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The Competition Era

I sometimes wonder if the human race is the only species that still fights for survival even when food, shelter and more than ideal circumstances are so over abundant. Are we the only species that needs to keep feeling that enough is never enough? Why are some people constantly fighting, and others feel quite happy to ‘settle’ with not much?

Some people (including me) feel that for families to function well, that they stick together.  A long time ago, boys use to stay with their fathers as the fathers worked the land, worked on their trade or went to hunt. Girls would stick with their mothers. There is something so beautiful about this journey, where a child can always feel safe to explore and learn from their world, and always look up to the person that loves them unconditionally.

We have wonderful labels for eras of the past. Ancient times, Medieval, Renaissance, Industrial etc.

I have a feeling that when people look back on us, right here, right now, they would call us the ‘Competition Era’.

Why?

Because we living in a time where we pit our children against each other, rank them against each other, and put them through a rigorous timetable to ensure that they are the best.

Because when children are born, we feed them the thoughts that they will be the best, and can be anything they want to be, as long as they believe and work hard. We also sacrifice so much of ourselves so that our kids can reach potentials that are years (sometimes decades) in the waiting. Maths and English classes on weekends, language classes, practicing musical instruments; I know a lot of very accomplished children who are far more ‘talented’ than mine… but you simply cannot put “I have a great dad because he listens to me when I’m scared” on a piece of paper that is of any significance in THIS current world setting, and that’s the problem.

Also, we are in an age that has FULL access to what is going on around the world. It is the first time ever that the entire human race knows about what is going on to people around the world. Funnily enough, to be human, you would think that we would do all we can to assist, give and help those who are not just less fortunate than us, but those that are actually dying, starving and suffering so badly on the other side of the world.  Instead, you will find, that most of us may give $30 a month, as long as it doesn’t inconvenience us too much, to these people.

But in this Era, the Competition Era, it is not what is defined as human. We have been taught to take care of ourselves. We have been taught that no one else will help us if we do not first help ourselves. It is a time where competition of being the smartest, fastest, prettiest, most talented etc is being instantly displayed on social media, for instant self gratification. Our motivation in life is no longer (for the majority) to help and assist those who are suffering so badly, they watch their children die, or the homeless right here in our own streets. Our motivation in life is purely for ourselves, our little circle or people.

I believe that the world is slowly starting to shift, and this is where and why homeschooling is making a remarkable increase all over the world. Suddenly we see that to set out children in competition with each other doesn’t teach our children life skills, how to love others, how to actually survive in this world, how to be human. We see competition, rankings and a full schedule as a fast track way to tell our children that family connections come a far second to self gratification and academic/monetary success.

We teach this to our kids the moment we rush them out the door to go to a really great school that we lovingly paid for. We teach this to our kids when we rush them from school to their violin/soccer/gymnastics/swimming lessons, and tell them to suck it up and do better, and why can’t you just get better at that/get into that league/get that mark? The pressure we hold on our kids is required because WE are putting in the effort to pay for the privilege, as well as sacrifice our own lives to ensure that they have these privilege.

Some would see this as love.

But when the kids are young, this is not what they see.

Love to a child is focused attention, slow conversations, cuddles, attention on things that matter to them (no matter how silly or useless we think they are) and not rushing through those very crucial conversations regarding difficult emotions. Love to a child is make believe games involving parents, rough play and lots of doing what makes them happy.

We are in a Competition Era as we speak. However, some of us are choosing to live a very different life, and choosing that for our children. Because we want our children to grow up knowing that family connections, are more important than anything this world has to offer.

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My Draft Submission to the Premier of Victoria

Dear Premier,

In relation to the Regulations just released…

It is absolutely difficult for any one homeschool parent to write a submission to address these regulations. The reason for this is because every homeschool is extremely different. One homeschool’s motivations and vision can be completely different to another. The outcomes are different. However, I believe from what I have read from the Regulations, the outcomes you want for the children of Victoria are all the same.

