Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Naked Table ~ URGENT message for supporters of Home Education in the UK

Saturday Cuppa: Raspberry Leaf Tea ~ tighten up that uterus grrrrrrrlfriends!

This week’s blog courtesy of our dining table.

“They say walls have ears, well, I’d rather be a dining table any day. We tables get to be part of the action, rather than being mere onlookers and holders of secrets.

In my early life I lived in Bluebell, a beautiful bookshop in the heart of Penrith. Here I saw people searching for their dreams, satisfying their hobbies and searching for answers.

A few years ago I was given a free transfer to the Robinson family, here, at the cottage. There are, of course, down sides to being a dining table.

Mrs R, she’s the bossy one, seems to think it’s perfectly acceptable to dump a load of wet washing on me while she sorts things to dry on the clothes horse by the fire. For some reason they call the clothes horse ‘the blue and white thing’. The blue and white thing is mostly used for clothes drying, but for many years it spent most of the time being a major part of the Robinson children’s games, providing walls around castles and towers when a sheet was draped over it.

I also find it very demeaning that she’ll use me as clearing house, loading me up with all the rubbish and bits and pieces she’s collected from around the home.

She thinks nothing of dumping the whole week’s shopping on me while she sorts things out. Organic fruit and veg is all very well, but can’t they at least wash the dirt off the vegetables? Maybe I don’t look grand enough to be used just for eating? Not classy enough to even wear a fine lace cloth. She’d probably tell you it has more to do with the kids dropping food on it, or candle wax spilling, than because I’m not worthy. But you know as well as I do, that it’s easy to read things into other people’s behaviour!

My latest indignity since that new fat cat arrived is having cats jump on top of me! Hmphfff. I was not made for that! Anyone would think they were meerkats, acting all sentry-like from a look-out point.

Mrs R comes into her own here and promptly banishes them from the room with a few terse words. Her speciality. Then I have to breathe that tea tree stuff (her cure-all) as she smothers my face in it.

The fat cat, Chubs, thinks my carved legs are trees. He’s shredded me so much my pins are unrecognisable from my glossier beginnings. It’s the difference between new, sheer, silk tights and 20 year old wool tights with wool balls all over them. Not pretty.

Enough of the groaning. Life’s good here, really. Just yesterday the girls and Mrs R played scrabble and sipped lemon tea in my company. Mrs R tried to remain calm when she realised Eliza was fiddling ‘the books’ and rearranging numbers on the score sheet.

It gives me purpose to be part of the family in this way.

I’m made of wood and have a split from one side to the other, across my face. Some might say a scar. No longer am I young and smooth, instead I have fork marks. They’ll have been made by Eliza when she was younger.

Then there are pen marks deep into my wood. But then again, I’m not just used for dining. My primary role is the family ‘learning’ desk… as both girls learn from home, rather than at school. Here I see books on everything imaginable… the usual French, geography, history, Steiner maths, art, music, acres of drawing, etc., and then the more spiritual books and conversations around things like A Course In Miracles; The Way of Transformation; The Enneagram of Personality Types.

I hear the girls practise their instruments, and breathe in the tempting smells from the kitchen. Because the kitchen is the size of a postage stamp, they’ll often prepare things in the dining room so the girls can be part of the food making process, which they love.

Although I never get covered in a table cloth, not even a cheap gingham one, Mrs R. adorns me with flowers and a candle. When eight hands and four hearts join together as the family give thanks for another meal, I’m always at the centre of their gratitude. Their words are song-like:

Earth who gives us this food
Sun who makes it ripe and good
Dear Earth, dear Sun
By you we live,
Our loving thanks to you we give…

I love it, too, when they’ve friends for dinner and they scramble around with extra chairs at a table designed for four. Although I’m square, I create a circle of love when people gather around me. I have purpose.

In my years here, I’ve been part of many mailings for The Mother magazine, and a space for creating ideas - reading subscriber letters and enjoying photos from other people’s families.

Much like the fire place in the lounge room creates a focus, a centre, so I too bring a space and place for mindfulness. I am so much more than a face with four legs. Unlike Elvis, I have no less than a wooden heart. In my lifetime I’ve been witness and present to much laughter, many tears, promises and dreams.

Am I any different from you?”


Home Education in the UK ~ URGENT message

Make your voice heard today.
There is currently a petition on-line to retain freedom as home educators.

As home educators we believe our children thrive without the constraints of rigid schooling and national curriculum. We have, for many years, faced unfair scrutiny from the education authorities and social services. We believe the way we educate our children is the best for our children. If you are a UK home educator PLEASE consider signing it online today. Petition closes in March. It's really simply to do, honest!

“At the beginning of November the Department for Education & Skills (DfES) Public Communications Unit (PCU) began to "leak" the news that DfES were planning a full public consultation in the New Year to review the regulations for home education. They described the planned consultation as looking at anomalies in the way that home education is treated, when compared with independent schools (for whom standards for education provision exist) and when considered in the context of
Every Child Matters (a set of policies which seek to promote the welfare of children through provision of services to children in need.
DfES are considering introducing new law (changes to primary legislation) which would alter the legal framework which currently exists, and could include compulsory registration, compulsory annual meetings with LAs, and the definition of some kind of standard which would define "suitable" education [eg could include imposition of National Curriculum, powers to access children, see their work, test them etc].

The Consultation will therefore consider whether changes to the law would actually help these objectives. The Consultation will then lead to a decision as to whether a change in regulations about "suitable" education is required. If it is then new legislation would be fitted into the next education bill to go through, which could take a further 12-24 months, and be subject to the usual parliamentary processes where it would be subject to challenge.”
(some of above taken from
great new resource site)

The voice of parents, children and extended families needs to be heard if the freedom that we have experienced to date is to be our legacy to future generations wishing to follow their own unique educational philosophy. There are many courses of action open to the extended family of home education and its supporters.

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