WEEK 5 SUSAN BRIGHT / the gaze 22.02.20



After the webinar ended yesterday we continued talking about the gaze in great detail, it was a really interesting and emotive subject, but I won’t write about it as it was unrecorded. However, I do want to note something that I personally brought up….

That is , that it has been suggested to me by a few people that home education was just “for white middle class people”

I have just been reading Susan brights ‘Art photography now’ and have come across the following which was said by Peter Gallassi , chief curator of photography at MoMa  ”showing that what we see always depends in part on what we expect to see.” in photography is a foreign language (Bright. 2011. pg 10)  and this is exactly what I was talking about in our webinar. It is presumed any images of home educating families will show white middle class families because that is what you ‘expect to see’, whereas in fact the spectrum of home educators is as big as the spectrum.

To all intent and purposes I am a white middle class woman, I am partaking in an Ma, and given that I run a business as does my husband, one would view me as middle class. However in the great British class survey in 2011 middle class was defined as “ As of 2011 the established middle class had an average household income of £47,000 a year and owned a home worth an average of £177,000 with average savings of £26,000. Many were graduates, and a majority of their members work in the professions or management.” (GBCS 2011) My household income is definitely not middle class, my house value is well over middle class, and I most definitely don’t own any savings, let alone £26,000 of them, my MA is paid for on a student loan, yet I lived in Paris for a summer, I took my boys to Rome for a week to study prescribed sources for their classical civilisation exam, yet we basically lived on beans on toast and noodles for a month to do it, so exactly how middle class am I ? I would say I was basically smack bang in the middle of the financial spectrum of home educators I know personally, but that doesn’t make me the ‘norm’. I know people who are CEO’s of large companies who home educate their children, and I know people who are on long term disability benefit that are home educators, yet when someone thinks of a home educator, if they do at all , they ‘see’ middle class.

This of course is all rendered irrelevant if you go by the extremely bias results (bias as it was only readers off the bbc that took part in the research) of the great British class survey as they deemed there were now 7 ‘classes’ of British society. Personally, I think it’s all rubbish, and a lot of people cross over , as we do ourselves, several of the boundaries of class system, and therefor make them obsolete.

It is also a dangerous stance to view things from. As I showed in my research last module, in contextual research week 11 – social services referrals of home educated children,

” In England, of you are parent of a home educated child aged 5-16  you are twice as likely to be reported to social services, than a mainstream schooled counterpart.

Of all those referred , the data shows for the 5-16 year old age range again, you are three and a half, to five times less likely for that referral to lead to a child protection plan being put in place.

This data is very transparent, home educating families are persecuted by both professionals and the public at large for their legal choice to home educate, whilst simultaneously, contrary to media rhetoric a home educated child that is referred is significantly less likely to need social services involvement than their schooled counterpart. ” ( Charles-Warner. W. (2015) )

This is why I am so interested in ‘The gaze’ and what it means as an artist, photographer, home educator, and member of the public , because your gaze and where that is coming from, not only change the way you view everything, as in all art, but can have huge reaching implications for people that choose to elective home education for their children.



Bright, Susan. 2011. Art photography now. London; Thames & Hudson.




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