There has been a lot of quite natural exuberance on the Internet lists, following the downfall of Schedule 1 of the Children, Schools and Families Bill. This is of course only to be expected. In the midst of it all, a woman who has just deregistered her thirteen year old daughter from school posted a message on Wednesday asking for help and advice on teaching her daughter mathematics. Fiona Nicholson gave information about a couple of websites, but apart from that nobody at all has responded to this parent. I find this quite revealing. Anybody who has a complaint about a local authority officer overstepping the mark, that is to say checking that a child is actually being educated, can be sure of a flurry of sympathetic answers on the lists. These will include the relevant sections of the law to quote and stuff like that. When somebody posts though, asking about teaching her child, the response is to say the least of it, a little muted. Of course, the dull old business of teaching algebra to a teenager caonnot really compare with the excitement of being involved with scuppering a government bill, but even so, one might have thought that at least a few on the list would have answered this woman with some helpful advice.
I have noticed before that few of the threads on either the EO or HE-UK lists actually concern education. The law relating to education, yes. The iniquitous conduct of local authority officers charged with monitoring education, yes. Campaigns about proposed new legislation, certainly. Hints and tips on education, very seldom. Information about teaching a child, never. This is pretty curious really. You might expect that support groups for parents who had undertaken the exceptionally demanding task of being solely responsible for their own children's education would be at least vaguely concerned with education, but it is not generally so. Long on the supposed rights of parents, short on the very real duties towards the child, would about sum up the spirit of these sites.
Apart from complaints about the behaviour of local authorities, what other sort of thing do parents post about? Anything unpleasant which happens to a child in nursery or school is always popular. If a child is sexually assaulted in a nursery or drops dead at school, there will always be a few self satisfied parents making comments along the lines of, 'Oh dear, just look what happens to children at school. We are so wise not to send our own kids to such dreadful places.' I'm sure that the parents posting these comments are not really heartless, but they come across in these posts as being pretty smug about the fact that their own children are not exposed to these hazards. And of course, for the last year or so, many posts have been about the campaign to oppose Graham Badman's recommendations and then the CSF Bill. This is understandable, at least from the perspective of some parents.
I suppose that it might just be me who has a such a skewed perspective , but I have to say that I am constantly surprised that these lists are not more about education. The mothers who do go on there anxious to know what to do next are invariably told to stop worrying and leave their children to their own devices. I cannot think that this is always the best approach! After all, Education Otherwise is recognised even by the government and local authorities as being the organisation in this country for home educators. I don't think it unreasonable to expect their support networks to be a little more concerned with education and a little less with political agitation.
I shall be away for the next few days and so I hope that readers will not think that I am ignoring an comments. We are making a family visit to relatives in Grimsby, of all horrible places.