Education and the Family, Education and the State, Home-Based Education

Why on earth would parents want to take on the responsibility of educating their children?

According to Drabsch (2013) the three principle reasons home-based educating families do not register with the state are:

  1. Parents don’t want to follow the state curriculum;
  2. Parents don’t believe the state should dictate the curriculum; and
  3. Parents resent any intrusion by the state into their lives (Drabsch, 2013, p. 4).

On the other hand, the list of research-accumulated reasons provided by parents for choosing to educate from home is substantial:

  1. Parents are primarily responsible for the education of their children;
  2. The health needs of the child prevent him or her from attending school on a regular basis and so the flexibility afforded by home schooling is optimal in the circumstances;
  3. The child has special education needs, such as autism, which leads some parents to feel the child will cope better in their home environment with a familiar, regular caregiver as educator;
  4. Religious reasons;
  5. Philosophical/ideological objections to traditional schooling — for example, some parents believe that ‘schools have a forced curriculum, that desagreeable beliefs and values are placed on all the children, that peer pressure is prevalent, that schools are too competitive and that they cannot provide what children need’;
  6. Objections to the socialisation process that occurs through traditional schooling as well as a belief that the use of age-structured grades for school forces children into an artificial network of peers who are all the same age.  Home schooled children mix with different ages rather than being artificially restricted to their peer group and there are some thoughts that their social skills are better as a result;
  7. The family travels regularly and thus requires flexible schooling options;
  8. There is a desire for closer family relationships and a strong family unit;
  9. To avoid negative peer pressure, unwanted influences, school bullying and violence, substance abuse, etc.;
  10. In some cases it is a response to perceived inadequacies in the school system and a lack of satisfaction with the education offered by traditional schools;
  11. The quality of teaching in schools may vary with some parents subsequently believing they could do a better job;
  12. The local school is too far from home;
  13. Schools cannot provide children with the same level of personal interest and attention that a family can.  Parents have a vested interest in the wellbeing of their children;
  14. The child may have had a negative schooling experience and thus needs some time away from the school environment;
  15. The parents are not opposed to traditional schooling per se but cannot afford to send the child to a private school;
  16. Schools are not the only arena in which children learn and home schooling allows better use of multiple environments conducive to a richer learning experience.  It is not subject to the limited choice of subjects, texts and approaches to learning;
  17. It avoids the homogenisation of children;
  18. A belief that schools generally provide for the average student, with inadequate support for shy, clever of slow children;
  19. According to Rochelle Sutherland, ‘Home school children have more common sense, a better developed social conscience, are more motivated and think more laterally’;
  20. There is a greater opportunity for one-on-one interaction — the child can ask questions, difficulties can be quickly followed up and resolved and there are extra opportunities for extension;
  21. Children can learn at their own pace — they can go over areas that require extra time for understanding whilst moving ahead in areas that are more quickly understood.  Children are also not locked into particular year levels.  For example, a student strong in mathematics could move ahead in that subject whilst completing English work at a lower level (Drabsch, 2013, pp. 8-9).

When I was interviewing families for the research component of my dissertation, most of them did not want their responses to be traceable back to them.  Some of the families were not concerned.  However, those families that were concerned expressed their distrust of bureaucrats.

Once again, the issue distils to one question: “Who owns the children?”  For most of history the answer to the question was: “The Triune God is the owner of the children, and parents are appointed by God to be the trustees of their children’s welfare — accountable to Him on the Day of Judgment.”  The idea that the state owns the children, and only tolerates parental involvement in out-of-school activities, is a relatively modern one.

There will be no progress on this matter, in the favour of parents, until the Sovereignty of God is re-established in the marketplace:

May He have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth!  May desert tribes bow down before Him, and his enemies lick the dust!  May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render Him tribute; may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts!  May all kings fall down before Him, all nations serve Him! (Psalm 72:8-11).

References

Drabsch, T. (2013). Home Education in NSW. Sydney: N.S. W. Parliamentary Research Service. e-brief 15. Downloaded 25/09/2014, from: http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/publications.nsf/key/HomeEducationinNSW/$File/Home%20schooling%20GG%203.pdf

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deschooling, Discipleship, Education, Home-Based Education, Life Learning, Natural Learning, Unschooling

What is in a name? What shall we call it?

