I went to see the comedian Mark Watson doing a stand-up gig at a local club. One thing he likes is interacting with his audience. This time he left cards on tables for us to write on it any opinions we had individually that were seen as odd. I wrote that schooling should be abolished – this was a comedy gig and did need something controversial, even though I don’t hold to this in it’s extreme.

Mark comes on stage and picks out cards to read and one of these was mine. He asked who had written this and why did the person (me) think this. I asked him had he learned anything at school since he was 11 that he found useful on a daily basis. He couldn’t think of anything and, remember, he is an experienced performer who is excellent at responding quickly to his audience.

He then reversed the questioning and asked me if I did anything about this. I explained that we had a programme in the locality that was for young people aged 9-17 and it’s not a school and it has no curriculum, no imposed timetable and no classrooms. He challenged the legality of this saying that it’s the law that children go to school. He commented that getting his nine year-old to school was a problem but that he had to do it. I replied that it isn’t the law and that what we are doing is legal. He said that he would check this in the interval and come back after – and if he was right he’d report me to the authorities (I assumed that this was in jest).

He came back after the interval admitting that he had found out that I was correct and recognised that home education is legal. What’s interesting is;
1. He couldn’t answer my challenge.
2. That he – as a smart 40 year-old with two children – didn’t know the law. And possibly many of his audience were in the same position.

by Ian Cunningham