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Inclusion & Kindness – My Response To The Home Education Media Storm

In Editorials, Education News, Home Education, Mum's Editorial by Prudence15 Comments

Over the last couple of days the home educating world has been rocked by an article which originally appeared in The Mirror. The story was then picked up by many of the tabloids and the television equivalent – This Morning. It was a wildly sensationalized article perfect for causing controversy and maintaining newspaper sales as people wait for Trump to provide the next shock event. It did just that.

As with any story the cold-hearted trolls came out en masse to comment on the articles. As one would expect the level of commentary provided was base and centred mainly around superficialities such as the appearance of the family in the article. Once again far too many members of the UK public proved themselves to be entirely lacking in empathy as with one breath they voiced concern for the children  and with the next resorted to picking on the children in a shocking display of vulgarity. Let me be clear, these were non home educators.

I expected that the home educating community would come together in support for a family under fire from the readers of the toilet paper rags. I was wrong. By the time I signed back into my social media accounts late yesterday afternoon there were angry mobs bearing virtual pitch forks and a confetti storm of hashtags all denouncing the family who were the focus of the story. It was relentless. It was dismaying.

The family at the centre of home-edgate are unschoolers. If you follow their blog, as I have done for many years, you’ll see the variety of activities that they take part in each week. Whilst these were covered in the article and subsequent television interview the focus of the piece was on the children playing video games for large portions of each day. The hook-in-as-many-readers-as-possible headline the journalist ran with was: ‘

‘Mum homeschools her children by letting them play computer games for SEVEN HOURS a day’

It was guaranteed bait which set parent against parent but most disappointingly of all, home educator against home educator.

Whether I agree that the mother should have agreed to the interview or not is neither here nor there. The family have every right to agree to an interview – censorship is a very slippery slope.There isn’t a home educator who leads from the front because the point is that we are equal, there is no one to ask for permission and thank goodness that is the case. Perhaps the media skewed the article to make the story juicier and possibly the television interview was pitched as a way to right the Mirror’s misinterpretation of the story. Maybe the family were paid or quite likely they were not. The family might bitterly regret the interview or they may be celebrating their Warholian fifteen minutes. It doesn’t matter what we suppose – it is done. What matters is how we react as a community.

The style of home education the family have adopted is completely different from our home education method. That is precisely why I follow their blog because it intrigues me and occasionally it offers me perspective, it makes me wonder if an idea might work for us with regard a particular topic. A few years ago I read of their trip to a museum to inspect rock and mineral samples driven from an interest in geology through Minecraft. It was a good idea and one I still haven’t got around to trying. Even with people apparently wholly dissimilar to yourself  you can often find common ground if you are willing to give it time.

There is speculation that this is a conspiracy by Daniel Monk to have the media cause public outrage about home education to support his Badman style agenda. It could well be but we have absolutely no way of knowing.

As far as I can see the best course of action is to let the whole thing blow over. It certainly shouldn’t be a witch hunt as there is nothing to be gained from that whatsoever. A company divided is much easier prey than one that stands united. We all home educate and we all have one major thing in common – children. There isn’t one family who educates like any other because each child is unique and each education is tailored to that child. Once one of us stands up and shouts ‘that’s not true home education‘ the next question is ‘ well, what is better?‘ Is it yours, is it mine, is it Mr Nobody down the road?

We should always seek to be a community that is inclusive and above all else kind because those, I am sure, are the qualities we all wish to encourage in our children. 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Paul McTurk

    Spot on! The anger and nastiness from a small number of (mainly anonymous) home edders goes against everything we would hope to see in the community: respect, freedom, kindness, bravery. Thank you.

  2. Antje

    I didn’t read the original story or follow the discussions, but what you write in your post, is beautifully put and very wise.

  3. Rio Rio

    This true, I have only read bit here and there, and on one article, the mother does actually mention that they attend football, and that they attend regular meet ups, and they do drama, etc,
    It’s was obvious that the media be friended them, and that she open up, and was extra friendly towards them, they saw an opportunity and grab it by the bull.,
    I guess, the way I interpreted it when I saw their child talk on a clip from this morning, it was that they only has virtual reality friends from other games played on line, the fact that he was wearing a top reading ‘ no socializing’ I thought, they were rating isolation, not the best choice of words, as the common debate has always come back, to the socializing side of the coin, in HE, so I did feel that they played right into their hands.
    The child did say, he can cook all day at home, and he was after a future career as a cook,when he was older.

    I did agree with one coment, that was said in the reply box, is that they should of asked 3 different families that do HE, full time, so that they could be compared, to represent that not all is done in the same way.

    That was just one HE familie’s way,

    It’s the same as a class, at school. As When teaching a group. We all do it, in different styles of teaching, even at scool, group, job, etc but we all head for the same results.

  4. Ruth

    Rio Rio, the child you refer to is a young lady.

    I am incredibly frustrated at the naivety of the parents in believing that the press would present the truth rather than their twisted version of the truth.
    I am also dismayed at the reports that other home educators are experiencing negative reactions and comments from the public because of this article being syndicated worldwide.
    I understand they are hurt, upset and angry. They are having to justify ‘their’ home education because of the perception created by this family.
    I also feel for the family involved in the story because I imagine they too will have to deal with a lot of negative fallout from this.
    I don’t have any answers but I do think that everyone is equally entitled to express their views without being told by others to “shut up”.
    Directing swearing and abuse at people for expressing their opinion, anger or frustration is not acceptable. Just as every method of education is equally valid and acceptable, so is each persons opinion.
    The way forward is not for anyone to tell others how they should be feeling or reacting to this story but to respect that opinions are different, find common ground and move forward with a plan to deal with the fallout occurring now and in the future because of the negative response this article has received in the public domain.

  5. Tracy W

    Thank you for providing some sanity. Having home educated for nearly 20 years I don’t think I have ever seen such hatred aimed at one family, not even during the dark Badman days. The quicker people stop shouting and arguing, the sooner this will be forgotten.

    1. Author
      Prudence

      I can only guess at what is happening gossip wise in the national groups as I’m not in any of them but if it’s anything like twitter, it’s very sad. I completely agree with you. Thank you 💕

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