I have been looking through some old material recently which relates to historic cases of home education. It will probably surprise nobody to hear that all the home educators of whom anybody has ever heard are men. James Mill, father of John Stuart Mill, Harry Lawrence, father of Ruth Lawrence, Laszlo Polgar, father of Judit Polgar. Then of course there is the present writer! Now while the many readers have heard of people like the fifteen year old boy who won a place at Cambridge recently and of course Ruth Lawrence, both educated by their fathers, few seem to be aware that this style of education is very much the exception in this country today. I think it fair to say that for the vast majority of home educated children, the main person concerned with the education is the mother.
I am sure that economic factors are at least partly responsible for the fact that most fathers are not the primary force in their children's home education. I have speculated before though as to why those fathers who are involved often seem to take to the business in a very intense and methodical way. Is it an authority thing? Could such fathers be determined simply to take control and be uneasy about the idea of their child doing more or less as she pleases? Perhaps it is that men prefer to organise things and do not like things to be haphazard and with no clear plan laid out? Whatever the reason, men do seem to prefer a structured type of education with definite goals and outcomes; at least when they are undertaking the task themselves.
I mentioned three well known home educated children above, plus the one who has just got a place at Cambridge. I was wondering if anybody knows anything similar which a mother has been responsible for. I mean a chess champion, maths genius, famous utilitarian philosopher type outcome for a home educated child? There are a few cases where the mother spent time encouraging a child at home; Thomas Edison for instance. I would be interested to hear of anything in that line that anybody knows about.