In the Drabsch (2013) e-brief to the NSW Parliament, Home Education in NSW, it is reported that distance education is not considered to be a form of home education/home schooling by the NSW Department of Education, because the children are directly enrolled in a Department controlled school, and are subject to Department supervised schooling.  However, it is identified that amongst those who educate at home, the terms home education and home schooling are used interchangeably.

I would like to suggest that it is important that members of the home education/home schooling community commence a discussion about the terminologies that are used when talking about education that is outside the Education Department controlled schooling system.

I am happy to allow the Department to own the term Distance Education.  However, I would prefer the term to be Distance Schooling, because I do not necessarily agree that what is delivered in schools is an education.  In schools, students are schooled and many receive a schooling.

In my PhD Dissertation I spent time differentiating between receiving an education and being schooled (Box, 2014, pp. 33 to 122).  From my perspective, it is possible to be schooled at home, so I would like to reserve the term home schooling for the process of reproducing the school environment in the home.  On the other hand, home schooled children, in most cases, do receive an education, therefore I am pleased to identify home schooling as a subset of home education.  This being granted, I think that it is better to call home education, “home-based education”.  The reason for my recommendation is that one of the significant criticisms of home schooling is the potential for children to be home-bound, whilst being home schooled.  This is not the case, in the majority of instances, but it has been the case for some children who were home schooled.  It was definitely the experience of one of the adults I interviewed who had been home schooled during their teens.  The person hated the concept of home school, and was quick to admit that during their home schooling experience:  “I didn’t know any other kids. Home schooling was a horror experience, not primarily from the program, but from the complete package. We had our own church, our own school, there was nothing outside of the home.”  This was definitely the minority view, and no other home-based educating family reported anything resembling the home-bound nature of this case.   The term home-based education implies that home is a base from which an education takes place in a range of settings.  The children return to the base, and the majority of the basic education tasks are conducted in the home, however, home-based education provides a range of social and other educational activities outside the home.

On page 2 of the Drabsch (2013) e-brief, three approaches to home-based education are identified.  These three are:

i.     Structured learning environment — families in this category closely follow some kind of curriculum and learning is structured in a way similar to the classroom.  (I would like to call this approach: home school / home schooling);

ii.   Informal learning environment — those in this category may use various resources, including some textbooks, but they are less structured in their approach than those in the first group.  (I would like to call this approach: unschooling.  Many who call themselves unschoolers would object to this because they tend to work more in the next category.  However, bear with me.  The purpose of this exercise is to provoke broader discussion, and in the end come up with some terms that every one understands and agrees to.  I am not precious with these ideas.  Others may have a better idea, and that is fine, as long as it is clear that we all understand what we mean when certain words are being used).

iii.  Unschoolers / natural learners — This involves no structured learning at all, due to the belief that the best learning takes place by maximising the opportunities present in the various activities that constitute daily life and by following the child’s interests. (I would like to call this approach, radical unschooling.  Once again, I know that will upset some who call themselves unschoolers, but who really radically unschool; and upset the radical unschoolers who like to call themselves unschoolers.  Be that as it may, I am looking for some consistency, and this is where I have started the discussion).

So, I am suggesting that the umbrella term for the three approaches (as identified by the e-brief) is “home-based education”.  I am then arguing that the three approaches seem to be fairly fair appraisals of the broader clusters of home-based education styles.  As suggested above, I would like to call these three approaches: “home schooling”, “unschooling” and “radical unschooling”.

Outside of these terms there are a large range of other terms that are used in the home-based education community.  These terms include (but are not limited to): natural learning, life learning, discipleship, hands-on learning, academic, child-centred, child-focused, self-directed, eclectic learning, family-friendly education, activities-based learning, kitchen-table learning, practical learning, and many more.  In my dissertation (Box, 2014, pp. 155-166) I argue that these are emphases within the three main approaches.  Therefore, one might have a home schooling approach with a discipleship emphasis, or an unschooling approach with a discipleship emphasis, or an unschooling approach with a natural learning emphasis, or an unschooling approach with an academic emphasis, and so forth.  I have commenced the discussion on the definitions elsewhere in this blog site, but would really like to engage in further discussion around the topic.

