People like us.

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 The ones who live in council estates, whose parents can’t read or write themselves, whose children are only withdrawn to get around exclusions or truancy prosecutions.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.

About Jax Blunt

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  1. here here, which was why in our group response I was careful to say we were a mix of all things.
    .-= HelenHaricot´s last blog ..By: HelenJ =-.

  2. Great post Jax :o)
    .-= Hannah´s last blog ..Torn =-.

  3. Thank you for this post, Jax. You have hit the nail right on the head AFAIAC. I am sick to the stomach of reading middle class conventional HE “success” stories which effectively deny the different achievements of other who may not have enjoyed the privileges of money, professional/social status and/or good physical health, not to mention the precious others for whom diversity is a dirty word. The privileged right on brigade may well think they can pull the ladder up and sacrifice those mythical incapable or incompetent home educators to save their own skins (and maybe make some money out of it into the bargain), but they’d do well to remember that we’re all passengers on the same Titanic and it’s not just those in steerage who are going to go down.

  4. Absolutely agree, Jax. There will always be a few home-educators who think there *should* be monitoring etc, but the rest of us really need to stand together and insist on maintaining the freedoms of our families.

    I too hear that “oh it’s all right for *you*, but…” line – and I notice that it always comes from people who don’t know many home-educators.

  5. Hi again,

    Funny to think back, but I was one of those people who probably would have given such a response once. I met a woman on a beach who was telling me about home ed and I gave her one of the “I thought we were having a nice chat but you must be a wierdo after all,” looks that I now get all the time once I mention home ed. Then I went home, looked it up on the internet and withdrew my son from school within weeks.

    An email list is such a great way to “meet” a wide range of people. Who knows what an affect your words will have, or already have had and you’re a great one for saying the “right” words… unlike me. I was having a chat with someone the other day and getting worked up about the legislation, and then I realised that not only wasn’t she understanding why I was upset but she was actually all for the idea of monitoring. She mentioned the case of a mother of 2 who was letting her son watch TV all day, and she was 22 (her age was mentioned several times with a sneer). I was so shocked by her ageist attitude and her judgement about a story that was just hearsay that I found myself speechless as I didn’t know where to start without causing a scene.

    It is very wearing sometimes and I feel I failed miserably in that situation but I think not only are we fighting for each other as home educators but we are fighting for the rights of these people who say things like that without realising what they are saying, because it looks like sooner or later, if the government have their way, all parents will be undermined by legislation like this.

    Just keep writing – you’re doing good!


  6. “The ones who live in council estates”

    That would be us then.

  7. “the registered structured home educator” – that would be me then – but remember (or maybe you don’t know) I grew up on a council estate! And yes, amen Jax, this is not about uniformity – quite the opposite, it is about fighting for the right to remain diverse! Like you, I’m sure the government recommendations will not directly effect me or my family a great deal (except perhaps those interviews), but that does not make them any more OK, or right, or anything – they are ABSOLUTELY wrong – and as such should be fought against with everything we have and by everyone who can!!

  8. I often get the line ‘its okay for people like you but…’ too. I’m sure there is some research somewhere which shows that home ed kids are not disadvantaged by the mother’s educational status (can’t remember where I read this, but usually a child’s educational outcome is highly correlated with the mother’s educational level, but with home ed kids this does not hold- they all do reasonably well, even the kids whose parents were not well educated)
    Though I also know we have nothing to fear from a inspection I must admit I have already begun to change the way we work, to make our home ed more palatable to the authorities. So, for example, the project work we’re doing is being written up into a folder, so that we have something to show for what we’ve done. I’d have never bothered with that before!

  9. As I type the baby has upended cheerios all over the table, my dd is watching rubbish tv and my ds1 is playing on his dad’s laptop.

    The only constructive one is ds2 who is on the floor playing with magnets with his dad.

    My Point? Some days I am in with the “nothing to worry about” bunch, other days I go to bed thanking God that the EWO hasn’t popped by and found the baby throwing lego bricks down the loo whilst the older three are all arguing about sitting at the table with me.

    Your arguement is valid. We are all human, which makes us all diverse in some way. We need to protect our right to be diverse.

    With you all the way!
    .-= kellyi´s last blog was a holiday i think =-.

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