Home Education: The Quiet Revolution
In British Columbia we have a College of Teachers which has oversight over education, competence, complaints, etc. On June 4, 2010, I made a 5 minute presentation to acquaint the College of the value and validity of home education. I emphasized that home education: a) is effective, b) is inexpensive and not a burden on tax dollars, c) does not require teacher training or certification, d) is a non-bureaucratic methodology not prone to corruption, e) engenders few complaints, f) is not subject to political agendas, g) contributes to the public interest, and h) is a valid model of delivery that bears consideration in face of the plethora of designs now competing in the field of education.
Below are selections from the handout I provided:
Home education is as old as the hills, yet by many it is seen as an anomaly – a deviation from the norm. Quietly, many families are educating their children using choices of materials and styles that boggle the mind. Resources are easily obtainable and reasonably priced. There is even a complete program, K-12, based on using the great books as the main resource.
Home educators are a model of economy, placing very little demand on public money or services. Many would refuse vouchers if offered as that would compromise their autonomy and interfere with their sacred duty to educate their children. Their main public service they draw on are public libraries, where children’s librarians matter-of-factly assess reading levels as they suggest research materials.
I am not going to go into any further detail about the movement other than to say I have been involved since 1972 in pioneer efforts and keep a watching brief on any threats to its viability. About the worst things that can happen is what’s happening in Germany where it is forbidden and home educating families are applying in America and Canada for refugee status.
The reason I speak today is to encourage the BC College of Teachers to keep in mind this concept of education as a valid and effective way that serves the public interest. Home educators do indeed, unobtrusively, contribute to the public education of the citizenry in BC. They consider their style the norm — the normal thing to do.
In deliberations that BCCT Councilors undertake, and as the Special Investigation proceeds into whether the BCCT can fulfill its mandate as presently constituted, I propose that the issues surrounding home education can provide fruitful insights. I quote from the Sullivan Report on the Royal Commission on Education (1987):
“The home schooling issue clearly contains within it some of the most fundamental tensions between competing ideals and values to be found in educational and social policy today. It involves the question of parental rights in schooling versus those of the state, questions about where the public good should supersede private interest, questions about who should be accountable for children’s education and well-being, and questions about the limits of individual choice and participation in schooling.”
Homeschooling was written into the School Act shortly after the commission hearings even though it was never illegal in BC. The parents as teachers do not consider themselves as “professionals” requiring many years of preparation as is the case today. Their example is but one way in which home education challenges the prevailing beliefs and practices current today – beliefs and practices which may in fact be detrimental to the mission of education of the young. It is no surprise that the Obama education team headed by Arne Duncan, Education Secretary, are seeking different methods of training and certification other than through university facilities. They claim there is too much theory and not enough clinical training.
I’m hoping that out of this short presentation BCCT Councilors, Registrar and the Investigator (appointed by the government) can better appreciate that home educators in our midst are a wonderful model of effective and efficient education.
I wonder if more attention should be paid to the structures of the education institutions and systems themselves and how prone they are to the corruptions, abuses and cases of incompetence that BCCT deals with. I would suggest that any models that more closely respect the self-sufficiency models of home education have much more to offer for good practice than the plethora of systems we have now. Home education is a valid model to be added to the norms that prevail today.
Reference: “Home Education: the Third Option”, April1987, Canadian School Executive Tunya Audain ….