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Everything posted by Canopus

  1. So there must be truth to my double glazing salesman theory after all. It might not be brainwashing. Recommending home education may be dereliction of duty. Every employed person has a contract stating what they must and musn't do.
  2. It's amazing how things have changed in schools since the mid 1980s but a machine very similar to alpha-smart existed 20 years ago. Check out http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=1&c=233 I wanted one to use at school because I struggled with writing but the school wouldn't let me use one in class. They couldn't understand why my handwriting was so bad and thought that a computer was an excuse to avoid me from improving my handwriting. My parents and the LEA repeatedly told me that I couldn't use a computer in an exam. At secondary school many teachers got stroppy when I submitted homework done on a computer. They thought that I was cheating despite me telling them that machines that can think and automatically do homework will never be developed in my lifetime. Computers today are ubiquitous machines and young people are expected to make use of them, whereas when I was at school, computers still had a halo of awe and mysticism surrounding them and nobody was expected to use them at school until they chose computing GCSE in Y10. Note taking was and still is one of my weak points. I can't honestly understand why in this day and age teachers expect kids to copy down large chunks of text off black/whiteboards. The problem came down on me like a ton of bricks at university. Some lecturers write very fast and erase the board as soon as they finish writing. I was always copying other student's lecture notes. Alpha-smart would have been on limited use because of all the equations, diagrams etc. involved with engineering lectures. As I have said, schools have changed tremendously since the 80s but many universities still operate like they did in the 60s.
  3. I sent off my CV about a week ago and have heard nothing since. I phoned up the company beforehand to get the name of the person involved with recruitment and addressed the envelope accordingly. I have never applied for a career like this before so have no idea how long I should wait for before the company replies. The vacancies are listed on the company's website so it isn't a speculative application although I stated in the cover letter about possible unadvertised positions. If the company doesn't think I am suitable then do they usually have the courtesy to say so or do they just leave me in suspense? I find no response is often worse than a bad response.
  4. I was quite surprised when I found out that ball and stick writing originated in Britain during the late 19th century. I suspected it was invented during the early 1960s by liberal progressive education reformers - possibly in the US. My parents wrote cursively at infant school during the 1950s. Is the term printing for ball and stick writing now obsolescent terminology?
  5. PRINTING!!!!! Now, my infant school had no computers and the most high-tech manifestation was a thermofax copier that produced worksheets in the form of blueprints. Printing was the term used by the school for writing ball and stick even though I knew at the time that officially printing can only be accomplished with a machine such as a printing press or computer printer. Learning to write ball and stick is a one way ticket for most people.
  6. In Y4 I had a teacher in her early 20s who was straight out of teacher training college with no knowledge or experience of SEN. She didn't know how to deal with me. She was a downright incompetant teacher who preferred to function more as a classroom supervisor rather than actually teach. She had her way of doing things and would not tolerate any alternatives. I had a big row with her about adding/subtracting fractions. She said that you had to find a common denominator and thought that my alternative method which involved three multiplications was stupid when in fact it is the method used to add/subtract algebraic fractions. The teacher could only handle numbers and couldn't do algebra. The problem at my residential school was that you didn't have a one week deadline to do homework like in most schools. All homework had to be done in supervised sessions during the evenings and you had to complete the homework for a particular subject that day such as physics on Monday or Geography on Wednesday. If you didn't complete your homework by 8:30pm that day then it was reported to the teaching staff and a punishment was dished out the following day. In many cases the care staff who supervised the homework sessions would dish out a punishment. You had to do your homework in silence during the sessions and could not discuss difficulties with other kids. If you had done your homework during breaktime or at the weekend then you would get a detention.
  7. Do LEAs recommend home educating if a child has difficulty at school such as bullying, or do they insist that all children attend school in a similar way that double glazing salesmen always tell you that you will benefit from double glazing?
  8. Excellent letter. When I was at primary school I got no help whatsoever. At secondary school I got to see a councillor for an hour a week but it just went round in circles. Nothing new resulted after the first few sessions. At residential school I just got punished for not doing my homework on time.
  9. Canopus


