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Skool’z owt

April 23, 2007

Call me a boring old traditionalist but I don’t really see the point in home schooling. Surely children learn a hell of a lot more (and not just the good old national curriculum) if they’re among kids of their own age, picking their scabs in the play ground, and being bashed by conkers.

And how arrogant must you be to assume that you and only you are knowledgeable enough to be responsible for educating your child (unless you’ve actually got a PGCE of course, in which case, you take your kid out of school by all means). Well, last night’s Wife Swap showed such an arrogant, pig headed, closed-minded couple – Mr and Mrs Wroathe, who live on a farm, never go out and home educate their daughter, Jennifer. If home educating your young means that you teach her that beating a horse is OK, then I’d seriously reconsider that entrance exam to the local comp if I were you.

Mr Wroathe taught us that he’s a sinister, manipulating evil man, who’s primary aim in life is to control his daughter. Punishing her for enjoying her first day at school, he revelled in her misery the next day when she didn’t want to go because it was snowing. Any sane parent who loved his child would have explained that she can play in the snow at break time in school and that it will most probably snow again some time. Being that it’s winter and all. But no, Mr Wroathe sneakily played mind games with his nine-year-old, explaining that he didn’t want her to go either but that he was forcing her to go to show everyone that home schooling is best. Is it my arse!

Jennifer herself said the one hour of curriculum she got per day was boring and genuinely seemed to love being around children her own age. Thankfully, her forced hermit-isation hadn’t affected her outgoing personality (yet) and she was more than capable of getting on with those in her class.

By the end of the program, Tori Martin (a bar owner who likes her porn) did what (I’m sure) a lot of viewers had wanted to do all program and had slapped the nasty piece of work after much provocation on his part. Grabbing her hands tightly and pushing her whilst making nasty comments at her, Mr Wroathe then proceeded to shake his head disbelievingly at the camera when Tori eventually struck.

Unfortunately for Jennifer, she is still being home schooled by her parents but will be being sent off to camp for two weeks this summer. Poor thing. Suddenly being immersed in that kind of situation from only being around your parents is bound to result in tears. And then what will the knee-jerking Wroathes do? They’ll most probably wrap little Jennifer in cotton wool and lock her in her room until she’s 16.

24 Comments leave one →
  1. Allie permalink
    April 23, 2007 2:56 pm

    Surely you don’t really believe you can draw any conclusions about home education (or anything else for that matter) from watching ‘Wife Swap’?

  2. Badger Madge permalink
    April 23, 2007 3:00 pm

    Yes, because I get all my opinions from telly, doncha know? 😉

    Allie, you’re right. I’m sure a lot of home-schooled kids come out fine. But I stand by my opinion that you’d have to be terribly arrogant (or a teacher yourself) to think that you are your child’s best educator.

    Plus with parents like the Wroathes, there’s no way in hell that Jennifer will ever get a good education.

  3. Badger Madge permalink
    April 23, 2007 3:05 pm

    For best see best (or in the Wroathes’ case, only)

  4. Clair permalink
    April 23, 2007 4:48 pm

    I think it must be difficult to socialize children if they’re not at school with their peers. I’d be fascinated to find out what home schooled kids are like once they get to work or college.

    I also think Wife Swap has really lost it, and can’t believe they’re advertising for people to take part in another series. I know it’s a banker for Channel 4, but it’s way past its best.

  5. Badger Madge permalink
    April 23, 2007 4:50 pm

    I reckon, if there was some kind of after-home-school activity, then it’d be OK. But cutting your child off from the outside world in unforgivable imo…

  6. Dani permalink
    April 23, 2007 5:06 pm

    Wife Swap have been trying for ages to get a home educating family to take part – and most people sensibly wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole.

    The reality for the vast majority of home educated children is a rich and varied social life, in which they mix voluntarily and happily with children of all ages and adults, rather than being forced into the company of a large number of people of a similar age for 30 hours a week.

    For us, and most of the other home educating families we know, social opportunities are so plentiful that it is laughable to think it could be a cause for concern.

    Home ed is nothing to do with “cutting your child off from the outside world”. In fact, for us at least, it’s about learning through a life that’s fully engaged with the world, not cut off in a separate space where education is handed out in carefully prepared chunks.

