Your front-page article “Radicalisation risk to home-schooled children” (20 December) is full of unsubstantiated suspicion and prejudice. People take responsibility for their child’s education for a variety of reasons, and the bulk of research demonstrates that children educated outside of schools generally turn out to be more, not less, socially aware and responsible.
Having jointly home-educated my three children while teaching part-time in London primary schools, I have learned that home-educated children tend to be better able to socialise with people from a wide range of backgrounds and ages. My children played football in our local inner-city parks with many groups of children, all of whom went to school. The Turkish boys came together, played together and left together, as did the Jamaicans, the Nigerians, etc. This reflects what often happens in secondary schools, with students gravitating towards people like themselves. My children, free of the pressures in schools to align themselves with any group, were able to get on with all of them.
The main business of childhood is play, coupled with the gradual assumption of control of their lives that enables children to grow into rounded adults. I encourage my children to take responsibility for their actions, and to be considerate of the effects of their behaviour on others and on the world. Through self-motivation, they have also managed to be successful in the conventional sense – one in starting his own business with colleagues, the other two by gaining good degrees. Home education works. It is the best thing I have done for my children.
Years ago, I told a female chum that I intended to propose at the Christmas table (“Merry Christmas, darling. Marry me!”, 20 December). “Don’t you dare put her in that position! Do it in private,” she said. I’m glad I did, because my girlfriend rejected me. After all the upset she’d seen her parents’ divorce cause, she explained how she loved me but could never consider marriage and, though it upset me at first, I loved her too, so we lived as partners.
Years later, on my fortieth birthday, she handed me a card that said inside “I want to be your wife”. It was the most romantic moment in the world. There’s something tender about a proposal alone.
Dr Russell-Jones is right that David Cameron’s claim after the Paris summit that “we have secured our planet for generations to come” is absurd (Letters, 20 December). Even if every pledge was implemented, the expected global temperature rise would still be far in excess of 2C.
The problem for politicians is that the public would not vote for the policies that would cut greenhouse gas emissions by enough to prevent runaway climate change, for example, big cuts in air travel, car use and meat consumption. Therefore, we have to invest urgently in technological solutions such as carbon scrubbing and geo-engineering. Otherwise, we can look forward to far more extreme weather conditions, crop failures, famine, and human migration on an even bigger scale.
Gloria De Piero says Ashfield is surrounded by Tory constituencies with large majorities (“Labour hits the road once more ...” 20 December). Ashfield is bordered by five constituencies. Of these, three are Tory – Amber Valley, Sherwood, and Broxtowe. Labour holds Mansfield and the redoubtable Skinner seat of Bolsover. Given six seats with Ashfield at the centre, it’s three each.
I agree with Andrew Martin (20 December) when he wishes “Jeremy Corbyn would revisit his idea of reopening some British mines”. It isn’t for sentimental reasons, but because coal is a home resource which doesn’t have to be imported. What’s more, under the glory days of the NUM, mining was a well-paid industry providing many manual jobs. A far cry from today.
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