Monday, January 26, 2009

One observation

The following was written by Adele. I'm posting it here, with her permission, to help to widen the debate about the (IMO crucial) point she raises:

The imaginary target group problem

As I see it, our biggest problem with this review is going to be that any defense of ourselves will be automatically moot on the grounds that it's not *us* they're concerned about anyway.

So we can show them how great HE is, how normal HE families are, how caring and dedicated HE parents are etc And we can tell them how discriminated against we feel.

And it won't matter.

Because their counter argument will amount to "We have no truck with home educators. It's people who *pretend to be* home educators we are concerned with".

It's near genius; the people they claim to be concerned about can't defend themselves because they don't actually exist and, even if they did exist, they'd have no defense, as they'd have to be guilty in order to fit under the heading of the people they claim to be concerned about. And because they can say that *we* are *not* the people they claim to be concerned about, *our* defenses won't mean

We prove our innocence, they counter that they have always accepted it, and it's the not the innocent they're concerned with; the people they are concerned with are the guilty. Thus no defense is possible. By making it about people who use HE as a cover for all sorts of unpleasant things, they create a set up where HEers cannot defend
themselves as the fact that we're *really* HEers means we fall outside of this category.

So it becomes impossible to address their concerns, except by arguing that they have no evidence to suggest the existence of the people they're worried about. And this has limited potential because just one or two cases are enough for them to claim *the possibility* that there *could be* more (and prop up the dubious conclusions they draw from this). And, even if we could prove there were *no* cases, they could then counter that they're just trying to ensure that it stays that way.

So... How do we fight this? I think making it clear that this is what they are doing, and that we know that this is what they are doing and can see the flaws in their arguments, is a good starting point. Not sure where to go from there.


Blogger cosmic seed said...

Oh yes, we heard this at the LA meetings we had too. *Sigh*

2:33 pm, January 26, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

There must be a solution to it, if someone can only think of it.

I never was much good at chess though. What we need is a good strategist!

3:12 pm, January 26, 2009  
Blogger Mieke said...

Yep, well spotted. We were talking here about how it resembled the strategies they've used re compulsive carrying ID cards and the new stop and search laws.
I'm not well enough into GB politics to come up with how that ended and if anybody found a good counter strategy... I'll have to do a bit of research.
As my dh says: "The Soviet Union is alive and well and living in the UK".

4:42 pm, January 26, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

In marial arts training, we learned that if someone is coming at you with a great force, there are two things you have to do: get out of the way, and then help your opponent to follow through. The fact that you're not there any more means he ends up on the floor.

4:53 pm, January 26, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

- but quite how that translates to this situation, I don't know! There will be a way though.

4:56 pm, January 26, 2009  
Blogger Merry said...

I felt like i got somewhere close to an idea on this earlier, but it has just gone out of my head.

Effectively what is required even to start the process is that they alter the wording of their questions to "children missing in education" as opposed to Home education. If they won't do that, they effectively prove it IS us they are after, if they will, it does at least narrow it down to unfound HEers and CME - which is far from perfect i agree but at least forces the admission that they recognise a difference.

How you address the fact that CME and unfound HE then becomes the same, i just don't know - because it might be clear to us but it isn't clear elsewhere and lack of understanding allows them to fuel the suspicion.

5:04 pm, January 26, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Yes, they just can't tolerate the exemption of some of our children from 'the system' (as they refer to it in their questions), can they?

5:15 pm, January 26, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

One thing that puzzles me is: why are they doing this now? Because they're going to track all the 'CME' and all the HErs with ContactPoint anyway, aren't they? So why bother with this now?

What's this review and the subsequent further consult and, potentially, legislation, intended to achieve that ContactPoint won't?

5:48 pm, January 26, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Oh yes, ContactPoint only gets everyone registered, doesn't it? The monitoring and testing isn't covered yet, which is what this is really about.

5:56 pm, January 26, 2009  
Blogger Augustin Moga said...

IMHO, one way of tackling the issue is by acknowledging that yes, we don't live in a perfect world, and that means there might be child abusers among parents. Some of which (but certainly not all of them) might even be among those that choose to HE.

However, if the Gov't is really concerned about child abuse then they should go after ALL abusers and legislate in a way that targets all of them, not any particular sub-group. Which implies that any legislation should have no reference to HE.

Forcing a parallel, it is like acknowledging that some of the people that find out about having AIDS couldn't care less about it and knowingly continue to put other people at risk of contracting the virus. And then the Gov't comes and says, hey, let's put up some legislation that targets only those that are gays (or whatever other sub-group) and behave like this. It doesn't make sense. You either go after all of them or none. Half measures never work.

6:20 pm, January 26, 2009  
Blogger emma said...

I think I have it.