I am not wanting to unnecessarily offend good people who are doing good things in the home-based education community.  However, I would like to be able to write using terminology that the majority of people are happy to employ, and that the majority of people are in agreement as to what is meant by the terms.

I am proposing that some kind of wiki be set up so that the ongoing discussion can proceed in the broader home-based education community.  Any thoughts?

References

Box, L A. (2014). A Proposal to Deschool, then Unschool Australian Biblical Christian Education. Unpublished dissertation submitted for fulfillment of Doctor of Philosophy, in the School of Applied Theology, New Geneva Theological Seminary, Virginia, U.S.A.

Drabsch, T. (2013). Home Education in NSW. Sydney: N.S. W. Parliamentary Research Service. e-brief 15. Downloaded 25/09/2014, from: http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/publications.nsf/key/HomeEducationinNSW/$File/Home%20schooling%20GG%203.pdf

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Education and the State, Home-Based Education

The State and the Family in Relation to Education

The following has been lifted from my PhD dissertation, and slightly edited for this blog site.  I continue to give thought to some of my earlier ideas, and welcome feedback as I continue to refine them.

In his book, Baptized Patriarchalism: the Cult of the Family, Gary North (1995) writes:

The Roman state steadily absorbed the Roman family under the Empire. This is the perpetual threat to all patriarchalism. The patriarchal system begins with almost total loyalty to the father, but eventually this loyalty is transferred to the state because the state takes over the family’s welfare functions and its sacramental office. Bread and circuses are provided by the state. Copulating priestesses replace the father’s lustral rites … The autonomous family is not an alternative to the state; rather, it becomes the state’s most important agent. The father represents the state to his children. The willingness of fathers to send their children into the established church known as the public school system is the obvious example.

The family is not an agency of public law enforcement, for it cannot lawfully impose sanctions outside its own boundaries. The ability of the state to tax away the wealth of the family makes the state the primary agency in society if it is a question of family vs. state. The family will always lose the contest. Only by converting the family into a mini-state – warlordism – can patriarchalism reverse the drift into centralized statism. Warlordism is the sociology of the Mafia, not the Bible (North, 1995, pp. 2-3).

In terms of education, publicly funded schools are un-Biblical (with the possible exception of publically funded military training academies, since defence is a legitimate function of the state[1]). Under God, as established in a previous blog, education is principally a family jurisdiction, with a legitimate role by both the church and the market place. When the state enters this jurisdiction, it does so by violating the Law of God, and sets up a tyranny over the family. Families that choose to reclaim this jurisdiction[2] are often persecuted by the state. Some recent instances are cited as examples of such persecution.

In an article by My News Desk ([MND], 2013) it is reported that a Swedish home schooling family was fined USD$15,000 by the Swedish Supreme Court for home educating their 12 year old daughter. The fine was imposed retroactively, and without any consideration of the family’s financial situation and capacity to pay. The law under which they were fined was passed on July 1, 2011. The home schooling took place in the school year 2010-2011, when home schooling was being allowed in Sweden. The article goes on to state:

… the current centre-right government has outlawed home education in Sweden. … (the) rise in interest (in home education in Sweden, despite this law) is understandable as the quality of Swedish schools is declining with poor academic results, disorder in the classrooms, an all too common inability to handle children with special needs, and a level of bullying which creates a great distress for many families” ([MND], 2013).

Previously the Swedish government had permanently removed a 7-year-old child, Dominic Johannsson, from his parents, Christer and Annie Johansson, because the parents were taking the child to India so that they could home school the child overseas, away from the repressive Swedish laws (MND, 2013).

