Yesterday I was accused by one person who commented here of seeking adulation! I really can't be going about this in the right way, because I have yet to notice that I have received any adulation at all here over the last year. Come on guys, you are welcome to be adulatory if you want; don't be shy!
I was thinking a little more about the idea of people like me wanting to restrict the freedoms of home educators. I was perhaps a little harsh about this, saying that I had no interest at all in such freedoms. Let us look at the freedoms of home educators and how they might be being restricted at the moment.
One of the problems that I have always found with very gung ho liberal and left wing types is that they are often very eager to impose their own ideology upon others. Frequently, they are readier to do this than right wing conservatives. So it is not enough for one of these people to boycott Israeli fruit or academic exchanges. That is fair enough, we can all choose with whom we do business. That is freedom. These sort of people often try to get everybody else to do the same as them and attempt to make anybody not taking part in the boycott to feel like child murderers or Nazis. I have observed this process time and again. For one person to avoid wearing a fur coat is fine; that is freedom. To try and stop anybody else wearing fur coats is an attempt to restrict the freedom of others to make choices.
How does this relate to the restriction of freedom for home educators? Some home educating parents are happy for officers from their local authority to visit them. Actually some enjoy the visits. I have remarked before that there are parents who attend home educating groups who feel obliged to keep quiet about the visits they receive. On the HE-UK list, we can see why this should be. Somebody there articulates what might perhaps be called the 'Party Line' on visits and friendly relations with the local authority; i.e. that this is a despicable form of collaboration and those who allow it are no better than Quislings. She writes;
'I live in an area with quite a number of home educators who like to show off to the LA - it's really annoying because whilst I wouldn't want to curb their freedom, their actions mean that the LA expects it off all home educators. Every time one of us gives extra to a LA, no matter how proud you may be, it takes away more of all our choices.'
I simply adore the sneering attempt to belittle those who enjoy visits, they 'like to show off'. This is a fairly common attitude among those on both the lists and in some home educating groups. All local authorities are liars and up to no good. Anybody who accepts a visit or sends more than the bare minimum to their LA is letting the side down. In short, by applying psychological pressure, attempts are being made to stop others from allowing local authority officers into their home. This has been explicitly stated on a number of lists and those who have admitted having happy visits have been exposed as traitors who make life more difficult for other parents.
I observe that on one of the larger lists, a poll was conducted just after the publication of the Badman Review. the question asked was whether people were in favour of compulsory registration. 17% were in favour; between a fifth and a sixth. A minority, but a substantial one. Of the seven hundred people on this particular list, well over a hundred are likely to be in favour of compulsory registration. And this was a list set up to oppose Graham Badman and all his works! Roughly the same percentage were in favour of this when making submissions during the review itself. I have an idea that if parents were to be offered practical help such as free paper and pens, ink for their printers, access to examinations, school music rooms and science rooms, this percentage would soar. We will never know, because nobody at all feels able to admit to being in favour of compulsory registration. Not on that list or HE-UK, EO or the other main ones. Their freedom to express this view has been eroded by the vociferous shouting and unpleasant behaviour of others. One needs to read what John Stuart Mill had to say about the Tyranny of the Majority!
Similar things happen with those who believe in structured education and teaching of children. They do not feel free to express their own views on this among other home educators sometimes. If we are going to talk about restricting the freedoms of home educators, then this is the sort of thing which comes to my mind. That some home educating parents are made to feel unwelcome at a group because they believe in structured teaching. That some parents keep quiet about receiving visits in case others condemn them. That almost a fifth of parents on the HE lists are in favour of compulsory registration, but would not dare to say so because they would be pounced upon. Such insidious, psychological pressure acts to restrict the freedoms of some home educating parents just as seriously as anything being done by local authorities.