  7. Badger Madge permalink
    April 23, 2007 5:11 pm

    Thanks Dani, that’s really interesting. I do, however, still feel that in Jennifer’s situation, her parents are misguided and are neglecting her pretty badly.

    I don’t think I’d ever choose to home-teach my kid. Not having been through teacher training, or experienced teaching children ever, I’d never tamper with that kind of thing. Maybe I’d teach them drama. Or art. You know, something soft like that… 😉

  8. Anonymous permalink
    April 24, 2007 8:02 am

    Oh dear. You are very ignorant if you thank you need a PGCE to home educate your child.

    You need a PGCE to crowd control in a state dictated prison. AKA School.

    Home Education means educating your child in the real world. Not taking them out of it like schools do.

    And yes, I am arrogant enough to think I can educate my child better than anyone else, because I’m not handing their education over to badly run schools that spoon feed children to become another cog in the governments big machine. They can think for themselves.

    They learn without teaching. (Yes, there is such a thing) Google “learning without teaching” and you’ll see how so many people in this world have escaped the narrow one you live in.

  9. Badger Madge permalink
    April 24, 2007 8:12 am

    Hmmm, yes, but then my school taught me that “governments big machine” should be written “government’s big machine.”

  10. Rich permalink
    April 24, 2007 8:35 am

    Anonymous – as a partner of a teacher, I think she’d get extremely upset to hear you call a school ‘a state dictated prison’. The overwhelming majority of teachers are dedicated to the welfare and, yes, education of the children in their care. Which would probably explain why my partner spent 11 hours doing her planning on Sunday.

    What about parents who can’t afford to stay at home and educate their children? I’m sure most parents would want to do that if they could, but it’s a) not an option for a lot of people and b) it takes an awful lot of confidence to take theat jump.

    Something else to remember is that teachers teach what the government tells them to, so perhaps instead of having a go at schools you should look more towards Westminster to vent your anger at these so-called ‘prisons’.

  11. Badger Madge permalink
    April 24, 2007 8:39 am

    Another thing that occurred to me: if your kid broke his/her arm, would you fix it yourself? If they needed an operation, would you get the bread knife out? No. You’d take it to a professional to fix and make better. So why assume you can do the same to their minds?

    Sorry. It just doesn’t make sense to me. And if that means I’m closed-minded, then so be it!

  12. Anonymous permalink
    April 24, 2007 11:09 am

    That’s because you think teachers are experts.

    They are not. They think they are because everyone tells them they are.

    Not me.

    I agree that for the most part, schools are in the state they are because of the government. I don’t questions teachers motives. I question their right to call themselves experts.

    I’m sure most would prefer to teach 3-4 children at a time. But we all know that isn’t going to happen.

    As for Home Education on a budget – there are many many out there home educating as single parents with little money.

    If your only arguement against Home Education is to pick holes in my grammar you need to start thinking for yourself.

  13. Badger Madge permalink
    April 24, 2007 11:15 am

    I admit it was a cheap shot for that and I apologise.

    But going on your posts (not just the grammar but the paranoid and mis-informed content) I’d much rather my kids were taught by teachers (who *are* professionals, by the way) and not by yourself…

  14. Rich permalink
    April 24, 2007 1:44 pm

    Anonymous – you’re correct in your assumption that teachers would rather have much smaller class sizes, but that’s never goung to happen where it’s 3-4 kids per teacher. As for saying that teachers ‘call themselves experts’, the only way for a teacher to get to know a child intimately is to spend time at home with that child, again, completely impossible. I’ve never once heard my partner say she’s an expert in kids, what I have heard other people say, parents funnily enough, is that she’s an excellent and dedicated teacher.

    As for her own views on home ed, she’d say that if that is that was the best course of action for that particular child, and he/she was growing as person, as well as a attaining and maintaining an appropriate standard of literacy and numeracy, then so be it.

  15. Badger Madge permalink
    April 24, 2007 2:07 pm

    Parents might be experts in their own children, but I doubt many are experts in maths, english, history, geography, science, etc. At a school, children get people who have studied these subjects in depth and so know what they’re talking about.

  16. Anonymous permalink
    April 25, 2007 3:43 am


    You need to look into the facts of things before passing judgement so quickly.

    Did you read properly the comment about learning without teaching?

    Home Education is a different way of learning.

    Not like school.

    I repeat not like school.

    Remember, schools have only been around for the last 150 years, and “properly” for the last 100. i.e available for all.

