Saturday, July 12, 2008

A messagebaord post of which I am feeling proud

I'm not sure it's ok to say

"HEing is fine but you are HEing for reason X, and I don't think X is a valid reason for HEing"

because in conversation one has to simplify, and reason X might just be the thing which is uppermost in one's mind at this precise moment


because reason X might just have been the thing which incensed the person in their conversation with grumpy old Life is Tough git


because you don't HAVE to have a "valid reason" to HE any more than you have to have a valid reason to send your child to school. They are equal before the law in the UK

No-one gets to decide about whether or not a family should or should not be home educating their children except for, ultimately, a court of law. Not me. Not you. Not even an LEA. They can put a case in court if they have good reason to believe that a particular family is failing to educate a child, but it's still up to the court to decide.

Friday, July 11, 2008

"Life is tough and children need to learn how to deal with it"

I really really hate that sentiment. It's not even so much the "Life is tough" bit because, indeed, life does throw challenges at people and those challenges are sometimes difficult. It's the "Children need to learn" sentiment which has my hackles rising.

Because behind "they have to learn" is an implied "and it's going to hurt them" and somehow the speaker is just RELISHING the fact that they are going to suffer, and that suffering is Good For Them. Whenever I have encountered it, there is an edge to the tone of voice, an entire world view which believes that That Which Does Not Destroy Us Makes Us Stronger, and You Have To Suffer To Be Beautiful. The person saying it subscribes that well known magazine The School of Hard Knocks Weekly.

But I believe that they are wrong. People learn least well through suffering because the brain does not function as well under stress. The things people learn in stressful situations are not necessarily at all what those trying to teach them (parents, teachers, peers, whoever) are trying to teach.

Not all people who send their children to school are "Life is Tough and you have to learn to deal" people, and not all HEers are the opposite. Although the quote was brought to my attention by a HEer being criticised for her family's choice because "Life is Tough blah blah", I don't actually think the quote got anything particularly to do with school vs. HE at all.

The kind of person who says "You have to send your child to school because life is tough blah blah" is just as likely IMO to say "you have to leave your child to scream themself to sleep because life is tough blah blah" or "the rot set in when they stopped national service because life is tough blah blah" or whatever they happen to think you are being too "soft" with your child about. In the context of this original quote it happened to be school/HE. If the child in question was going to school, the criticism would be of helping the child make their sandwiches which was not teaching them that "Life is tough", or allowing them to wear a coat on a chilly day even if the clocks have already changed. The problem is with the Life is Tougher, not with whether anyone's children go to school or not.

By the way, I think that if school is horribly stressful for a child, they'll be better off out of it educationally and socially, long and short term, rather than self-harming or committing suicide or anorexic or waiting to see if the last lot of bruises heals before the next lot arrives or weeping every Sunday night as the new week begins.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Going all political - a letter to my MP

Dear XXX,

I note that you have signed Early Day Motion 1886 about
Breastfeeding in Public.

While I applaud your support for mothers feeding their infants, I feel
very strongly that this proposed law does not go far enough.

As I am sure you know, the WHO recommends breastfeeding exclusively
until 6 months, and then mixed breastfeeding and solid foods until at
least two years old. What precisely is proposed in this Early Day
Motion for babies and small children over the 6 month limit?
Putting the age limit on tends to lend validity to the prurience with
which women's breasts being used for their naturally intended purpose
is viewed in this country. Women whose breastfeeding children are over
six months, or appear to be, will be at increased risk of being
challenged, bullied, and asked to leave public places, since the law,
if it passes, will clearly state that breastfeeding in public is only
alright up to this magic limit.

Before you contribute to the house of commons debate on this matter, I
would urge you to get in touch with breastfeeding women in your
constituency - La Leche League or NCT coffee mornings are the most
obvious place - and consult breastfeeding women about this. I believe
you will find that they would prefer no law to a law with an age limit,
and that they would prefer a law with no age limit to no law at all
[Parliament could always just lift the Scottish wording...]. Further,
just because weaning begins at 6 months doesn't mean that babies show
very much interest in solid food for a long time after that;
exclusively breastfed babies will often have absolutely NOTHING to do
with a bottle either of expressed breast milk or of formula; and few
mothers find it preferable to deny a screaming baby or child breastmilk
just because they are not safely behind closed doors.

As it stands, this early day motion really isn't going to do any
favours to the people for whose benefit it seems to have been drafted.

Yours sincerely,

Inspired by this petition