The world is full of idiots. Whatever one does or says, there is sure to be some fool ready to criticise or offer an ill-informed opinion on the matter. This is the nature of the world and there is little that can be done about it. I became used to people saying silly things about my decision not to send my daughter to school. Sometimes I would respond with reasoned arguments; more often, I would just mutter 'idiot!' to myself and walk off. I have been wondering lately whether this approach is gendered. In other words, are men more likely to ignore or dismiss criticism of home education than women are? There is little doubt that most women prefer to reach consensus and like it better when people around them agree with them and approve of their actions. It is also the case that there are quite a few men who thrive on opposition and seem to revel in doing and saying things that others dislike. I am also thinking that there might be a different attitude towards home educating fathers than there is towards mothers.
I can't help noticing when reading Internet lists and forums about home education that many of the mothers seem to get pretty worked up about the ignorance and negative feelings which they encounter. It really appears to matter to them what others think of their child rearing and educational methods. Perhaps this is because our society expects mothers to know about children and what is good for them. If all the other mothers in an area are doing one thing with their kids and one mother is doing something completely different, then there might be an assumption that the odd one out is doing things wrong. After all, she is going against the collective wisdom of the other mothers. Both from her point of view and that of the other mothers, she must be taking the wrong road. It is quite different with men. People naturally assume that men will screw up when it comes to looking after babies and children. All the sitcoms and soap operas on the television are predicated upon this; that when a man is left in charge of a small child, even his own, trouble is bound to follow. This means that when a man adopts a weird and obviously wrong way of raising a child, people just shrug mentally and say to themselves, 'Well, what can you expect? He's a man, he doesn't know any better'. When a woman apparently makes a foolish decision about child rearing though, she automatically becomes a bad mother; she ought to know better.
There are few home educating fathers, that is to say men who spend all day looking after their child and educating her. I know one or two, but they are rare birds indeed compared with the masses of women who home educate. All the ones I know are completely indifferent to what others think of their lifestyle. I also know a number of women and all of them have been upset at one time or another by the views which their family, friends or even random strangers have expressed about home education. There are so few fathers who home educate during the day, that it is not really possible to find a big enough sample to be meaningful, but I would be keen to hear from any other fathers who come on here. Does society have a different view of home educating fathers than it does of mothers?