Book Review Collection: Can’t Go, Won’t Go by Mike Fortune Wood.

Book Review by Karen Turner.

Can’t Go, Won’t Go by Mike Fortune Wood. ISBN 978-1-905614-49-3. Cinnamon Press. £11.99.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading Can’t Go, Won’t Go. It should be recommended… no made compulsory… for all those hoping for a career working with children! Can’t Go Won’t Go challenges the labels of “school phobia” and “school refusal” and successfully gets the reader to look at them from the viewpoint of the child. It is clear, concise and engaging, revealing the absence of a clear definition of these damaging terms and the utter confusion and disagreement created within the educational establishment as a result. Reading this book will be an utter inspiration to many parents who feel they have nowhere to turn whilst at the same time being an opportunity for many of those working in education to understand the real life consequences of their actions and assumptions. This book delves to the very core of the way we see children and their role within society. In our society a phobia is usually a term, which implies over reaction. If children are being terrorised by bullying on a daily basis how valid then is that fear of school? Does refusal imply disobedience and naughtiness rather than asserting a basic human right not to live in fear? Mike Fortune Wood raises these questions and answers them in a way that leaves you full of hope.Can’t Go Won’t Go analyses the complex reasons for children refusing to attend school and the authorities’ response, looking closely at their unwillingness to provide information about Home Education as an option. These children are seen as the problem not the symptom, of a more inherent issue – that of an inflexible and outdated mass schooling system. It highlights the fact that the “professional” perception is that all children have to go to school and that this assumption is determining their overall dealings with children and their families. My own experience is that often the adults, who blame children for their behaviour, go to exceptional lengths to hide the fact that home education can be a life enhancing positive decision rather than the disaster they often predict. This book also discusses the vitally important relationship between increases in school refusal and early nursery education and its consequences for the economic plans of a government eager to return all parents into work. It clearly goes some of the way to bring these issues and their consequences into the collective psyche.The books’ real strength lies in the way it is interlaced with compassionate personal stories. All of them are tinged with sadness, many outlining tragic experiences but all of them leaving you with overwhelming sense of hope and an overriding view that it was home educating that has been their solution. These stories illustrate the points made beautifully, and make the human connection so sadly lacking in much of the communication between families and the statutory authorities. In my personal dealings with these authorities and the general public, it is the real life stories and the personal connections made that have allowed them to see through their predetermined ideas of Home-based Education and see the amazing results for themselves.What is apparent from this book and Mike Fortune Woods’ research in general is his experience and understanding of the nature of home educating and how it can be used to literally save the lives of these children and their families. This is presented in such a positive, almost understated way, which gives the findings of his research clearly without the sermon!!

Karen Turner

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