Divide and conquer!

July 30th, 2009

The Independent, that bird-cage liner which is ferociously opposed to Home Education, has let rip again with a piece designed to divide Home Educators and set up a pretext for the government agenda of ending Home Education.

What the author, ‘Simon Webb’, fails to understand is that first they come for the most ‘other’ group and then they move on to you. You all know the poem:

First they came for the Autonomous Learners
and I did not speak out – because I was not an Autonomous Learners.

Then they came for the Christian Home Educators
and I did not speak out – because I was not a Christian.

Then they came for the Structured Learners.
and I did not speak out – because I was not a Structured Learner.

Then they came for me –
and by then there was no one left to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

Once they enshrine home inspections as perfectly reasonable, they will then begin to shut down all types of Home Education that they do not like. If you are Home Educating for religious reasons, they will shut you down if you do not teach their ideas of how religion should be taught, or what a moral person is or is not, or anything to do with sin. For example. If you do not like the state curriculum, they will shut you down. And in this context, ‘shut you down’ means kidnap your child and force it to attend a school.

Autonomous learners are an easy target. I will be making a post about them shortly. In the meanwhile, lets pick apart this piece of writing:

Simon Webb: We must get tough on home schooling

Who is the ‘we’ that he is talking about? Autonomous learners are not a part of the ‘we’ he is describing, that is for sure. What Simon Webb is advocating is that violence should be used against Autonomous Learners to stop them from Home Educating in this way. The very title of this piece uses the phrase ‘get tough’, which explicitly implies the violence he is calling for.

He is calling for the state to organize raiding parties to kidnap the children of Autonomous Learners so that they can be put into schools. This is violence pure and simple. He is willing to use others to commit violence to force his own opinions on Autonomous Learners.

Most people, if asked about home education, would probably picture a child being tutored at home by his parents; perhaps working at the kitchen table rather than sitting in a classroom. This was indeed the case with my own daughter whom I have taught since she was a baby. Sadly, this image is very much the exception in British home education.

All of this is irrelevant. There are as many ways to Home Educate as there are people doing it. Some are Autonomous Learners. Others are not. Some people live in a small house where the biggest flat surface is the kitchen table. Others live in houses with plenty of space. Whatever the ‘many people’ in this paragraph choose to believe, people have the right to Home Educate as they see fit, and Simon Webb and his ilk do not have the right to contract with others to use violence to make people conform to his notion of what is good and bad education.

The most popular educational method used by those who withdraw their children from school in this country is known as autonomous education and involves nobody teaching children anything at all!

How do you know this? There are no statistics detailing the numbers of Home Educators, and there are no numbers saying what sort of Education each family has chosen to do. This is a statement that is not based on facts.

I believe this peculiar technique is causing incalculable damage to the thousands of home educated children upon whom it is used.

What you believe is your own business. Some people might think that you should not be Home Educating your daughter, and in fact, if you went to live in Germany, you would be committing a crime by doing so. Just because you BELIEVE something, that is not in any way a basis for violence to be called for against the people who are educating in a way that you do not agree with.

Autonomous education is based on a simple principle: that children alone are the best judges of what they should learn and when they should learn it. If a child wishes to spend the day slumped in front of a television or games console, this is not a problem, the choice is his. Many autonomous educators go even further, asserting that it is for the child to decide on bedtimes, diet and other aspects of lifestyle. To see how this works in practice, we cannot do better than look at “How People Home Educate” on the website of Education Otherwise, a registered charity working in the field.

A mother writes about educating her children, aged 10 and seven, whom she describes as “night owls”, at home. They apparently have no bedtimes and get up “later than I would like”. She says: “Their days are often filled with television and lots of play”.

