Sunday, 27 March 2011
Secular and Christian home educators in Britain
There are in Essex, where I live, quite a few Christian home educators. Up by Harwich are loads of Jehovah's Witnesses, there is a self-contained community in the countryside, a bit like the Amish and there are even the remnants of the Peculiar People of Brentwood, some of whom refuse to send their children to school. I also know a number of individual home educators who are regular church goers. I was never sure whether this accurately reflected the national picture in the UK. When one follows the groups on the Internet, there is often the impression that home education in this country is a secular, vaguely left wing affair; in sharp contrast to the USA where it is widely believed by many in this country to be the province of right wing, gun toting Christian survivalists. Since I began this blog, I have noticed that quite a few of those commenting here regularly are practising Christians. They cover a broad spectrum, ranging from Calvinists to Witnesses. Still, this may not signify. I have never made any secret of the fact that we are a church going family; maybe that attracts religious types? Recently though, I have observed how many of the more prominent home educating groups seem to have a strong Christian element at their head. Home Education UK is run by Mike Fortune-Wood, whose wife Jan is very influential in the field of home education. She had written a number of books on the subject, which people sometimes recommend on here. She is also an Anglican priest. Education otherwise, the oldest and largest home education support group, has recently undergone a complete change of management, when the people in Swindon managed to outmanoeuvre and ultimately rout those in Sheffield who had been running the show for the last few years. The leader of the Swindon faction is Shena Deuchars who is a leading light in her local Congregationalist church, or United Reform as it is now. I am wondering if this all indicates that the influence of Christianity on British home education is stronger than many people realise? Perhaps the secular side is on the wane and we shall see a situation emerging which mirrors that in America.