#33 - Randall Hardy | Challenging the State: A Conversation on Family-Based Education
🗓️ Recorded September 1st, 2023. 📍Romagny-Fontenay, France
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About this Episode
Join us for an eye-opening episode as we sit down with Randall Hardy, a fervent advocate for homeschooling and unschooling. Randall and his family have been at the forefront of the home education movement, challenging the status quo and advocating for parental rights in the UK.
In this episode, Randall delves into the current political climate affecting home educators, particularly in England and Wales. He shares his insights on the increasing pressures that families face and urges parents to be vigilant about their responsibilities toward their children's education.
We also discuss the cultural shift that seems to be sidelining the value of family in education, the changing laws in Britain eroding parental authority, and the potential impacts these changes could have on family dynamics.
We explore parents' struggles in maintaining family ties, especially when children leave home for university, and the potential benefits of not sending children to school during lockdown. This episode underscores the importance of having meaningful conversations and doing real things together as a family.
Our dialogue also ventures into the impact of generational family houses, the disconnect between parents and children, and the skills needed for a family to live harmoniously.
We critically evaluate the pitfalls of traditional schooling and the dangers of confining children to preset evaluation models. Lastly, we probe into the emotional manipulation of the modern education system and the need to imbue children with a sense of value within the family unit from an early age.
Join us for this thought-provoking conversation and gain new insights into the world of homeschooling, unschooling, and the essential role of family in education.
📚 Additional Resources:
- Randall's blog: "No Nationalisation of our Kids"
- HEFF2023 Talk by Randall
- Randall is also a team member of The HE Byte – Commenting on the UK EHE political scene
Watch the full interview on YouTube
0:00:00 - Jesper Conrad
Today we are together with Randall, whom we met at the HEFF, which stands for the Home Education Family Festival, which takes place each year in the UK, and even though we are not from the UK, we really wanted to attend, both because it's a fantastic festival, but also because we have a lot of friends in the UK who have been homeschooling, unschooling for years, and it was a good way for us to meet up. While being there, we gave a small talk about how it is to world school, as we call what we do with the full-time traveling and being there. We met Randall, and welcome to you, Randall.
0:00:51 - Randall Hardy
Thank you, Jesper. You came and sat in my session which followed yours, so that was a whole introduction of each other.
0:01:00 - Cecilie Conrad
It was, so do we have anything to talk about today?
0:01:03 - Jesper Conrad
Yes, I would like to just point out how wonderful stupid my mind was. I was looking out over the crowd, who people listening to our talk, and there was this great hair, great bearded man and my first thought was someone have brought that dad. And there's a reason to the stupidity is, we are among the first generation in Denmark who have been homeschooling and unschooling. It's a much newer thing in Denmark than it is in the UK, so we are among the oldest generation. So that's why I was so stupid and forgot that years have gone before us where a lot of people have fought the fight to make sure that homeschooling and unschooling will be kept legal, and that's one of the things that is interesting about you is that you are fighting the fight still. So why are you fighting, randall? What is it that ignites you about it? Why am I?
0:02:01 - Randall Hardy
fighting. Because it's important. It's very important because, if I could just skip back, I'll come back to this in a second. But you were up before me at the conference and you always go and you try and sound out why people are coming from. And I think the thing that really rang with me was when, together, you said that the start of your journey was when you decided that you didn't want to be a family of five together and one and to work, but you wanted most of the time to be a family of six together, and I thought actually that thing of being a family that's together for most of the time is far more important than how you then educate your children while you're together. And that is what I really warmed to what you were saying. That was the catalyst for unlocking and helping them and why I think it's important to do with that.
Because we live in a culture, a global culture increasingly, where family is undervalued, it's actually pushed to the side, and one of the sad things for me, even though I'm fighting for home education, is so many of the families are involved. It's only part of the family. Dads are often absence. You may have seen there was probably more mothers around at the festival than there was dads. And I work in amongst a group of activists and it's rare I'm in any meeting with another guy. Ok, I'm a granddad, but it's rare that the dads are involved. And I'm for family, that's my bottom line. I want families to get stronger and for us, part of that was our home educating journey. And now I see that not just in England, wales, scotland and other places in Europe like where you're now, france there's more and more pressure to stop family is home educating. The real danger of it is to stop families being families, because families are families. It was interesting this morning One of our cabinet ministers appeared on radio talking about suicide and the way he was talking about it was a few years ago his own brother committed suicide and what struck me was he was having real feelings that he hadn't been the brother to his brother that his brother needed at the time and that's just another signal that really family is a fundamental building book of human relationships and home education for us was a way into that and I see these policies that have been put forward by politicians as if the family was totally relevant and family education to me is far more important. Family based education Doesn't have to be isolated from way, but it's within the whole family is the important fact, and I'm on a mission really to try and encourage people and I think your podcast might be a great place to do it to reach, to improve their connections as a whole family Because, as I say, even in home educating circles that isn't always happening. Daddy's under so much pressure to do work or one of the parents is under so much pressure to do work. They live apart from the family most of the time, and I'm there. So I think this threat to the family because let me give you an example In England, in Wales, in British law, education has always been the responsibility of parents and this isn't an original from me, I heard it on somebody else's podcast, but it's worthwhile repeating.
When I was young, which is getting on now for over 60 years ago well, 60 years ago, if my parents wanted to keep me off school for a day, I went to the local school. They wrote a note saying to the teacher dear head teacher, we are taking him out of school for a day, we are doing something with him. He will be back in the following day. The head teacher would mark that in the register as an authorised absence. Now, where we've got to in Britain is parents cannot authorise absence anymore. The school teacher has to. So if a parent wants to take a week off to go on an educational trip with their children during school term time and the teacher does not authorise it, they will be fined for every day the child is not in school. I think I've just caught some day and that is the way the policy is going. It's anti-family. It is the state is more important than the family and this is gone.
