degree to make up for that and correct some of the biases kids are taught. But life skills are also important, and that they get in droves, with exposures to people of differing backgrounds, including intellectually challenged kids (their primary school had an intellectually challenged program). The world being a messy, often confusing place is something they learn to take in their stride, and that has value.

AND, all four can swear fluently in Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Arabic, Maori, Samoan and Tagalog…..a great skill set to have as teenage boys! My job is to make sure they know when it is and is not appropriate to use such language, since its not possible to stop them from learning it. I just wish I could do it too; there are times…..

You can shield kids from these types of things, and I understand why many parents want to. I prefer to have my kids more broadly aware, and know how to manage such variety. Playing rugby, but also learning there is nothing wrong with opera or ballet (even if they aren’t exactly wrapped in it).

It’s a case of trying to teach kids how to handle some of the things in life we’d like them to never be exposed to, but know they will be someday, and going to school is the best way to introduce them to so many undesirables, so they can learn to deal with them early in life.
Feb 24, 2009 at 4:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterRathtyen
Rathyen said
"It’s a case of trying to teach kids how to handle some of the things in life we’d like them to never be exposed to, but know they will be someday, and going to school is the best way to introduce them to so many undesirables, so they can learn to deal with them early in life."

Well then lets feed them potatoes and not let them use the car in case the peak oil guys are correct.

No, life is about getting the best you can at each point. Why make childhood miserable because you think the future might be?

Feb 24, 2009 at 8:41 AM | Unregistered Commenterelizabeth
Rathtyen: so long as your kids are happy and this was their choice as well as yours, sounds fine to me. But I would question your apparent assumption that the home education community is less diverse than the population of a school; on what grounds have you reached this conclusion? And how do you define the ideal degree of diversity? One could attain the maximum diversity by taking up a nomadic lifestyle and travelling round the world (as, in fact, some home-educating families do); I am sure this would be very exciting and educational but I do not think one could state categorically that it were "better", since "better" is such a complex combination of factors, and in any case differs between individuals.

Bishop: I am delighted that at last someone has noticed that home-education (and the attacks on it) belongs in the broader fold of civil liberties (and the governments attacks on them). Prescribing the minutae of what our children learn and monitoring and assessing them according to state-defined "indicators" falls into the same Orwellian camp as a CCTV camera on every street corner, the monstrous impending Identity Register containing every last detail of our personal lives, and the erosion of the right to protest.
Feb 24, 2009 at 10:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterImogen
They think we think we own our children. But none of us think that. We love our children.

They don't love our children, but they do tell them what to do. So they *are* implicitly claiming ownership.
Feb 24, 2009 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterInteresting&Interested
Come on Bish, tell us what you really think!

This is more zanulabour inspired control freakery - I can't believe how Orwell's satire is turning out to be anything but.

Mr Semple might like to read Dr Martin Stephen's recently published "The Eleven-Plus Book" which revisits old exam papers, and consider how much progress has been made since they were used. A quick browse revealed to me that few modern students would even understand half the questions, some of which would not be out of place in a GCSE paper. What has his profession been doing all these years?

I assume his tirade against home educators is a lot more to do with professional jealousy than with any desire to see children educated properly.
Feb 24, 2009 at 1:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P
"Playing rugby"

Ah, yes - the indelible horrors of the frozen rugger pitch. Put me off most team games permanently...
Feb 24, 2009 at 1:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P
Tech said:

great post! I had to hold my sides to stop them splitting when I read the part about us being *hysterical* isn't that acusation better fitted to the government who are linking us to child abuse, forced marriage, domestic servitude and today I see child trafficking?!

At least we are not being accused of drinking Mung Bean Juice like those parents who choose not to vaccinate, still that's the Mail not the government.
When they start alleging we drink mung bean juice then we are done for!!
Then we are real social outcasts!

Maybe this is why they are wanting to monitor us, if they implement the rule about only attending school if you are fully vaccinated they could have 20% of the population HEing in some areas.

Feb 24, 2009 at 5:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterelizabeth
I don't blame you for the swearing. With pricks like Semple teaching it's no wonder British schools are in the pathetic state they are. His comments about science equipment are LOL funny. What passes for science under the National Curriculum is a joke.
Feb 24, 2009 at 8:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterRuth

