The Guardian’s [W:Ben Goldacre] piece today threw up some interesting links. The VoteMatch site is like an online dating service for you to be matched to your ideal local candidate. One particularly taxing question was the old tax breaks for educating children outside the school system….

I remain open minded about such things. While the BNP were in favour the Lib Dems (my ideal match apparently) were not…

It looks like a close call between Lib Dems and Greens but the local Green chappie, a teacher, has ruled himself out with a leaflet that promises to protect the education system; which is about as un-green a system as one could possibly devise.

It seems to me that the home education community (whoever they are!) lack a certain degree of imagination in their protestations against the [W:Badman Review]. “They sign those petitions ’til they’re sad in the face. And still they seem to be getting no place.” So “If public policy gets on your nerves. And no one pays attention to you” all you need to do is get naked!

What you have to do is what the [W:Doukhobor] did….

Written by [W:Malvina Reynolds] and performed by [W:Pete Seeger].

The Freedom In Education Under Threat blog is one of the reality distorting points of view that seem to predominate the home education blogging world. The Home Education and Religion post is a typical non-story that is inflated to bizarre proportions.

Selectively quoting is a dangerous game. Peter Traves was responding to a comment about failing schools. The full quote is:

May I respond to that? I don’t see how the issue of failing schools negates the issue about our responsibility to children who are not educated in schools. We have a responsibility to improve all schools, and that is absolutely right and proper. On the issue of withdrawal, parents withdraw their children from school for a whole range of reasons. I did six years of home visits, and there were parents who withdrew their children because we had failed them-that is absolutely true. There were parents who had withdrawn their children for ideological reasons because they had a profound belief in a different form of education, which I respected. There were also parents who withdrew their children for particular religious views because they wanted those views inculcated in that child. It is not just about the rights of parents, but about the rights of children. It is not necessarily about the state’s responsibility to children, but about the community’s responsibility to them.

So what is the complaint? Are we being asked to support the Indoctrination of children? Who knows? The original complaint is conflated with some perceived descent into a fascist state.

Really? The evidence seems to be a little slim.

Shall we just ignore “The council said the children would not have been moved solely on the basis of weight.” Perhaps they were the only fat family in town and so singled out. Perhaps not.

Nowhere in the linked article or in the report is there mention of “Your 5 year old being taught how to masturbate”

But why let mere facts get in the way of good rant story.

Home educators love to cut and paste. A popular choice for practising their cut and paste skills are lists of famous people who were home educated. Look – here comes one now….

The reality was… if you were born before schools were widely available (I note those born in the 1700s or earlier), female, black, poor, wealthy, a child performer, from an age when young children worked, lived in the middle of nowhere, or had poor health….. the chances are you would have had little or no school based education. This is not a positive / choice / elective thing. This is just the way it was. So let’s look at this list….

Abraham Lincoln – Impoverished family. Some schooling. At 9 his mother died. Mostly self taught.

Noel Coward – Chapel Royal Choir School
, Clapham

Michael Faraday – 
“my education was of the most ordinary description, consisting of little more than the rudiments of reading, writing, and arithmetic at a common day-school. My hours out of school were passed at home and in the streets”

LeAnn Rimes – Child performer

Phillis Wheatley – Slave born c. 1753 Tutored by her ‘owners’

Benjamin Frankilin (B. 1706)
 – attended Boston Latin School for a couple of years but unable to continue due to a lack of money

Claude Monet – Le Havre secondary school of the arts

John Paul Jones (B. 1747)
 – Apprenticed at 13

George Washington (B. 1732)

John Philip Sousa – 
educated in harmony and musical composition from age six. Apprenticed at 13

Margaret Atwood – 
attended Leaside High School, Toronto and graduated in 1957

Henry Clay (B. 1777)
 – Assorted education/working childhood

Ansel Adams – Withdrawn from school in 1915 briefly tutored at home, returning to private school.

John Burrows (? Who he?)

Whoopi Goldberg
 – St Columba Catholic School
, 331 W 25th St, New York.

Wright Brothers – Went to school. Wilbur briefly educated at home due to injury sustained at school.

William Samuel Johnson (B. 1727)
 – graduated from Yale College aged 17

Beatrix Potter
 – Wealthy family. Educated by governesses at home.

