Home-Schooled Nerdfighters!


Home-Schooled Nerdfighters!

I'm home-schooled and I have a hard time finding out if other NF's are home-schooled to. So this group is for home-schooled NF's to talk.

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Latest Activity: Feb 14, 2013

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Comment by Sarah D. on October 1, 2010 at 1:40pm
Hey. I was homeschooled from pre-K to 11th grade. Now I'm in college. I joined this group to support other homeschoolers and maybe help with questions or something.
Most people think of homeschoolers as really socially awkward people who are stupid and don't know anything. I say we fight that stereotype, because we are nerdfighters who decrease world suck. DFTBA.
Comment by Luna Lovegood on September 15, 2010 at 6:55pm
I have begun homeschooling this year. Mostly because public school wasn't cutting it. I start most classes next week :)
Comment by sabelmouse on April 2, 2010 at 12:22pm
it makes perfect sense.
Comment by Abby Rose on April 2, 2010 at 12:21pm
you learn things this way just not things the schools think you should know :) and what you do know you know because you wanted to know it... did that make any sence?
Comment by sabelmouse on April 2, 2010 at 5:33am
you'd think it would.
Comment by Abby Rose on April 2, 2010 at 12:35am
wow I just read the article and I love it! For one that is how I am being homeschooled and I love it. Yeah sure I am not the best at math and I don't know how to spell very well but I am a happy teenager and that is what really matters right?
Comment by sabelmouse on September 19, 2009 at 4:50am
Article from the English Times on Homeschooling 15th September 2009‏

y friend in London mentioned this article to me in the Times last week so I've copied it here.
The Times, 15th September 2009

Home schooling: Hey, teachers, leave us kids alone
As protesters gather in London today to campaign against tighter restrictions on home schooling, our writer, educated in a council house with her seven siblings, gives a learned riposte to those who doubt its benefits

The Badman Report, published earlier this year, suggests the compulsory regulation of home-education — an area of life where, previously, there had been none at all. Campaigners gather today in Central London to protest against the report.

Well, of course they do. They don’t have to keep their protesting to the weekend — like the Countryside Alliance, or the Poll Tax people, did. If you’re home-educating, Tuesday is totally do-able. The whole thing about home education is that you can do any damn thing you please on a Tuesday.

Those home-educated kids, down in Central London this morning, live in a quantumly different world to nearly everyone else their age. Oh, normal, school-educated reader! How can I even begin to describe how lifelong “not normal” being home educated is! For those kids, Tuesday is no different to Monday or, for that matter, Saturday: all the days of the week are equal, in their eyes. It’s like some kind of calendar communism. Think of it. Sunday evening is not the deep-blue leader-tape to Monday morning’s misery. But then, neither is Friday, 3.15pm like every single firework in the world going off in your head, while a mariachi band accompany you on your glorious walk home to freedom. A single, odd fact among a million single odd facts about being home-educated: if you don’t go to school, there is no weekend.

So of course those Badman protesters will have picked a civilised, off-peak Tuesday to travel on relatively empty trains. When the protest disperses, they will take advantage of the midweek to pop into the Science Museum. It’s quiet on a Tuesday. All the kids are in school.

Here is the sentence that I say most in my life — after “I’ll do it IN A MINUTE, kids”, and “Would anyone, by any chance, like some wine?” It is: “I am the eldest of eight children, and we were all home-educated, by our parents, in a three-bedroom council house in Wolverhampton.” None of us went to school after October 26, 1986, when I was 11 years old. At this point, all PE kits and school cardigans fell into abeyance.

Ninety-nine times out of 100 (which is the kind of straight-forward ratio I like. Home education has left me mathematically very weak. I would struggle with a tricksy percentage, such as “67 per cent”) the reply I get is: “So, did your parents give you lessons?”

Twenty years ago — as a 14-year-old — I would have given a very serious and earnest answer about the nature of home-education: about how its values are child-led, rather than adult-led, and that parent/educators need do little more than organise the supply of text-books and pens. Blarp, blarp, blaaaarp.

For at least two decades, though, on being asked this question, I — along with my seven other home-educated siblings — have taken to simply laughing hysterically while shaking our head; occasionally issuing the odd, tearful, incredulous: “Naaaaah.”