    My junior school was hell bent on handwriting and seemed to think it was the most important thing in the world. Pens were issued from the start of Y4 as a status symbol for neat handwriting with a pencil and became compulsory at the start of Y6. I was the only one to finish Y5 still writing with a pencil. The pens were those Berol fibre tipped things and when I was finally issued with one in Y6 I went back to writing with a pencil because the pens were so awful to write with. Thankfully the school soon changed its policy to allow Y6 to use a fountain pen. I am sure that Britain is one of the few countries in the world that issues pens and pencils free of charge in junior schools. In many countries you have to bring your own writing implements.
  10. Canopus

    A tax rebate

    The primary purpose of the rebate is to provide money to buy textbooks and educational materials that the parents may have difficulty affording otherwise. It is not intended to be a "I don't use the services therefore I shouldn't have to pay for them" proposal.
  11. Canopus


    Do schools have the right to force kids to adopt a particular style of handwriting? Also if teachers reject work because of the handwriting then what can parents do about the issue? I could write complete sentences with a semi-cursive style when I was at nursery school, yet most other kids couldn't even write their name in any legible form. At infant school I was forced to write ball and stick which ruined my handwriting even to today. At junior school in a different part of the country, the policy was to write in a particular cursive style I had difficulty mastering even though it wasn't much different to the style I had before writing ball and stick. It took until Y5 before my handwriting was up the standard I had at nursery school. I think that forcing kids to learn ball and stick at school should be banned as one will have extreme difficulty learning a cursive style. Can schools insist that only certain writing implements are used? I was made to write with a cedarwood pencil, but found I could write better with a click pencil although both my infant and junior school would not let me use one in class.
  12. Canopus

    A tax rebate

    Considering that the Tories were in power for 18 years and I got to see every single day of these 18 years, yet they never even thought of a tax rebate for home education makes me believe that their version will turn out to be a sweetener for the disgruntled middle class rather than a real reform of the education system. I can never forgive the Tories for screwing around with the education system during their 18 years in power. Many of the problems of today have their roots in the reforms of the mid 80s.
  13. Canopus