0:07:54 - Cecilie Conrad
No, the thing is just you don't trust the family, you don't trust the parents to be able to make this judgment, good judgment, that it would be better to take this day off. You trust the school teacher to make that judgment, which is quite scary when you think about it. It's someone who doesn't really know the child, someone who obviously doesn't love the child unconditionally like parents do. They have the final say.
0:08:26 - Randall Hardy
And somebody who's having the final say because they don't want to get a black mark on their record as a staff member. Yeah, go on, jasper, you were going to say something.
0:08:38 - Jesper Conrad
Yes, I remember our oldest went to a very free school based. It was kind of like the world of schools and I remember that when we came and wanted to go for a month somewhere, the answers should have been that sounds wonderful, that would be wonderful for her to go on a month. That was the answer.
That was the answer. But if you do that in a public school we have friends who have tried to do the same the answer is oh, but they will be disconnected a lot from their friends at school and stuff like that. And just to turn it around, how about the disconnection from your family if you cannot stay a month together with them because your mom and dad have an opportunity to go travel? It's very wide, but I think it starts. Unfortunately.
I think a lot of parents, including myself on the start of my journey, are so embedded into the reality of this being normal. For me, it was normal that kids should go to a kindergarten. When Cecilia started suggesting to have them at home, I kind of thought she was weird. And then it's just part of the personal travel that now I'm an avid fighter for the children's freedom. But it started that way and it was normal in my way. And even our oldest went to this private school and I thought it was snobbish. Why is the public school not good enough for my child and all those things, instead of looking at it? We don't choose a private school to be snobbish. We chose it based on the pedagogic ideas they had before we were ready to go to home school and it's just a long, long travel and I think, unfortunately, a lot of us dads are part of behind on understanding what children need and have used less time thinking about the life of a child than mothers have because they have been immersed in it.
0:11:02 - Cecilie Conrad
When you're pregnant and you have a child and you have it in at least in our country, where you get a fair amount of time at home with the child on your own, where the state pays for your pay-sure salary, it really rocks your boat. It's a really, really, really big change. It's a change in your body. It's a change in the base of your life. It's a change in your family structure. It changes your relation to your own parents, to your siblings, to your friends, to your spouse, and you're in it, really soaked in it.
Whereas the dads they stay home In our country they get two weeks to be and then they're back to work. It's just like a vacation. Usually they'll go fix something in the garage and then they go back to work, so obviously they don't have this. It's not this existential cold shower or hot bath, depending on how you feel about it. You just keep on the same track. So it makes good sense that the dads can be a little slower to understand. Maybe we need some big changes here, but I find Go on, carry on.
Just because I think it's so important what you say about family and I also. We're advocates for homeschooling and unschooling, but really what I'm advocate for is to have a free life, have a real life where you live inside the life. And a base for a real life is you are in some sort of family relation when you enter, and that's supposed to be the core, that's supposed to be the stone where you stand until you're ready to jump a little bit, and that core is just split from the very beginning. You send people off in different directions and I'm just wondering how we can support that more. Because you say the fathers are not present, but the reality is that that's because they're making the money. So once they comply and are nice and say, okay, let's homeschool, they're alone.
That was a big frustration for you that I said you know what? I'd rather live in my car than send my kids to school. I'm not going to work, I'm not doing it, I'm not working. I'd rather have rice and tomato for the rest of my life. I'm not doing it. And you were like, okay, thank you very much. Then I have to do it. It was not.
0:13:39 - Randall Hardy
But I think part of your story that I heard that day was not just that you wanted to be this whole family and the real cost counting was on your salary, Jesper, and what it was going to and so on, and I think the problem we have faced we have a system that doesn't value the family. Going back to Cecilia's birthing journey in some circles and I hope this isn't too offensive they actually simply talk about a womb being a birthing uterus. Yeah, and they're wanting to develop artificial wombs.
0:14:26 - Cecilie Conrad
I don't even want to think about it.
0:14:28 - Randall Hardy
Neither do I, but I think sometimes we have to yeah yeah, I know.
To understand what's happening, that we have got this journey on at the moment where the family is being pulled apart and it's good to take people with backbone not to be pulled apart with it and so when you begin to see something, then you've got to say, well, how can I resist this? I started my talk. I know Jasper was a bit late with saying understand the difference between the familiar and the normal, and what we've been talking about with the way the family is structured, is what has been familiar over the last 20, 30 years is now assumed to be the normal. Now, when I was little, most moms didn't work, right. They looked after the children there were not many nurseries, right but also they looked after the older members of the family we almost all the time and older members of the family living with us. Yeah.
You'd heard of old people's homes. Yeah, and I'm for a reconnecting of the family across generations, then of those families within a community, and all that is now gone. In lots of places you were saying to see, you know, you always felt strange in different things and suddenly when you found the home educators, the home schoolers, you suddenly found people you related to and I think that is probably maybe in your case was because they were still that bit more focused on family. You know, there is something different about home educate. In England, let me tell you, we can get to teach other strokes quite a lot, we're very good at falling out, but there is still a community, or there are communities within now, the home educating community. That is at a level that if a family is split up from whatever time is, nine o'clock in the morning till six o'clock at night, they don't even get a community within themselves. No, no, no.
They're not a community, and the foundation of any community is the family. We live in a rural bit of Britain for a while. Well, for several years my wife led a volunteer group for visiting elderly people who had no ability to visit them. Why did they have no ability to visit them? Because their kids had all been encouraged to move away, go off to university. In the moment somebody gets to university, do they ever come home? Well, they might soon, because they can't afford to live in university accommodation. So they might have, you know, our granddaughters going to university but living at home, you know.
