Reposted from AHEd list: Our Disagreements are our Strength

AHEd as a whole, as an organisation, exists to support the right of everyone to home educate. That’s it, straight down the line, anything else is a distraction, a side issue.
However. Forging ahead with the side issue…
What would disappoint me would be to say to anyone on the list “you can’t express your opinions because it offends someone.” This means that people are going to come up against other people expressing opinions they disagree with, but as long as it doesn’t turn into people saying “people like you shouldn’t home educate”, I don’t know that it’s the business of AHEd in the person of the list owners to step in.
In order to keep AHEd as an organisation that supports all home educators, I think we need to accept disagreements, even very deeply held ones, and accept that in defending the right of all to home educate, we must defend people who are home educating in ways we may personally think are wrong. We have to accept any opposing sides in any argument, as long as they’re all supporting the universal right to home ed, and as an organisation we should accept the presence of arguments as an okay thing to have, even a good thing.
One of the truisms of the fight for freedom of speech, freedom of conscience is that in order for it to be meaningful, you fight for the right for people to say and believe things you personally find repugnant. The fight for educational, parental, child freedom has to include freedom for people to handle their families in ways we find just plain wrong. It also includes the responsibility to tolerate people telling us we’re doing it wrong ourselves!
As soon as we deny people the freedom to, in our opinion, Get It Wrong, we’re heading for, at best, the Tasmanian model. But we have to balance this with excluding people by telling them You Cannot Say This Here.
As long as people in this group can say to each other “Even if I do not agree with how you live your life, I will defend your right to conduct it without the interference of the state or their dupes”, in my opinion we’re doing the right thing as a group.
Tolerance does not necessarily imply approval, disagreement does not necessarily imply intolerance. If we can foster a group that values both disagreement and tolerance in the service of defending the broad principle of home education FOR ALL, I think we’ll be a stronger organisation for it.

The alternative is, I think, a homogeneous, exclusive, somewhat wishy washy group, dominated by passive aggressive sniping, veiled references to taboo subjects and off-list bitching. I’ve been involved in too many of those online, thank you very much, and AHEd is too important to let it become, well, like the rest of the internet.


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