It is I think generally agreed that those who hang out on the home education message boards such as EO and HE-UK are not necessarily representative of home educating parents as a whole. They never the less have a considerable influence because, as I have remarked before, they are often the ones whose letters are read in the newspapers, who are interviewed on television and meet MPs. I cannot help but notice that they seem very typical of campaigning, middle class women. There is of course nothing at all wrong with this. Some of my best friends are middle class women; indeed I am married to one. Never the less, I am intrigued to follow the current agitation against the recommendations of the Graham Badman Report and compare it with other such campaigns that I have observed in the past.
There is, it seems to me, a profile of the typical home educating activist. They are almost invariably women, often well educated and living in nice areas. They are opposed to nuclear energy and in favour of renewable sources. They vote Labour or Liberal, seldom, if ever, Conservative. They tend to be dubious about vaccination and more likely to fool about with homeopathic remedies than the general population. They are often vegetarian, read the Guardian or Independent and believe that America is always to be condemned, except for a few weeks earlier this year when they elected a black man as their president. Their children have been withdrawn from school not on ideological grounds, but because they have been bullied. They are "passionate" about home education rather than having chosen it for purely rational and well thought out reasons.
Those fighting the implementation of the recommendations of the Badman Report strike me as the sort of people one could equally well meet at a rally against the fluoridation of drinking water or the building of a nuclear power station. Fifty years ago they would have been wearing hats and speaking RP, packing a church hall to protest about Suez, the American blockade of Cuba or to help found a Working Man's Public Reading Room. In short, they favour worthy causes.
This is not really leading anywhere, I am just spinning a thread. I suppose at the back of my mind, I am wondering if home education will end up in a few years just like Suez and Cuba, as a quaint cause that certain people got very worked up about. In other words, taking the long view, is home education an exciting development in learning and very much the thing of the furture or is it just another brief crank idea which will in a decade or two be consigned to the dustbin of history?