THIS IS THE FIRST PART OF A TWO-PART SERIES PREPARED BY ME FOR A RADIO TALK WHICH WILL BE AIRED IN MARCH 2011.
HOMESCHOOLING – A DIFFERENT CHOICE; A DIFFERENT LIFE.(PART ONE)
Homeschooling or homeschool (also called home education or home learning) is the education of children at home, typically by parents but sometimes by tutors, instead of in a formal school setting. Although, before compulsory school attendance laws came into force, most childhood education occurred within the family or community, homeschooling in the modern sense is an alternative in developed countries to formal education. Homeschooling may also refer to instruction in the home under the supervision of correspondence schools or umbrella schools. In some places, an approved curriculum is legally required if children are to be home-schooled. A curriculum-free philosophy of homeschooling is called ‘unschooling’, a term coined in 1977 by John Holt in his magazine Growing Without Schooling.
For much of history and in many cultures, enlisting professional teachers (whether as tutors or in a formal school setting) was an option available only to the rich. Thus, until relatively recently, the vast majority of people were educated by parents at home (especially during early childhood) and in apprencticeships. Formal schooling in a classroom setting has been the most common means of schooling throughout the world, especially in developed countries, since the early and mid 19th century. Native Americans, who traditionally used homeschooling and apprenticeship, strenuously resisted compulsory education in the United States.
In 1964, American educator and author John Holt published a book entitled ‘How Children Fail’ which criticized traditional schools of the time. The book was based on a theory he had developed as a teacher – that the academic failure of schoolchildren was caused by pressure placed on children by adults. In his follow-up work entitled ‘How Children Learn’, he tried to demonstrate the learning process of children and why he believed school short-circuits this process. During this time, American educational professionals Raymond and Dorothy Moore began a research on the ‘Early Childhood Education’ movement. They asserted that formal schooling before ages 8–12 not only lacked the effectiveness it anticipated, but was actually harmful to children. The Moores began to publish their view that formal schooling was damaging young children academically, socially, mentally, and even physiologically. They presented evidence that childhood problems such as juvenile delinquency, nearsightedness, increased enrollment of students in special education classes, and behavioral problems were the result of increasingly earlier enrollment of students. They maintained that the vast majority of children are far better situated at home, even with mediocre parents, than with the most gifted and motivated teachers in a school setting. Similar to Holt, the Moores embraced homeschooling after the publication of their first work, ‘Better Late Than Early’ in 1975 and went on to become important homeschool advocates and consultants with the publication of books like Home Grown Kids, Homeschool Burnout, and others. In 1976, Holt published a book ‘Instead of Education; Ways to Help People Do Things Better’. In its conclusion he called for a "Children's Underground Railroad" to help children escape compulsory schooling. In response, Holt was contacted by families from around the U.S. to tell him that they were educating their children at home. In 1977, after corresponding with a number of these families, Holt began producing a magazine dedicated to home education entitled ‘Growing Without Schooling’. One common theme in the homeschool philosophies of both Holt and the Moores is that home education should not be an attempt to bring the rigid school structure into the home, or a view of education as an academic preliminary to life. They viewed it, rather, as a natural experience of life that occurs as the members of the family are involved with one another in daily living.