The media and home education

Well it’s certainly been an interesting day among the home educating community today!

A lot of people will probably be aware by now about the mum who apparently ‘home schools’ by letting her children play games ALL day. The problem is that they probably haven’t read past the headlines, which is quite honestly not surprising given the tabloids have newspapers to sell and TV shows want people to tune in to their programmes.

The response from the community is mixed, as it ever is when these types of things pop up. While I don’t generally agree with doing interviews (I certainly wouldn’t offer to do an interview or accept one myself, nor give out my child’s details to the public) I find myself feeling frustrated.

I certainly don’t agree with everything that has been written, and no, the family doesn’t home educate their children the way I home educate mine because while our approach is similar in many ways, home education is tailored to each child! So how could their journey ever possibly be the same as ours? However when I logged into an influx of notifications today, I expected the article content to be far worse than it was (by no means am I saying it was a brilliant piece, but it’s not the worst I have read either.)

A quick google search gave me no less than 7 results in the ‘news’ tab.

A quick read of the articles (the story is now going worldwide) and I learnt just how sensationalist the headlines are, for example;

  • Their daughter wants to be a cook, and spends time pursuing that interest.
  • All their children can read, while not formally taught they have learnt through books, games and simply following their interests.
  • Their eldest has chosen to take English and Maths lessons.
  • They regularly go swimming and are in a local football club.
  • They regularly attend home ed meets.
  • Their children have a set time that they need to come off technology by ready for bed.
  • They read books together every night before bed.
  • They have visited lots of museums, galleries and nature parks.

But if you don’t read the article (and by read, I don’t mean quickly skim over it) you don’t learn about the cool things they are doing on their journey.

There have been strong feelings about this article, both from the public and the home educating community itself, but aside from the outrageously ridiculous headline, and however this article came to be (I don’t pretend to know her reasons for speaking to the media) the Mother hasn’t actually shown home education to be anything other than the wonderful and diverse journey it is for each family.

She’s made it clear that the journey is different for everyone, she’s made it clear that her family doesn’t ‘just’ game, she’s also made it clear that she doesn’t represent the EHE community. I’m honestly not sure what she could have done differently.

Would I speak to the media? No.

Would I give out my child’s details publicly? No.

This is because as media interest continues to evolve into the wonderful world of elective home education, and people such as Monk continue to try to push their own agendas. I fully expect that more home educators will be asked to give interviews.

However media-savvy we are (or not) the media will always seek to present it in a way that suits their own agenda. In this case they have made gaming into the big news, and what actually happens a smaller part of the story. So whose agenda are they actually working to? My only concern about this article is about how it will be further manipulated and to whose ends it will be for.

But while I don’t defend what has happened, I certainly won’t be withdrawing my support for another home educating family because of it.

An open letter…

I read this article on TES the other day, and felt utterly dumbfounded once again at the lack of understanding of the laws that govern those who purport to know better than us mere mortals. So Mr Wood, this an … Continue reading