Home-Based Education

What is in a name?

Very interestingly, amongst the home educators that I interviewed there was a range of names given to the process of home-based education.  I am in the process of interacting with those names and considering as to whether they are synonymous, or whether they are ways of identifying different aspects of home-based education.

So far the list includes:

  • interest-driven learning/education
  • child-led education
  • natural learning
  • eclectic learning
  • self-directed learning
  • home-based education
  • discipleship
  • learning in life
  • learning for life
  • our walk with the Lord
  • our life
  • God’s people walking in His ways
  • family-friendly education
  • activities-based learning
  • hands-on learning
  • hack schooling
  • democratic schooling
  • anarchistic schooling
  • kitchen table/dining room table education
  • learning from life experiences
  • practical learning

I am very much leaning towards using the term home-based education as the umbrella term, with a range of delivery methods ranging from home schooling (i.e. reconstructing school in the home) to unschooling (i.e. educational delivery in a way that does not resemble schooling, but is guided by the parent and at the same time is also sensitive to the motivation, gifts, interests and calling of the children) to radical unschooling (i.e. totally child-directed, without any hindrance or direction from adults).

The list mentioned above provides the words to describe the elements within home-based educational delivery.

Still wrestling with this, and would very much appreciate what others may have to say about the matter.


5 thoughts on “What is in a name?

  1. Belinda Letchford says:

    Home-based education is a good cover-all. As I read through your posts of the last few days, can I suggest that you continue to remind readers of your definitions as there is such diversity even when using the same term. (e.g. I do call myself a home-schooler, but not a schooler-at-home!)


    • Good suggestions. Maybe I need to develop a static page that incorporates my cluster of definitions, with links from the body of the post. I would really like for you to develop for me your definition of home-schooler. You are not the first to engage around my definition of home school. I chose to define home school in the way that I did, because in my research I have found a definite body of home-based educators who get children to sit at a desk from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm, and regiment the learning, with punctuated periods, just as it is done in the school. The experience for the children is bookish, solitary, and the education is done to them, not with them. The only term I could come up with for this kind of approach was home school (i.e. setting up a school in the home). I don’t quite grasp the subtle distinction that you are trying to make. As I read your blog, you come across as an unschooler with a discipleship emphasis, and that is how I have quoted you in my dissertation (I quoted you because I really liked what you had to say, and you seemed to express much of what I have been wrestling with in the rest of my dissertation). Please, if you could, help me to understand better where you are coming from on this matter.


  2. Belinda Letchford says:

    Thanks Lance, I do appreciate what you are trying to say.

    I have never come across a recognised term that makes a distinction between the two emphasis that you are making here – though those differences are certainly there. I have always heard qualification as a play on words (e.g. HOME school, where my home life plays a big part of my method, or home SCHOOL, where school as we know it defines my method) Mind you, often those who ‘school at home’ don’t make this distinction in defining themselves though they make clear choices along these lines. I can see in your purpose here, making a formal distinction is necessary, but tricky.

    Interesting that you read me as an unschooler with a discipleship emphasis, and I have long known that is how I come across. I have a little hesitation with that though because I struggle with the original definition of unschooling, though I understand that unschooling may not be defined that way these days. This is one of the reasons I’m interested in following your research.

    A static page is a good idea.


    • Belinda, my best mate is a Bible translator, and he constantly hammers me with the idea that language is not static; it is always changing. The same word used throughout the Bible, has shades of meaning according to the usage at the time it is being used. This is why a literalist (in the sense of “normal”) interpretation is not possible. We must look for the literal meaning in the historical context. Rousas Rushdoony was an important definer of the term home schooling. Ivan Illich coined the term deschooling. John Holt coined the term unschooling. However, many others have taken these terms since the original coiners. To fully understand each of these terms, we need to explore the most current usage, in the light of the original intention. I am happy to contribute to a conversation about a more sharply defined meaning for each of these terms, because taking school home is not what I now understand to be God’s best for children. You have made a wonderful journey, and the description of that journey at your web site has been very helpful in my dissertation. Overlaying discipleship on unschooling, I believe, makes a Biblical perspective even more focused. Keep up the good work. Continue to contribute to the discussion. God bless you.

      Liked by 1 person

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