Sunday, 6 January 2013
What was the purpose of the recent posts here?
I dare say that there are those who have been wondering why I have been going on about high profile home educators, their neurological problems and strange beliefs. Is it just a protracted outburst of malice and spite on my part, or could there be a rational explanation? The reason is simple and uncomplicated. Many of those who represent or claim to represent home education in this country do more harm than good. Whatever their actual mental state, they give the impression of being odd and irrational. This negative image reflects badly on ordinary, sane and well balanced home educating parents, who find themselves being viewed askance because of the behaviour of a vociferous lunatic fringe.
The problem is that the sort of things that I have been writing about here over the last few days are pretty well known to those in local authorities, government departments and so on who have an interest in children who are being educated at home. They are alarmed by the antics of the well known home educators and former home educators and wish to bring in tighter controls, in case most home educating parents are as crazy as those one sees in the public spotlight. Let me give one or two examples of how this works.
When Graham Badman asked Paula Rothermel whether she thought that many home educating parents were suffering from Munchausen’s by proxy, it was not a random question or one intended to smear an entire community. It was a perfectly reasonable thing to ask, based upon what we see among the people about whom I have been writing; those home educating parents who appear in newspapers, magazines, on the radio and television and so on. I mentioned a specific case yesterday of a mother with a neurological condition which defied diagnosis and whose daughter went on to present with a similar disorder. I know of two other mother/daughter pairs of the same type; both involving very well known home educators. There are also a fair number of such people who claim that their children are on the autistic spectrum, have dyslexia or ADHD, either without a diagnosis or in spite of a professional diagnosis that these syndromes are not present.
Another point is that when a well known home educator, whom local authorities and so on are treating as being a leader of the home educating community, turns out to believe that the queen is a shape shifting lizard or that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion should be in the non-fiction section at the library, then it makes ordinary people wonder what other madness is lurking beneath the surface! Some people take these weird characters to be typical examples of home educators and jump to the conclusion that most home educating parents must be mad.
This is an unfortunate situation for home education in this country, that most of the well known people involved in it come across as being the kind of lunatics that one would hesitate to trust with the care of a child. I have no idea what the remedy might be, but the next time that people are complaining that some government department or charity is acting as though home educators need to be watched and supervised, we might stop and think what sort of example some of these prominent figures are setting. It is by them that many people judge home educating parents as a group.