blackerI watched this brilliant documentary by Molly Dineen, last night and was sad to see more evidence of a child being failed by the system in the UK, but interestingly he was descibed as excelling in a new school in Jamaica. Blacker’s son was in a situation where the school was telling his parents that he wasn’t suited to a school environment, and he had ADHD. Then they took him to Jamaica and suddenly he is an “A” student.

When I started out trying to make a film about home education, I kept hearing over and over again from people who had been totally failed by the school system, and try as I might to keep my sights set on home education I kept being pulled to document how hard it is to get on in school if you are in any way “different”.

It is complicated, as now we know the impact ACE‘s can have on a person’s life, so we can think it all happens at home, but the effects on children in the school system of repeated detrimental treatment makes some children give up learning for life. And that costs a lot, further down the line.

I once got involved in making a short film, which sadly never found funding, to describe exactly how this plays out in the UK. It was called The True Cost, and it explained how the criminal justice system, social care and mental health services are battling to cope with an epidemic of crime, family breakdown, challenging behaviour and mental illness, with bills that reach into the realm of billions – like £70 billion at least (and these are old figures). They then set out to descibe how these costs could be reduced hugely by investing money right at the start of a child’s life, by helping their mothers first, and then their fathers and supporting them to create a family, which they may have no idea of as they havent been modelled it. This costs under £5,000 per family.

It’s an old idea, and one which isn’t popular in parliament, but I can’t understand why. Post-natal depression affects mothers from all social backgrounds, so why should anyone discriminate as to who needs help in the babyhood years? Surely if everyone was supported it would only take a generation to help the percentage of children growing up with secure emotional attachment become the well adjusted adults of the future who help to build the loving communities and societies we need?

As International Woman’s day passes, I am thinking about what the experience of being a male in this world is like right now. My son asked me is there a Men’s day? I said no. And I thought it was because so much of the stuff that happens in the world is because of decisions men make, and women are only just being able to join that conversation as equals, now. And then I stop and imagine what that feels like to him. It’s not his fault that some men have tried to dominate women for so long. It’s not his fault that once upon a time some men felt threatened and scared by the power women had in their ability to grow babies inside them. Hollie McNish’s poem that we used in Babyhood about how her partner stood with her as she birthed her baby, telling her to “shout about her achievement that day”, proves to me that there are men who gladly take on the role of equal humans.

I hope for my son’s that they grow up feeling that it’s not all on them to manage their lives but they can rely on the strength of the women around them too. We have got into a position where sexism is so prevalent that we don’t consider how damaging it is for the little people in our lives. My boys know its ok to cry and rage and scream and feel, and I am proud that they are able to do this without considering what anyone might think, that will come in time but for now, I embrace every emotion they show me, and rejoice in their freedom…while modelling self-care 😉

Maybe one day we can hope for an International Men’s Day to celebrate the men who stand side to side with us women seeing the world as we do and championing the need for our balance.

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Serena Williams

 

It’s so hard when you feel completely out of your depth with a new baby. I made Babyhood because thats how i felt. And I couldn’t find the answers I was looking for anywhere. My mum had parented me in a completely different way and she couldn’t provide the answers. The books I looked around and found were full of strict schedules and making sure you let the baby know who was “boss”.

I heard babies crying in the street and felt compelled to answer their cries with agreement…”yes this world is not catering to the needs of babies!” We want to hush them down, placate them, silence their cries, but actually all they need is to be heard.

And Serena needs to be heard too, so desperate to be heard that she tweets her ten million followers and asks for help! The only problem is that each of the 10 million followers who want to offer advice have learned how to parent their small babies in a totally unique way, and no-one will be able to put Serena’s mind at rest.  Instead I want to help her realise that she has the answers deep inside, intuitively. Her baby has never known another mother, and how Serena is as a mother is perfect to her baby, just like her baby is perfect to Serena (even with all the crying). We learn to be mothers at the same time our babies learn to be mothered and it is a unique journey for each of us.

Babyhood looks at this world from the view of a baby and helps us to wake up to their needs, as well as rest into our own abilities to meet those needs. Let’s start to realise that babies aren’t foreign aliens who we never learn to understand but instead they are intelligent beings who communicate with us in a multitude of ways that we learn from them.

One thing we have been doing for a very long time is having babies so it is locked into our genome somewhere, and just needs to be heard…

We had a really successful screening in Bristol at the Steiner Academy, which is in a beautiful building called St. Matthias. The theatre was spacious and it was very exciting for me to see the film on a big screen!

After the film, we had a fascinating discussion with Wendy Ellyat and Agnes Javor from the More than a Score Campaign in Bristol and Bath. We posted a Facebook Live video here of the discussion after. We found out later that we needed to record portrait – so hope you don’t get a sore neck watching this!

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The highlights for me were the coming together of people in the audience that work in all areas of education, and how in this, people are united in trying to make a better world for children.

And it is really serious as children’s lives are worth so much more than a bad governmental decision about how to evaluate schools…

I’m looking forward to taking the film around to other venues and talking to more people. Although I am just a filmmaker…and the real changes need to happen politically…

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There is a Screening being organised for Freedom to Learn next week in Bristol. I am hoping that lots of people come and we have an interesting chat after. It’s always my favourite part of a screening. Usually I am sitting and squirming during the film, but love people’s reactions after!!

Come down if you are in Bristol or Bath.

We have invited the More than a Score and Let Kids be Kids local groups, who I hope are coming, which is great news, as I would love the film to help get behind their campaigns…

titleFinally I have finished my next film FREEDOM TO LEARN whoopeeeeee

Here is the trailer and link to watch the full film.

