Censorship in the world of British home education

There are probably those who will be horrified to see that I am posting here again. ‘Oh no’ they cry in dismay, ‘We thought we’d seen the back of that idiot!’ Well, not quite. I stopped blogging here regularly because I had too much going on in my life to be able to keep this blog. I hoped instead to keep in touch on various home education lists and forums; posting from time to time there as some subject cropped up which interested me. This is no longer possible.

Let us start on the Badman Review Action Group list, where a lively debate has been taking place about the merits or otherwise of GCSEs for home educated children. This is a hot topic, because some parents want state funding for these examinations for their children who are not at school. Others think that this would be inviting official interference in home educating. The opinion was expressed there that employers no longer value these qualifications and I responded by posting some statistics about how employers actually viewed GCSEs. As a result, I was described as a ‘pillock’ and ‘pathetic troll’, to say nothing of being told that I was ‘spewing nonsense’. Presumably the moderators were having a doze! They soon woke up on the evening of November 6th when I posted some more figures. This post vanished without a trace. Another was delayed for five hours. The next morning, people were enquiring as to the source of the statistics which I had posted, as well as asking a few other questions. I sent five messages, each going courteously through all the points which had been raised. Four of these vanished; one was posted eleven hours later. It was plain that I was being prevented from introducing facts and figures into the debate.

I drew attention to this on the EO list to which I belong. This provoked a response from one of the moderators on BRAG who put a message up on the EO list. I replied on the list on the morning of the November 12th. My reply has apparently fallen into the same black hole as my messages on BRAG! That this was not a technical glitch was confirmed when I posted a reply to the concerns raised by somebody else on the EO list. This person was worried about the stifling of debate and called for us all to challenge censorship around home education. True, her concerns were that this was happening with local authorities and newspapers, which is quite true, but I thought that I would point out that it also happens with home education groups. I as sent a message saying that the EO moderators had rejected my message because they did not think that the EO list was the right place for such a debate.

There is something deliciously ironic about somebody quite properly raising concerns about censorship, as was done by the poster on November 11th and that the first person to respond to this message is himself censored. If this sort of thing were limited only to the EO list and BRAG or if I were the only person affected, perhaps this would not be so important. These games are going on all over the home education Internet scene in this country though, especially on the larger forums and lists. The HE-UK list if famous for chucking people off who irritate the owner by their heterodox views and Tania Berlow was thrown off the Home Education Forums site for saying the wrong things. This was particularly unfortunate. I don’t agree with Tania about much, but she did a lot of work during the Badman Review, gathering statistics and so on.

There is something a little bizarre about the sight of people who are very keen on proclaiming the rights of the individual and then engaging in censorship.