I have remarked before that an awful lot of the more well known home educators seem to conform to a fairly rigid stereotype. They tend to be left wing politically, often opposed to vaccination, prone to conspiracy theories, in favour of organic food; that sort of thing. I could draw up a profile of the typical high-profile home educator without too much difficulty. I have come across two recent examples of this tendency to conformity. The first is that mother who was, allegedly, forced to flee the country in order to protect her children from social services involvement. I am sure that most of us remember the appeal which was circulating on the forums and lists three months ago, beginning;
A well-known member of the HE community and trusted friend needs our help. The person's family is facing a possible court order and they felt the need to leave the country very quickly in order to protect the children from unfounded interference based on home education as a risk factor.
It was signed by many of the usual suspects, including Maire Stafford, Barbara Stark, Alison Preuss and Neil Taylor. Readers will be relieved to hear that this unfortunate and persecuted woman made it safely to Ireland. What precipitated her flight? Let her tell us in her own words:
A few months ago I shamefully attended a meeting about how to obtain Organic Food, leaving my young children in the care of their 17yr old brother, when I should have been at home washing the clothes... This led to scrutiny from 'authority' figures & caused me to commit a further sin of defying that 'authority' when it sought to persecute myself & my family for my wayward ways, particularly my disgraceful choice to educate my children outside of the state system or allow my parenting, educational provision, or moral scruples to be inspected & dictated by dubiously qualified 'experts'
It just had to be a meeting about organic food! Mind, one feels instinctively that there is more to the case than meets the eye. Leaving a seventeen year-old babysitting is a fairly common thing to do; how did the ‘authorities’ even hear of this? The whole of this explanantion appears to be written in code. I have heard of local authorities wishing to check on educational provision, but when was the last time you had a man from the council knocking on the door because he wanted to inspect your 'moral scruples'? It would be interesting to know if anything happened to any of the younger children being looked after by the seventeen year-old and how this family first came to the attention of social services in the first place.
The other well-known home educator whose views are exceedingly orthodox for this type of individual is Alison Sauer. While idly looking at her Facebook page, I noticed that her interests include attachment parenting and support of Dr Wakefield; the maniac who started off the whole autism and vaccination scare. Alison Sauer, needless to say, thinks he was right and is opposed to the triple vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella…
As others have pointed out here before, we cannot judge all home educators by those whom we see on the Internet; for which I thank the Lord! However, these people are influential and thousands of people belong to lists and forums where their views are propagated. Their bizarre thoughts and weird belief-systems therefore have a way of filtering down to other home educating parents, via groups composed in the main of normal people. It only takes one of two evangelical mothers who spend a lot of time on Home Ed Biz or HE-UK to spread alarm about things from a particular slant in an ordinary home educating support group. It is certainly worth keeping an eye on the ideas to which many of them subscribe, for this reason alone.