And what on earth does this have to do with Simon Webb? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Autonomous Learners do not try and force you to become one; you can Home Educate in any way you see fit. What is most disturbing here is that Simon Webb thinks that his experience of life applies to everyone else equally. This is a fundamentally wrong, almost autistic view of the world, where other people are not real, but are objects without any will or separate internal dialogue; only SIMON is able to think, only HIS WORLD VIEW is the right one, and when he goes to sleep, the world doesn’t even exist until he wakes up again. Other people DO exist, they are very real, they have their own thoughts and their own lives, their own priorities and philosophies and those lives and thoughts are nothing to do with anyone else but them. If that is not the case, then they become the property of someone else, the property of a ‘Simon Webb’ who knows best about what is good for all families.

There is no academic work at all. Neither child can read but she says: “They will read one day and will do so because they want to, not because somebody tells them to.”

1 in 5 adults in the UK cannot read. Many leave school semi literate. Autonomous Learners are learners who are learning in their own time and in their own way. I have met some of them (at an examination centre this summer for an English Language paper) without even knowing I was speaking to an Autonomous Learner. That says all you need to know about them. And even if they do not want to take exams, that is none of anyone’s business.

As a description of the odd week or so during the school holidays, this is perfectly acceptable; as a long-term lifestyle for growing children, it verges upon the neglectful. Yet this account is quoted with evident approval by the largest organisation for home educators in this country.

And this, my friends, is the government line; that Home Education is somehow linked to child safety. Now we see that they are going to spin their pretext around to neglect, and Autonomous Learners are going to be the example they hold up to prove that Home Education must be ‘brought under control’.

Autonomous Learner families are not neglectful in any way. They are families just like any other, who have great care for their children. A person with an intact moral centre and principles will instantly understand that Autonomous Learning is just another choice that people make, just as converting to a religion is, or moving to another country is. These choices are personal, private, not the affair of the state, and they are certainly not the affair of busy body statists who are violent.

No wonder such parents are vehemently opposed to new legislation which would enable local education authorities to check up on the education being provided for children taught at home.

All decent Home Educators are vehemently opposed to new legislation. They are fully aware that any changes in the law could bring a total end to Home Education in the UK. They are not naive, prejudiced or stupid when it comes to their Home Education, or their rights. They understand that this is a threat to not only them and their Home Education, but it is a threat to all parents in the UK. They also understand that this is not just a threat to their children now, but it is a threat to their children should they become parents in the future. They also understand that holding up Autonomous Learners to be sacrificed is completely despicable, wrong, unjustified and evil.

As I have said over and over, there are many types of Home Educator, many different philosophies and approaches. This Simon Webb character is a certain type; a statist, prejudiced, collectivist. The difference between him and an Autonomous Learner is that an Autonomous Learner is quite happy to have Simon Webb and his daughter Home Educating in whatever way they see fit, without making a judgment on them. Simon Webb on the other hand, wants only his narrow vision of what Home Education is to be the norm. This is a most unpleasant sort of philosophy; one that is not accepting of other people.

The disadvantages of this system are probably obvious to most parents.

And the advantages are totally unknown to most parents, since many people, including journalists, in the UK know nothing whatsoever about Home Education in the first place. There are many advantages to Autonomous Learning. In the United States they call it Unschooling. It is being done because it works.

Once again, what is obvious to most parents today might not be so obvious at another time. There was a time when it was ‘obvious’ that people from different ‘races’ should not be married and have children, or that people should own other people as property, or that the death penalty is completely right. Some people think that all those things are completely legitimate even today. What the majority thinks is not a rubber stamp or guarantee of moral correctness.

Our children are most decidedly not the best judges of what is wholesome and good for them.

We do not know about your children Mr. Webb. If you say that they are not the best judges of what is wholesome and good for them, we will take your word for it; you are their parent, you know them best, you have their best interests at heart, and you can be trusted to do what is right for them.

Or are you having pronoun problems again?!

Many children and teenagers, if left to their own devices, would not surface until lunchtime. Following a sugary snack of biscuits and fizzy pop, they might spend the afternoon playing computer games or watching television.

So what?