In Darmstadt, Germany, there was a recent example of a home educating family having their children forcefully removed from them (MND, 2013). Police armed with a battering ram forced their way into the family home, and the parents were told that they wouldn’t see their children again soon. The state had previously admitted that the children “were well cared for,” but declared that force was needed to remove the children because the “children had ‘adopted the parents’ opinions’ regarding home schooling”. The reported crime was simply: “the parents were providing their children’s education;” the parents “had failed to meet the government’s demands for (religious) ‘integration’”. The actions of the government were necessary to “bring the religious convictions of the family into line with the unalterable school attendance requirement.”   In the article it was pointed out that the action of the police was based on a law that was drafted by Hitler’s regime during World War II. The intention of the law was to ensure “that all children submit to the indoctrination programs in the nation’s public schools”. In the article it is explained:

It was in 1937 when Adolf Hitler said: “The youth of today is ever the people of tomorrow. For this reason we have set before ourselves the task of inoculating our youth with the spirit of this community of the people at a very early age, at an age when human beings are still unperverted and therefore unspoiled. The Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the future, upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing” (MND, 2013).

A contemporary German politician, Wolfgang Drautz, was reported to have “emphasized the importance of socializing children through public schools” (MND, 2013).

In 2010 a U.S. immigration judge, in a Supreme Court, granted the Romeike family, a German family, asylum status because of German government persecution against them for home schooling. However, the Obama administration had the ruling overturned. It was reported:

The Obama administration, unhappy with the outcome, appealed and obtained an order from a higher court that the family must return to Germany. The Obama administration has urged in court parents essentially have no right to determine how and what their children are taught leaving the authority with the government (MND, 2013).

It is in the state’s best interest to promote healthy family life. Strong and healthy families contribute to strong and healthy communities. Invariably, slums and poorer areas of a city are generally coupled with poor family life (acknowledging exceptions to the rule). Parke, in the CLASP paper, Are Married Parents Really Better for Children? What Research Says About the Effects of Family Structure on Child Well-being, admitted:

Over the past 20 years, a body of research has developed on how changes in patterns of family structure affect children. Most researchers now agree that together these studies support the notion that, on average, children do best when raised by their two married, biological parents who have low-conflict relationships” (Parke, 2003, p. 1).

Therefore, the state must work with stable, healthy families that seek to provide what they believe to be the very best education for their children, not work against them.

[1] Romans 13:4 “… for he (the governing authority) does not bear the sword in vain …”

[2] Opposition to home education is a very modern statist response, to a select range of children. Children were home-educated for long periods of history, and continue to be home-tutored by very wealthy families, without overt state opposition. Opposition seems to be aimed at the middle and lower classes. Even then, lower-class truants seem to be ignored (wander around Alice Springs on any particular day and see the very large numbers of Aboriginal children who are not in school, even in the midst of a Northern Territory blitz on school truants: “Every Child, Every Day” c.f. http://www.education.nt.gov.au/teachers-educators/school-management/enrolment-attendance/every-child-every-day). In contrast, middle-class Christian families are deliberately and doggedly pursued. I would contend that the purpose of statist persecution of middle-class Christian families is to socialise the children of those families away from the faith of the parents and brain-wash the children with the tenets of the religion of the state.

References

[MND], My News Desk. (2013). Homeschooling family fined 15 000 USD by the Swedish Supreme Court.   Retrieved 13/9/2013, from http://www.mynewsdesk.com/se/view/pressrelease/homeschooling-family-fined-15-000-usd-by-the-swedish-supreme-court-895446

North, G. (1995). Baptized Patriarchalism: The Cult of the Family. Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics.

Parke, M. (2003). Are Married Parents Really Better for Children? What Research Says About the Effects of Family Structure on Child Well-being. In Center for Law and Social Policy (Ed.). Washington, DC: Center for Law and Social Policy

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Education, Education Delivery Programs, Home Schools, Home-Based Education, Ivan Illich, Life Learning

Reflections on Illich 01: Home-based education is education in community, not in isolation

The 1970s work of Ivan Illich has been an important point of reference in my PhD dissertation.  In many respects, Illich understood a Biblical Christian approach to the education process.  I am hoping to comment on a series of quotes that are recorded elsewhere in this blog (Illich quotes) .  This is the first of the quotes.  The full text can be obtained:

Illich, I. (1970). Deschooling Society. Cuernavaca, Mexico: CIDOC.  Downloadable from: http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Deschooling/intro.html

p. xix  “Universal education through schooling is not feasible.  It would be no more feasible if it were attempted by means of alternative institutions built on the style of present schools.  Neither new attitudes of teachers toward their pupils nor the proliferation of educational hardware or software (in classroom or bedroom), nor finally the attempt to expand the pedagogue’s responsibility until it engulfs his pupils’ lifetimes will deliver universal education.  The current search for new educational funnels must be reversed into the search for their institutional inverse: educational webs which heighten the opportunity for each one to transform each moment of his living into one of learning, sharing, and caring.”

