One of the things which I have observed over the years is the peculiar levels of anger displayed by many of the more high profile home educators in this country. This is directed not only towards me, but also towards anybody in the comments section of online newspaper articles, for example, who is at all dubious about the supposed benefits of home education; to say nothing of teachers and others who are worried about the educational attainment of children who are not at school.
On a personal note, I have in this blog expressed strong views in favour of home education. I have also advocated the ‘look and say’ method of teaching reading, as well as criticising autonomous education. Now here is an odd thing. Some people who read this blog are less than enthusiastic about home education. They do not however become furiously angry about the fact that I believe it to be a good idea. Similarly, the orthodoxy today, as regards learning to read, is in favour of synthetic phonics; a method of which I have never thought highly. Now I find it perfectly easy and pleasant to discuss learning to read with people who hold very different views to my own. In the same way, I can debate the pros and cons of home education and school education with those who strongly disapprove of home education. I do not fall out with people who are opposed to home education and they do not become angry about my point of view. These discussions are good natured and often quite fruitful. How very different is the case with many of the more well known home educators.
In subsequent pieces here, I shall be looking at the campaigns run by a small core of what might not inaptly be termed militant home educators. I shall also be trying to see if these characters have anything in common; if there is some explanation for their apparently fragile mental states. In the meantime, I wish to put forward this thought. When teachers or local authority officers read on this blog that I am a strong advocate for the ‘look and say’ or whole word technique for acquiring literacy, does anybody imagine that several of these teachers would band together and try to have me arrested because of this? Are there really supporters of synthetic phonics who feel this strongly about the matter? When somebody feels that I am wrong about the advantages of home education, is it likely that this person will encourage others to arrange nuisance deliveries to my home or to harass my family?
It is this kind of pathological behaviour which marks some of those who are most well known publicly in this country for their enthusiasm for home education and I want to look into this in a little detail. Why do some of these people wish to have those with whom they disagree arrested? What can motivate them to instigate campaigns of online harassment against anybody who feels differently about home education to them? These are curious points and if we can find the source of the anger and malice which some of these people regularly display, then it might give us a little insight into why some other people feel uneasy about the situation of children trapped in the homes of such parents; exposed constantly and unremittingly to their distorted worldview, without the escape valve of being able to get away from their mothers and fathers for six hours or so each day. It is at this that the next few posts will be aimed.