We say loud and clear, very loud and clear, that the current legal framework is perfectly adequate, but that the implementation of that framework by LAs and SS is woefully inadequate. We say even more loudly that this appears to us to be a smokescreen attempt to be seen to be "doing something" when what is needed is not to curtail the freedoms of thousands of innocent families, but to address the institutional failings within the government agencies charged with carrying out the existing law.

Further, we scream from the rooftops that the proposed changes to compulsory monitoring of HE families WILL NOT ACHIEVE what the LAs and SS are aiming to achieve - viz, the eradication of any potential of abuse within HE families - and we explain exactly why (for my yammerings on that, see the consultation response on my blog). Not only would the desired new powers be invasive and discriminatory, they would also fail to achieve their goal.

So we don't claim that there is no abuse within any HE families, and we don't claim that there are no ostensibly HE families where the children are failing to receive an education, but we point out that the existing legal framework would be perfectly adequate to identify and address those cases if only the government agencies concerned were less incompetent.

6:44 pm, January 26, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Seems like you're both kind of saying the same thing there. I can see the line of thinking, and yes, it's probably worth a try.

In all honesty though, is that going to be enough to make them go away and leave us alone..?

7:57 pm, January 26, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

That reminds me: I once had a friend who went for a job at our local council. Part of the brief for his interview was to go and question some local 'impoverished' single mothers and to find out what we *really* wanted from them, by way of services. So he came straight to my door with his clipboard and earnestly entreated me to share my deepest, LA-related desires with him, so I did: "I'd like the council to just go away and leave us alone, please."

Funny, the friendship cooled somewhat after that ;-)

8:01 pm, January 26, 2009  
Blogger Baz said...

I would suggest not going after the message to discredit it, because you'll end up slapping your head up a wall, but instead go after the way its put forward.

Its a very clever piece of propaganda that Goebbels would be proud of - and thats the key.

Reverse it back.

Its the kind of labelling the Nazi's would have used against the jews - "they might be doing this, they might be doing that, lets regulate and control and remove..." etc, so.... throw it right back at them invoking the Nazi propaganda inference - point out that the wording is something Goebbels would have been proud of, that its a nasty horrible piece of propaganda, and that you don't want to be treated on a par with the way the jews were in 1936 when the Nuremberg laws were passed in Nazi Germany and they started being treated as second class citizens.

I'm sure with a bit of digging you could find similar inferences from back then, and point out the similarities.

9:12 am, January 27, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Ah! Yes, I like that idea. Thanks!

9:18 am, January 27, 2009  
Blogger Mieke said...

Although I wouldn't hesitate to use the term propaganda, I have great doubts if comparing our govt to Goebbels and co, and our own situation to that of the Jews under the Nazi regime would be to our advantage.

9:32 am, January 27, 2009  
Blogger these boots said...

We are currently 'hidden' from the LEA. I don't really understand how we can be ... we are tax payers, we receive child benefit and child tax credit for our children, they are of 'school age' and they are not registered in a school. You'd think that if the govt were even slightly capable all they'd have to do is spot the loose ends.

IF there was some solid assurance that our choices will not be interfered with, then we would happily register as home educators. We are proud of what we do and in a way we want to stand up and be counted. The only reason for not doing so is because we want to be left alone to pursue our chosen lifestyle.

I still wonder if there's a way we can set the terms for registration ourselves, as it seems inevitable that otherwise the govt will set them for us in time.

But then, there's so many huge problems with that. There are 'certain organisations' supporting home ed who I would not want to be in sole control of setting the parameters. Maybe we need a regulatory body which comprises members of *all* the main home ed groups ... if something like that happened then I would be prepared to put my trust in it. Does a precedent for that kind of thing exist?

9:37 am, January 27, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Hmm, I see what you mean Mieke, but the point is that government usage of such propaganda can only be nefarious, surely? It's probably enough to just say that though.

Lucy, I think we're as close to that situation as we're ever likely to get, given the history between the various personalities and orgs. If there was to be an overarching regulatory body, then government would have more of a hand in the running of it, which would be bad news IMO.

But there's enough organic cross-communication and networking in the HE "community" to do the job well enough, and I would expect that when Contact Point kicks in and registration ceases to be voluntary, there will be discussions about how to manage that.

Perhaps we should be having those discussions now, I don't know.. isn't this country going bankrupt yet, anyway? Would be handy if we ran out of money for the monstrous schemes like Contact Point..

10:00 am, January 27, 2009  
Blogger Baz said...

The simple fact is that the government is engaging in some rather nasty propaganda, and playing "nice" in response to them is only going to end up in one result.

It needs to be called that, and exposed as such. Goebbels is the most famous user of the medium, which is why its worth bringing the name into the equation.

They have no remorse in tugging on peoples heart strings with what they've written. Turnabout is fair play.

1:29 pm, January 27, 2009  

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