I hope that readers will forgive my dropping out of sight for a few days at a time when things get really busy on the writing front. I habitually write more than one book at a time theses days, which can make things pretty hairy as deadlines approach
I observed some rather virulent ant-Christian comments on a recent thread, which is interesting. Whenever a group like the Home School Legal Defense Association tries to get a foothold in this country, there are cries of protest from some British home educators. The general basis for those the objections is that the HSLDA are mad Christians who believe in Adam and Eve, hate gays and beat their children. Such people are contrasted unfavourably with our own liberal and progressive home education movement. Why, you only have to look at the terminology; home ‘school’, indeed!
I find all this curious, because of course home education in this country is also packed to the gunwales with Christians on all levels. This Christian influence is evident from top to bottom in the main organisations and is also pretty obvious at a local level too. To give a few random examples, the Chair of Education Otherwise is a very devout woman who is closely involved with her local Congregational chapel and Mike Fortune-Wood of HE-UK was until recently married to an Anglican priest. On a regional level, home educators in one southern English county have a strong and productive relationship with their local authority. Arrangements are made in this way for children to take GCSEs if their parents wish them to do so. All this is largely the work of two women; one of whom is a Jehovah’s Witness and the other a staunch Calvinist.
Not all Christians make a song and dance about their faith on the lists and forums and sometimes it only comes to light in passing that this person or that is religious. There are of course many home educating parents who have no dealings at all with the Internet groups and Christianity is often a strong feature there too. In my own county of Essex, for instance, there are probably more home educators who do not attend home educating groups or hang around on the net than those who do. Up near the port of Harwich there are many Witnesses who educate their own children and there is also a community of Hutterites living out in the sticks whose children never go to school.
I have a strong suspicion that Christianity is as powerful a motive for home education in this country as it is in the USA. Perhaps because church going is not as common in the United Kingdom, some of these parents do not make quite such a production of their faith as many Americans are apt to do. At any rate, I think it would be a mistake to assume that home education is mainly secular in this country and to contrast it in this way with the situation in the USA.