I was actually quite surprised he said that. I thought they didn't do science experiments in school any more. Mind you my kids are only in primary, so I have yet to find out.
Feb 24, 2009 at 8:53 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill
Excellent post Bishop. I'd like to believe that this Semple twat isn't representative of teachers as a whole, though now I think back to when I was at school and how often they all used to fuck off on strike to benefit our education. Still trying to figure that one out twenty plus years later. I don't know how much of what you wrote applies here in Oz, but I suspect a fair bit of it. I almost wish I had kids so I could drive round to the school and drag them out right now.
Feb 25, 2009 at 12:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterAngry Exile
Hey Bish what a great post. I've got 4 children and I concur. The swearing is not up to the heady heights of the Devil, but very funny all the same. My eldest daughter got all sorts of A's at GCSE and then went on to a well regarded shit form oppss sorry I mean sixth form in Saffron Walden to do her A levels in preparation for Med school. She was the only girl doing Physics and had a terrible time with the teacher who never took her seriously, and was often not there, along with her form teacher who quit in the first week and was not replaced. We complained without effect of course, and on the day her AS results came our worst fears were realised when she had not done as well as needed. To top all this, the school then turned around and refused point blank to support her application to Med school. All the dick headed prick who was head of shit form could say was some bullshit about how some pupil’s peak at 16. The stupid arsehole explained away the absent teachers by saying that under law they were only obliged to provide teaches to pupils 16 and under. And we pay for this bullshit.

After much soul searching we added a sizeable chunk to the Mortgage and put our faith in our daughter by sending her to a Private sixth form in Cambridge. And because of the insanely stupid moronic system we have with different examination boards she was faced with doing the whole AS year again. So the school offered for her to do 2 years in one and off she went and came out the other end top of her class, in fact top of the school, a magnificent effort made all the more remarkable as she got appendicitis along the way. This June she will graduate as a doctor. Oh and she got a post-op infection from Addenbrookes despite the appendectomy being key hole. Can we bash the NHS in this post?

The Local paper ran the story and it made one of the national rags but all to no effect. There is a core of dedicated teachers who are genuinely only interested in passing on knowledge, but the current curriculum is devoid of anything that is likely to be useful to our children and far too many teachers just assume that all parents are the lowest common denominator. But for sheer entertainment there is no one better than my wife at making teachers squirm on parent evenings when they start to regurgitate bullshit when trying to explain away why they are not teaching or running their class properly.
I could go on and on but better stop as I'll just get wound up and not sleep tonight.

Oh nearly forgot; last week my youngest who is 13 got 100% in her global warming exam. WTF are 13 year olds doing being taught this bullshit.
Feb 25, 2009 at 1:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter MG
To : February 24, 2009 | Imogen

Totally agreed, and the nomad, around-the-world-style would be the epitome of what I’m talking about getting out there and mixing it, seeing life and learning from it, even though it is a home teaching solution rather than “normal” education.

I do personally know of one example though in the Northern Territory of a family living on a boat where the kids get no formal education. They can’t read or write because their parents don’t believe in it. They will be well suited to a lifestyle banging around Torres Strait (and that’s not a bad lifestyle), but their broader options are limited.

A different example is the Outback School, operating since the 1950’s or 1960’s where kids were taught at home with classes over the short-wave radio service. When you nearest neighbour is 100 kms away, its not a bad way to go, and worked well. I’m not sure if it still operates that way today, but was a great model for remote locations.

But I think there are two quite different things here:

1) what is ideal: and that is pretty much a case by case matter. Each of home or school education could be superior or inferior depending on the circumstances. Imogen gives an example that is probably the best in the world, but available from a practical perspective to very few. The other extreme is where home education is an isolating experience, which is not good. But equally, bad examples can be found in going to school. What is ideal is often an individual thing, and that is what the second and most important point is about.

2) Choice: should we be able to choose the manner in which our children are educated. I believe that yes we should, but there is an area where this can become problematic: when the parents can’t make a reasonable choice, and there is a point where the state should step in.

That said, the bar should be set to only apply in genuine abuse cases. The simple fact is our school systems produce so many failures that chasing a few examples of unusual education methods is a waste of resources.

What the authorities should always bear in mind is that the overwhelming majority of home educators do so because they care for their kids future, and that has to be a good thing. I see my own path differently, but it doesn’t mean I care less. In the end, the approach used is less important than putting in the effort to make sure the results are worthwhile.
Feb 25, 2009 at 2:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterRathtyen
I have a friend who HE'd her two, both went on to college successfully, and are very nice youngsters.

They were taught for about 1 month a YEAR, just before the annual check.

Alan Douglas
Feb 25, 2009 at 8:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Douglas
Thank you for this.

My child is not my possession - or that of anyone else. She is an autonomous, individual human being with the right to make her own informed decisions. I am perfectly happy to indoctrinate her in that respect - we will be legall responsible for an accountable young woman who has no need of compulsory civic service costing billions of pounds of taxpapyers' money to teach her personal responsibility.

She will be ultimately responsible for where, when, how and what she learns, just like us, her parents. Our personal and professional opportunities continually expand because we joyfully indulge our personal learning preferences and passions. If such a desire does not exist or is not fulfilled, then no real learning actually takes place, which is why I would not be concerned if she shunned Shakespeare for archaeological digs, for example.

Outside school, there is always a way of learning anything when you're really motivated and resourceful. Valuable learning opportunities exist everywhere. I am more concerned about the lack of resources schools have to equip children for success in a real, 21st century world, precisely because they do not represent the real, 21st century world but are a product of an outdated, post-war, factory mentality.

