We looked yesterday at New World Order ideology. Today, I wish to consider one aspect of this theory and how it has permeated, one might almost say contaminated, British home education and those connected with it in any capacity.
In the early 1970s, I was very heavily involved in the Children’s Rights movement in this country. For some of us who went to school during the fifties and were teenagers in the sixties, the helplessness of children was an absolute scandal. They could be beaten without any legal redress by parents and teachers and any adult who wished could strike them a passing blow with impunity. It was not uncommon for park keepers or even bus conductors to hit children and they had no legal remedy. In many ways, their position was almost that of slaves in the eighteenth century. Gradually, this changed and a good thing too. One area where these changes are currently being opposed in Britain is in the field of home education.
I mentioned yesterday that one of the big things with American home educators was ’parental rights’. This means, among other things, the right of parents to hit their children whenever they want. This is an important issue in the USA. Another aspect is the right of parents to allow their children to carry and use firearms. Both these ’rights’ would be under threat if America ratified the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child. The USA and Somalia are the only countries in the world which have not ratified this treaty. Home educators in America, of which there could be as many as two million, are among the most vociferous opponents of the UNCRC.
This attitude has crossed the Atlantic and is now prevalent among British home educators as well. Perhaps it has something to do with the Internet and the ease with which crazy ideas are able to travel the world so readily these days. At any rate, British home educators are also very keen now on their ’rights’. Parental ’right’ to home educate has become a big thing on the home education scene here. I have quite a different perspective on this and I rather think that my own viewpoint was more common twenty years ago than it is now. It is based upon the idea of children’s rights, which has, as I mentioned above, been very important to me for forty years or so. When my daughter was little, she had the right to the best possible education which I was capable of providing for her. If I was able to provide the best education at home, then I had a duty to do this; no matter what sacrifices this entailed my making. If on the other hand, I was unable or unwilling to provide a decent education at home and a local school could give her a better education, then my duty was to send her there. Where ’parental rights’ entered into all this, I really could not say. This was my duty.
Reading the 2007 guidelines for local authorities on home education is very revealing. A child’s right to education is mentioned only once in this document, but the parents’ right to home educate rates five mentions. Interesting, no? Government pronouncements on home education these days always talk of parents’ ‘right to home educate’. I suppose that this is in keeping with the spirit of the age. We are all very concerned now that nobody’s rights are infringed and if we fail to acknowledge the parental right to home educate, then who knows? Perhaps they will be bringing a case against us under the Human Rights Act? This is a disgustingly craven way for the government to behave. The reason that they are so keen to emphasise parents’ supposed rights in this matter is that it is the parents, as adults, who will cause trouble. They are the people who must be fawned around and placated. You will notice that there is ten times more talk of parents’ right to home educate whenever anybody is talking about this subject, than there is of children’s rights to education. This is awful and it is a definite step backwards, as least as far as children’s rights are concerned.
As I say, this kind of thinking has drifted over here from the USA. It is popular with both right wing Christians and New World Order nuts; both of whom are over-represented on the American home educating scene. I am horrified to see British parents adopting this reactionary viewpoint and look forward to the day when a more progressive stand is taken on the matter and children’s rights move to the centre of the debate on home education, where they belong.