Friday, 6 December 2013
The war against home education
Dealing with some of the more militant types of home educator is a bit like coping with a remedial class for slow learners. Everything needs to be repeated endlessly, explained in a dozen different ways and then the whole, soul-destroying process begins anew the next day. Not only that, but one gets the same silly comments and interruptions, the constant cries of, “Sir, I don’t get it!” I felt this most forcibly when people were asking on here recently, as to why I went into detail about the actual reason that our old friend went to Ireland. I assumed that my motives would be plain, but I see now that I must settle down and explain, step by step, exactly why I wanted to set the case out in such detail.
To begin with, it is necessary for readers to understand that there is a certain strand among British home educators who believe, or purport to believe, I am not sure which, that some sort of war is being waged against their chosen method of education. They claim that attempts are constantly being made to suppress home education and that there is an agenda by some in the mainstream educational establishment to do away with the practice entirely. It is of course preposterous, but there it is. In order to maintain this worldview, these people need always to be uncovering new plots against home educators; they require a continuous stream of threats and menaces to their favoured lifestyle. (Of course, fighting all these attacks on their liberties makes for a far more congenial life than actually educating their children! It is essentially a displacement activity, which means that rather than teaching their kids their times tables, they can instead spend their time lobbying MPs and writing political manifestos).
Sometimes, there are slack periods, when no obvious danger is looming on the horizon for home education in this country. When this happens, they have to fabricate threats and pretend that some individual is being persecuted because she is a home educator. This stops other home educating parents becoming complacent and thinking that they are safe! This is what was done last year, when this appeal was widely circulated among home educators;
A well-known member of the HE community and trusted friend needs our help. The
person's family is facing a possible court order and they felt the need to leave the country very quickly in order to protect the children from unfounded interference based on home education as a risk factor.
Now anybody reading this, would assume that home education was integral to the threat facing this person. She is a member of the HE community and she is facing a court order and the possibility of ‘unfounded interference based on home education as a risk factor’. This was very neatly done and many people fell for it. Of course, the attention of social services and their unfounded interference was precipitated not by home education at all, but by the sequence of events which I outlined a few days ago. The key factors were things such as the condition of the home, the call to the police and previous trouble with various authorities which also had nothing to do with home education. The mother in this case was also in the habit of posting about her use of illegal drugs and that probably didn’t help matters either! So while it was not wholly untruthful to say that home education was a risk factor, the ‘unfounded interference’ about which people were worrying, was not based upon this. If it was a factor, it amounted to about 0.00001% of the total of concerns being expressed by the agencies involved.
This is not an exceptional case, of course. We regularly see home educators trying to work up fears that they are under attack and that if we don’t all support them, then our own lifestyles will be the next to be targeted by the government. I have mentioned any number of incidents of this sort on here over the years; this was not the worst example of such scaremongering, not by a long chalk. In this case though, hardly anybody with whom I have been in contact knew the true story. Those who signed the original letter have been very keen to keep the actual events from being known, because it shows that all those people like Neil Taylor-Moore, Alison Preuss and Barbara Stark, who signed that letter, were playing people for mugs and using a case which had very little to do with home education in order to put the wind up them. It was this practice, which is not limited to that particular instance, to which I wished to draw attention.