Irving Berlin – Left school at 8 to work to support family after death of father.

Sandra Day O’Connor – 
For most of her early schooling, O’Connor lived in El Paso with her maternal grandmother, and attended public schools and the Radford School for Girls, a private school.

Andrew Carnegie – 
educated at a Lancastrian school, emigrated to US and started work at 13.

Charlie Chaplin – Archbishop Temples Boys School.

Blaise Pascal (B. 1623)
 – Educated by father himself university educated mathematics/scientist.

Hanson (Blush)

Walt Whitman – 
Left school at 11 to work to support impoverished family.

Mark Twain (B. Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
 – Father died when he was 11 – started work as apprentice printer.

Andrew Wyeth
home-tutored because of his frail health

Martha Washington (B. 1731) – 
Raised on parents 500 acre plantation

Soichiro Honda – Futamata Senior Elementary School.

Alexander Graham Bell – 
Royal High School, Edinburgh – left at 15

John Witherspoon (B. 1723) – 
attended the Haddington Grammar School, and obtained a Master of Arts from the University of Edinburgh in 1739.

Robert Frost – graduated from Lawrence High School

Pierre Du Pont – 
(Which one is not specified) Wealthy family – typical education followed….
Phillips Exeter Academy, Princeton University, and Harvard Law School

William Blake (B. 1757)
 – Apprenticed at 14

John Burrows (? Again. Who he?)

Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu (B. 1689) – 
College of Juilly

Andrew Jackson
(B. 1767)
 – Educated at local school during American War of Independence. Joined army at 13. Prisoner of war and orphaned at 14.

Pierre Curie – 
educated at the Sorbonne where he became an assistant in 1878. In 1882 he was made laboratory chief at the School of Industrial Physics and Chemistry where he remained until he was appointed professor of physics at the Sorbonne in 1904.

Louis Armstrong – Impoverished childhood attended Fisk School for Boys

Charles Dickens – William Giles’s School, in Chatham. Started working age 12 – rest of family in debtors prison.

Felix Mendelssohn – 
Private school / university but travelled a lot.

John Wesley (B. 1703)
 – Early education with parents then Charterhouse School in London

Thomas Paine (B.1737) – 
Thetford Grammar School. Apprenticed at 13.

Peter Kindersley – King Edward VI School, Norwich and the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts

Catharine Beecher – 
Initially taught at home went to school for limited education available to girls.

Hudson Taylor – educated at home and at a private day school, and as apprentice to his father. At fifteen he worked in a bank to learn accountancy

Charles Peale (B. 1741)

Florence Nightingale – Wealthy family. Father – educationist financed schools on his estate, oversaw the education of his daughters.

Joseph Pulitzer – 
private tutors/school

Theodore Roosevelt – “Owing to my asthma I was not able to go to school”

Franklin D. Roosevelt – (different family although concatenated on list)
Groton School

Charlotte Mason – Mostly educated at home

William Carey (B. 1761) – 
Father local schoolmaster. Apprenticed at 14.

Leonardo da Vinci (B. 1452) – 
Little known of early childhood. Apprenticed at 14.

John Stuart Mill – (This is not a good example!)
 Grew up “in the absence of love and the presence of fear… the boy worked alone with his father from 5 to 9 a.m., then assisted James (father) until noon with the lessons of two younger sisters. There is not a moment’s relaxation¦ no fault however trivial escapes [James’s] notice; none goes without reprehension or punishment. On one occasion all three children were kept at their books until 6 p.m. without a midday meal: the fault today is a mistake in one word”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (B. 1756)
 -Travelled widely from age of 6

Albert Schweitzer – At Mülhausen high school awarded his “Abitur” (the certificate at the end of secondary education).

Hans Christian Andersen – 
father died when he was 11 worked to support himself. Sponsor paid for him to go to a grammar school in Slagelse,

Ernest Shackleton – schooled by a governess until the age of 11, when he began at Fir Lodge Preparatory School in West Hill, Dulwich. At 13 he entered Dulwich College, a leading public school for boys

Joan of Arc (B. 1412)

There is a long history of actual educators who have developed the ideas of education otherwise than by schooling but that thread is broken and lost by the dumbing down of the home educators.