There have been quite a few reports involving home educating in the media recently. And some of them have been less than complimentary.
The case of the child with scurvy did nothing to help that. The ignorance, negativity and misconceptions that people hold can get me down. So I wrote a positive piece to counteract that and sent it to a few newspapers.
Haven’t seen it published yet! But I thought I’d pop it here so that if you’re feeling a bit battered by the sheer blinkered attitudes and judgements – usually from people who have had no experience of home education – it might give you some ammunition to pass around to those who doubt:
The ignorance and fear surrounding home education continues to mask the fact that it is a positive and successful approach for those children who fail to thrive in school.
But rarely do we get to hear about the successes; about the many youngsters, home educated all through their ‘school’ years, who’ve gone onto university like many home educated youngsters do, just like their school peers.
Rarely is it mentioned that children who were classed as having ‘learning difficulties’ in a school setting go on to achieve good academic outcomes through home education despite what school predicted.
Rarely is it mentioned all the young people who go on to lead productive, integrated, happy, working lives in society, who never went to school at all, or followed a restrictive curriculum, suffered the time wasting testing and prescriptive learning approach that is the norm of a school life.
And rarely is it mentioned that these young people are articulate, intelligent, motivated, competent and social, with a commendable range of personable and employable skills, whom universities are recognising as proactive and self-motivated learners with the necessary study skills and independence to achieve high goals.
Children who are home educated have a completely different approach to learning that many find hard to understand. They often learn in an autonomous setting, but this does not mean they please themselves or are unmotivated, it’s more often the opposite which is true; they are very self-motivated. Most learn with a wide range of others, a high proportion of adults from whom they learn good social skills, and have a wide range of friends and develop appropriate and intelligent social awareness. And most go on to achieve the grades that they want to get where they want to go.
And despite people thinking they have a ‘soft’ life that is not driven or ambitious, as with self-employment, this self-education is a hard option and produces young people who know how to go for what they want.
So instead of the bigoted accusations of those who are in no way qualified to judge because they have never experienced home education or met anyone who was, it would be nice if people refrained from blanketing everyone with the same unjustified condemnation following tragic but isolated incidences like these.
If research were done on the percentage of school children who were neglected or abused, who were known to services and on a ‘register’, compared to the percentage of home schoolers who suffered that treatment, I think we’d find that the former was by far the greater of the two.
There has been a huge surge in interest in home education recently as more and more parents are disillusioned with the production line approach they feel school has become. (With news like this open letter outlines I imagine there’ll be plenty more) And with support and information now so instantly available online, plus the opportunity to network and link up with others doing the same, it looks set to increase.
So we will also increasingly need better understanding, in place of the ignorant scaremongering, so that parents can make informed choices about the alternative to schooling if it’s needed.
The death or abuse of a child is shocking and sad and we would like to think preventable. But there are children known to the services, who are in school, who still suffer these terrible consequences at the hands of family. Education – at home or school – is not the key instrument, despite the odd extremely rare case.
Schools work brilliantly for most families. But for some it can be a nightmare. There is growing evidence, as more young people successfully graduate from home educating, that it offers a valuable and in some cases an education-saving alternative.
So do please share this news on!