Back in the days when I was studying for the MA in Religious Ed and Catechesis we learned about heresies and how they came about. All very fascinating. The way Father described them was interesting. He said it was like a pendulum-when it hangs straight down that’s orthodoxy, but it swung one way-say Jesus has one nature, human it would swing back the other Jesus has one nature Divine.
Well I reckon that pendulum swings in other areas of life and belief, such as home education.
I would like to suggest the orthodox view of HE is that it is a system of family life where parents and children learn together using methods and following philosophies that suit that family. It’s a pretty flexible view that takes into consideration that families are different. It also recognises that some families are dysfunctional enough that HE would not work for them (not that this automatically means that school would).
The heresies that occur are (it seems to me) the view that all HE families are doing a marvellous job with their marvellous well rounded children. That there is no need for discipline because children are automatically ever so good.
The opposite one is that only one sort of HE could possibly work; “mine”. All other HE families are either utterly lax or utterly tyrannical. On the structured side it would be all HE children are set to fail in life because they haven’t done gcse’s or something equal. On the other side (AE) there can be the view that any child with a structured education is being “forced” or “coerced” and this is bad.
Then the ‘others’ pipe up with the myriad of HE myths. I think sometimes though the myths grow out of the heresies.
I think one of the things the Badman-Balls attack did for us HEers was to show that freedom for families to do what is best for their children means freedom for all. The words “forced” and “coerced” disappeared and despite some pretty awful media stories showing Autonomous Education as idle parents with pretty foul children, we all saw more and more AE families where the parents and children worked and learned together.
I don’t doubt the myths will remain; that HE children are weird, uneducated because they lack the school qualifications or hot housed because they are doing uni level work before the age of 18. There are loads of other great sweeping myths out there-but they are all essentially the same; HE is too hard and easy and the children are too well educated not socialised and not educated. The myths are meaningless twaddle.
The other area linked with family life and Home Education where heresy and myth abound is in those precious freedoms. Freedom is by it’s very nature bound. It is in its binding us that it ensures we are all free.
We are free to do good, to be bound by the golden rule of do as you would be done by. We are free to be bound by our properly formed consciences.
Freedom does not allow us to kill or otherwise harm ourselves or others. It does not give someone the right of power; sorry Badman and Balls et al, it just doesn’t. People who use “freedom” to mean licence to bully, lie and manipulate will always lose one way or another. Sadly they often don’t get justice until a lot of damage has been done to the innocent.
To be honest I don’t see how you can have true freedom or rights without God as author. I know some people have attempted to write a Godless morality but the fact is once you decide that man can decide what rights are you are pretty quickly facing the fact that certain powerful men (and women) will soon be avoiding natural law and arbitrarily deciding who gets what rights and when. Just look at Communism, National Socialism and the mean secularism of our own country.
It is no surprise then that with the keys of No 10 still cold in his hands, Cameron has already reneged on his promise to support marriage.
The problem with natural law is it’s a lot like the laws of nature. Take gravity for example, you can’t break the law of gravity, if you try the law of gravity will break you (as Scott Hahn reminds us).
It’s time for a bit of quiet distributism.