But once they've brought those ties, they've lost the family community, and I see that we need to be encouraging anybody who will hear to this. It's not just all right to reconnect as a family, it's really helpful. And if you've got to reassess how you live and what your values are, well then do it. It's not impossible. You know I'm not saying your life is perfect, but you're surviving with strange lifestyle. Nobody will school us right, but there is something about it that must keep you going. If it was a real horrible experience for six months, you'd probably say why we do it?
0:18:44 - Jesper Conrad
Oh no, yeah, and it's quite obviously the best thing we have done in our whole life.
0:18:49 - Cecilie Conrad
But the thing is also when it sometimes is a horrible situation not for six months, but maybe for six hours. For example, we slept at that construction site recently where we didn't sleep much because it was a construction site At least we do it together Becomes family stories. We're this unit of people who love each other and want to spend our time together, and I usually say it takes time to be a family. I can't understand how you can handle having teenagers if they leave at eight o'clock in the morning or even before, because they have to be in the school by eight. So they leave at maybe seven thirty and they come back at four and then they maybe have homework and they have to do some text messaging with their friends and they also need a shower. When do you ever talk to them? The hours run out. I'm not being judgmental. I'm trying to not be judgmental about the school decision.
I'm just saying from my relation with my teens. I need at least an hour per child per day to just keep the ball rolling. Things we really need to talk about these things. We need to be there. Where would those hours be if we were not in the same space? I don't know.
0:20:12 - Randall Hardy
Two things, two things there, right. Number one, taking time to get to talk and things. You've got to do that during life. Yeah Right, let's not worry about the teenagers being at school. Let's talk about mum and dad being out at work all day. They've both had fairly bad days. They're not feeling very happy. They come home. The last thing anybody wants to do is, one, relive it and, secondly, listen to somebody else reliving it. You don't really then connect about how's your day been dear All right, not so good, but you don't really reconnect. Now you can link that with your kids. Well, I think he was a bit grumpy.
One of the best things I heard or read during lockdown was an author or someday. She noticed that her grandchildren were thriving from not going to school during lockdown and she put on Twitter, as it was then called has anybody else noticed this? And she got a whole load of responses saying yes. And the one line I remember was a mum who posted I've got my teenage son back, he's talking to us, he's participating in the family. I thought that is great. It was really. One of the benefits of lockdown was families reconnected and some, in this country at least, have said we don't want to lose this. And now they've added to the number of home educators in Britain Because they found something and I'm saying great. You know the government saying we can't have this.
0:22:14 - Cecilie Conrad
That's the downside.
0:22:16 - Randall Hardy
That's the downside. But this is the thing that to be a family, you need to reconnect. I remember reading an account some time ago about a dad who'd done something with his son one of his sons and he wrote in his diary didn't do much today, took Johnny fishing. His son's diary read absolutely wonderful day, dad took me fishing. Yeah, I really enjoyed his company type thing.
Quite often when we do things as a family in our busy Western, fragmented lifestyle, it's artificial, it's something you try and construct, but the best things to do during life as a family are the things that need doing together. So, as you say, you know to be a family, you've got to have that time and you can go and you don't have to just go for a walk. You can say such a body, are you going to help me do this or this needs doing? Do you want to learn how to do it? And you do that where, if you've got, if you're in a lifestyle that is shouting at you so much that you can't connect. I mean, I used yeah, you just don't get those times.
So I used to be a self employed electrician when our older children were growing up and we had two sons who were very different. The oldest one I could take him out during when it was. He went to a parents run cooperative school, so during the holidays I could take him into people's houses and he could. He was a real help on the job. He's now an electrical engineer. Right.
Yeah, I could give him things to do and it was a day together for us. Now sadly his next brother down was the type of kid who, wherever he was, he had to fiddle with everything he could see. So I could only take him on jobs where I knew the family would cope with that. So that wasn't as many. No, honestly, doing things together, real things together, is far more important than just doing.
0:24:52 - Cecilie Conrad
Going to the amusement park, going to the cinema, going to the playground.
0:24:59 - Randall Hardy
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
0:25:02 - Cecilie Conrad
It's actually a thing we've talked about many times about the families, that you want to say something different.
0:25:11 - Jesper Conrad
You're like yeah, yeah, but I wait. No, but you can do it. Maybe it's the same subject what we have seen in families that divorce.
0:25:20 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, that was yeah, exactly.
0:25:24 - Jesper Conrad
What we've seen in families that divorce is that sometimes not all parents that divorce do this. Of course not. But we have seen sometimes how the parents and their child in my world not live in a reality because you as the parent divorcing one so much quality time with your child that the week you have together, if it's like half half, it is less your time. You go home from work early, you spend time with them, you even wake with washing the clothes and you wake with doing the garden and everything until it's your week off having children. But it gives a weird reality of what it is to be a person, because it is not fun to do the clothes, it's not done to mown the lawn and it's not fun to do all these things. But it's part of life and I think it's a good thing to involve the children in this on every level.
0:26:20 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, but what I think is important is we can sit here, the three of us, and be very much in agreement that it's very good for everyone to be together all the time and invest our time and energy in this life, in our spouse and children, and probably most people would agree and their first question would be yes, but how do you make money? There is a reason. It happens so very often when they finally decide or finally I mean, we didn't go there too early in our life either, so I'm not being judgmental about it.
0:27:00 - Randall Hardy
But when you realize I never got there until our children rolled it.
