When first I became interested in home education in this country, twenty years ago before my daughter was born, I was hugely impressed by the variety of people involved and their different reasons for adopting this peculiar course of action. I observed a similar diversity of aim and opinion in the early nineties and even after my daughter was born in 1993. Some parents were home educating because they wanted their children to have a better and more structured education than that on offer at the local school, there were "Hot-Housers" like Harry Lawrence, others were hippy types, some opposed formal education altogether, there were various religious types. In short, it was a very mixed group of people with a large sprinkling of eccentrics and mavericks and no unifying ideology whatsoever.
Today, things seem quite different. There is a stifling orthodoxy about the whole business which, were I to be embarking upon the adventure rather than bringing it to a close, would certainly put me off. Imagine somebody on the EO or HE-UK message boards complaining that schools were too child centred and that they wanted a more rigorous education for their child! Or somebody who welcomed inspections by the LEA as a means to maintain standards among home educators. These sort of views were certainly around in the past and expressed openly. Not everybody agreed, but then getting home educators to agree was always a bit like herding cats! Today, those holding such views tend to keep their mouths firmly shut if they are involved with home educating groups. Even parents who do not object to an annual visit from the LA are attacked on the grounds that they are setting a dangerous precedent for the rest of the home educating community.
I find it sad that home education has changed in this way. I have always been a bit out of step with those around me; in politics, religion, culture and educational practice. I suppose that it was inevitable that as home education became an accepted and respectable way of life that my views on the subject should cause irritation and even anger. As those old Party members like Doris Lessing said when they tore up their membership cards after the Hungarian Uprising,"It is not me who is leaving the Party, but the Party who is leaving me...." I suppose that I shall have to take up some other cranky and outlandish lifestyle now that home education has become respectable. I can't decide what though. Even things like Scientology and Paganism seem to be mainstream these days!