Wednesday, 17 September 2008

A long one (just warning you)

A couple of pictures of Arbroath here - I didn't see much of it but it seemed like a nice little town. I managed the drive ok (just over 3 hours each way) but certainly didn't enjoy it. However, my biggest fear was that I would get sleepy and that didn't happen, so I was relieved about that.
The conference was very interesting and got me thinking about lots of different aspects of home education. The main speaker was John_Taylor_Gatto who I didn't know much about. After hearing him speak I really want to read some of his books. Someone at the conference made the comment over coffee that Gatto is a better writer than speaker, and he did seem to ramble a bit, making it difficult to follow his thread at times (the fact that he spoke for so long - two sessions - added to this), but he clearly held a huge amount of information on his subject, both from research and his own experience.
He talked a lot about the origins of modern schooling, how schools evolved and the purpose of schools. He had a very American perspective of course, but much of what he discussed was relevant to us too. I have to admit there were times when I felt he was coming across as some kind of conspiracy theorist, and I don't think that went down well with some of the other conference attendees (there were teachers and Education Authority representatives), but when I read some of the handouts about what he achieved as a teacher I couldn't help but respect him. Thats why I want to read some of his stuff, as I think I only heard a fraction of what he has to say, and would like a wider view.

The other speaker was a solicitor from the Education Law Unit at Govan Law Centre, who deal with many home educating families having problems with LEAs. Again - very interesting - but very specific, and not much of it relating to my situation (thankfully).

I also went to a workshop on autonomous learning. A lot of this was geared towards dealing with education authority people, and how parents 'prove' their children are learning through the autonomous approach. Some good discussions, and great to hear from people who are actually doing it (including a teenage girl who was home educated in this way).

So what did I come away thinking??
A lot of Gatto's talk reaffirmed my feelings about mainstream schooling. Its not what I would choose for A. But there is a lot of other stuff going around my head, and I still haven't really processed it yet. It has inspired me to do some more reading though, and I will probably post more on this.
Another area I'm now thinking about is LEA involvement. I haven't had to inform them I'm home educating as A was at an independent school, but they may at some point catch up with us. Its not that I'm particularly worried about this, but I'd like to be prepared if they do suddenly contact me.

A beautiful rose we spotted on Monday - walking home in the rain.

One of our little (?) friends, who live at the bottom of our road. We always stop and have a chat, A says this one is called 'Patch'.

We both have colds at the moment, so are lying around going "I hate being ill", and listening to story CDs. We did manage to get out and bring a few wheelbarrow's full of wood round to stock up (our landlord lets us help ourselves to his massive wood pile - nice man). Its definately feeling like autumn now, and I'm terrified about my gas bill so am trying not to use the central heating much. Our flat is very old and draughty with high ceilings, and is very, very cold in winter, so I think we'll just live in the living room where the wood burner is when it gets too cold.


Lucy said...

Thanks for writing about the conference - all most interesting to hear. I love Gatto's books.

Great photos too :)

Red Eyes said...

Glad I found this blog. I read that King William the Lion founded the Arbroath Abbey in 1178 in honour of the murdered St. Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury.

btw: I'm currently reading one of your favourite books, the master and margarita and was just wondering...