Friday, September 24, 2010

Junkie of the free software for kids kind

Slobbers on screen.

NB, this is not a sponsored post. I found this myself and just started using it half an hour ago. Not that anybody ever asks me to do sponsored post (mega sulk commences). I mean why does nobody ever ask me ? I'm unimportant aren't I ?. Don't answer that please, a girl has to hold onto whatever minor bloggy self esteem she has.

Have found a really easy to use DTP programme that basically allows the kid (or overgrown one in my case) to use create a school project, a poster (printable or online), a newsletter....anything really ...... with some really nifty features like easy photo cropping and masking, recording your voice straight into the page (nice for cutting down on eons of text if you have a reluctant writer and takes into account the "speaking" objectives of the literacy curriculum) and animating just about any part of your project that you fancy.

And it is FREE !!!!

Here is a video to show you what it can do. If you are home educating I think you'll find it a great "ITC" alternative to lapbooks, unit studies, files of study note. If you have a kid at school I'd consider it to help your kid consolidate a subject whilst providing imaginative and interesting revision resources.

Given that I think this the direction with will be seeing more and more production software going any kid that uses it even occasionally is going to have an edge. Because it seems some schools (here anyway) are very much into using dinosaur age packages.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Knee deep in sorting out an IVA number (VAT), creating publicity materials, timetables, course outlines, tests to work out levels, book choices, pricing etc. etc. etc.....

My mini school is due to go live in just a few weeks and I feel like I am knee deep in quicksand.

If anybody has a spell as to how to create an extra ten hours per day and couple of extra days per week..I'd be most grateful.

On a more optimisitc note IKEA has halved the price of the tables I want for my classroom, so that's good.

Less fun is the eternal search for a whiteboard of decent proportions, cos the Sock Dropper has veetoed the interactive whiteboard until I have earned enough tax to be able to write off the cost...or something complicated like that, which sounds like him being a big meanie to me cos I neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed an interactive whiteboard. I love them, they are so much fun.(sulks)

Ohhh I wonder if I can count new clothes and a diamond necklace or two against "costs", I mean I have to have a certain image don't I ?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Aristocratic Art of Distraction.

Why does a child have to die in order to generate enough focus and manpower for her siblings to be saved from protracted abuse ?

How many unaided and invisible children were left high and dry while one family suddenly got the attention and action they needed far, far too late ?

How come the social workers involved having an average caseload of 50, yes FIFTY, is given minimal attention ?

Why the current focus almost exclusively on home education as the key issue when the alarm bell was repeatedly rung by several increasingly concerned teachers, well before the children were removed from school as well as beyond ?

Don’t think for a minute that I have a blind spot when it comes to this case, caused by a desire to home educate unencumbered by regulation. I DO have a problem with the unanticipated (by the Italian state) issues that arise from the regulations I home educate under, but I am not HE regulation phobic by default.

I just can’t reject regs out of hand as inappropriate or unnecessary.

Not while I regularly breath a sign of relief that I was born in 68, well before HE was a known option. Thank God.

The idea of my mother coming across home education and being given a free rein makes my blood run cold. We’d have left the age of compulsory education as keen knitters and not much else. The only reason we were able to develop our own ideas, interests, opinions and personalities was because school gave us respite from a home somewhat oppressed by maternal personality and foibles. Nothing that would catch social services eye in of itself, but the potential to be educationally limiting and emotionally stifling from the children’s perspective none the less

So no, I can’t oppose the regulations I home educate under full stop. Although I reserve the right to fiddle with them (at least in my head), not to water them down, but because I’m pretty sure you could re-jig ours to take the curriculum sting out of them and sort out the “hostile, subjective and powerful” accountability environment for people, like me, who have had spectacular fallings out with the entity that oversees them.

With care, attention and consultation you can probably create a system that most of the time should red flag anybody who is off kilter in either welfare or educational terms, but which also goes to great lengths to avoid causing disadvantage to any particular type of home educator, other than the “loopholers”.

Yet a perfected set of regulations would still be absolutely useless as a safeguard if superimposed on a system of child protection that has been so battered and diminished by successive governments that it has fallen apart at the seams, to the point that it requires a lifeless child presented to it before it can react to an evident need of intervention.

There are children, pre school, in school, missing from education, in significant numbers who need immediate intervention today.

Just not going to happen while social workers are spread so thinly that they break…and then leave.

So the waving of a tragic case as a pretence that the sole issue is home education makes me feel ill.

Because the strategy is as transparent as it is devious. It is being employed to allow the same entity that systematically dismantled the safety net of social services, to kick the results of their decades long, lip service under the carpet.

How many more children are going to have to die or be irreversibly damaged before governments, past, present and future, take responsibility for years of “being seen to do something” knee jerks and focus their attention on putting social services back together as an effective, funded, supported and professionally run agency ?

If they don’t know where to start, try asking the social workers themselves. The eternal scapegoats when political policy comes to bloody fruition have no shortage of illustrated information as to how it has all gone horribly wrong and what can be done to darn a child protection safety net that is currently more hole than thread.

When you are talking about Khyra Ishaq, who hurtled through those innumerable, gaping holes and came crashing down in a lifeless, crumpled heap on the other side, how can you not make stitching back together the whole damn thing, for ALL of the children in harm's way, the absolute priority ?

Fix social services, as an absolute government priority, if you really give a damn about children at risk of serious or deadly harm..

I can live with my regulated status as a home educator in the main, but I don't want to have to live with headlines about children being starved to death despite alarm bells ringing, or toddlers being tortured to the point of a broken back until they die, under the noses of the very people who already have the powers (but not the manpower) to protect them.

So Dear Lord Soley, don't fiddle while Rome burns.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Sock Dropper is a statistic

We were in the car on a joint mission, pick up Son of Thor from centro estivo (they slotted on an extra week) and get me chocolate cos I'm a grumpy old woman.

To distract me from backseat driving Sock Dropper started to tell me about a radio show he was listening to that afternoon, something along the lines of how 15% of marriages in Italy today are mixed marriages, not the old style Southern bloke falls for Northern lass, but the more exotic Italian and "forrin" type. He was burbling on about this and saying that they were highlighting the problems that could happen so I arched an eyebrow and asked "So are you worried ?"

To which he replied "Me ?"

"Well you know, "mixed" marriages bringing their own issues to the table on top of the ususal stuff, are you afraid of being a statistic ?"

At this point an old biddy on a wobbly bicycle was at risk as he turned to gaze at me like I was a talking Martian.

"Wat da bloods hells you is speak abouuuut ?"

"you, you twit, being married to a "forrin" type, being in the 15% !"

He looked slighty stunned and then said "You have right ! Iz me also !!!"

So I'm a little perplexed.

Have I become so Italianized that he thinks I'm one of them now and has forgotten I'm "forrin" most of the time ?

Or is he under the impression it is typical of an Italian marriage for two people to yell at each other in their respective languages for an hour, only to discover that the entire row is based on somebody having utterly misunderstood what the other one said (in the "wrong" language)  in the first place ?


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