0:27:04 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, when you realize you want to home educate, very often the decision is mom will quit her job and stay at home. Maybe she already did quit her job because she was already home with smaller children and now some of them got older and you don't want them in school and you just decide I'm going to not have a career for the next 20 years, which is a big decision to have for a person. Not safe.
But it's okay, I did it, it was fine. It was not hard for me to choose my children over a career. But you decide that and then you decide the husband will keep the job and they will try to live off the money that he can make. And living in a society where most families have two parents working and the norm is kids have their own rooms and they get new outfits each season, and you know how the whole consumerism is going on and on, you kind of need money from two parents, but now you're trying to do it from only one. It feels like a struggle for most people. It feels like a financial struggle to make this decision. And how can we, the three of us, sit here and say, oh, it'd be so much better if the dad was home as well? Most people would probably agree, but they would be. Yeah, but we also need to pay the rent. Yeah, I agree.
0:28:22 - Randall Hardy
I think what you've got to say about that is let's face it, sometimes it's like let's do with the negative than deal with the positive. Right Use for dad is an escape out of the family to go to work, and they just don't want the thought of being around the family all day. And if that's in their mind, she's never going to convince them. But for the parents the dads who are seeing or whichever parent is who are seeing hey, this, I'm beginning to get the book about this, but how do I do it? You know your experience that you shared at the conference, that actually you realized the amount of time you're working not to feed the family but just to house the family and things, and if you can find a better way of doing, a cheaper way of doing that, that would do it. So people need to do a proper audit of their life and say what do I really need? What can I live without? And for people it will be different.
But the issue is, the real issue is this Can I afford not to work? Or really can I afford not to be a? Can we afford not to be a fuller time whole family? Because what you save now by going to work may be actually far more, far, a lot less than what you actually would save in the long run from being a whole family at that stage of life. And you know, the problem is we've actually been traveling over my lifetime, therefore your lifetimes away from the family, being the building block of society, and I believe that we have to inspire families to want to travel back in the other direction. They're not going to get there overnight, they're not going to get there without problems, but they need to see a catch that both that says I can't afford not to be moving in that direction, and okay, we have to give them a close.
But in the end you can give people clues, but until they say I'm willing to pay the immediate price for the long term gain, they're not going to move. No, it's true, you know, like you said, mum caught a vision first and eventually dad wasn't drag screaming towards it, but he saw it for himself. And you can't always make people see things. You can only give them that example, whatever a flavor, and that begins to cook in the back of their mouths and hey, I quite like this. And then you come into it.
0:31:42 - Jesper Conrad
What you're saying made me think about several things, so I will try to take them from an end, you can say one no, no, I want to say more.
So when I was a child, I wasn't in kindergarten until I was three years old. Today that would be strange. My sister was at home until she was six, Back in I think it was. I looked up the numbers in 72 or something. Only 5% of days of 15, and I'm not sure the numbers to be accurate, but a very few little percentage of the people were actually in this child care from zero to two or three years old, and now it has flipped. So now that is the normal, and combined with having houses where every child needs their own room with all their own toys in and it's like there's duplicate toys in families now If kids want the same thing, they have one in each room it's just crazy.
But it also made me think about the a person mentioned to me. What about generational family houses? You don't see a lot of those around anymore, and that's actually maybe a place we could go as society to look for. Should we come back to live together with families? And I think one of the troubles is, If you asked me, yes, but would you live together with your mom and dad? My answer would be no. But why would it be no. It would be no because we were. I was not living together with my parents when we lived together in the same sense that I'm living together with my children. I was away from them eight to 10 hours a day and we saw each other over lunch and Not even lunch.
I don't know, over dinner and I came home late because I had after leisure time activities. I was a swimmer, so we didn't see each other and therefore we have grown apart. We are family in the modern way, where we visit each other, but my mom would not live with me and I would not live with my mom. And it's because we have grown apart. It's not because I do not want to or do not like them, and in the same sense it is. I really hope that our children want to live with us if they have the opportunity At least. We haven't grown apart. We have seen each other, but one. Yeah. Now I remember what I wanted to say, which is yeah, yeah, yeah.
0:34:26 - Randall Hardy
Sometimes the mind needs to run.
0:34:30 - Jesper Conrad
No, but sometimes people ask us how can you stand being together with your kids all the time? And our answer to them is well, if we understand it can be rough. If you have been apart during the whole day, then the need your child have for reconnecting with you when they come home is very needy. And you might still be offered work inside your mind while you're trying to cook and clean the kitchen and then you have a child needy of your attention and, yes, that is annoying. It is annoying, but that is because you have been apart for so long that the connection is not there and all the kids actually try to do is to reconnect. So it's not difficult to be together. It takes some time getting used to.
0:35:19 - Randall Hardy
Of course, this is an important point that because we are two or three generations down this road, we do not know the skills of how to live together, even as a family, with our parents and things Right, and we may never with our generation well, not mine, you know, our parents are now no longer able to live with them, right, but we may never relearn that skill Right. But can we do enough so that our children can learn to live that skill and so on? And it does take things to do it. I've not read it. I said at the conference I'm not the book reader in our family, mary's the book reader. I'm the film watcher Right, if there's a documentary I'll watch that, but I'm not the book reader.
Some friends in Finland she told us she was reading a book called Unt Gather Parent which is about a researcher who had a first child and she was beginning to think this parenthood is quite hard work and she decided she'd go and look at some of the more less developed communities and how they parent and she found a very different model to the Western model. And it goes back to what you were saying about not doing the washing when the kids are there for that week or whatever, because we live in a culture where we think kids needs to be amused. You've heard the word muse, from which we get museum. I think it's a Greek word. Do you know what it means?
0:37:29 - Cecilie Conrad
It's something that inspires you amuse.