Here is what an average day would consist of in 1987: the year after we all left school. Getting up around 9am, a group of siblings (two weren't yet born) looking very much like the cast of Oliver!, and dressed in nightwear of varying filthiness and disrepair, would descend to the kitchen and pour cereal and milk into whatever receptacles (bowls, pint-mugs, the smaller pans: we weren’t fussy) were available. We would all then go into the front room and — after a brief, half-hour fist-fight over which some children would take the sofa, and which others would be “supplicants”, and sit on the floor — crank up a couple of hours of classic movies: Ghostbusters followed by Hello, Dolly!, say.

By and large, this was the main work of the day — watching, and memorising, and being sarcastic little Beavis and Buttheads, about films, and telly, and the entire works of Loony Tunes. When we finally tired of the sofa, we would go on to play six-hour-long games with our Sindys — I was, I am oddly proud to admit, still doing this at the age of 14. We published a monthly magazine, called The Maggot Mag. Claire, 8, gave her dog-training tips (“I will walk towards the dog in an ANGRY way.”) Caz wrote an episodic Mallory Towers pastiche, called Kelmsley Island (“Here comes Mrs Hughes, the kindly but athletic-faced gym teacher . . .”).

We seemed to hold an award ceremony pretty much every week; likewise, funerals for dead animals, or broken dolls. There was a six-month-long, self-invented cult religion, which involved everyone praying to the concrete post that supported the washing-line, which we painted with spooky-looking symbols and, less-spookily, the legend “Stephen W Is A Pervert”. This was in honour of Stephen W who lived around the corner and was, by dint of showing us his willy one day when he was 10, a pervert.

Amazingly, a combination of The Maggot Mag, and our ability to recite huge swathes of the dialogue from Hello Dolly! seemed enough to satisfy “The Inspectors”, who came twice a year, to check on our “progress”. From a simple desire to stop things becoming too awkward, we would occasionally flam together a couple of spurious essays on something, or pretend that using baking powder while making scones was “a science experiment”, and write it up as such.

But really, they knew, and we knew that they knew, that we didn’t have a single lesson, on a single subject, at any point during our “home education”. From 1986 onwards, our entire education came down to a) the contents of our local library, b) MGM musicals, and c) never going behind a tree when a ten-year-old boy says: “I’ve got something to show you.”

We did not come to this serene state of affairs straight away. Although we had all, by and large, been unhappy at school — if I had to sum up our familial public image at school, it would probably be the phrase “Fat gyppo!” — suddenly leaving school wasn’t a cheerful, glorious “THE END” on all the trauma.

Besides, it wasn’t our trauma that had finally decided our parents on home education: it was theirs. Namely, finding enough clean, matching socks every morning. The odds of it actually being possible became, with each successive child, so small that, in the end, my parents simply took upon themselves the entire burden of our education rather than spend another 8.30am screaming: “YOU SHOULD HAVE GOT THEM READY LAST NIGHT!”

After two weeks of almost constant, post-leaving-school partying — lying in until 11am, eating cheese sandwiches all day, watching Hammer Horror films until 2am — a certain boredom kicked in. We all became wildly resentful about the sudden, directionless torpor of our lives and whined almost incessantly to our parents.

For the first few weeks, my mother would look at us and say, with enraging empathy: “You’re being de-schooled.” This made us feel like pitiful cult members, slowly being deprogrammed by kindly nuns. It used to hurl us into furious sulks.

After three weeks of this intolerable proto-adolescent behaviour, however, my mother’s patience frayed right down to the underlay, and whenever we whined “I’m boooooooored. Wolverhampton sucks,” she would briskly say: “The paintwork in the hall could do with a wipe-down. Get yourself a J-Cloth and some Jif.”

In between paintwork washing, and being thrown together, in an extremely confined space 24/7, all the siblings waged permanently, multi-directional campaigns of attrition against each other. To say we all fought like cat and dog would be an understatement. We fought like cat, dog, lion, asp, bee, virus and grenade, all thrown into a very small room together, with only three functioning pens available for a forthcoming game of Cluedo.

But chaos forms its own order, after a while. As time went on, and we realised we really were stuck together, we became both extraordinarily close, and extraordinarily self-motivated.

One by one, we all decided on our futures, and got on with them. Caz, Claire and Cheryl all sorted out GCSEs and A Levels through the Open University, or adult education centres, and went on to Sussex, Manchester and UCL. Like a hateful, smug arse, I published a novel at 16, about being a home-educated child in a large family — literally too dim to think of anything else. Every new year, we would celebrate our achievements, and then reaffirm the eternal vow of our childhood: We SWEAR, on our lives, that we will move out on our 18th birthdays — because, let’s face it, this house is too crowded.

