The ‘Us and Them’ of education.

Stupid me, I spent ages this week, on the Guardian website, reading through and addressing comments in this article- The Rise of the home unschoolers.- where children learn only what they want too  .
I really should learn to stay away from such places, but I honestly can’t.  There has to be people willing to wade into the mud and defend the sludge that those who are largely uneducated about home education sling at discussion.

As I reflected on the week, I was reminded of this quote by Charlotte Brontë



I persevere  with commentating on such sites, because by and large the people who are consistently negative (and often dogmatically so),  are usually the least educated about what home education is.

People rarely discuss from a place of research or discovery, but from the stereotypes the media has built for them, or from opinion rather than knowledge.

But this isn’t really what I want to talk about today.   I want to draw attention to the  prevailing undercurrent of ‘Us and Them’ that is rife in our society at the moment.

There seems to be a campaign of division.  This isn’t just a UK phenomenon, it is world wide.  Anyone who is like me is an ‘Us’ and anyone who is not, is a ‘Them’.  It is happening in the arenas of politics, education, immigration, gender and sexuality for example.   Wherever anyone can group others into ‘people like me and people like you’, it exists. It gets even easier to rely on prejudice and stereotypes when people are nameless and faceless, and of course the internet is a breeding ground for this.

Often when I see this kind of behaviour unfold I am reminded of this quote by Thomas Paine.



When we divide people into ‘Us and Them’ we are essentially saying ‘Right and Wrong’ and anyone who isn’t like me is wrong.  Rather than accepting that anyone who isn’t like me is just different in the choices they make.  Those choices may not be right for me, but my own freedom is only as secure as the freedom we grant each other to operate in free-will.  The minute we try to tie one another up, is the minute we loose the battle of liberty for ourselves and future generations. We set the precedence for the kind of world we want.

This seems to be the underlying message of many of the comments I read, sometimes even by home educators, who see that the ‘only choice’ is home education.  This is just as limiting as saying, the ‘only choice’ is school.

Neither is right or wrong.  They are just different.

Families need to be allowed to raise their children in line with their convictions when it comes to education. And understanding, empathy and education is needed on the part of all of us, to try and walk a mile in each others shoes.

There is no point telling someone like me, that home education doesn’t work, and I will raise socially isolated adults who can’t function in society or hold down jobs. Because that hasn’t been the outcome of my choices at all!

There is no point telling a parent of a child who has successfully navigated their way through the school system that they should have home educated.

We can allow each other the freedom of choice, without compromising our own inner conviction.  Whether we think the school system needs reform, or that home education would drive us bonkers, becomes irrelevant when allowing others the same freedom we wish for ourselves.

The world is not made larger by narrowing it.  It is not made freer by limiting peoples choices.

I quite like this tongue in cheek quote.



How do you cope with this in your everyday life?








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