You have stated that the reasons for the existence of these regulations are:

The Department considers the current regulatory approach for home schooling to be unable to adequately assure quality in the instruction or educational progress of home-schooled children. The Department has no workable mechanism to manage the risk of low-quality education for home schooling. For children missing out on a quality education during compulsory schooling years, efforts later in life to remedy this situation are likely to be costly, not as effective, and difficult.
Regulatory Impact Statement
Education and Training Reform Regulations 2017
Page 7

You have then stated that this ‘workable mechanism’ would be:

  • at the application stage, provide a learning plan that outlines how they will deliver instruction and what resources and materials they will use to cater for their child’s circumstances and learning needs
  • if selected, participate in a review that would involve providing evidence of their child’s learning progress, and possibly also undertake an interview with the regulator.

 

I have a few concerns.

PROBLEM 1: HAVING ONLY ONE PLAN AND STICKING TO IT. 

Please find attached the Plan I had a plan, you can see it here –> lee-academy-2017-curriculum-plan. I have worked on this plan for 2 years. I have done all the research possible to put this plan in place. All the curriculum and the way it will be delivered is in a previous blog of mine.

We began this curriculum about a week ago. It has been an off and on journey for us to see if homeschooling works.  And it most certainly does. And as much as you may think that the History element is too advanced, and the English element too much… it’s actually something else that my Mr. 6 doesn’t like…

Maths Worksheets.

See, what I have found with Mr. 6 is that he is not a fan of close ended question/answer type learning. He simply loses interest when a question is asked and there is only one answer. The shame put upon his face when he gets it wrong, the shutting down of any eagerness to try again and keep going… this kind of education for my son simply doesn’t work.

Now you may say that he has no choice, that in life, questions simply only have one answer, and he must learn to deal with this.

I want to expose you to another way to teach someone like my son.

He loves English, he loves History and he loves Science. Why? Because these subjects are taught through reading books together, then having a long conversation of what we have read, then allowing him to draw a picture of what he has just learnt.

See the reason why he loves this, is because I’ve been doing this with him, and my other two children, ever since they were very young. There is no wrong or right to your point of view. There is not wrong or right in having a conversation about a Historical fact, and asking probing questions.

Please see his work here. One of of the Greeks climbing the wall of Troy and failing badly (before that Horse), and another is of Theseus and the Minotaur in the Labyrinth (with a tornado… don’t you love creativity).

So we have changed the plan yet again. I am now coming up with a brand new Maths plan that is done around conversations. Conversations where I sit with him and have a talk about times tables, numbers.

See the problem with submitting a plan, and then having to stick to it, is because homeschooling for me, is changing the way you teach so that your child doesn’t lose interest because of the delivery. If you then require new homeschool families to stick to the plan before they have even tried it out, it makes not sense because homeschooling is all about adapting to the child. 

PROBLEM 2: OUR CURRENT SCHOOLING SYSTEM and A RANKING SYSTEM

A lot of us are homeschooling because we believe the standardised schooling in public schools only allows children to have a question they must answer correctly. This is evident with Naplan, as well as the current VCE ATAR rating scale.

The problem is that not all children are the same. In my view, the only children that do extremely well in this system are the top 5% who achieve the mark they need to enter the course they want. So what do the other 95% do?

I for one, do not want my children to feel that their only reason for living is to get a high mark in Year 12 doing 6 subjects, to then be able to get into a good course, to then possibly have a good career. If what you mean by a ‘formal education’ you need each child to sit down and listen to a teacher for 13 years, learn the answers before they come up with the questions themselves, then this isn’t the type of education I personally want for my child. I will not be rushing my children from activity to activity, wake them up and rush them out the door to allow them to get a ‘quality education’.

I have nothing against teachers. Teachers have the hardest job and they have to each 25 children all with different ways of learning.

But I know that there is no one else in this world except for me and husband, who will sacrifice their world for these three children. If a curriculum doesn’t work, if a delivery method doesn’t work or if something seems uninteresting, it will be me who researches how to deliver it differently, it will be me who spends the money on extra curriculum and it will be me who takes it to heart if this does not work. I understand teachers do this too, that is why their job is so difficult. But will all teachers do this for MY child if my child simply learns differently.

I recently did enrol my Mr. 6 into Prep for next year, and I expressed to the school on how he learns, and whether something can be changed for him. He does not react well to testing, yet this school starts Term 1 off with a test. Their response was understanding however, they could not change anything.

