Last month, I wrote here about the All-Party Parliamentary Group on home education and Graham Stuart’s idea for some sort of committee of professionals concerned with home education. I had serious reservations about this and said so on November 16th. Now there’s a great difference between thinking that something is a bad idea and believing it to be part of a sinister plot against home educators. A conspiracy theory is currently emerging which sees the APPG’s plans as part of some Europe-wide attack on home education. Even this blog, it has been suggested, plays a role in this scheme; it being, apparently, no coincidence that I should be saying unflattering things about Lisa Amphlett, so soon after she wrote that peculiar letter to Graham Stuart.
For the last few weeks, I have been trying to look at the real reasons that local authorities are sometimes uneasy about home education. This has not proved an easy task, because of course the sort of militant home educating parents that one encounters on the internet are not infrequently a little excitable and irrational. They have difficulty concentrating as well; combined with a tendency to wander off and lose track of what is being said. I feel like saying sharply, ‘Stop chattering and face the front, militant home educators and listen to what I am saying. It’s your time you’re wasting!’ However, I recollect in time that these people are supposedly adults and stop myself before making grossly inappropriate remarks of this sort.
It is only by understanding why many people have concerns about home education that any sort of modus vivendi will be reached with those professionals in the field of education who are pressing for regulation. Perhaps if home educating parents could listen to these people, then they might be able to respond intelligently and allay their fears. As I say, over the last few weeks, I have been setting out some aspects of home education which are seen as being a problem. I have talked to many teachers about this and have also been in touch with local authority officers who deal with elective home education. Some of the views which I have expressed here on this subject were my own; some were those which have been put to me by teachers and others. It has been a hopeless enterprise. Yesterday, for instance, I posted about the phenomenon of parents who take their children out of school because the teachers say that their children are falling behind or disrupting the class; then find that they are unable to provide a reasonable education. This is something which worries quite a few teachers. You might have thought that this was the perfect opportunity for home educators who are dissatisfied with the way that local authorities feel, to speak out on a public forum and set them straight. If education professionals are wrong about this; why not explain why they are wrong? But no. Out of sixty comments, only three addressed the subject of the post. The others would rather concern themselves with fantasies about me masturbating or claim that I was mentally ill. In other words, around 95% of the comments had nothing to do with home education; although that was the topic of the post. I have already received a couple of emails from people about this and their view was that it is pointless to try and debate with those people. They don’t really have any sensible views about the matter.
In recent months, there have been many people from the world of mainstream education coming to view this blog. I suggested to some of these people that I would try and draw out home educating parents to give their views and opinions on what they wanted from local authorities. There has been very little of a constructive nature and the overall impression that the visitors have had has not been at all favourable to home educators in general. To speak bluntly; most of them were shocked and dismayed at what they saw here. Any sort of dialogue is impossible and the best that they can do is to make any arrangements unilaterally, without worrying over-much about upsetting the more aggressive type of home educating parent.