0:37:32 - Randall Hardy
To muse is to think, to ponder. In Greek you turn a word into a negative by adding the letter A at the beginning, which means you don't think, you don't bother. Oh shit, Right, and we are in a culture of amusement, Right? So kids have to be entertained. Education in schools now is a much about entertaining them during the day and getting a few bits of information into them through the entertainment. It's not about teaching them to think or reason. So we go down this road of amusement in our parenting. So many toys and things.
These three cultures which I can't remember. They're all very different. They treated their children as a team member from as soon as they could contribute anything to the family. As soon as they could toggle on something. Contributing to the family became their normal. So they didn't see themselves as not responsible for doing things. They developed a responsibility.
Now the book if you look on Amazon, it's got some negative things. People don't like the fact that the cultures were all parenting was kind of led by the mum in the home and things. They don't like things like that. But the people who write that don't like family, in my understanding. But family life is this. It's not meant to be amusement, it's meant to be living together and working together towards a shared objective.
Now, if we go, then back to the generational home, that is what I remember, Because my mother looked after her parents, my dad's parents, my grandma and my dad's side had died by the time I was around, but she looked after them and in return there were times when they looked after me. They probably got more out of it than that, and so if you only get his two generations in a family parents and children you don't get that same flow. But if you have a multi-generation and interestingly I think it's been pioneered in the Jewish community they're now discovering that where you've got an old people's home, there's a really smart thing to do. You've got an old people's home and a nursery in the same area. Put them on the same premises, Because having the younger children around helps the older generation, and having the older generation around, guess what? It helps the younger generation. Yeah.
And so you know I talk, I think I said it in my thing at the conference. I like to say, look, nuclear family is important, but it should be fully supported by the extended family, which is important just for parents, everybody else, and they should be part of a community. So there's that. And then only if those two circles of support fail should the state ever think about getting involved in family life. And I would go down and say that should include education.
I don't think the state has any legitimate role in education, even though the world order is designed to say it has it really hasn't. It should say that's not my responsibility. If your family, your extended family in your community can sort it, we will step in, but we are taking that role on very reluctantly and as a last resort. So I would say, yeah, for some people and I do know people I know a mum. She's a researcher, she's home educating, but her mum lives with them and, quite honestly, their mum Harry's a lot of the things because she's got to work and teach. She mum does obviously some of the, not teaching as such, but just supervises what the kids are learning.
Right, it's a multi-generational thing. So for some people who might have parents who can cope, because some might be able to cope, I don't want to say we've written off all the old generation. Some might be able to cope, especially plug out going out here in England. In Britain we do now have people my generation who wore home educators. Yeah, wow.
And last year at HEF there was somebody there about our age and she was literally a home education grandma. She lived with the family and she came to HEF with them and did everything and they were a fuller family.
0:43:03 - Cecilie Conrad
It sounds wonderful but the families really need the grandparent generation. There's something wrong with even thinking the family as the parents of the children. I remember when I had my first child I really felt I needed my mother and I needed my grandmother. I needed them to just be around the whole, because you're very much a newbie. When you have your first child, you don't know what you're doing. Imagine having someone to help you. That would be very nice, and I actually moved in with my mother and grandmother. That was very nice. I moved in with them. I lived with them for three or four months when I had my first child and we moved in with them again.
We bought part of the house and lived as neighbors with my mother and grandmother for some years, and I remember the fact that my grandmother lived in the neighboring house Wasn't even good enough, because she would sit there in her armchair A little bored, a little, waiting for us to come. But then when I was in her house I couldn't do the laundry, I couldn't cook some potatoes, I couldn't change a diaper, I'd have to go in and out and in and out and in and out, whereas had she sat in my living room in an armchair, she could have read the kids' story while I cooked the potatoes and baked them and washed the clothes. It would have been so much better to have her in house, but the setup that we had just didn't really call for it. We had stairs and she couldn't do it.
0:44:37 - Jesper Conrad
And we weren't ready. Oh, we weren't.
0:44:39 - Cecilie Conrad
No, not on that day, yeah, but at the same time. We talked about it so many times. How much nicer it would be.
0:44:46 - Randall Hardy
I think you're telling me one of you was ready.
0:44:50 - Cecilie Conrad
I don't know if you really have been ready, but we saw clearly that it would have been a much more practical Set up. And that was my grandmother, so it was my children's great grandmother. That's what I'm talking about. It was my mother when I had my first child. She was 46 and her youngest child was 11. So she was not done being a mother herself, actually. So my grandmother was the person who could step into that role of being somewhat elderly, having time for reading fairy tales and knitting socks. Yeah.
0:45:20 - Jesper Conrad
And we recently Cecilius Cousin got a child and we visited him In Copenhagen and they live like everybody else in what I would call do loneliness, which is like you live a couple in an apartment but you live alone. Still, you do not really know your neighbor and that level where it's not family. You we make these small units everywhere and Cecilius said something fun when we left them it and she just said why don't somebody needs to move in with them for a month at least and just help out, because when you become a parent it is so hard work. There's a lot of stuff.
0:46:02 - Cecilie Conrad
Kid is newborn and there's a two year old and you just need more hands in the beginning. You need someone to cook the food and do a bit of laundry and maybe take a nap with the older child, or I don't know. It just seemed and they were two adults, two children shouldn't be that hard, but somehow when I was in there and they are good parents- wonderful resourceful people, yet in their home.
for three, five hours I sat there and when I left I thought they're not enough resources here, that there should be someone here. Had I lived nearby, I would have been there three or four hours every day for a while just to do the things you know, but as I don't, I couldn't.