So please don’t think there is no quality education here in our homeschool. We have put everything on the line for our children, we will sacrifice our careers, our lives and ourselves for our children. We have done the research and we have spent the money and the time. But most of all, you need to trust us with our children. Because no one on earth knows our children better than us. 

If the child was ranked for dance, and Victoria rated each child on how well they could dance, because this was the most popular university degree available, some children, would not fit in. I don’t understand how our current system cannot simply see that every person has different interests, goals and a rating system based on subjects cannot promote personal satisfaction in a career. Could this be the reason why so many people are unhappy in their careers? Just a thought.

WHAT THE REGULATIONS DO NOT ADDRESS

The Regulations do not address these current issues we in the homeschool community would like answers to.

  1. Why is it that a third world country is doing better in the ‘ranked’ educational stakes than Australia?
  2. Have you seen the average homeschool student’s rating compared to public school ratings (again, focusing on rankings, as per your Regulations, Naplan, ATAR). There are several articles on this, here is one.
  3. Your Regulations do not address issues such as mental health, depression amongst teens, family dis-connectivity etc.
    Even though we do not necessarily believe that public schooling has caused these issues, we believe that an environment where a family stays together, where a child feels safe and supported constantly, and yes, where we ‘shelter’ our children from some of the issues of society’s expectations, is an environment that promotes family belonging and better mental health. Why would we not want to teach our children at home, where they are able to ask any questions they like, and not feel any pressure that they simply can’t just be themselves.
  4. The Regulations do not address whether a formal education can promote family togetherness. Of course, the education system of Victoria is not responsible for this, the family is. And there you have the reason why we homeschool. We want our family to be together, to be connected.

 

We will do all we can to educate our children well. Please never think that we won’t, or can’t, just because we don’t have a formal teacher’s degree. Each family knows how their child learns, how they develop and what is best for them. Please trust us and leave this to us.

And if you are still concerned, here are a few pictures of my homeschool….

We have the books my kids freely access and read, as well as the books I read to them. We have the books I read, so they can actually witness what reading looks like, we have the weekly worksheets for Mr. 6 and Miss. 4 all ready and laid out for the year. Formal? Quality?

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How about this photo?

This is Mr. 6 as he is being homeschooled… in the car… on the way to Bunnings… And sure, you say that every family can get this… yes, but he gets this kind of happiness…. EVERY. DAY. EVERY SINGLE DAY.

img_1988

No regulation could ever document the happiness this boy contains in his heart because he feels safe to express himself, especially when something doesn’t sit well with him, like Maths worksheets.

 

Thank you for reading,

Yours sincerely,

Belinda

 

Christian mum on Safe Schools…

So for those of you who aren’t from Australia, or who don’t know much about it, Safe Schools is a government funded program “aimed at creating safe and supportive school environments for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse people by reducing homophobic and transphobic bullying and discrimination in schools.” (Quote: https://www.education.gov.au/safe-schools-coalition-australia)

[Whether you are a supporter or not of Safe Schools, I urge you to please read to the end.]

Initially, when I first heard of it, I was intrigued, yet felt in my heart that it was not what I wanted for my children. I had set in my heart that schools should be a place were my children learn about English, Math, P.E, Arts, Digital IT stuff, History, Science and Geography.

I even heard a politician speak about Safe Schools at our local church and telling us ways to tell our Victorian Premier about how we felt.

So this is basically how I felt. I felt that my Christian faith, my children’s Christian faith, and my entire Family History… was being attacked. The fundamental notion of the Christian Faith is not to judge, far from it. It is to love. It is to love God with all your heart, mind and soul. It is to love one another as you love yourself.  Yet somewhere along the track, the world has somehow seen Christians as judgmental, bigots and … well, not exhibiting the love that is the basis of our faith. We are partly to blame, yes, for some of us had forgotten the basis of Jesus’ teachings.

So how can my children go to school now, and profess that they are Christian, when there is a consensus that Christians are judging the LGTBI community? Is my child allowed to pray to God during recess? Is he safe from bullying if he does? I had a lot to worry about.

 

Recently I met a mother. A lovely mother. Let’s call her Karen.