I will be organising screenings soon and will post updates here!

Freedom to Learn from kate jangra on Vimeo.

This film is so inspiring and yet at the same time depressingly mind-blowing. It’s time we wake up…

Source: Trailer

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I have finally begun the finishing processes on my latest film – Freedom to Learn. It is another subject close to my heart, this time looking at education and how a childhood is being taken away from our children increasingly, in this fast paced competitive world.

As a home educator myself, I wanted to try to make a film that gave a more nuanced view of what home education was and why people might choose to take their child’s education into their own hands.

It follows on nicely from Babyhood, as again it is trying to help us to look at the child’s perspective, rather than loosing ourselves in our adult minds and logic.

Here is a link to the trailer, and I will be updating here as to the release dates and where you will be able to see it. I am imagining that community screenings will be the first way to see it, so please get in touch if you would like to host one!

Freedom to Learn from kate jangra on Vimeo.

re-posted with permission:

Late last week, The Washington Post highlighted a bit of a rant titled “What the modern world has forgotten about children and learning,” by author Carol Black.

In essence, Black’s article takes issue with the modern education system’s insistence that every child fit into its timetable of learning. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the area of reading.

When people really want a skill, it goes viral. You couldn’t stop it if you tried.”

According to Black, Americans during the time of the Founding Fathers were regularly reading difficult material, and learned to do so from many sources, only one of which was the education system of the time. “They could read,” she notes, “because, in a literate population, it is really not that difficult to transmit literacy from one person to the next. When people really want a skill, it goes viral. You couldn’t stop it if you tried.”

Black goes on to note that this is the same motivation behind the way the current society has learned to operate computers: “We don’t know how to use computers because we learned it in school, but because we wanted to learn it and we were free to learn it in whatever way worked best for us.”

Yet despite seeing this natural learning take place with computer usage, we’re still reluctant to put it to practice in the realm of reading:

“In the modern world, unless you learn to read by age 4, you are no longer free to learn in this way. Now your learning process will be scientifically planned, controlled, monitored and measured by highly trained ‘experts’ operating according to the best available ‘data.’ If your learning style doesn’t fit this year’s theory, you will be humiliated, remediated, scrutinized, stigmatized, tested, and ultimately diagnosed and labelled as having a mild defect in your brain.”

Black’s comments remind me of a concept long promoted by Dr. and Mrs. Raymond Moore. As they explain in their book Better Late than Early, the Moores have “analyzed over 8000 studies of children’s senses, brain, cognition, socialization, etc., and are certain that no replicable evidence exists for rushing children into formal study at home or school before 8 to 10.

Such a suggestion is shocking, particularly in an age in which we’re trying to get students reading by the time they leave kindergarten. Won’t such a practice damage children and set them on a course of functional illiteracy for life?

Not necessarily. In fact, the Moores have found that giving children time and space to explore and learn to read on their own timetable may actually set them on a path to greater understanding and maturity:

“Read, sing and play with your children from birth. Read to them several times a day, and they will learn to read in their own time – as early as 3 or 4, but usually later, some as late as 14. Late readers are no more likely to be retarded or disabled than early ones. They often become the best readers of all – with undamaged vision and acute hearing, more adult-like reasoning (cognition) levels, mature brain structure[,] less blocking of creative interests.”

If what the Moore’s research says is true, then is it possible that the educational decline America is experiencing is partly due to the push to get students into formal education environments at earlier ages? Would we get better results if we relaxed compulsory education laws and let learning take a more natural course until children reach age 8 or so?

A version of this article was first published by Intellectual Takeout.

Annie Holmquist


Annie Holmquist

Annie is a research associate with Intellectual Takeout. In her role, she writes for the blog, conducts a variety of research for the organization’s websites and social media pages, and assists with development projects. She particularly loves digging into the historical aspects of America’s educational structure.

 

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

I am very excited to be part of the Film Nights scheme that Connected Baby has started.

Dr. Suzanne Zeedyk, whom I interviewed in my film Babyhood, has set this up to bring groups together to watch films that “offer insights into the power of connection”, and then have a discussion around the subjects raised. Whenever I have shown my film, the discussions afterwards are the most interesting, and I am so pleased this will be happening in September throughout the UK!

Please contact Connected Baby if you want to host a night too!

She has written a great introduction to my film, which flatters me and i want to copy here!!

September’s film is the Award-winning film BABYHOOD, released in 2012.  Made by London-based independent filmmaker Kate Jangra, this documentary film explores the contemporary context in which our society is raising young children

Jangra asks: What might parenting look like in the absence of what she sees as today’s ‘parenting props’ – consumerism, the media, and parenting experts?   The project was born from Jangra’s experience of having her first child, which led her to question herself and everything she had thought of as ‘normal’ up to that point.

The film won the Culture Unplugged’s Award for Film-makers’ Choice – Conscious Art, in 2015.  It was chosen because represented, in the judges’ view, “the film that was most conscious in its selection of story, vision, and art of filmmaking in its ability to awaken global citizens and help them to usher life toward a new direction.”  Who wouldn’t want to see a film that achieves such accolades?!

The film has also received attention for its relevance to professional practice. For example, Canterbury College has licensed it to be shown to students enrolled in courses for working in preschool settings.

The film includes interviews with a range of fascinating commentators:

     Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood;

     Sue Gerhardt, author of Why Love Matters;

     John Carnochan, previous Co-Director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit;

     Camilla Batmanghelidjh, Director of charity Kids Company;

     Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, founder of connected baby;

     Hollie McNish, award-winning rap poet.

Come and join us for an opportunity to think in depth about the context in which our babies are growing up.

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