George Orwell, in his book, 1984, illustrated the power that comes from defining terms. New Speak had the capacity to make anything to mean whatever the controllers of a society wanted it to mean. People with a radically different agenda have been redefining terms for political advantage forever. My wife cannot use her middle name in public places, because what once meant a happy, fun-loving disposition now refers to a life-style choice that my wife has no desire to have anything to do with.
Since the early 1960s, when Rev Dr Rousas J Rushdoony acted as an expert witness in support of parents who were taken to court because they chose to educate their children at home, the terms home school or homeschool have been widely used to describe such education. I have chosen to use this term in my dissertation, and throughout this blog site, in a more precise way. When I use the term home school, I am meaning the setting up of a school-like environment and conducting schooling in the home.
I am now proposing a different term to be used as the coordinating term that describes the education of children out of a home as the base for such an education. The term I propose to be used is: ‘home-based education’. Home-based education includes home schooling (as I have defined it) as one of the modes of home-based educational delivery, but home-based education also includes unschooling and radical unschooling as alternative modes of home-based education.
Home-based education is conducted in the context of living life in the company of others; particularly in the company of other family members. Every part of life is an opportunity to learn something. This could include learning from formal academic studies, household chores, engaging in communication events with other members of the family, and having foundation skills and ideas developed in young impressionable minds. The Fabian Socialists and Marxists understand the importance of capturing the young mind, before it is shaped by the family, the church, and other local community sources of skills and knowledge. This is why they are so adamant about having children sent to school to be socialized (i.e. be indoctrinated into the mindset of socialism).
Home-based education is not home-bound. The home is an important base, from which the members of the family move in and out. Amongst the Australian Central Desert First Nations People, the Warlpiri, they have a kinship system (‘skin system’ – has nothing to do with skin colour, it is merely a corruption of the term kinship), and the Jangala/Jampijinpa Nangala/Nampijinpa clan have a concept of complementary states of water. One state is static water, and the other state is moving water. Both are critically important. Static water, such as a billabong, provides a sanctuary for fish and birds to feed and breed in and around. However, if the water remains static for too long, then the billabong either dries up, or goes stagnant. In the cycles of the seasons, moving water must flow in and out of the billabong to provide fresh water, to aerate and oxygenate, to flush out accumulated rubbish, and to enable fish and birds from other areas to mix with the fish and birds of the billabong, to strengthen the gene pool.
Home-based education needs to have a safe sanctuary to withdraw to, but it must not become a stagnant pool, so insular and protective, that it becomes stale and stagnant. This highlights the difference between home-based education and home schooling. Home schooling is so home focused, that there is no (or very little) interaction with the broader community, and there is no trust that other members of the community can have a positive input into the lives of the young family members.
God has ordained that the home, the church and the market place have a role to play in the development of an educational environment for the younger members of the family. Certainly, the parents have the primary role of being the gate-keepers of the family, and they need to be discerning as to who they expose their children to. The church has a very important role in helping parents to develop a godly sense of discernment, and should work with the family to set up safety barriers and limits as to who, in the market place, has educational access to the children. However, no sets of parents are able to supply everything that each member of the family needs to have a rich and meaningful education.