From his comments, I don't think that David Semple would be capable of assessing our home pedagogy of autodidacticism, which essentially calls for "the death of the teacher". In his case, I can't think of a better solution.
Feb 25, 2009 at 9:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterRenegade Parent
<em>"I’m referring to things like the scientific method, skepticism and all forms of rational argument and the examination of evidence required to support or disprove such an argument."</em>

<em>I wasn't taught any of these things at my shitty bog standard comp. I learned them myself afterwards.</em>

That would be my main reason for opting for home schooling if I had the choice. State-funded schools do the exact opposite of promoting rational argument and skepticism. They educate partly, but indoctrinate fully.

Great article.
Feb 25, 2009 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterDick Puddlecote
Great post, I can't believe the thought process of these morons. The US isn't far behind now.

The leftist bastards want to take everything from us.
Feb 25, 2009 at 7:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Id

Nice to hear from you and thanks for the kind words.

You know, I do wonder sometimes if this is a case of stupidity rather than evil - the effect is malign either way. While I don't particularly like doing posts like this, sometimes I think you have to say "Enough".
Feb 25, 2009 at 7:36 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill
I think the following quote was particularly revelatory:

"After all, this is a democracy.<blahblahblah> So, as a fellow citizen in a democracy, I want everyone to know about things like evolution and to be able to judge the merits of an argument on the basis of rational thought, not on the basis of prescribed doctrine."

Wait, what? I want to remind the guy that in a democracy, the 'I' doesn't order around the 'everyone', and perhaps he got something the wrong way around but he clearly means what he says.

I live in the UK but come from Idaho, USA and have since childhood put those lucky enough to have an Oxbridge education on a sort of pedestal. That preconception is fast falling away.. :P
Feb 25, 2009 at 7:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterLanna Rosgen

Funny you should say that - I met a Fellow of the Royal Society the other day and the thing that struck me was how ordinary he was and how ill-informed, at least about areas outwith his immediate area of expertise.
Feb 25, 2009 at 7:58 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill
'This is at the core of my problem with home schooling; parents have replaced the absolute authority of the State with the absolute authority of themselves - and both need to be a lot more open to democratic regulation'

Since when, in the UK, has the State (note the sinister capital 's') had absolute authority over anyone? Deeply, deeply troubling; to suggest that the idea that parents have absolute control over their children - when minors, we presume - must be open to some sort of regulation reminds me very much of Lenin's brag: 'Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.' Lenin also stated that democracy is the truest form of socialism; he believed that 'It is true that liberty is precious; so precious that it must be carefully rationed.' I fear that any liberty the electorate may have left will most certainly be rationed in this instance, for the State conceives of autonomous, individual action as the height of subversion.
Feb 26, 2009 at 3:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterMara MacSeoinin
Excellent post. I do agree with Puzzled about his -isms but I do enjoy calling all arrogant control freaks like Semple fascist if only because it annoys them so. Moreover, the similarities are pretty strong and I loath both.
Feb 26, 2009 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve
I particularly detest semple's reference to the "absolute authority of the State" (note his use of a capital letter). What absolute authority? Since when? Has he heard of the rule of law, the Queen in Parliament? Is the man a total moron or is he just trying to wind people up?
Feb 26, 2009 at 2:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan
Excellent post, agree with every point made bar one, there are some (rare) teachers who happily admit the school system is hopeless.
My lad is unusually bright and even his year one teacher made comment that once he reaches secondary age I should seriously consider home schooling because in her words 'any local secondary school round here will destroy him'.

She has a point, he has a better grasp of maths & english at 8 than most teenagers I know.
Feb 27, 2009 at 4:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterKat
As I understand it, a significant proportion of HE parents are former teachers.

We have a similar issue with our six-year old. Two years ahead on everything they measured him on, except for reading speed where he was off the scale. We nearly took him out six months ago, and I can't see him lasting to secondary.
Feb 27, 2009 at 4:57 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill
In total agreement!
I used to be a teacher and teachers certainly don't get to teach - just facilitate a very narrow government designed curriculum. David Semple is clearly talking out of his bottom if her thinks school 'teaches'. It indoctrinates and creates nice well behaved citizens who will be happy to work in Asda and spend at Asda (see John Taylor Gatto's books) I left for this reason and now teach adults - where I can enable learning. I also facilitate learning for my children where we are completely autonomous.

I would love to see a science lesson in secondary school that the kids actually do - titrate - handle equipment PAH!! Has he actually looked in schools? Most don't have science technicians any more - did he see the series on the teacher in Liverpool who was actually trying to do exepriments rather than than just learn facts for exams! My kids do far more science at home, kitchen science, explosions, astronomy.

Send David Semple to me - I'll put the bombastic biggoted git in his place!
May 8, 2009 at 4:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuart

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