0:46:49 - Randall Hardy
Yeah, we mentioned it earlier, but that's another part of the anti family Mindset we've got around is you take people and move them apart. Who would otherwise? One of our saddest things is we've got six children and it may be a bit much on top of each other, but if we all live within walking distance you wouldn't have to make an appointment to see people. You could just drop in. You know, and maybe that staging post we're talking about for a rediscovering family is not for everybody to move into the same house at one time, but to just move nearer to each other. So you don't have to ring up and say I'm coming up for the day, is that all right? Or you know whatever, you can just hop in for 20 minutes and if something is doing, you say hang on, I'll do that for you while I'm here.
You know that type of thing, but their skills we have great, great great grandparents might have had without realizing it because it was their normal. But now our generation, or your generation, my generation and the younger generation have never seen them being lived out and we learn most things by example. Yeah, you know, education is the knowledge. It's how you see other people living and you say there's something valuable there. I need to mimic that A child makes everything as they're growing up, you know.
0:48:27 - Cecilie Conrad
And if but so adults, adults in many ways they mimic the neighbor, they mimic their friends, they mimic what they see in the movies, the commercials. This whole lifestyle is being somewhat pushed on us by everything we see around us and we try to be that but and it feels like some sort of fail to not be, it Feels like you're missing out. Or we have four children. Only one of them ever had their own room.
0:49:01 - Randall Hardy
And I just say it's actually a fail to go along with that agenda. It's a success when you as an individual or as a family says I don't wanna be swept along with this tide. I saw a book once with the title Letters to Antiflow Antifloren's Flow, right, but it was a picture of a show of fish going in one direction and one fish swimming in the other direction. Yeah, yeah, it's walking upstream, going upstream. It's hard to work. It is. If people don't understand you, why are you going that way? The crowd, the herd's going that way. No, I want to go because I see something valuable up there and, in a way, where do you get that? You get there by encouraging people to do a quality audit on the direction they're going. Not tell them what the outcome should be, but just say what are your goals, what are you living for? What do you want your children to learn from your lifestyle that you think will do them good? I don't. I've looked at that for myself. I'm not going in that direction. I'm, you know.
0:50:29 - Cecilie Conrad
And I think that circles back to the anti-schooling agenda that we have, because schooling is in many ways it is a curriculum based idea. Someone not you, not your parents, not even the teacher. Very often it's government coming up with a curriculum. It's the national government.
Telling you what you need to know, telling you what you need to do, which means you grow up in a reality where this is one of the most scary things I see about childhood is that children are constantly evaluated, no matter what they do. Someone will tell them whether they did it good or not, whether they were supposed to do that or something else. And if you constantly evaluated, constantly up against this curriculum, then how will you ever figure out what you want? There's no loop, there's no system of pointing back to your emotional life, a reward feeling when you do something you feel like doing, but no one's going to tell you whether that was right or you did it well because it was just something you felt like doing. So when you go to bed at night, you'll have to feel within yourself If that feel right, how does this sit with me? Do I want to do it again tomorrow? All of that is totally lost in telling kids what to do, when to do it, how to do it and where to do it, and telling them you have to do it again, whether you like it or not.
We all agree. Everyone agrees that no, kids like school. We all agree kids would like to avoid school. That's like in the movies, in the cartoons, in the literature. For kids it's a standard. Everyone knows the kids. They just look for recess and summer break. So we all agree they don't like it. Yet we push them to do it and we tell them whether they did it well or not. How can they know what they want? How will they ever know what they want? That's really scary.
0:52:35 - Randall Hardy
It's really scary. I don't know whether you know that there's fairly good research now that says the number of self-harm among young people goes down during school holidays. Nobody wants to engage with that level of research Because the governments have too much invested in the school system, because it is. Ken Robinson did a video where he pointed out that it was originally brought in there to prepare people to work in the factories. Yeah, the military, like people who come from that discipline schooling background, because they do what they're told. They don't think for themselves. Home educators, world schoolers the lot are a danger to the state, which is why they're trying to wipe us out. And I mean that they are trying to wipe us out internationally. Because we are a danger, because we can produce too many children who think for themselves and say I'm not going to jump through your hopes and school is training in jumping through hopes.
The exam system I read something. I don't know where it came from, but the guy used a wonderful thing. It was only last night I read it on Facebook. Somebody had posted the graphic. Basically, he was saying that this is a system for to test people, but the tests aren't real tests because if you say what grows on apple trees and you say leaves, you give the wrong answer. But actually it's the right answer, it's just not the prescribed answer.
Since then I've been meditating on that and you could also say, well, that grows on apple trees, must grows on apple trees, bugs grow on apple trees and there's a whole load of things and you could get really interested in what grows on an apple tree. But if you're in the system, the system only wants the answer they want you to give yeah, and that is a real problem, but it's. I don't think we'll ever turn the system. The system is what it is. What we have to do is encourage parents not to sacrifice their children to that system and to do it the best way they can, and I don't think it's going to be easy. I think in England the political situation my talk was called when Governments Aren't Listening. Yeah, I remember.
And my answer was 45 year backbone. You've got to be determined. If you want an easy life and you want your children to benefit from being brought up into being whole adults who don't just follow the crowd, then you're going to have to pay a price. Yeah, one way or another you're going to have to pay a price. Which is why I say can you afford not to pay that price and sacrifice your children to the system?
0:56:02 - Cecilie Conrad
But sometimes it's very well spoken. Thank you, that's all right. Sometimes I think some of the things that we have sacrificed has been very much a relief not to have so lots of.
0:56:23 - Jesper Conrad
We haven't sacrificed those children to the system, so it's our the price.
