One of the things that has struck me recently about the HE-UK and EO message boards is the remarkably short time that some of the most forceful and aggressive parents have actually been home educating. Indeed, there seems often to be a correlation; the longer that the person has been home educating, the more tolerant and laid back they tend to be about the business and vice versa. It struck me that this is very much like the zeal and enthusiasm of new converts to a religion, as opposed to those who have been born into it.
It is a common observation that converts to a religion often seem to be far more strict and evangelical about their faith than those who have practiced it throughout their life. Here is an extract from an email from a well known activist in autonomous education;
" If we do not want the state through its schools dictating how our children learn we certainly do not want other home educators doing so!"
Hot stuff, eh? (And, incidentally, a coded reference to me!) Incredibly, this woman is the mother of four children, all of whom attended school. It was only when the youngest child encountered problems wholly unrelated to education that the mother deregistered her, a mere twenty two months before she wrote that email....... This is by no means exceptional. Many of the most well known names in the current campaign against the Badman review have only been home educating for a year or two.
I find this interesting from a psychological point of view. I exchange emails regularly with a number of parents who, like me, have been home educating for many years. They may not agree with my views, but we are able to have good humoured discussions which do not descend into acrimony. Very different is my experience with those like the woman mentioned above who only came to the faith in the last couple of years. They tend to be vehement, even embittered, attacking any perceived opposition to home education with fanatical zeal. The reason may well lie in why they have taken the decision to home educate.
Many such parents withdraw their children from school due to bullying. This is a horrible experience for parents; to see their child helpless in the face of sustained aggression. I am guessing that those who have recently been in this position feel more strongly about schools and their flaws than those who have had little or no dealings with them for many years. I do not blame them for this in the slightest. It is just slightly irritating when I, who have been home educating for over a decade, am accused by somebody who started eighteen months ago of not being a dedicated and committed enough home educator!
Another longstanding home educator remarked to me recently that it is probably a good thing that so many of these people are at the forefront of home education these days. They do provide a degree of passion and drive which older hands might lack. I dare say that there is something in this and that their energy in the cause of home education is far more important than any slight annoyance to me personally when they lambast me for my treacherous and unorthodox views on home visits, the Badman Report and such like.