Here, as in other parts of Deschooling Society, Illich identifies that schools and schooling, because of their very essence, are unable to deliver true education.  Reformation of schools will not bring about the changes that are necessary to enable education to be accomplished.  Schools are, fundamentally, anti-education.  The thing that schools do best is school its attendees.

No amount of reformation, according to Illich — adjustments to the ways schools are constructed and run, changes in teachers’ attitudes to students, the use of technology in the classroom, and even a change in how students are engaged — will alter the outcomes of schooling.  Schools can only school.  And they can only school, and not educate, because they are total institutions that are designed to control every participant and process within them towards a stated end: egalitarianism and unquestioning submission to the state or some other dominating institution, i.e. an organized religion.  This is not an education, it is indoctrination.  It breeds narrow-mindedness, and an incapacity to think independently.

Schools are not to be reformed, they are to be abandoned altogether, and the vast resources that are taken from families and businesses (through taxation) to fund the schooling industry, should remain with the families and the businesses to fund home-based education and more financially viable private enterprise.

The proper context for education to take place, according to Illich, is living life: “the opportunity for each one to transform each moment of his living into one of learning, sharing, and caring.”  And the support structures for a thorough education are “educational webs.”  Education must be in a context greater than the family.  The family is an essential base from which children move in and out.  Parents are important gate-keepers, who must vet and monitor the kinds of influences that their children are exposed to in the marketplace.  However, no parent is able to provide everything that the child needs for a well-rounded, reality-grounded education. 

There are three essential agents in an education, from a Biblical perspective.  The three agents are: the family, the church and the marketplace.  And the family needs to engage both the church and the marketplace as important sources of educational moments and experiences, not just lock their children away in a family fortress, as some (a small minority) home schooling families do.

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Home Schools, Home-Based Education, Unschooling

Some more discussion around the terms associated with home-based education

This has been posted at the blog site: ‘Go School Yourself” http://goschoolyourself.com/2014/07/18/de-schooling-success-no-summer-break-for-us/comment-page-1/#comment-72  I have reproduced it here to encourage as much discussion around the topic as possible.  I am really interested in what others have to say about the matter.

Thank you so much for your feedback. This looks like the beginnings of a long discussion, and I hope it will expand to include a lot of people who can make detailed comments from their positions in the spectrum. My full PhD dissertation is posted at: https://www.academia.edu/7970729/Deschooling_Unschooling_Australian_Biblical_Christian_Education

I am proposing that we set up a blog site that is specifically dedicated to this topic, and that the developing definitions ultimately be written up into a series of peer-reviewed journal articles which can be released into the marketplace for ongoing feedback and refinement.

It seems to me that a lot of criticism is aimed at home-based educators through straw-man arguments, and that is possible because when the term ‘homeschool’ is being used, it means everything and in so doing, means absolutely nothing (to paraphrase John Lennon). But if, as a movement, we can define the terms, with shades of application that cover the full gamut of manifestations of home-based education, then we can knock down the straw-men with a word.

So, back to your reply. I feel stronger that the term “home-based education” is a good umbrella term. It is home-based, because it is not “home-bound”.

