I admit it; I’m ‘one of those’!


Other books from the LitFest

“Are you a home educator, then?” asked a portly lady who’d picked up my latest book ‘Who’s Not In School?’ and was flicking through it at a recent Literary Event. She sat down at the display table rather regally as if establishing her right to rest.

My feet were killing me and could do with a rest too. I’d been on them chatting to people all day. But I wasn’t going to hog the chair.

“Yes, that’s right,” I smiled. But not without a sneaking suspicion that she was making more of an accusation than asking a question!

I was right.

“Yes, you look like one of those,” she replied.

And before I could think of a suitable response she went on; “I’ve just retired from forty years teaching in the classroom and I think it’s wrong parents keeping their children away from school. I mean, all the opportunities and people they meet in there, they miss out on all that.”

Try not to bristle before opening your mouth, Ross, I’m thinking. I managed to respond ever so gently.

“Or you could look at it the other way round. You could say that there are thousands of experiences and people outside the school in the real world that home educated children are getting the chance to engage with, which all those kids stuck in school day after day are missing out on.” I smiled the most intelligent smile I could muster.

She looked away not quite so sure of her righteous opinion now! “Hmmm, yes…Oh I think it’s time for the workshop to start,” and she heaved herself up and waddled off.

Teaching for forty years? How many children does that make who have been through her unchanging view of the world? Forty years of it and she still omitted to see how it doesn’t work for all and it’s not just the kids’ fault.  Sometimes I feel defeated by people’s closed attitude.

Later, a chap with three young children came to talk to me. He was one of those, a home educating dad with a happy open attitude to learning who talked to me a little of their approach, how there were so many other families they knew home schooling, and so many groups, they could go to something every day if they wished. He was enthused and energised by their inspired learning life and keen to tell me about it. And open to everything. A pleasure to talk to, restoring my faith.

Here was someone who was as keen to learn himself, and embrace new ideas, as the other lady was determined not to!

What a contrast. I know who I would consider to be the most educated!

20 thoughts on “I admit it; I’m ‘one of those’!

  1. If I am stuck, I just say, “Oh, really …” in a very very bland voice. That is a way of being polite but refusing to engage with that comment.

  2. And now I’m trying DESPERATELY to work out who you could have been speaking to since I was there with you all day haha! Lovely piece, Ross! Was wonderful to meet you at the festival! x

  3. What a beautiful picture of either ends of the HE spectrum.
    It’s a seesaw I am encountering a lot as I start to tell friends & family (and strangers who ask) that we have just started Home Edding.
    Thank you for sharing your experience ( I love how you dealt with the teacher). It’s a good one to draw on when I meet the raised eyebrows and pursed lips response.

  4. Well done you! that was a fantastic come back. Think I would of been shell shocked. Just tried to imagine it the other way round. If I said to a parent of a school child, oh your one of those… you look like one too. he he
    So glad she’s not teaching my kids. Most teachers I’ve spoken to have seemed pro home ed. because they can see first hand it doesn’t suit many.
    Had a letter through our door earlier from our local secondary school. it stated that they had 53% of children achieved 5 good grades. But when you consider that they no longer enter kids for GCSE’s if they think they wont pass they are put on the BTEC route instead. That then seems rather low?
    Im just pleased we live in a country where we have the choice. My kids love home ed. I offer school every year, especially as this year one of my girls would of started secondary school. But she said-“No I much prefer to learn maths with a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit ” 🙂

  5. I find it truly sad that people like her are supposedly educating our children. The dad you describe sounds like me, parenting is a constant learning journey. Home ed is inevitable for us I think… Still not 100% there yet though…

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