    A tax rebate

    Should there be a tax rebate for parents who home educate?
  14. The nation's education system is packed solid with lies and misinformation. My mother still thinks that there was no choice when it came to me attending an unsuitable residential school. She also thought that I would have to repeat a year if I were to return to a state school simply because the parents of another student told her whilst waiting at a train station.
  15. You just have to tell the school and the LEA if you want to deregister a child at a special needs school. The school may kick up a stink and claim it is in your child's interest to continue their education there, but the reality is that once your child leaves, the funding from the LEA stops which is what the school doesn't want to happen. I came within a whisker of leaving a special needs residential school because I was unhappy there but my mother flatly refused to sign a form even though my father signed it. Two signatures were needed back then but things could have changed.
  16. Do you know of any particularly good books for home education? I suppose there are the standard school textbooks, but are there any others you recommend that may be of better quality material than the standard issue stuff? Also, what about good books for things that are not on the National Curriculum but are still useful to know in general? I am trying to compile a list of books and educational material for parents who want to home educate their children. The target audience at the moment isn't children with SEN but socially conservative patriotic parents and children who are sick and tired of all the left-wing Marxist multicultural tosh thrusted upon them by the state education system. I could expand on this for children with SEN who are being let down at school.
  17. Riding a bike is probably the most difficult skill that a kid ever has to learn. It is further complicated because it isn't something that schools teach and neither is it something you can learn from a textbook. It is a well known fact that many electronic appliances are difficult to use, but at least they come with instruction manuals, whereas bikes seem to be one of the few machines that are sold without an instruction manual. It really is true that there are 10 year olds who can program computers, do calculus, or know the technicalities of nuclear power stations, but still can't ride a bike, yet their classmates of only average intelligence are zooming round the neighbourhood on two wheels. The explanation for this is that ones skill at handling a bike is not determined by intellectual ability and is not a measure of intelligence. In reality, it is a measure of physical co-ordination and control that comes with practice - providing you know what to practice. The purpose of this short article is to act as an instruction manual for a bike. It assumes that the bike is a BMX or mountain bike fitted with hand brakes and can freewheel as they are the bikes that most kids ride today. If your kid is capable of standing up and walking and can pick up an empty drinks can and crush it then I can assure you that this technique will work for them. It has been used for both a 12 year old with dyspraxia who's doctor claimed he would never be able to ride a bike, and for a 3 year old who had never ever ridden a tricycle amongst others. It may be different to methods you have used and could even contradict conventional thinking in places, but is probably the most elegant and easiest to use technique ever devised. 1. First thing first. Stabilisers do not help teach a kid how to ride a bike. If anything they hinder the learning process and could even create a dependency that has to be unlearnt. A kid who has been riding a bike with stabilisers for 2/3/4/5 years is in no better position when it comes to learning to ride without stabilisers than a kid who has never ridden a bike with stabilisers. Quite often the attitude held by most parents is that if their kid's first bike is supplied with stabilisers then their kid should start riding it with the stabilisers fitted. Stabilisers are also dangerous as they give the kid a false sense of security. If a stabiliser catches on something or overhangs the edge of a kerb then their bike can overturn without warning. Therefore, if your kid's bike has stabilisers, take them off and throw them in the bin. 2. Setup. Your kid must feel comfortable and confident on the bike they learn to ride on. If they don't feel comfortable or confident with the bike then find another one. It is essential that the bike fits the kid properly and is not too large or else it will be difficult to handle. Adjust the height of the seat so that when your kid sits on the bike they can place their feet flat on the floor with their knees slightly bent. Adjust the height and tilt of the handlebars to the position that is the most comfortable for them to hold. Check that the brakes work correctly and are easy to operate. If they are stiff or ineffective then they need adjusting and lubricating. Ensure that the tyres have plenty of tread on them and are correctly inflated. If the bike has gears then they should be set approximately midrange although the exact gear is not too critical. 3. Get the feel of the bike. Before your kid attempts to ride the bike they must get the feeling of it without stabilisers. This is accomplished by getting them to sit on the bike and hold onto the handlebars for a period of about 10 to 20 minutes. Some kids are absolutely terrified of getting on a bike that has no stabilisers, but they don't stand a chance of being able to ride without stabilisers unless they can overcome their fear. If this is the case then the best plan is to bring the bike inside to a room with a carpeted floor and get them to sit on it whilst they watch their favourite TV programme to take their mind off things. 4. Remove the pedals. The procedure in Section 5 is best carried out if the pedals are removed from the bike otherwise they get in the way and hit your kid's legs. Some BMXs are fitted with 3-piece cranks (why can't all kids bikes be fitted with them?) that enable the cranks to be easily removed from the bottom bracket, but most kids bikes have 1-piece cranks which means the pedals have to be removed from the crank. On most bikes the pedals are screwed into place and removed using a spanner that fits the flat surface of the spindle. The right pedal is conventionally threaded and is removed by unscrewing it anticlockwise. The left pedal is reverse threaded and is unscrewed by turning it clockwise. The threads are likely to be very tight and possibly rusted into place. If you are unable to remove the pedals then most bike shops will remove them for you. 5. Balance. Riding a bike is a combination of balancing, pedalling, and steering simultaneously. Having to learn several things at once is difficult for many kids so start with balancing first. This requires a wide open space with a hard flat