    They were born out of teaching the lower classes basic literacy and a few other skills, so that they could then go and work in the main in manufacturing.

    Look, you really need to look into something before passing such swift judgement. There are more and more people turning to Home Eduation because they have looked into it and realised it’s a brilliant way to educate your child. Ok, not for everyone. But lets not forget; in law it’s a parent’s responsibility to educate their child, not the state’s.

    Some people choose to send their child to school, some don’t.

  17. Badger Madge permalink
    April 25, 2007 8:33 am

    Yes. You’re rright there. I’m not disagreeing with the fact that some home-schooled kids do very well – have you been reading *my* comments?

    What I’ve been saying all along is that (in my opinion) it’s extremely arrogant for someone who is not trained as a teacher and who does not specialise in all the many subjects a child should be well-versed in if he or she is to gain good employment to think they *alone* can teach their child.

    *State* schools were created to teach lower classes the basics. But organised education / schools / universities have been around a lot longer than that, my friend…

  18. Anonymous permalink
    April 25, 2007 11:51 am

    And I’m saying that children can learn without teaching.

    Which means that parents don’t have to be experts in a myriad of subjects.

    A lot of Home Education takes place as projects anyway incorporating many different subjects.

    You have to get out of the school mentality and way of learning. It’s not the only way for children to learn.

  19. dottyspots permalink
    April 26, 2007 8:03 pm

    Hmmm, ‘organised education’ outside of the home has certainly been around for a while – but so has home-education and not always necessarily by an employed tutor.

    I have a foot in both camps as my children have been home-educated, chose to go to school and I now have two younger children who we also plan to home-educate.

    They’ve always been involved in outside activities – cubs, swimming, etc. and one of the teacher’s comments upon my 10 year old returning to school was that: “You’d never guess he’d been home-educated, he’s fitted into school so well.” I did ask quite what he thought I’d been doing with my children for the past few years!

    Children are children and home-educated children are just as likely to play out on the street with their schooled peers if given the opportunity.

    So ‘cutting off’ children from wider society is not, in my experience, common in the HE community – although there are some elements within society for whom this is a route they choose.

    I think it’s a shame that you think that I (as a HE-er) am arrogant. A PGCE (or t’other one) does not, in itself, a good teacher make – and there are plenty of fairly crappy teachers out there (amongst the excellent ones).

    As area that I think home-education excels in is supporting children to become resourceful learners. Even teachers don’t know *everything* – and of course, neither to parents, however, this can be very easily addressed, one provides a good role model for one’s children by learning the material oneself, e.g. by saying to child, “Well, I don’t know the answer to that question, but lets see if we can find out.”

    For me, the beauty of home-education is that it has given my children the chance to experience an education tailored to them and as such, from a purely academic point of view I have had proof that it worked very well (as both have since returned to school and as such are excelling academically), but academic achievement is not the sum total of education and I believe that their experience outside of the school system enriched their lives in many other ways too :0)

    Right, I’m rambling now, but did feel the need to comment (especially as I, along with other home-educators, appear to have been labelled as arrogant, not a word that I think many people would describe me with).

  20. Badger Madge permalink
    April 26, 2007 8:15 pm

    Gosh this has become a full-on debate and no mistake. I shall rival Andrew Collins for comments.

    Glad your kids are well-rounded and high-achieving, Dottyspots. But I’m not sure about tailoring their education to their desires – surely this doesn’t bode well for the future when they’ll have to do things at work they might not like to do, or might not be that great at? Doesn’t this teach them that they can pick and choose, instead of trying extra hard at the things you find challenging?

    Just a thought.

    RE: arrogance. Yes, there are some mighty crap teachers out there (take my GCSE Maths teacher for one – actually all my Maths teachers were awful) but I still feel that (and I’ll say it yet again) unless you’ve got a background in various subjects, you can’t possibly hope to give your kid a ‘proper’ well-rounded education.

    I have an English degree, for example. Now, I might think I could teach my kid GCSE-lvel English (maybe even A Level English if I had the time to brush up on it all again). But I’d *never* think that I could possibly teach them GCSE-level Science, Maths etc.