0:56:28 - Cecilie Conrad
The price, the price okay for the life that we live, where we have our kids home with us, and we've had that for 12 years, 14 years now. So they don't have their own room. We don't even have a house. We could have a house. We don't want to, but we. There's a lot of financial sacrifice, obviously, because I could have made money and you could probably have made a lot more money if you weren't distracted by your children. But would I want that life? Now that I'm on the other side of it, I'm actually happy that we can. You know, we can handle ourselves without all of that. It's just what, is it Some fluffy?
0:57:11 - Randall Hardy
side effect. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Let's give you a scientific power of that picture of it, right? Thank you? Analogy we are all tied to the earth by gravity. Can you imagine living a life without gravity? No, right. But if you look at pictures, when it takes a lot of effort to get up there above, where gravity affects, but you look at pictures of the space station, and we think, oh, wouldn't it be great just to be floating around, Right? Yeah.
Now, that is only an analogy, it isn't a real thing. But the problem is with these things that we think we can't live without. They're actually more of a burden than a benefit. Exactly, and what you're saying is, when you get rid of that burden, you suddenly realize the benefit of not carrying that around with me. Why was I being so stupid? Why was I being so hard to like? Go with the familiar? It's what we used to, it's the gravity that holds us to the earth, holds us into this, locked into this lifestyle. And I'm not saying this means you have to go on the road. It doesn't for everybody, right. So no, no, that's right for you family, right, that's right for your family right For now, but for some people it may never be right. But to say, hang on, I'm not sacrificing my family to this system, I think it's something that every parent should ask.
Illustration years ago we were home educating. Our younger children were being home educated. The older ones, because it started at this parents' cooperative school was still there. It was the school that told us about home education and some friends of ours. Dad said to me Randall, can you tell me any good reasons why I should now educate my children and I said to him you're asking me the wrong question. Can you tell me any good reasons why you should send your children to school? And they ended up home educating.
All their family right as you change the paradigm. So I would say to dads who are struggling with this one dads in particular, but to families that are struggling with it, if you are in this place where you're not sure, ask yourself what the good reasons are. And I would say to them you've seen the treadmill that going through that school system has put you on. You've experienced it every day. Now look forward and say do I want my children to get their own treadmill or do I want them to be able to run free in the fees? Hmm.
Because that is what's keeping people trapped. It's they're on a treadmill and they don't know any of the way of generating an income. They don't know any of the way of providing for what they need. Now they still may have to do work. I think you talked to Niels when you got that question, which, I take it, you often get when people are asking you about what about? A need yeah.
Is don't ditch everything or your skills. Look at what your skills are, but see how can you use those skills in a different way. Yeah, that's a really good piece of advice, which is why I'm repeating it, even though you know it Right, because that's what people have got to do. I've got these skills. They're normally put into practice in this context. How can I put them into practice in a different context? Not maybe as much, but enough to feed us in a different lifestyle.
1:01:46 - Jesper Conrad
There's a word that has been popping in my mind for a long time of the conversation. Now I need to say it is when you walk around in the inner parts of Copenhagen. We still have some of the old buildings where we put children in the start. They were called, and I just smile every time I see it. Now, today we call it a daycare, childcare, kindergarten, whatever. Back then, when we started it many, many years ago, it was called child asylums, and I just love it. Yes, yeah, that's the word that's evolved.
You know it was a place of protection, but now it's a place of and you said as you said about the, if the family and the extended family and the community couldn't take care, back then we had the child asylums.
1:02:44 - Cecilie Conrad
But the thing was I talked to my grandmother about this and she was born in 2006. And she had children in the 50s and she said back then an asylum was only for poor people. She couldn't have her children in the nursery because she was married and her husband made money. It was really for those desperate single mothers who would leave their babies alone and go to the factory because that was the only opportunity they saw. Those mothers could put their children in a nursery which, as you say, that's the last resource. If they don't have a friend or a mother or a sister or anyone to help them.
When they really need to go out and make some money because their husband died or whatever happened, then an asylum is needed. And now we just stuff all the kids in there. It's as if the mothers can't get away from their babies soon enough, and that's not fair to say, because they all cry when they do it, but they're just forced so heavily into this narrative of this being the right thing to do and all of us are crying in five minutes and you need to use your brain and you need your education and all of that.
1:03:58 - Randall Hardy
And you're not being a good parent if you don't leave them here.
1:04:02 - Cecilie Conrad
Exactly they'll fall behind Emotional blackmail. Have you heard? That idea? I've heard that idea Children in nurseries, this is, children up to two years old, can fall behind if they don't show up every day. I'm just asking this question what can you fall behind on when you're two years old? Seriously, what is that?
1:04:27 - Randall Hardy
Being squeezed into the mold.
1:04:30 - Cecilie Conrad
I just don't get it. Someone please explain to me why this is expected of a two-year-old. To me it's. I don't get it. I'm not willing to get, I'm not you don't. Seriously, and someone asked me when I looked after my kids when they were small, are you qualified to do that? And I was like are you shitting me Qualified? This is my child. He's three years old, am I qualified?
1:05:04 - Randall Hardy
I think the answer we ought to be able to give is I was qualified, as your great, great, great great grandmother was, to look after a three-year-old.
1:05:17 - Cecilie Conrad
And now I'm looking after a 17-year-old and I feel qualified and he's looking after me, the sweet guy offering me his hand when we walk uphill. Yeah.
1:05:31 - Randall Hardy
Yeah, well, that's it. That's fun, it's it's support. It works both ways. What I was saying about this teaching children they have a value in the family team from soon as they can contribute not forcing it on them, but I think it becomes something they value doing themselves. I can help mum, I can help dad, yeah Right, but the culture in which we live is parents can't parent, the state can, only the state.