In my research I came across families that were home-bound. Everything that was done in the name of home schooling, replicated the school in the home. The only problem was that the children were separated from anyone outside the home. The focus was academics, without any influence from others in the community. It seemed logical to me that these kinds of manifestations should be called, home schoolers. The term has two words that easily evoke imagery that enables the visualisation of the situation: most of what happens in the home looks very much like what happens at school. In 2013 the New South Wales state government, in Australia, released a set of regulations governing home schooling, and the NSW state government has made it illegal for any kind of home education to take place that is not registered, and to register, the home education must look exactly like what takes place at school. http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/parents/pdf_doc/home-edu-info-pack-13.pdf In fact, what is required of home schooling parents is over and above what is achieved by professional teachers in school classrooms. That, from my perspective, is home schooling. It is on the extreme of my proposed model, it exists, and is mandated by state and territory governments in Australia. I talk about it in some detail in my PhD dissertation. From that definition, there are many who call themselves home schoolers (homeschoolers), but who, in actual fact, do not run their home-based education exactly like school (but it must be conceded that some do – I have evidence of that fact).

So, what term can we use that distinguishes home schoolers from other home-based educators? I found the term unschoolers, and I think that term is useful. Unschoolers consciously do stuff that does not look like school.

Now, on the other extreme, there seems to be those families that are so unlike school, that they make the child’s decision-making processes the sole guide to what takes place in life. The child chooses when to go to bed, the child chooses what to eat, the child has free and unfettered access to the internet, the child, in effect, brings him/herself up without any kind of supervision, interruption, guidance, input from the parents; a complete hands-off approach. My research has found such families – they exist – and it is a radical extreme of the home-based education community. And sadly, these are often called homeschoolers, and the outcome of their hands-off parenting gives ammunition for policy makers to label homeschooling as child neglect. I have evidence. This group looks nothing like school, so in that sense they are unschoolers. However, I have identified them as the ‘radical unschoolers’. Now, many who, at the moment, call themselves radical unschoolers would be offended by the characterization that I have made. So, my argument is, those who would be offended by my definition of radical unschoolers, are in fact not radical unschoolers, but unschoolers with a particular emphasis.

Unschooling, therefore, is home-based education that does not look like school, but it does not precluded a whole range of strategies and manifestations of education being employed where appropriate: these manifestations and strategies I have called emphases in my dissertation. In this sub-category called emphases I have included: natural learning; discipleship; child-led learning; child-focused learning, academics-focused learning; life learning/education in life/education for life; apprenticeship; eclectic learning; kitchen table/dining room table education; practical learning; activities-based learning; democratic education; anarchistic education; etc. This means that the pool of unschoolers is a very large pool that includes: unschoolers with a discipleship emphasis; unschoolers with a natural learning emphasis; unschoolers with a gentle-parenting emphasis; unschoolers with a range of emphases at different times and for different children and for different circumstances and opportunities. I have tried to talk about these emphases in my dissertation, and am fully conscious of the fact that a whole PhD dissertation could be developed around just this single point: the words used to describe home-based education.

I am not claiming to be the authority on this matter. I am simply wanting to provoke a discussion, and get as many people involved in the discussion as possible, and then synthesise the discussion into some useful articles that can then be used by the home-based educating community to defend themselves from being all lumped in with the people on the edges of the movement who attract the wrong kind of attention. Don’t get me wrong, I would defend their right to bring up their own children in the way that they think fit. It is not for me to interfere with a parent’s parenting. However, when we talk about these things we need much more precise language to draw from.

Am really looking forward to ongoing discussions around this issue.

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Home Schools, Home-Based Education

Defining the Terms

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.

 

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Education

So, what is a good education?

Amongst the home-based educators that I interviewed there was a general opinion that a good education was more than a purely academic education.  However, some home schooling families advocated the classical model (and its strong emphasis on academics), with the intention of producing intellectual giants, and highly employable career aspirants.  Those who advocated education in life, however, placed a greater focus on character development.

So, what is a good education?  I think the words of Jesus are helpful in answering this question.  He indicated that the greatest goal in life was to learn to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and to also learn to love your neighbour as yourself.  If we keep in mind that loving God is measured by the degree to which we are obedient to His commandments (I John 1:3-4; 5:2-3), and not simply some super-spiritual ecstatic feeling, then to that degree we have a very clear picture as to what a good education looks like; and the means whereby such an education is delivered is described for us in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (i.e. in the context of living daily life, and seizing learning moments in the rhythm of daily chores and duties and responsibilities around the home, the neighbourhood, and amongst the affairs of life).

So, what do others think on this matter?

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