I find debating with some home educators quite chilling, due to their ability to hold two diametrically opposed views simultaneously; without apparently being aware of what they are doing. It reminds me of the term ’doublethink’ from Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. There is something a little alarming about the business.
Yesterday, we enjoyed one of those rare moments here when everybody was in agreement. Both I and those commenting accepted that Einstein’s achievements and academic success owed more to his own character and the support which he was given at home, than it did to the teaching which he received at school. As I have said before, this is usually the case. The level of support and amount of resources found in the home are of far greater importance in the academic outcome for children at the age of sixteen than the school which has been attended. Also significant is the character of the child; in Einstein’s case, he had enormous intellectual curiosity which was nurtured and encouraged by his family and their friends. The schooling to which he was subjected played a lesser role in his subsequent achievements.
So far, we still all agree, I suppose. Let us look back a few days though, when I was talking of another schoolboy; one who had achieved very much less than Albert Einstein. In fact this child was barely literate and lacked any intellectual curiosity that could be discerned. Little chance of this boy growing up to revolutionise our understanding of the universe!
In the case of the boy who was not showing academic promise and intellectual achievement, a completely different set of rules were applied. In his case, it was not thought for a moment that his situation had anything at all to do with his own character, his family background or anything else. No, this was all the responsibility of the school and those running it; the local authority. Those commenting were quick to lay complete responsibility for his development and the academic level at which he found himself, at the door of the school; who had ’failed’ him. We must not ’blame’ the parents, but the school.
All this is very odd! If a schoolchild does really well in his studies, then it is due to his family and home background; the school is of minor importance. If a schoolchild does really badly at his studies, then it is not due to his family and home background; the school is of paramount importance.
I am honestly puzzled by this and invite readers to help us square this particular circle. In short, are the parents and home background of crucial significance in a schoolchild’s academic and intellectual achievements or are they not?