Today saw another bout of media hysteria with the coroners report being released regarding the death of eight year old Dylan Seabridge, allegedly of scurvy (lack of vitamin C)
When any child dies it is, of course, a tragedy and questions must be asked, but I do wonder as to the validity of placing Home-schooling as the villain of the piece.
As the law states that ‘A parent must cause (a child) to receive efficient full time education suitable to his needs’ it has never been mandatory for a child to attend school – rather it has become a ‘social norm’ and as such any variance from such norms will be viewed with suspicion.
Such was the case today on Radio when Vanessa Feltz – covering for Jeremy Vine – chose to lampoon a guest; an experienced home schooler, who dared to offer a common sense argument into the mix of lurid headline mentions and scare stories.
Not only did Feltz dare to insinuate that only parents who were ‘educated, literate and decent’ could make acceptable teachers, she found it impossible to comprehend that a parent would not decide to teach ‘the right thing – the same as they teach in school,’ but when challenged strongly that throughout the world parents hold the final right to choose their child’s education, decided to cut the caller off by talking over her and playing music.
The programme certainly felt biased to The Status Quo and felt it quite just to belittle those with alternate views.
In a time of chronically failing schools, powerless local authorities, budget cuts and ever changing educational targets, surely accepting that many parents really do know what’s best for their child, and are willing to go to any lengths to provide it.
And a life without constant state supervision should not be assumed to be one of abuse and neglect. To choose to be ‘ off grid’ is continually looked at with such suspicion when we can all see the scars, both mental and physical, that living inside today’s modern hectic, ever pressured society can create.
Depression, self harming, anorexia, violence, even death is all around us. In every workplace, in every school. And no one has any answers as to how to stop it (at least, non that The Authorities are willing to listen to).
So although this poor child’s death from possible nutritional neglect is sad- the decision to live an alternative life in the country did not kill him. Any more than we would say city life killed the obese teen or the working world killed the executive who had a heart attack.
We live in a democratic society with free speech and freedom of religious belief, a freedom which sadly means we are free to fail, get shit wrong and offend the sensibilities of others. Sorry about that.
So I close by adding that I did not home school my children, although I have always been a fan, I just did not have the right temperament. I know my limitations, that said, I NEVER felt like I had simply handed my children over the the state, Never.
I was always y children’s primary teacher, in my eyes, and the schools helped; offering facilities, resources and a sense of community. But all the important stuff-they learned at home. Their life skills, attitudes, manners, personal health and wellness, spiritual education and mental health management, we’re all my responsibility. In those areas, my kids were most definitely ‘home schooled,’ and I truly hope that all parents reading this would feel the same.
Closing point: collecting my son from reception class many moons ago, I overhear another mum with her son, same age. Son says: ‘Mum, it’s Autumn, cause the leaves are flying off the trees’ his mums response simply broke my heart. She responded ‘Did you learn about that at school?’
Seriously? I rest my case.
People, please, keep on teaching, telling, showing and sharing our wonderful world with your children and remember, no matter where your kids may go to school, YOU are their most important teacher. And even Vanessa Feltz can’t argue with That!