1:06:08 - Cecilie Conrad
Compare and there are standards and we have to measure it and there are like things you need to live up to to a certain you know, at a certain age they need to. I, I, because I got so shocked by this you can fall behind in kindergarten or even in the nursery and are you qualified to being just looking after your own kids? I looked into it and actually there is something the equivalent of a curriculum for nurseries and for kindergarten, something where you would you have like this checklist you can look at. There's a three and a half year old and you check all these boxes and if you can take 80% of them, the child is on track. And to me it looks like obsessive, compulsive disorder. Really, it looks like you know the standardization of human life.
It's it's, it's scary business that you would, you would raise a flag if a child is not using a pair of scissors at the right timing or not using the right vocalization of his inner needs, because they need to learn to use the word know in the right way in the grammar or whatever it is. They come up with these weird, weird filters to figure out if kids are on track, because, I don't know, maybe because they don't know them In a family, you would know if something was wrong. You don't need a standardized check sheet. You know, you'll know. Oh, my kid is not doing well, what's going on?
1:07:46 - Randall Hardy
Yeah, yeah, and actually the testing of the kids is really a testing of the system.
1:07:53 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, it's not even about the kids, but the kids are paying the price. They are suffering when they test it.
1:07:58 - Randall Hardy
They're paying a big price, but so are the families and everything and everybody else, because it's it's to keep the wheels of this machine turning. It's not actually for the best for the children, but you know that would be another whole 18 podcasts to look at Wow, let's do some more. Yeah.
1:08:24 - Cecilie Conrad
I was thinking here at. You know it has to be the end of the story at some point. We can't talk all night, but but we could do another one, I think. But because we are all so much in agreement, which is so nice for the three of us, no, but I know how radical it felt for us the idea of not schooling, and I know how extreme this could maybe sound to a family who buy some accident press play on this podcast. But they are having their lifestyle, they have two jobs, they have a nice life, they have the nursery and the school and they're as happy as they feel is. But then maybe they want this day, the family things right. So they want to be more family.
And we come up with you know some, some steps that you can take without doing the radical thing. Is it possible to nurture your family life without just because we can lure them in? No, but without doing the radical thing first. Could you maybe? Is there a way to take a baby step and see how it feels before you take the kids out of school?
1:09:43 - Randall Hardy
Well, I'll tell you what. Very quickly, I tell you what the first baby set for me was deciding not to send my children to a state school but to a school that was run as a parents cooperative. That was my first.
1:09:58 - Cecilie Conrad
That's a good beginning, yeah.
1:09:59 - Randall Hardy
That was my first step. You don't always have them, but then I always said that was the first step. The next step came when we decided to home educate. When I made that first step, I'd never heard of home education. I learned about it through that school. And then I took the next step. Yeah, and and you know it was funny because Mary did some of the teaching at the school and most of the moms said who were there during the day able to do teaching, going on some days, said I'll do teach. I don't want to teach my children, I don't want them to be in the class I'm teaching. And Mary said I'll come in and do some teaching, as long as the classes of my children in them. And so there, was that.
But that was it. And then years later I got involved in the political side and things. And yes, people say to us would you still do the same thing if you were starting all over again? Well, I said my age, I don't want to start all over again, thank you. I wish when I started I had glane, the wisdom I had now, because no, I wouldn't do exactly the same thing, I'd be more radical.
1:11:16 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, me too, me too, yeah. If I had known 20 years ago what I know now, man, it would have been a different life 45 years ago.
1:11:26 - Randall Hardy
If I knew what.
1:11:26 - Cecilie Conrad
1:11:27 - Randall Hardy
I would have been different.
1:11:28 - Cecilie Conrad
1:11:31 - Randall Hardy
This is going to be my last thing, because I think we're going to be sending people to sleep soon. All right, my motto these days is this this is my objective I want to inform people. I want to inspire people so they take independent action yes, and to take ownership themselves of wherever they are, because we live in a culture where everybody thinks and, sadly, a growing number of home educators still think the government owes them so many things I said in response to an inquiry, one which I won't go into the details of the best way to make people irresponsible is to take their responsibilities away from them. Yeah.
And I want to say to parents take back your parenthood, Take back your parenting. Small steps are better than no steps. So if you can't go to the radical thing of living in a van and going all over the place, take some steps. Let me inspire you to take some steps to become more of a whole parent and take back your parenting. Amen.
1:12:54 - Jesper Conrad
And on that note, Randall, I would like to thank you a lot for your time. We will talk with you again, no doubt. But for the people out there who wants to see if they can find more of what you have written about or done, is there a place where they can find some of the knowledge you have shared?
1:13:15 - Randall Hardy
Yeah, and my own personal political home educating website is called no Nationalisation of Our Kids and I'll put the link on there. That dates back from 2009, when I first got involved in the politics and, if you don't mind me saying so, it still feels increasingly prophetic every time I have to tell somebody the name, because we've seen it happening, we've seen the nationalisation of our kids. I've also got an involvement in a site called the HEBite that is on top of the politics in this country and I'll give you the links for them and we probably best to put it in the thing. But no Nationalisation of Our Kids is my own personal one and I've just posted there in the last couple of days my talk from the HEF conference. If people want to catch that up, it will be there and I might even say to you can I stick this episode on that same website as well? Absolutely.
1:14:24 - Jesper Conrad
1:14:25 - Cecilie Conrad
1:14:25 - Jesper Conrad
Yes. So, randall, it's time for goodbye. We will post all the links and it has been wonderful connecting with you again and I look forward to next time.
1:14:36 - Randall Hardy
Thank you, and I very much look forward to next time. Thank you for inviting me to your mobile home for this chat.
1:14:44 - Cecilie Conrad
It was lovely, thank you.
1:14:47 - Jesper Conrad
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