Book Review: Latest from Chris Shute and Educational Heretics Press. Joy Baker: trailblazer for home-based education and personalised learning.

Educational Heretics Press 88th publication is NOW AVAILABLE Joy Baker: trailblazer for home-based education and personalised learning by Chris Shute. ISBN 978 1-900219-35-8 Price £10-00. Winston Churchill wrote that schools had little to do with education since they were mainly instruments of control. Joy Baker was of the same mind and sought to have her children educated rather than schooled. Later writers agreed with her – Paul Goodman in Compulsory Mis-education, John Holt in Instead of Education), and Everett Reimer in School is Dead, to mention but three. So had earlier writers such as the Chief Inspector of Schools, Edmond Holmes in The Tragedy of Education. Chris Shute tells the story of Joy Baker’s bitter encounters with the Authorities over a period of ten years or so. In the end the rigid policies of the Authorities were exposed and over-ruled. But she had to endure court hearing after court hearing, and at one stage, experience her children being taken away from her by force, before she eventually achieved success.  Joy Baker believed that she could do a better job of educating her children than the State could, in spite of its good intentions. She not only loved her children – most parents do that – but she also liked them and enjoyed their company. She foresaw that if she sent them to school not only would they be corrupted in many subtle ways, but also she would not be able to respond to their unique patterns of intellectual growth, answering their questions and making possible their discovery of the world in which we live. She did not want them to become mere rule-followers. She was certainly unusual, particularly in her belief that education was capable of being part of the panoply of responsibilities which belong to parents, and only by default to other people, such as teachers and school administrators.  Her generation was used to the idea that the State stood in the same relationship to individual citizens as a father did to his children. By refusing to send her children to school she was challenging not only the letter of the Law but also one of the most deeply rooted and durable presuppositions which determine our culture. She was refusing to be a compliant cog in Society’s machine. That Society responded to her ‘rebellion’ with all the anger and disproportionate vehemence which we have become used to seeing whenever one person refuses to bow to Authority.    
Chris Shute is a former teacher who became a notable writer on education. His previous titles have been: Compulsory Schooling Disease: How Children Absorb Fascist Values, then Alice Miller: The Unkind Society, Parenting and Schooling and then Edmond Holmes and ‘The Tragedy of Education’.  
For more information for this and all other EHP  books visit Educational Heretics Press: ‘The Read on Education’

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