Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Resentment at being forced to do something

One of the things which I have noticed during the recent debates about the behaviour of the local authorities in both Birmingham and Suffolk is that the people commenting on the Internet lists are very angry. Actually, they are not just angry about the doorstepping by local authority officers; some of them seem to be in a permanent state of fury! This is curious, because I thoroughly enjoyed being a home educator and I was happy for most of the time. Educating my child was a source of great joy to me and this joy permeated my entire life. It was great; like a constant high!

Now I am quite prepared to believe that some of these angry parents have had problems with their local authority. A lot of us have problems with our local authority, although not always about home education. Rowing with the council is one of those things that have become a leitmotif of the age; rubbish collections, streetlights, education, petty rules, parking regulations, the list is endless. Home educators are certainly not alone in getting pissed off with their local authority. Most of us manage to keep these disagreements in perspective. However irritable I get on the telephone with the council, I can usually chuckle about it in the evening with my wife. One feels that this is probably not the case with the angry people one encounters on HE-UK and BRAG!

I could not help but notice that when I posted about Suffolk, one of those commenting had a laid back and rational view of the matter. By an odd coincidence, this person was somebody, like me, who has chosen to be a home educator. The great majority of those who are becoming angry on a regular basis have not chosen to home educate; they say that they have been forced to do it. This cannot help but give them a rather different perspective from somebody who embraced the idea enthusiastically from the day of the child's birth and always intended to do it. We all of us get a little tetchy when we are made to do something. It stops being fun if we have been compelled to undertake an activity or task. iIwonder if this could be at the root of the terrible anger which I come across, not only on the lists, but here on my own blog.

All parents get upset and angry if something is harming their child; whether it is a bully at school, failure to provide sufficient support for a special educational need or simply something which causes the child unhappiness. Many home educators have felt compelled to undertake the education of their children, not because they are keen on home education, but because they feel that this is the only way to rescue the child from misery. This decision to de-register the child from school is often the culmination of increasingly fraught and bitter arguments with the school and the local authority. This does not, from the beginning, tend to create a foundation for cordial relations with the local authority, whom many such parents blame for their child's unhappiness. Parents like this are already angry with their local authority before they start to home educate. This does not bode well for the future. On top of this is the fact that although they may not begrudge the child the home education, they are at the same time keenly aware that this is not something which they have really chosen freely. They sent the child to school at four or five like everybody else and now they have had to adopt a new and strange lifestyle. Their family and neighbours might disapprove, they have less money and freedom than they had when the kid was in school; it would be surprising if some of them did not get a little angry about this new situation.

I have noticed that those who chose to educate their own child seem to be more relaxed and good natured about it than many of those who felt that they have been forced into it. This is not to be wondered at. I have also noticed that those growing angriest about the local authorities are often those who have had fights with their own local authorities before having to take their children out of school. It is not hard to see that they are projecting a lot of their anger onto the local authority in Suffolk or Birmingham. I would be curious to hear of parents whose children have never attended school who are able to generate the same levels of anger as those who already have a history of fighting with their own council.


  1. Another re-hash of several old blog articles, Simon? Running out of ideas?

    Just for the record, we've home educated from the beginning by choice and are very much against LAs having greater control of HE. We love it as it is so why would we want them to have powers to change it? I've never been in conflict with my council about HE or anything else, but this doesn't mean I want to invite them into my home and have them question me and my children about our lifestyle choices.

    Simon wrote,
    "It stops being fun if we have been compelled to undertake an activity or task."

    Maybe you have learnt something from autonomous educators after all?

  2. "I could not help but notice that when I posted about Suffolk, one of those commenting had a laid back and rational view of the matter."

    Do you mean C? I thought C initially sent her children to school and only home educated once problems developed. Maybe I'm remembering it wrongly.

  3. old Webb says-It stops being fun if we have been compelled to undertake an activity or task. iIwonder if this could be at the root of the terrible anger which I come across, not only on the lists, but here on my own blog.

    of course people are going to be angry if there made forced to home educate and the very people who made them do it LA's treat the parents bladly untill you solve the way LA's treat parents this anger will stay and get worse! the root cause of it is that LA/s do not see what there are doing as wrong! such as the lieing the threats the i know better than you letters! only listing to techers of the ex schoo lthe child went to!
    There is real bitter anger with LA's if i could get my hand on him that guy from our LA(he left now) i punch his lights out!) dont forget we also pay there wages! people want service real service freindly helpful human beings wanting to serve you not the crap we get from HCC!

  4. if any one knows where that lieing low life Jack Cawthra ex LA officer for Hampshire is let us know i wanna catch up with him!! so does my pitbull dog to LOL! i think the dog may want to tear him apart!

    i also want to get my hands on that old dog Mcgilvery he a liar to people want revenge Webb for the way there treated i hope the both of them rot in hell if there is such a place it be to good for the likes of them!

  5. Interesting post Simon, but I am not sure you really have this quite right.

    I dont necessarily think it is those who choose to HE from the beginning that are somehow more flexible with local authorities. As another poster remarked I did indeed send my children, well two of them, to school initially but I am still a fairly open-minded and tolerant person. I know many families who never sent their children to school who would still rather drown in oil than allow officials to interfere with HE or be near their kids.

    To be fair, LAs have no legal right to see the child and if concerned they should pass this on to social workers to deal with, not demand to see the child themselves.

    I think HE'ers fear/anger/concerns come from many other places - maybe conflicts with authority in the past, or witnessing the injustices of others. Some people have a self-reliant personality; they simply dont see that they need help of any kind from others. Some people are naturally suspicious and weary; again, maybe from past experiences. Still others simply like to argue and be difficult for its own sake.
    I have a very huge grudge against social services workers due to past experiences so can understand the feeling of fear, hatred, anger and even terror many feel.
    The reasons are wide and varied, and cant be pinpointed to a single reason or definition. And whilst these people are making life challenging for officials, they are fully within their legal right to behave this way so feel that this makes them completely right.

    I have said already that I feel it would help if HE'ers considered the official concerns and maybe even looked at ways to help officials achieve their needs too. I feel there is a lot of exaggerated, OTT reactions from people whereas a more centered, balanced ground would probably achieve more and build more mutual understanding.
    But this doesnt cancel out their rights, and their reasons - this is what somehow needs to be balanced.
    But this is easy for me to say as I am not 'known' to the LA. (though I am never quite sure how they missed me considering I have dealt with them in an unofficial capacity over the years).

  6. So it looks like the Suffolk issue was a big mistake by a new member of staff and not official policy at all and has been stopped. Other LA HE consultants were concerned and had already set this in motion before home educators even contacted the LA, so it looks as though Simon is willing to give away more than most LA staff in Suffolk actually want or think appropriate. Not that he is giving anything away of course, except on behalf of his daughter if she ever wants to HE any future children.

  7. I know little about Facebook and politics so, is it normal for a political person to give their full postal address and phone number out under contact details? It seems a cavalier attitude to privacy but maybe like father, like daughter? BTW, I like the cacti in the windows if that really is your address.