My name is Martine. I live in Manchester with my partner Duncan. I have four adult children: Lewis, Tish, Jacob and Creature. In my past life I educated my children outside the school system. After a long interim period that we don't like to dwell on too much Creature returned to being home educated for her last few teenage years. I work for Royal Mail but I fill my spare time with books and fluffy stuff.
This has always been a personal interests blog but now I have added some pages maybe the political stuff can creep in without putting off too many visitors.
I first read John Holt's 'How Children Fail' when my son Lewis was a toddler. I remember wanting to write to him and tell him how inspired I was, only to discover that he had already died in 1985. His book has struck such a chord with me I had the strangest sensation of mourning someone I had never met. I then started reading everything I could get hold of on the subject of alternative education. Ivan Illich appeared quite early on and he is someone I came back to time and again. I spent the next dozen or so years educating my own children, sometime in but mostly out of school.
I remain seriously dubious of the benefits of school, but this has been tempered with a respect for my children's intelligence and supporting them in making serious choices. They always went into school with the knowledge that if they wanted they could leave again. I always tried to ensure they got the best experience they could from being in school. Other things intervened since and their lives have not been as I might have intended, but I continued to help them rise above the petty things that school insisted on and focus on the aspects that were meaningful to them. They are resilient but I am not sure on reflection that they have come out of the experience unscathed.
Many years ago, about 1998, Silencing the Bell started out as an information leaflet for teenagers, drawing together resources and information about learning outside the school system. I printed out a couple of hundred copies and distributed them through friends and contacts and at HESFES. We had some web space with our internet package at the time and subsequently the original STB website was born (it is long gone now but you can still visit via the magic of the inter web archive). I was involved with Education Otherwise for many years, as a council member, treasurer and newsletter editor, and it was an important part of my life and social network. I don't have the same close connection with the 'otherwise' movement now, but the issues remain as vital and relevant.