Karen has two children. She has a daughter. Karen also has a son. Let’s call him Peta. I get along with Karen very well. She, like me, adores her children, brings them to activities (aren’t we all just over-scheduled), doctors appointments, has family traditions, the same financial issues, and is a very caring mother.

I had noticed for some time however, that Peta and his sister… look identical. Being about 15 months apart, they are not twins. But you wouldn’t hesitate to guess that they are. You wouldn’t hesitate to guess… that they are twin girls.

It took me about 2 months before I asked the question. “So I noticed that Peta likes to dress like his sister.” There was no judgment. There was no ill intent in the question. And the look of relief on Karen’s face was enough to tell me, that this road she was travelling on was not easy.

She told me about the judgment she received everywhere she goes. She told me the pain she feels for when he will go to school next year and have to wear the boys uniform. She told me the comments and looks she gets when she takes her two children to the toilet, only to have the shocking comments of, “That girl has a penis! She’s a boy!” Her world was fine when she was at home, and surrounded by understanding family. But the world was a cruel place for her little Peta. He just didn’t know it yet.

Tears… ran down my face.

She asked me to try and imagine, telling my Miss 4, that she was a boy. No more tutus, no more dresses, no more long hair, no more barbie dolls or Disney princess lunch boxes. Here is your trousers, your shirt, your blue bag, your Avengers lunch box, and your truck toys. You have to wear these things, and like these things, because the world will judge you if you don’t.

She expressed to me that I was the first mother outside of her family she felt she could trust, and say all these things to. She knew I was a Christian, but never for one moment felt as though I would judge her.

So now I’m calling for a difference. A change in all our perspectives and understandings. 

I am a Christian. I am proud of it. I am not in any position to tell someone else how their live should be lived. I am simply here … to love.

There needs to be understanding in our next generation, and our next generation of Christians. We may not necessarily absolutely 100% understand or agree with someone else’s set of rules. We live in a multi-cultural land full of different religions, traditions, cultures and ways of living. How have we been able to embrace all forms of personal preferences and yet have such trouble with this one?

To all LGBTI out there, I am a Christian mother who embraces you. I love you. Jesus is real, and He came to this world to show and be LOVE. He didn’t come to earth to give us a set of rules and tell us Christians to judge and belittle those who do not obey them. He asked all of us Christians to love one another, with understanding, forgiveness and prayer. (Some Christians might get this wrong sometimes, we are human after all, we are not perfect. Please don’t judge Christianity purely on the bad things that happen.)

Your way of life may not be ours, but there are Christians out there, like me, who love you all the same. Do we have to dislike each other? Of course not.

Now this is the key.

If your community doesn’t hate my community, can’t we get along and be friends?

I am all for Safe Schools, if that also means that my Christian child is also safe, to be someone who practices their Christian faith.

Please don’t call us bigots because we still call ourselves Christian. The hurt you have endured is unimaginable, unnecessary and hurtful. The judgement you received (and mostly may have came from the Christian community) was wrong.

But please know that it is our children now, who are not safe. Please let our child be able to hold on to their faith, the faith that has held our family together, brought peace, love and hope to so many… Please let our children be free to pray to God, speak about Jesus… and love like Jesus.  I am not going to hide away in an attempt to keep my children ‘safe’. I am bringing them into the world, because I want them to know how to embrace, get along and love everybody.

To any Christians who feel their need to belittle, judge or express hatred, you need to understand that these are people. Actual, real people. We were called to love them. And show them the love of Jesus. Didn’t Jesus love everyone?

To any Safe Schools advocate who feels the need to tear down the fabric of Christianity, please remember… these are my children. My future. Our future. Please make schools safe for them too.

And maybe our next generation will be better than us. More loving. More understanding. More able to show you, how wonderful it is to feel the love of Jesus. And that you just have to be yourself… to know the love he has for all of you.

So yes, lets bring Safe Schools into the schools. But lets also make sure that Christian kids are safe too. Lets teach all our children to love each other, regardless of who we are, what we believe and what we have done. 

What a wonderful world it would be. Lets read that again.

Lets teach all our children to love each other, regardless of who we are, what we believe and what we have done. Lets teach other children to love. 

 

 

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