Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Where are all These Suffering Home Educators?

A letter in response to the LEA officer's Independent article about home education can be found here. It seems to confirm the Mr Mooney's contention that there are loads of suffering HEors out there who only get by with great difficulty.

The question that arises from this is: how does this respondent happen to know about these HE failures? If this nominally large number neither attend meetings, nor write articles, and are not known the HE community, how exactly does she know about them? I personally have yet to meet them.

Her contention that "In private I have heard more realistic views of home educators such as: "He's not doing any worse than if he were at school"' "Socially my children are all right, but it's never going to be enough"' and "They can always make up for it when they are older".

is, for the record, not representative of any of the views that I heard at our HE meeting today, where children with every sort of learning style were thriving in their own unique ways. Perhaps HE children are acquiring different knowledge from their schooled counterparts, but it is not clear that these branches of knowledge will be essentially less useful to them when they grow up and they therefore will not have to do any more catching up than schooled children. As for the socialisation opportunities being insufficient...this is just laughable. The problem really is a matter of how to fit everything in.


Julie said...

What is interesting is that my family is one of the main contact this lady had whilst they were home educating, it was our local group she joined in with-the very one you are talking about meeting together today! Her dd1 was close friends with our dd1- and you could see at the meeting today that our dd1 has obviously had difficulties making social contact with others! LOL!
This respondent never mentioned all these other home educators that were having difficulties to me at the time-I wonder where she has met them all since?
And I'd still maintain that even if my children had very little contact with other home educators, the social oppotunities they would get in the community would be far more valuble than the lonliness they were suffering when they were having their supposedly social opportunities in school!

Carlotta said...

What an extraordinary coincidence...And the idea that either of your dds have any difficulty relating with people of all ages really is good for a laugh!

Your comment makes me think that (to put the most generous slant on it), this person does not have a very deep understanding of the HE process.

Perhaps she thinks the boy who doesn't learn to read until he is 7 is failing according to her criteria. What she may fail to appreciate is this boy is not suffering for not having learnt these skills at the prescribed school time. He may instead have developed other skills which are perhaps unlikely to be easily acquired in school. Perhaps he has learnt how to listen and retain information in memory with a higher degree of ability. He may have learnt to argue logically. He may have learnt how to express himself orally and to reproduce or create complex narrative, or do mental arithmetic, etc, etc.

But perhaps I am being too generous here!

And oh incidentally, thanks so much for that meeting. We all so enjoyed it, each in our own way... and I personally felt my own education took a huge leap forward with that little push off the 40 foot drop! Am so pleased with myself!

Ron R said...

"In private I have heard more realistic views of home educators such as..."

If you read the statement carefully, you'll see that the views come from home educators but is views of them. In other words, she could be stating the views of several public school officials. The source of the views is unidentified.

Mike said...

I felt that this lady was never too confident in her role as a home educator. I think she would freely admit that she was going through the process until her dd was 'OK' for school again. So she could get her exams and do good things.

The article seems to have helped her reconcile her position in her own mind.

Somebody should keep a list of 'failed' (For want of a better word.)home educators who feel the need to comment when they return their own children to school. It is a curious phenomenon.

Having said this however, there are indeed some HEers who voice the opinions she mentions and it would be blind of us not to accept and deal with it. It is no different to the parents of school children bemoaning the lack of after school activities or other 'forced' social occasions that absolve them of the responsibility of assisting their kids to understand each other and the people around them.

A number of parents are home educating purely due to the state of the school system and not through any specific desire to do so. Is it any surprise that they are not motivated to involve themselves and seek opportunities for their children. They never had to do it when their children were in school so why should they do it now. After all, isn't that what the LEA is for?

It is a long and sometimes arduous journey from schooled parent to educational free thinker. In the face of all the propaganda put out by the other side most parents just aren't going to make it.

Personally I liked MS when I knew her. She reminded me a bit of my old headmistress.

Carlotta said...

Thanks for the inside info and the explanations. I think I'm beginning to get the picture and I also agree that the difficulties some HEors experience derives from expecting things to be laid on a plate.

It looks as if a further letter to the Independent may be called for since MS's closing sentence "The home education community has a wonderful spirit of mutual support but that does make it slow to recognise that some home educated children lack the challenges and opportunities they need" is pretty ambiguous:

It will probably be read by most who are not in the know as meaning that these challenges and opportunities are simply not available, when it should mean that the parents are simply failing to provide their children with that which is readily available.

Incidentally, I still am of the opinion that although many HEors are corruscatingly (though often constructively) self-critical at times, the number who are actually genuinely failing their kids is very low indeed. I have only met 2 families so far who were doing worse than pupils in the average school. (This is a tiny percentage of the HEors we know). Most HEors (often despite frequent expression of their private fears that MS may be alluding to), are doing FAR better than their schooled peers.

Anonymous said...

There is something not quite honest about the article. This bit is especially annoying:

"The home education community has a wonderful spirit of mutual support but that does make it slow to recognise that some home educated children lack the challenges and opportunities they need."

One could equally say:
"The school community as a wonderful spirit of mutual support (some might think that the case!) but that does make it slow to recognise that some school educated children lack the challenges and opportunities they need."

School is not infallible in this regard and parents who have schooled children certainly aren't either.

A very public example is the child on Rock School who had a star role in a major band opporunity happening in school but lost it because his parents insisted he go on holiday instead. And whilst she is quite right that parents fail their children at times, she is wrong to so insidiously suggest that this is more likely in the home ed community.