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Sunday 22 October 2017

Flexibility isn't a bad life lesson, whether you learn it at home or in school

Full marks to Joe Duffy.

When Monica O'Connor compared herself to civil rights activists from the suffragettes to Rosa Parks on Wednesday's Liveline, he entered "Get a Grip" mode.

I tend to admire rebels, but Monica's a rebel without a c ause.

I've no problem with home-schooling. I'm barely capable of getting through the homework each day without psycho-drama so hat's off to someone who can teach their own children.

I know plenty of children who probably aren't suited to the school environment.

My middle child is a classic example. He adores learning. He's enthusiastic and curious and when he finds something that interests him he devours the knowledge.

But he finds the rigidity of school very hard and boring. When his interest is piqued and he wants to go off-subject and ask lots of questions, the teacher can't always indulge him.

I'm not blaming the system for that. It's how it has to be.

My son is the kind of child who would benefit from a more liberal, explorative learning process.

Monica O'Connor is a great parent and she educates her many children at home. Even more amazingly she fostered an Angolan teenage boy too.

Monica clearly has extraordinary reserves of energy, love and generosity. But janey mac, she's making life very hard on herself with this rebellion over the home inspection.

There's no harm going with the flow sometimes.

As a result of her refusal to pay a fine for declining to register her children for home-schooling, a warrant was issued for Monica's arrest.

She was temporarily admitted to Mountjoy Prison this week and was released shortly afterwards.

defence

She made a point. The State made a point.

It's a high-cost point - on both sides. On this one, I'm with the State.

Now, maybe she's been getting a hard time over the years for her different approach to child rearing.

If you're constantly on the defence sometimes you can end up digging your heels in when it's not necessary.

My heels are currently breaking through the earth's crust so I know what I'm talking about.

Anyway, when you choose to educate your children at home you have to register that you want to do so.

Then an inspector comes out, ticks the boxes and that's that.

The inspectors are very familiar with the O'Connor-O'Neill household because they've been approved before; so getting approval is not the issue.

Talking to Joe on Wednesday, Monica said the issue was that applying to educate one's children at home is tantamount to seeking permission to look after them too.

She also resented that the inspection regime is covered by the same legislation as truancy, as if that was a slur on home education.

I think anyone half-reasonable can see why there's an inspection.

flexibility

As Joe ably pointed out, it's to protect vulnerable children, not deny anyone's rights.

But O'Connor this week claimed she was teaching her children to stand up to bullies.

To the rest of us it looks like she's saying we should only obey the laws we like.

We all have our rights and freedoms but in order for society to function everyone has to give up some autonomy.

So filling out a form is not a big deal.

Flexibility isn't a bad life lesson either, whether you learn it at home or school.

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