Never let it be said that I am a man who refuses to admit when he has been wrong. I have been musing lately about my daughter and coming to the reluctant conclusion that I have been mistaken in an opinion which I have several times expressed warmly on this blog. Let me explain.
I posted a link yesterday to a couple of pieces which my daughter wrote for The Guardian. Somebody then drew attention to her blog. In fact my daughter is well known in some quarters, as two recent examples will show. She had lined up an internship over the summer in a magazine. It fell through and she felt that she had been shabbily treated. I was hardly aware of this; it just seemed to me the sort of thing which happens in the life of any seventeen year-old. Imagine my surprise, when the next thing I knew was that she was up at Westminster and contacted me, telling me to turn on the Parliament channel. I did so and saw a Conservative MP asking the following of the Business Secretary:
I was more than a little staggered to find that the Early Day Motion had been signed by MPs like Glenda Jackson!
Last Wednesday we were having tea, when the BBC World Service rang her on quite another matter. They wished her to take part in a live debate about young people. For some reason, they regard her as being the voice of youth; the BBC have rung her before, asking for her views on this or that aspect of modern society. Readers are now probably asking themselves where all this is leading. Why on earth, they are wondering, is he droning on about his wretched daughter in this way? A fair point indeed. I have several times expressed doubts as to the number of home educated children who go on to become professionals such as doctors, engineers or lawyers. I have suggested that if there were such adults around, surely they would have spoken out during the debates last year regarding Schedule 1 of the Children, Schools and Families Bill. It occurred to me a few days ago though, that despite the fact that my daughter is pretty well known in various ways, the fact that she didn’t attend school for a single day never seems to come up or be mentioned. Last year she was part of Ed Balls leadership campaign; working in his office and meeting him socially as well. Incredibly, she never once thought to mention to him that she had been educated at home.
Actually, I think that my daughter should tell people about her home education sometimes, if only as a riposte to those who claim that home educated children end up shy, lacking in confidence and with a social skills deficit. But there, we cannot dictate what our teenage children do and say. The point is that if there is one home educated young person charging around the world and being noticed in this way without letting on that she was taught at home; there are probably others as well. I think that I was wrong to assume that home educated solicitors and vets would necessarily stand up and be counted when the subject of home education is being debated publicly. There now, I hope that readers will relish this moment; it is seldom enough that I concede that I have been mistaken. Make the most of it, for it is not likely to happen again in a hurry!