A very short while ago I rejoined an email group that I was last a member of over 10 years ago. It’s the list that I met Tim on (awww…) and hence Big is known to them as listbabe
After a suitable pause, I brought up the topic of home education there, hoping that I might be able to spur some support for the petition or consultation. I was disappointed, but not surprised to get all the standard cliches trotted out, included the ones which said things like “I don’t worry about Jax and Tim, after all, they are bright and well educated and I’m sure that their children are being well tutored, but what about the others….”
Ah yes, the mythical others. The ones whose children spend their days climbing haybales (does anyone else remember that newspaper article? Can’t find the picture now though :() or watching television, or playing on playstations, or throwing stones at passing cars. The ones who live in council estates, whose parents can’t read or write themselves, whose children are only withdrawn to get around exclusions or truancy prosecutions.
It’s hard to know where to start to dismember these allegations. After all, Tim and I are bright, we are well educated, there are many books in our house, and horror of horrors, I’m not really all that autonomous where basic skills are concerned. Which is why we have our sessions with workbooks, spelling lists, handwriting practise and so on.
But I still haven’t registered with the local authority, even though I’m absolutely sure that we would be fine. Because I am not required to, and I don’t see what it’s got to do with the local authority that I am exercising my legal right to educate my children at home.
Right atm, I’m not fighting for my way of life. My way of life isn’t under threat. I can’t quite imagine the LA officer who would have any qualms about my bright, chatty, cheerful children, who are obviously healthy and fit, who can read and write (well, after a fashion!), who have computer access, Brownies, swimming, Beavers, friends who are schooled, and friends who are home educated, who have a piano in the hallway, a lovely house and garden and two present parents. (I daresay there are LA officials who might have qualms, but I doubt very much they’d get very far with us.)
I’m fighting for the mythical others, because they are the ones under threat, and I believe in their right to home educate too. Their right to choose the method of their children’s education. Their right to home educate as a single parent on a council estate, as parents without degrees or whatever, just their right as parents.
That’s what this is about now, and down the line. If we don’t all fight for everyone’s rights, then we should be ashamed of ourselves, and we would deserve to lose this fight. And lose we would.
We only stand a chance if we all stand up for everyone – if the AE stands up for the structured home educator. If the religious home educator stands up for the atheist, and the atheist for the evangelical. If more than anyone, the registered structured home educator respects the wishes of those who are not registered to remain that way. I know that amongst my friends, both blog and irl, ppl in that last category are fighting just as hard, if not harder, than everyone else.
So let’s remember, all for one, and one for all. United we stand, diverse we remain.