Say it like it is

What’s been said?

In her Aug 2017 report to the Tynwald concluding her first year as Isle of Man Children’s Champion, Daphne Caine cites an email which she had received from a 13 year old local girl who is being educated at home. Caine also appends a report commissioned from social worker and solicitor Allan Norman by two sets of IOM home educating parents concerned that new educational proposals were likely to “tighten government control over home education in particular, rather than creating a rights-based framework for children’s education.” (see our previous article) Hence they asked Norman to “provide an opinion on the framework for home education on the Isle of Man”. His report is worthy of consideration as a separate issue, but this Byte focuses solely on the young lady’s letter to the Children’s Champion.

Why does it matter?

Daphne Caine presumably felt the girl’s letter had relevance to her own stated role “to provide a voice for children and in particular for those children who may have no other form of representation such as vulnerable or looked after children.”

It is an important piece of first hand evidence of the views of a home educated young person about increased government intervention in what she feels is the private and in-house matter of the education provided by her parents. Written with refreshing candour but not in a sassy tone, the letter reveals what she values about being home educated, how she reached her own opinions about this as she grew older, and a range of reasons why she would not like to attend school now though her parents have offered her the opportunity to do so.

Why choose to be one of a crowd and be taught by someone who doesn’t know her, she reasons, when she can pursue her own interests using materials selected with her in mind? Besides the ability to express her point of view articulately, the writer demonstrates maturity as she reflects that “being home educated has and is teaching me how to be independent and I also learn about myself: what I like, what I don’t like and how best I learn.” Her perception of school as “a fake environment where people are constantly being measured up against each other which causes great stress and people to either become big-headed or low on self-esteem” is remarkable. And her reassuring words to the Government and others who may worry about how home educated children could possibly socialise would be funny if it weren’t for the issue she raises in tandem – that feeling of always being watched or judged by the outside world.

So her closing plea to the government to abandon the idea of monitoring home educators carries a lot of weight. Back off, outside world – some things are private and should remain so!

What can I do?

Read and enjoy it for what it is, but also keep it to hand for those times when people tell you that home educated youngsters are ill-prepared to engage with the world outside their door.

Those of you who are home educating older young people could consider whether they too would like to read this letter – they might be inspired to follow suit.