Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Why am I interested in the history of home education?
A week or so ago, somebody commenting here asked why I was so interested in the origin of home education in this country. It was a reasonable question and the answer is that it might help us to understand how the present conflict arose between home educating parents and their local authorities. I remarked in a recent post that there seems little appetite for investigations of this sort, but before I leave the subject for good, let us consider one or two points.
There is currently a lot of friction between some home educators and their local authorities. Some local authorities try to insist upon home visits and wish to see the children. Others want detailed evidence of the work being done, including written samples which are dated. The insistence on home visits in particular creates an awful lot of ill feeling. I doubt that anybody would disagree with any of this.
The situation in the early 1970s was very different. There were no home visits, parents instead being invited to visit an office without their children. The demands for timetables were a thing of the past by then, as was any insistence that particular academic subjects should be covered in the education. In fact the situation in 1972 contained all the elements that the more militant home educators are now demanding. The question we need to ask is why did things change during the 1970s and the early 1980s? Everything used to be fine and then it all went wrong. If we could establish what happened during those years to make local authorities less amenable to the idea of home education, then we might get a line on how to reverse the situation and return things to the way that they used to be forty years ago; when local authorities were more laid back about home education.
None of this matters to me personally, but it might help those who seem to spend much of their lives rowing with their local authorities.