    Now, I have OK GCSEs in these subjects (Cs and Bs) but I still don’t feel comfortable in my knowledge enough to teach a child. I’m not saying you have to be an ‘expert’ but you at least have to have a pretty decent knowledge of your subject. Maybe an MA or something…

    Look at me rambling now… Tsk…

  21. dottyspots permalink
    April 26, 2007 9:05 pm


    Well, everyone in life has to occasionally do things they don’t like… mine still take the rubbish out, they don’t exactly revel in being asked to wash the floor (but I’m a believer in children sharing responsibility for their environment and that includes the house). Generally they’re happy to help, but there’s the odd time when we clash.

    Sometimes they want to go skating and I say no, I need your help in the garden (or any number of other reasons).

    They learn that sometimes there are things that just need to be done.

    However, whilst taking the rubbish out is a necessary evil (unless you enjoy sharing your home with foul-smelling rubbish and possibly further uninvited *guests*), I fail to see how permutations (to take maths as an example) is necessarily necessary (oh that’s not the best sequence of words) should someone want to become, for example, a plumber.

    Or reading Shakespeare (which I have enjoyed, but realise that others may not be quite as enthusiastic) would be necessary for a would-be scientist.

    That is not to say that such experiences are not valuable – indeed, our language has much to owe to Shakespeare and whilst I think that my life might be somewhat lacking had I not some minor experience of reading some of his works, I don’t think everyone would agree with me.

    Even within a subject that a person enjoys there might be elements which are of less interest.

    I’m afraid I’ve always been a pick and choose person. In my working life when I have come across challenges I have always met them head on, but that’s something in my character, rather than being forced to do things I didn’t want to do (because as a teen I was rather resolute that I was not going to do anything I didn’t want to do). The positives of the job (and sometimes that simply boiled down to the fact I was paid) outweighed the “I would rather prefer not to do this.” Of course, if a job is *that* bad, then perhaps one should be reconsidering the career path.

    Oooh, I hate these narrow comment boxes, makes it really difficult to read over and make sure I’ve got the comment quite as I’d like it.

    With re. to a ‘proper’ well-rounded education – I think that’s rather subjective. What constitutes a ‘proper’ education? Through case law an education has been defined as something that prepares an individual to live in the society that they are a member of (or words to that effect). The National Curriculum is a standardised method and naturally has to include some elements at the expense of others – but why should, for example, one part of history be any more important than another? The Tudors taught as a topic within history rather than the Civil War – both are equally valid parts of our nation’s history, but there has to be limits.

    I would have to agree that a certain level of numeracy and literacy is important within society, however, not knowing igneous from sedimentary rocks isn’t necessarily going to be a handicap 🙂

  22. dottyspots permalink
    April 26, 2007 9:12 pm

    My 10 year old came out with a corker recently along the same lines.

    He’s rather independent and is of a questioning disposition (aka cheeky little bugger on occasion).

    When asked (re. choosing what he learnt) what he would do should his boss ask him to do something he wasn’t keen on his reply was that he’d be self-employed.

    Yes, even as a self-employed person (and both my husband and I are, as are both of my parents) one has to do things one isn’t keen on (self assessment being in the forefront of my mind), doing such things enables one to focus on the main reward of doing what one wants to do – i.e. be self-employed.

  23. Badger Madge permalink
    April 27, 2007 11:35 am

    Yes, that’s why I put the word proper in inverted commas. For me a ‘proper’ education *is* well rounded and (call me a conformist) well-rounded in all ‘traditional’ subjects.

    Yes it’s annoying, but we all must be well-versed in traditional subjects because that’s what the world of work expects of us. I’f I’d given up Maths aged nine like I wanted to, there’s no way I’d ever get a job and I’d certainly not succeed in any career I’d set up for myself as self-employed.

  24. dottyspots permalink
    April 27, 2007 5:11 pm

    “Yes it’s annoying, but we all must be well-versed in traditional subjects because that’s what the world of work expects of us. I’f I’d given up Maths aged nine like I wanted to, there’s no way I’d ever get a job and I’d certainly not succeed in any career I’d set up for myself as self-employed.”

    Well, I wouldn’t say it was annoying because I don’t see that the ‘world of work’ necessarily does expect that from everyone. Yes there are some areas where one needs a certain level of academic education – however, there are plenty where this isn’t required.

    Plenty of schooled children do ‘give up’ maths (for example) at the age of 9 – they may be sitting there in the lesson, but that’s very different from actively learning. Hence the fairly recent goverment campaign on adult numeracy and literacy.

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