Generally, our home education was in total social isolation. We met few other home-educating families. There was a “posh” family in Solihull, in Birmingham, who had a “playroom” full of paints, clay, paper and piano.

As far as I remember, the kids were quite dull — they had proper lessons! And wrote the answers in books! They weren’t interested in playing the games we were into at the time (pretending to be Bill Murray in Ghostbusters, flooding the garden with a hose; seeing how many cups of vinegar you could drink without screaming). There was no return visit.

The other family we met were “The Mitchells” — a family so fearfully mad it took two years of awkward visits for them to finally realise we hated them and leave us alone. They were obviously troubled — the older boy, Jason, often wet himself in the car on the way to our house. He was 10. The younger boy, Dominic, stabbed my six-year-old sister with a pair of compasses after she refused to kiss his nipple — inspiring the phrase “Dominic behaviour”; for years the worse cussing it was possible for us to bestow on a sibling.

The only bright side about a visit from the Mitchells was that Mrs Mitchell made absolutely gorgeous banana-bread, which she would invariably bring over in gigantic quantities, and we would eat by the handful on the stairs, while listening to the distant sound of Dominic and Jason banging on the cupboard door, wherein we had locked them.

When I left home — on my 18th birthday, as per our family vow — literally the only thing I took with me to London from my home education was a greasy piece of A4, with the recipe on it.

Would I home-educate my kids? Other parents anxiously ask this — usually middle-class ones; as if we might all be failing our children by not jacking in our jobs, and taking them on nature walks 24/7.

Frankly, I dunno. I suppose the classic response of the home-educated would be: “Yes — if the kids asked me to.” Yeah. Make it the decision of the child. It’s a brilliant passive-aggressive move. But then, on the other hand, it’s also a point that underlies the entire ethos of home education. Because the whole idea — as I was taught it, anyway — is that you’re simply letting each child find out what really interests him or her, and then get on with it: without the gigantic, vexatious impediment of school cluttering up the week. Turned out what we were interested in was being sarcastic about popular culture, and making up stories. I’m now a TV critic, Jim’s a stand-up comedian, Claire’s written two novels. Me and Caz have just written a sit-com together, which was just like playing with our Sindys again, but with a bit more typing.

The problem with the Badman Report, as I see it, is that it has made no assurances that it understands that home education simply isn’t “doing what you’d do at school — but at home”.

In short, it doesn’t seem to understand the very vital concept that a child can receive not a single, formal piece of education for more than a decade and then — as in the case of my brother Jim — pack himself off to an adult education college, knock off GCSEs and A-levels in two years flat, and go on to Cambridge. And, because he was entirely self-motivated, all without my parents having to nag him once to do his homework. Indeed, as I remember, they kept telling him to: “Stop sweating your bollocks off, and come and watch Sharpe, instead.”

And that’s home education in a nutshell.

Battle on the home front

No one knows how many children are educated at home, though estimates suggest that there are 50,000 of them. What is not in doubt is that home-educating parents know their rights and are determined to preserve them.

Until this summer’s government report by Graham Badman, this meant that they could educate at home with impunity, unhampered by officialdom. They didn’t need to tell anyone they were doing it, or how they were doing it. When asked what they teach, the standard line is that this is dictated by the child and that being unconfined by a curriculum is both flexible and inspiring.

Badman recommends compulsory registration for home educators with the local authority (about 20,000 children are registered at present) and that parents specify their educational plans for their child a year ahead. Local authorities should provide access to the national examination system and sports facilities, and representatives who have been suitably trained should be able to visit homes where children are being educated.

Badman’s aim is to ensure the wellbeing of children and to protect the small number who have suffered harm. Home educators reject his proposals, and many will demonstrate against them in Central London today. Opponents include the support group, Education Otherwise, which believes that the data on which Badman assessed risk is flawed.

“The report is a sledgehammer to crack a nut,” says Ann Newstead, of Education Otherwise. “These disproportionate measures are being justified because of a tiny percentage [of children at risk] who may or may not be there. Some parents would like some support but it should not be conditional on compliance with new regulations. The law says that the parent is responsible for ensuring that a child receives a suitable education. If I have that responsibility I don’t see why I need to to be assessed by someone else.”

Penny Wark

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