Wednesday, 9 January 2013
Why the thought processes of well known home educators and former home educators matter to all who educate their children at home.
I never cease to be amazed at the slippery way that the more vociferous members of what some describe as the ‘home educating community’ operate! I have talked in the last week or so about the fact that many of these characters have or claim to have neurological deficits or one sort or another. There seem to be two chief objections to my making this claim. Some say that it is untrue and others assert that even if it were true, then it is irrelevant and an attempt to smear individuals. Today, I wish to address the second of these objections; that it does not matter if prominent home educators are adherents of the New World Order conspiracy theory or are bipolar or whatever else I have been discussing here. Why would I even raise this as a topic to be debated?
The first thing to realise is that campaigns to change the regulations governing home education in this country or to ensure that it remains the same are undertaken by a fairly small number of activists. This is of course not restricted to home education; the same thing is true of most campaigns to change or not change the law. I am not sure if readers realise though, just how few are involved in the case of home education. The current guidance on the law relating to home education was issued in 2007 and affects everybody who is home educating and also those who come into contact with them professionally, such as local authorities and so on. A couple of years ago, an attempt was made to change these guidelines completely and replace them with a new set. This project was undertaken by a mere eight home educators, together with one MP, who happened to be Chair of a select committee. This means that eight people might have been able to push through regulations which would have affected every single home educating parent in this country.
Looking a little further back, those organising the opposition to the Graham Badman proposals numbered perhaps two or three hundred out of the fifteen to thirty thousand home educating parents in England and Wales. They were led by a hard core of no more than forty or fifty. Yet these people managed to prevent a law being passed. It does not matter whether we see this was a good or bad thing; the fact is that it happened. This too affected every home educating parent in the country.
When a small number of people undertake activities of this sort which affect tens of thousands of other people, I think it quite reasonable to look into their motives and ask whether all is as it appears on the surface. Frankly, I am taken aback to discover that most of those commenting here do not agree with this idea. It was seen as perfectly acceptable to make personal enquiries about the background, life, family and motives of Graham Badman in an effort to stop his proposals being adopted. He was accused of stupidity, laziness, cruelty, incompetence, greed and corruption, to mention but a few of the things said about him on lists and in the comments on online articles. The rule seems to be that if somebody is perceived as being opposed to home education, then it is fine to delve into their background and ask the most searching questions, attributing base motives to them. If questions are asked of those who campaign to leave the law on home education unchanged however, such questions are regarded as unsporting!
This then is why I feel that it important to know why people are fighting either to change the law or leave it unchanged. In either case, there will be an effect upon tens of thousands of children. I have a pretty good grasp of the motives of those who seek closer control over the practice of home education, but the reasons advanced by those who oppose change do not always stack up and so I wish to look at their beliefs and see if anything else in their lives might be behind their attitudes towards schools, social workers or society in general, to explain why they feel as they do.