Members of minority groups often become very restricted in their view of the world. Every item of news and any event is of interest only in as far as it impacts upon the group itself. Hence the title of this piece. There is a story of an old American Jew whose little grandson was telling him excitedly about the achievements of Babe Ruth, the famous baseball player. The old guy listened carefully to an account of Babe Ruth's prowess on the pitch and finally asked, "This Babe Ruth, is he good for the Jews?" Home educators seem a bit like this sometimes.
I remember when the 1981 Education Act was passed. It was regarded by everybody, parents and professionals alike, as a huge step forward in the way children with difficulties were viewed and treated. A definite improvement on the situation before that time. Yet when the DCSF wrote to local authorities recently, reminding local authorities of their duties under this act, the only question asked by some people was, "Is it good for home educators?" The idea being that the attempt to ensure that children with special educational needs received the provision to which they were entitled should be abandoned if it was likely to queer the pitch for home educators! It is almost as though they believe that the sole, immediate and direct object in passing the 1981 Education Act was to make their lives difficult thirty years later!
I have noticed this tendency before, to treat every Act of Parliament with suspicion and contempt if it infringes, however slightly, upon the interests of home educating parents. This does have the unfortunate effect of making home educators seem a little parochial. Wider issues apparently pass them by. If a nursery worker or Ofsted inspector is caught with child pornography, then the immediate reaction of many home educators is to cry, "There you are, see how those school children are not safe! No wonder we won't let people like that near our children!" In other words, a dreadful situation which has the most ghastly implications for an unknown number of children becomes a mere debating point and weapon in the hands of some home educators.
Another skewed perspective which I have observed time and again is as follows. I have an optimistic and upbeat view of humanity in general. Almost all the people in the world are basically good and usually try to do the right thing. Of course, a lot of the time our actions cause harm and distress to others, but few of us set out with that in mind. This applies to our legislature as well. Generally they pass laws which seem at the time to be for the common good. Of course a lot of these laws are badly thought out and cause trouble for people, but this was not the original intention. It is just that this is an imperfect world inhabited by weak and fallible people.
If one listened to some home educators though, one would come to believe that the motivations behind the actions of MPs and local authority officers were actually sinister and ill intentioned to begin with. The feeling is that home educators are in some way the victims of a conspiracy. For my own part, I believe and so I think do most ordinary people, that laws about schools and education are passed with the intention of improving the lot of children and young people. They don't always succeed, not by a long chalk, but they are well meant. I have an idea that if many home educators could only shed themselves of this mindset of home education as being the target of hostility, then they would be better able to view current developments with a little more clear-sighted detachment