Home schooling is still a minority pursuit amid the vast majority of parents within our community. It takes courage, and perhaps a little pig headedness, to swim against the tide when it comes to something as important as education. Educating Little Johnny and Jasmine is one of the sacred pillars of parenting. Get it wrong and the individuals and families concerned are in big trouble.
We want our children to be better than ourselves: smarter, wealthier and happier if possible. Some parents believe that if they spend large amounts of money sending their children to prestigious private schools then they are doing the right thing and the best possible thing, in terms of their kid’s education. A far smaller percentage of parents are taking the education of their children into their own hands.
Home education, natural learning, unschooling, home-based education and home schooling are just some of the terms used to describe this age-old process. The important point is, that it is education by the parents. Demystifying this anti-institutionalised educative movement is paramount if we as a community are to have an intelligent discussion about its merits and failures.
Home schooling does fly in the face of a major societal trend and that is to outsource important things to specialists. Outsourcing the education of your children really began back in the eighteenth century, here in the West, in the beginning it was only for the wealthy and upper classes; all other kids were sent to work as soon as possible. The industrial revolution had kids as young as six working twelve hour days. When the Enlightenment banned child labour, all those children had to be sent somewhere; the result was the birth of schools in cities across Europe.
Teaching children has always run second to controlling children and keeping then safe; well reasonably safe. The economics of institutionalised education has meant classes sizes of at least thirty and upwards, which puts the emphasis on socialisation. Spending six hours a day in the close company of thirty other kids of a similar age is not exactly natural but it has become the norm over the last hundred or so years. Is it the ideal ambience for learning, however? Probably not.
Schools and large class rooms foster competitiveness and favour the louder, more extroverted children. Schools are the breeding ground for the phenomena known as ‘the bully’. Class rooms must adhere to the learning rate of the lowest common denominator or the slowest in the class. How is a subtle or sensitive concept taught amid the clamour and rumblings of thirty plus children being shouted down by an overwrought teacher?
Who knows a child best? A parent or the aforesaid teacher from the previous paragraph? Home schooling is not only down to the parent, there are home schooling curriculums and organisations. These support structures are designed to help parents who make the choice to home educate their children.
A common complaint voiced by parents who oppose home schooling is that these kids are neglected in terms of their group experiences by not attending an institution. Lack of the mob mentality is seen as a psychological danger to these individuals. Home schooled children can and do belong to suburban sporting groups and other recreational associations; school is not the only place for socialisation in our communities but is often thought of as so. Why are we so afraid of the unique and the individual? Standing out from the crowd is often a common anxiety experienced by school children during their formative years. Are we afraid of the brightest and the best? Hiding down the back of the class is a behaviour born of this institutionalised educative process.
Home schooling could, in fact, produce cleverer and more original members of our communities, which may result in new innovations. Our nations could be not only greater but fairer and more socially inclusive if home education became more popular. It is exciting to think about, don’t you think?
If you found this informative, you may like to also read the Study Tips For Parents article on the home page provided by Dux College who provide HSC Tutoring in Sydney for many students who have been home schooled.