Home schooling: The Choicest Choice

In a refreshing article in Education Next, the excellent education journal of the Hoover Institution, Paul Peterson says:

Home schooling is hardly foreign to the American experience. John Locke’s advice to parents in colonial America was to educate their children at home. He could not imagine “what qualities are ordinarily to be got from…a troop of playfellows [at school]…usually assembled together from parents of all kinds.” Even if the teacher’s industry and skill “be ever so great, it can[not]…be expected that he should instruct them successfully in anything but their books.”

But somewhere in the middle of the 19th century, John Locke’s advice was forgotten, schooling became compulsory, and home schooling had to be reinvented.

Later, he points out, “With improved educational materials readily available, home schoolers are winning spelling and geography bees, scoring off the charts on statewide tests, and gaining access to elite colleges.”

One of the most appealling points Peterson makes, and it shows how seriously he has taken this matter, is that “the movement is poised for rapid growth. Home schooling will segue into hybrid education,” which I now recognize is two points.

It has grown rapidly to date. If it continues to grow rapidly, we could see 10 million home schoolers in a decade or so. If that happens, we will experience a social change nobody could have predicted ten years ago and nobody will understand ten years from today.

On the practical side, his observation that home schooling will seque into hybrid education is spot on. One of the most successful initiatives in the home school movement is Leigh Bortins Classical Conversations, which includes, I believe, over 10,000 students. Leigh calls the renewal she is leading “home directed” education. The idea is that the parent is in charge of what is going on, but in a world full of resources why would you neglect them unnecessarily? You can learn more about classical conversations HERE.

You can read Leigh’s blog HERE.

By the way, the January 2009 edition of Education Next is about Home School, so if you care about trends in education or if you want to know what is going on with home education, you’ll want to read this.


2 Responses

  1. I firmly believe homeschooling is on the verge of an upsurge in quality as some of us actually learn from our experiences (mistakes) and improve things for our younger children and grandchildren.

    I also believe the homeschooling is an excellent metaphor for educating for freedom even though often homeschoolers try to restrict the freedoms we now share.

    I also believe that all this makes Circe vitally important and …..may I say…relevant …for the coming generation of freedom loving parents and children.

    • Cindy,

      I hope you are right. The forces for improvement are significant because the feedback is so direct and the teacher so personally involved. My biggest concern is that the “market” is very anxious and that makes them sitting ducks for publishers. As one who took over 10 years to develop a writing program I felt was good enough for home schoolers, it bothers me to see how many programs are the same things kids would get at a non-descript school. But there will always be a lot more home schoolers who get a great education than those who are institutionally schooled, so I’m excited about that.

      And thanks for your very kind comments. I needed that, as running a non-profit is often a nerve wracking exercise, especially when I have so few managerial and administrative skills. Please don’t stop praying for us; without the grace of God we may be as relevant as dinner but we won’t feed many.

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