Do you REALLY think that it is your business, or the business of the state to know what time a child gets up in the morning… or afternoon? Do you REALLY believe that it is your business to know if a child eats s sugary snack of biscuits and fizzy pop? Both of which were bought by the parents, with their own money? Do you REALLY believe it is your affair that a child, under the supervision of its parents plays computer games (which, once again, were bought with the parents own money and explicit approval) or watches television all afternoon?

Just what sort of world is it that you are advocating?

I think we know what sort of world it is; a dystopia, a totalitarian nightmare, a world of total surveillance, right into the home, where your every action is monitored and controlled by the state.

Lo and behold, Mr. Balls and Mr. Webb concur:

The British government is to put the more irresponsible families under CCTV supervision in their homes – just to ensure their children attend school, go to bed on time and eat proper meals. Private security guards will also be sent round to carry out home checks, while parents will be given help to combat drug and alcohol addiction, Children’s Secretary Ed Balls says.



It would be a rare child who chose instead to get up at 7am or 8am, eating a healthy breakfast of wholemeal toast washed down with a glass of mineral water before settling down to teach himself algebra! That is why we as adults assume responsibility for the welfare, physical and mental, of our offspring.

So, getting up ‘early’ is more beneficial than getting up ‘late’. For what reason? To learn regimentation that will be necessary when the child enters the workplace as a drone perhaps. And once again, we have Mr. Webbs ‘breakfast of champions’; this, according to him, is ‘healthy eating’. No doubt his CCTV surveilled families will be made to swallow it.

Parents do not “assume responsibility for the welfare, physical and mental, of our offspring”. By virtue of becoming a parent, an automatic duty, responsibility and right comes into being. Foster parents assume responsibility; what Mr. Webb is implying is that children are not attached to their parents in any moral or legal way when they are born. But of course, this must be the case, if ‘we’ are going to use violence to force Autonomous Learning to be outlawed.

As the law stands, any parent can withdraw a child from school simply by notifying the head in writing.

And why should this not be the case? Children are not the property of the state, or of a school; they are the sole responsibility of the parent, and if the parent, who voluntarily contracts with a school for the service of education, does not for any reason require that service at any time, he or she or they have the ABSOLUTE RIGHT to withdraw a child,, with or without prior notice.

The LEA can make informal enquiries about the education being given to the child, but has no right to enter the home or interview the child.

This exactly as it should be, except for the part where the LEA makes informal inquiries. Removing your child from school is the choice of a parent. They are not and should not be answerable to anyone. If they are, then they become property.

For many, this is the end of their education.

This is simply not so. There are no statistics to say it is so. So why has Mr. Webb said it?

According to the recent review of home education conducted by Graham Badman,

And we know all about that.

there may be as many as 80,000 home-educated children in Britain.

And there you have it. There MAY BE 80,000. There are no statistics, and so every assertion in this sad article that refers to figures is known not to be true by Mr. Webb because he knows there are no numbers.

Under current arrangements, nobody has the slightest idea what sort of education, if any, many of these children are receiving.

But we do know what sort of education people are getting in the state schools, which may be the reason why Mr. Webb, who lives in ‘inner London’, has educated his own child from birth at home.

I wonder how Mr Webb will have responded to all the queries he is bound to have had about socialization; if he has kept his child at home in a small room all these years, surely it is missing out on the playground ‘rough and tumble’ that so many people think is essential to becoming a well rounded person; and what about the exposure to different cultures and peoples that Mr. Webb’s child would undoubtedly have met in an inner London school? Multi Cultural society needs to be actively engaged with and inclusive; if his child has never met anyone outside its cultural group, it will surely be disadvantaged… and no, eating a curry on a saturday night is not sufficient.

Just what is it that Mr. Webb is running from?

I could have gone much further with all of that, but I am sure you get the point. The point is that Simon Webb wants the best for his child, and so he home educated it. That is his right. No one has the right to come into his home uninvited to tell him how he should educate his child, and certainly no one has the right to use violence to take his child from him and sent it to an inner city London school. Perish the thought.

This is hardly a satisfactory state of affairs.

