When first it became apparent to my friends and professional acquaintances that I had no intention of sending my daughter to school when she was four or five, there was a general feeling that the experiment would soon fail. As she grew older and started becoming obnoxious, as schoolchildren so often do, I would surely find that spending so much time with the child would drive me mad. Or just wait until she hit puberty! Then I would find the whole thing intolerable, with my daughter screaming abuse at me and refusing point-blank to do as I asked. Even if I could stick at it, what of the poor child’s future? She would have no GCSEs, no prospect of going into higher education, no friends, no social skills. A pretty bleak prospect, all in all!
Of course, a dozen or so years down the road and none of these gloomy predictions have proved to be anything near the mark. The reaction has now changed to one of sourness and my being told that I have been ‘lucky’. Lucky that I have avoided the adolescent rows that nearly all our friends have endured from their children, lucky that my daughter studied hard and did well in her exams, lucky that she has a place at a good university, lucky that she does not lie to us, steal from us, smoke dope; the list is endless. Of course ’luck’ does not really enter into the matter at all. I thought that a lot of the problems of childhood and adolescence are caused by allowing other children to become the dominant influence, rather than the family. I do not think that most schools are up to the job of teaching effectively and so avoided them. These are not questions of luck, I made a series of what seemed to me to be rational choices. Like most home educating parents, we had to make considerable sacrifices to achieve our object. Both of us could only work part-time, which meant a greatly reduced income. I certainly had less freedom than most of the fathers whom I knew. Still, the rewards were also correspondingly greater as well, so I don’t think that I have got the raw end of the deal. Most of those who predicted disaster for my own daughter, view their own adolescent daughters with despair and there seem to be terrible breaches between them and their children.
All in all, the whole home educating enterprise has been a huge success for our family and I shall in a way be sorry to see it end in the autumn. However, all good things come to an end and I shall have plenty with which to occupy myself in the coming years. Which brings me neatly to another point. I observe that some people seem dismayed at the amount that I am writing on this blog. Why this should be, I really could not say; nobody is, after all, compelled to come here and read what I have to say. Indeed, judging by the apoplexy which my views evidently provoke in others, it would perhaps be best if some of my readers gave this place a wide berth! Others seem concerned that I am spending too much time replying to comments here. One hardly knows how to answer such a criticism. It seems to me only courteous that if somebody has taken the trouble to respond to what I have said, then I should listen to their criticism and reply. The fact is, I write tens of thousands of words each week and a few hundred expended on this blog and the other one which I write is neither here nor there among all the other writing in which I am engage. Like many people, I constantly flick back and forth while writing between google, my blogs, the news, spotify and a dozen other places. I suppose that the only remedy which I am able to suggest for those who either dislike my views or are anxious about how frequently I express those views, is not to come here so often themselves. Reading what I have to say does not seem to be a pleasant experience for some and their continued presence here strikes me as being more than a little perverse. Resist the temptation to read this blog, you guys. You know you will feel all the better for abstaining from this pernicious habit!