An important anniversary

I must crave my readers' indulgence as I reflect that this blog has now been running for just over a year. I have been prompted to muse about this by something which I was reading on the HE-UK list recently. A new forum for home educators has been started, called Other(wise) Inclined and the woman who started it mentioned the fact on the HE-UK list. Mike Fortune-Wood, owner of the list, rather sniffily expressed the view that nobody really needed another HE forum and he couldn't see why anybody would want to start one. Others agreed. This struck me as being a bit strange. Imagine if somebody commented here and said that they were starting a blog on home education and I told them that it wasn't necessary because there were already enough blogs on the subject! A little thought though, made things clearer.

I have noticed lately that very few people are posting on either the HE-UK or the EO list. I have observed the same thing about the Badman review Action Group. In fact, looking at a typical day recently, August 17th, I see that the HE-UK, EO and BRAG lists had a total of only twenty four posts. This blog, by contrast, had forty seven; in other words twice as many as the other three lists put together. The number of visitors who come here without posting is of course much greater than that. I must confess that I was a little surprised to discover that numbers of some HE sites have fallen so dramatically. I see that poor Mike Fortune-Wood has now been reduced to trying to drum up visitors for his website by pimping it on BRAG and other lists.

Why are so many people coming onto this blog? Well of course it might be that they are attracted by my facility for (hem, hem) turning out such brilliant prose. I am inclined to doubt this. The writing is competent, but not really worth reading for its own sake. Initially of course, many people came here to hurl abuse at me and denounce me as a traitor and quisling to the cause of home education. Those types seem to have left though. It certainly can't be my winning personality and engaging charm which draws people because, as is generally known, I am an exceptionally abrasive and unpleasant sort of fellow. Exchanging comments with me is about as agreeable as having root canal treatment! Perhaps I am asking the wrong question. Maybe its not that this is an especially wonderful blog, perhaps it's that the other places where home education is discussed have something about them which people don't like and they come here because it is different.

A couple of years ago, there were some very spirited debates taking place on the HE-UK and EO lists. I say 'spirited'; downright vicious would be more accurate. In fact I have never encountered anything like it in my life. New members would join, express an opinion and be immediately savaged. It really was quite exciting. Many of the people who hung out on those two lists seemed to be permanently angry. One or two of them are still around. Ruth O'Hare from Godalming, AKA firebird2110, for instance. Anybody remember the angry pixie from the Faraway tree? That's what she always reminded me of. Also a bit like some retired colonel in Tunbridge Wells, going purple in the face every five minutes over some imagined slight or other. Of course, these angry home educators provided a certain amount of innocent amusement, but the novelty swiftly wore off. Many parents would join the lists, watch what was happening and then leave. The atmosphere on those places really was poisonous, with people being bullied and driven off a lot. I have remarked before on the irony that some of the worst offenders seemed to be mothers who had taken their children out of school due to bullying.

Now I fancy things are a little different here. True, I piss people off with my smug arrogance, but then again some of the people who comment here piss me off, so honours are pretty well even on that score. What I do notice is that there do not seem to be any really unpleasant arguments; people give the impression of trying to find common ground. Also, there is a good deal of humour, which has always been lacking from some other blogs and Internet lists on home education. All in all, if one forgets about the odd mad chess playing father, I think that this is a rather good natured and easy going place to visit, compared as I say with some home education sites.

Well, that's it folks. I'm not much given to nostalgia, but nor did I feel able to leave such a significant anniversary unremarked. Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.