Utter rubbish. Satisfactory TO WHO? The Autonomous Learners are VERY SATISFIED with what they are doing. Just what the hell are you talking about?

My daughter and I welcomed the representative of our LEA into our home once a year to show what we had been doing, but many parents are determined not to allow the LEA any access to their homes.

You welcomed the representative of the LEA into your home. That is your choice and your business. Just because you did that, it cannot be extrapolated that everyone everywhere must ALSO do it. Why do you not go further:

“I home educated my child from birth; everyone in Britain should do so also.”
“I sent my child to a State School; everyone in Britain should do so also.”
“I sent my child to a Public School; everyone in Britain should do so also.”
“I sent my child to a live with my relatives in Australia; everyone in Britain should do so also.”
“I sent my child to a Koran Chain School; everyone in Britain should do so also.”

Its just totally absurd.

Under those circumstances, it is impossible for the local authority to have the least idea what is happening with regard to the child’s education.

And there is no problem with this. It is not the Local Authority’s place to know what is happening with the education of children that are not in the school systems they are responsible for. The curriculum that children in private schools follow is not the responsibility of the Local Authority, and the same is true for Home Educators.

It is high time that LEAs were given the power to check up on the wellbeing and educational attainments of these children.

Why? Home Education has been working brilliantly for decades (actually generations) with no interference whatsoever. Why NOW is it ‘high time’? This is more unsubstantiated nonsense by a promoter of the nanny state. And of course, the very idea that Home Educated children need to have their wellbeing checkup up on is completely false. Statistically, Home Educated children are more safe than children who attend schools; thanks to AheD we are now in the possession of ACUTAL STATISTICS that prove this.

The furious opposition to any change in the law is spearheaded by autonomous educators who are, not surprisingly, anxious to prevent anybody from assessing the efficacy of their educational provision.

Once again, unsubstantiated nonsense. As for the proficiency of their educational provision, I would not even go there. Despite what everyone might think is the case, Autonomous Learners and Unschoolers do very well… whatever that means which is not up to you or me.

While fighting for their own “rights”, such people are denying their children one of the most important rights that other children in this country enjoy; the right to a proper education.

Astonishing. There are people who would say that Mr. Webb is denying his child a proper education by keeping it out of school. They would say that it is missing out on all the things I listed and more. Who is going to stick up for Mr. Webb when it is decided that his form of Home Education is unacceptable?

The writer is a home-educating parent who works with children with special needs in inner London


This is a matter of principle. It is a matter of what a parent is and what the proper role of government is.

There are people in Britain, ‘The Cancer That is Killing Britain’, who are willing to give up their liberties to make the ever present other ‘safe’. I fear this article is written by one of those people.

The idea that one type of Home Education is superior to another is false. Home Education is tailored to the needs of the children who receive it. Only the parent can decide what that should be and how it should work. If the state decides, then the child becomes the property of the state.

People who advocate this are advocating the ownership of people, which is slavery.

Quite apart from this, the statistics have shown that Home Educated children are LESS likely to be at risk than children who are sent to school. They outperform all schoolchildren academically… if you read BLOGDIAL, you know all of this and the rest.

The real reason why the collectivists are scrambling to shut down Home Education is that the people this process produces are a real threat, and Autonomous Learners are the most dangerous of all Home Educated people. They are the ones who were never spoon fed education; who came to the realization themselves that they needed to read, and who then go on to university purely because they want to, with the powerful idea instilled in them that they can do and achieve whatever they want, and that nothing can stand in their way.

A person like that is a fearful prospect for those that want every nail to be hammered down.


Look at all the comments that are flooding in on the article at the Independent website from where we get this gem:

Where Mr. Webb feels the heat of an ignoramus hurling vile insults at him and his daughter. In the light of this, HOW is it possible that he can launch an attack on Autonomous Learners like this, having suffered this way himself?!

and NOW we see why this piece was written and published; take a look at this GoogleDocs document!!!

4 Responses to “Divide and conquer!”

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