surface such as a school playground or empty car park. A hard surface is necessary as there is too much rolling resistance on grass to enable your kid to get up to sufficient speed to balance the bike. It is of utmost importance that there are no obstacles, walls, potholes, or anything else they can crash into within an approximately 10 metre radius of the bike as the fear of crashing into such obstacles will cause the kid to lose control of the bike. Have your kid sit on the bike and propel it by pushing their feet against the ground. Initially your kid will only be able to cover a short distance before they put their feet down and the bike will have a tendency to wander about rather randomly. It is important that your kids keeps a light and relaxed grip on the handlebars and does not try to steer the bike in a straight line, but instead allow the bike to move in a straight line on its own accord. After about half an hour to an hour, your kid will be able to propel the bike over a considerable distance in a straight line without putting their feet down. They should also practice stopping the bike with the brakes. 6. Pedalling. Now that your kid can propel the bike over a considerable distance without putting their feet down, and they can stop using the brakes, it is time for them to try riding with pedals. Re-attach the pedals to the bike by screwing the right pedal clockwise and the left pedal anticlockwise and tighten both pedals with a spanner. Show your kid that pushing the pedals forwards moves the bike and pushing the pedals backwards does not move the bike. Have your kid sit on the bike and rotate the pedals so that the right pedal is in the 2 o'clock position which is just forward of the top of the pedal stroke. This position results in a solid pedal stroke that gets the bike up to speed and avoids wobbly starts. Tell your kid to push down hard on the right pedal and when the bike moves forwards, place their left foot on the left pedal. They should now be able to propel the bike with pedals although it might take a few attempts to master this starting procedure. Being able to ride a bike with pedals will be an exhilarating feeling for your kid although initially they will be wobbly and have difficulty at riding in a straight line. 7. Riding with pedals. Let your kid ride the bike with pedals and tell them to keep a light grip on the handlebars and look straight ahead. This will ensure that they are able to ride in a straight line. If they turn their head then their arms and shoulders will also turn causing the bike to swerve. Your kid should also practice stopping the bike using the brakes until they can stop without losing balance or skidding. Another useful exercise is slow riding by trying to ride the bike as slowly as they possibly can without losing balance. 8. Steering. Once your kid can ride in a straight line they can learn to steer around bends and obstacles. Initially it is best to practice steering in an open space before letting your kid negotiate real bends and obstacles. Steering is a combination of a little leaning and a very small rotation of the handlebars. Your kid should first slow down before entering a corner, then look through the turn and rotate the handlebars in the direction of the bend before pedalling. After completing the turn, look forwards and rotate the handlebars back to the straight ahead position. Have your kid practice riding round imaginary corners until they can skilfully steer the bike where they want it to go. 9. Handling the bike. Your kid must now practice riding on sloping and undulating surfaces and negotiate kerbs. A good way to improve co-ordination is a slalom. Place a number of empty drinks cans equally spaced on the ground in a straight line and have your kid practice riding around them. As their co-ordination improves, gradually reduce the spacing between the cans. If the bike has gears then your kid should practice using them on both flat surfaces and gradients. 10. Re-adjust the bike. As your kid becomes more experienced at riding a bike, they will find the settings from Section 2 does not result in the most comfortable or efficient riding position. Increase the height of the seat so that when your kid sits on the bike with their foot on a pedal in the 6 o'clock position, their knee is slightly bent. If this feels too high for them then lower the seat slightly. Also adjust the height and tilt of the handlebars to the position your kid finds the most comfortable to hold. An alternative. If your kid is uneasy at the idea of learning balance with a bike then they can use a two wheel scooter instead. Those aluminium scooters with roller blade type wheels are ideal. If your kid can ride a scooter for a considerable distance without putting their foot on the ground then they have learnt most of the balancing process from Section 5. Many kids feel uneasy at learning to ride a bike without stabilisers or give up due to lack of success, but readily take to a scooter. Some time later they unexpectedly find - often to their disbelief - that they can ride a bike without stabilisers.
  18. If anyone is interested, I have a procedure for teaching kids how to ride a bike that actually works.
  19. Is there any part of a year where ones birthday would result in them being in a different academic year in Scotland than in England? One finishes Y11 in England aged 15 or 16 and their 16th birthday can be no later than 31st August after they have finished, or any earlier than 1st September in the year they start Y11. Some LEAs in England used to have school terms starting in August and used 31st July as the date that determined the academic year. This meant that those with an August birthday would be a year below what they should have been in.
  20. Is the date that determines what academic year one is in from their birthday set at midnight 31st August or is it earlier?
  21. I thought the school term was supposed to start in September. Why are some schools starting this early in August?
  22. My LEA spent �36,000 pounds on me over a 3 year period so I could attend a special needs school that wasn't even suited to my SEN. I have no idea why they recommended the school, but considering that they never bothered checking my progress probably implies that an LEA will pay anything to get a problem child off their back.
  23. I asked my LEA if there was anyone else with similar problems to mine so we could meet up and discuss future strategies. They could not provide any information because educational records are confidential. I then asked them if they could send a letter to the parents of children with similar problems with explaining that I would like to meet up, but my LEA refused. I was disgusted with the amount of secrecy that took place which is characteristic of the British public sector. I want to see more freedom of information.
  24. There seems to be a lot of people from Hampshire including myself.
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