Just because I’m ‘contrary’…

I’ve often been accused of being contrary! Usually by people whose point of view I don’t readily accept.

You can imagine that happens regularly when talking about education. And especially with the fact that I consider home education – and education – to be the same thing. Although most people wouldn’t share that perspective!

So in order to continue my reputation I’ve come up with a contrary way of answering all these home education questions you get by people who; a) have no experience of it and don’t want to be contaminated by radical ideas, b) are blinkered by what the institution of school has taught them and don’t want to take their blinkers off and c) who don’t really want to know anyway!

Unhappily I was with one of those recently. So in order not to waste their or my time, (don’t get me wrong – I’m happy to elucidate  on the subject of Home Ed for hours if the person’s genuinely interested) I’ve decided now I’m going be contrary and turn all their questions round in order to deal with it.

It goes a bit like this:

Question – but won’t the kids miss out not being in school? Answer – don’t the kids shut in school miss out on real life?

Q – how do they socialise if they’re not in school? A – How do they learn how to socialise shut away from normal society in a place where it’s considered weird to socialise with those outside your age group, copying a bunch of people with immature social skills?

Q – how will the kids learn about the real world without going to school? A – how do the kids learn about the world shut away from it in a place that’s nothing like the real world?

Q – how do kids learn without being taught? A – how did you learn to use your mobile phone without being ‘taught’?

Q – how do you teach if you’re not a teacher? A – how do teachers know how to relate to kids if they’ve had no experience with them, as parents have?

Q – how do kids make proper friends when they’re not in class? A – how do they make friends when class mates all their own age are the only people they interact with, which is hardly a true reflection of society?

Q – won’t they get bored being at home all the time? A – won’t they get bored being in school all the time?

You get the idea! I’m sure you can think of lots more ways to make it work! Do please comment below. And try it out for yourself when you next get a barrage of questions from someone you know has made up their negative mind already!

14 thoughts on “Just because I’m ‘contrary’…

  1. Q. Aren’t you brave?! A. I think it’s far braver to leave 13 years of education to total strangers, who don’t know your child and do not have your individual child’s best interests at heart.

  2. What perfect turn-arounds! I was in a supermarket with my girls the other day, our usual one, and the cashier asked if they were on half term early. I steeled myself – “They don’t go to school,” was my response, to which I got a barrage of questions similar to the above. Then came the one that I dread -“what about GCSEs?” – do you have a turn around for that one? I would love to slam that one back! I really don’t like justifying our educational choices when it’s no one else’s business but ours. We have good days we have bad, but they have a life full of adventure. Thanks for your blog and books Ross, it’s like having a neighbour to chat to about it all.

    • Thanks so much for your comment and compliments Suzanne – you readers are my ‘neighbours’ to chat to as well! As for the GCSE question – it certainly can be tedious. I sometimes used to to reply in a tone of complete incredulity over their ignorance with something like; ‘goodness, what makes you think education is just about GCSEs?’ 😉 I think the main trick is to make yourself comfortable with not having to justify what you do! 🙂 All the best.

      • Thanks Ross, I like that! there are indeed many alternatives to GCSEs. I shall remember that one for when needed. I sometimes feel that we shouldn’t be out in school times, as we get asked about it a lot. But we will persevere and perhaps ignore the questions in the first place!

      • I know what you mean Suzanne, it’s sometimes easier to stay hidden and sometimes we just have to do that to restore our courage! But when you do emerge, just remember that you may well be inspiring some family in a dire position in school to have the courage to do what you do! The less hidden we are, the more we raise awareness of the fact there are alternatives for those who need them! Wishing you strength and all the best.

  3. Thank you Ross as always for such wonderful posts. New to HE and my 14 yr old son enjoying the experience and is generally SO much happier. It is however, a shame that his father and family do not see the huge benefits and believe that I am deluded to even think that this can work – I am denying him so much by taking him out of school – never mind how unhappy he was. Sometimes I would like to forward your brilliant posts to the family but I think we’ve gone past communication now.

    • Thanks so much for your lovely comment Helen. I’m sorry though to hear that communication with family has been lost. But take heart, despite ‘denying him so much’ (questionable!) you are giving him far, far more and eventually that will become apparent and they will be proved wrong! Not that that’s what it’s about, but you will be in that position one day and as your son flourishes maybe they’ll be more accepting. I was writing recently about what ‘graduate’ home edders end up doing and will be sharing it on my FB page when it’s live. It’s quite hard to imagine that far ahead but as mine, now in their twenties, are living successful, independent, working lives, as others are, they are the ones proving all the doubters wrong! Take heart from that! 🙂

  4. Fabulous. I’m so tired of having rude, opinionated strangers expecting me to justify our family’s choices to them – as if it is any of their business anyway.

    Perhaps the DfE have realised that these arguments hold little weight against your perfectly reasonable responses, so it seems they’ve decided to double down by ditching the concept of learning altogether in favour of “attainment”.


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