Train up a child in the way he should go

It is no particular secret that I had two main reasons for educating my own child entirely at home. One of these was that many maintained schools are so terrible now that one simply cannot rely upon them to deliver even the most rudimentary education effectively. The other motive was religious. I wanted my daughter to grow up learning about God and not to be over-influenced by the mores of today's society. I lived in Israel for years and am a Zionist who believes that the Bible contains a good deal of solid information regarding what the Lord requires from us. We must care for the feeble and sick, be loving and kind to strangers, protect the widow and orphan; stuff like that. The two passages which underpinned the plans for my daughter's upbringing were Proverbs 22: 6, 'Train up a child in the way he will go and when he is old, he will not depart from it' and also from Proverbs, 1: 7, 'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but fools despise wisdom and instruction'.

I am aware that at this point many readers will be dismissing me as being a cross between Dot Cotton on Eastenders and a gun toting, Bible waving loony from the American deep South, but so be it! I have an idea that in fact many British home educators like having their children at home for precisely similar reasons to mine. I don't mean that their children's earliest writing practice was, like my daughter's, copying out the Commandments. I am thinking in a broader sense about transmitting their own particular values to their children and trying to counter what they see as dangerous and pernicious trends which affect children at school adversely. I have the impression, and it is no more than that, that a lot of home educators are at least as much concerned about how their child's character is formed as they are about what academic progress the kid makes when a teenager.

One seldom hears parents of school children speaking enthusiastically about the habits and belief systems which their children have acquired at school. I can't remember when last I heard a mother say, 'Johnny has learned some really sound values since he began secondary school'. Most parents fret about the negative effects which other children have upon their own child, in a moral and ethical sense. Those who keep their kids at home with them are spared this. Of course it is not really the done thing these days to talk openly about the moral and spiritual education of children, but whatever terms we use, I think that this is still a big concern for many of us. I have an idea that whatever else has prompted people to undertake the education of their children themselves, this plays a big role in reassuring them that they have made the right decision.