Forgive the ‘Homeschooling’

You know when you’re struggling to find a word? When it’s slipped down the back of your sofa brain and you can’t grasp it? Then you start to think; ‘Oh heck! Is this a sign of things to come’?

Well I find it really comforting when my twenty-two year old does exactly the same. Just thought I’d share that with you in case you need the comfort too!

note to self

note to self

I’m often angsting over words. It’s what I do. Because one small word makes a mega difference. And since I’m writing about home education a lot I’m often angsting over the word ‘homeschooling’, as used in the title of my previous post.

I hate the word. For it suggests ‘school’ at home. And we didn’t do school at home and judging by many of your comments and messages there’s quite a few of you who are the same. ‘Schooling’ suggests something done to the kids, which is not what we’re in to.

And ‘schooling’ and ‘education’ are wildly different things.

I always feel that ‘schooling’ implies a kind of drilling into a child, a forcing of stuff into a person. Whereas education is a leading out. Schooling inevitably has elements of institutionalisation and therefore a narrowing of mind. Education is the broadening of minds – of an individual – that has nothing to do with institution. Schooling suggests a school-style structure, when home educating is wide and diverse and often unpredictable – yet still extremely successful as such, as those graduating are now proving.

It is all about approach and the approach we took, like many other home educators, centred around the individual and their personal development. It sometimes required guidance and self-determined structure, but it was more often than not autonomously derived in consultation with them – we were more the facilitators. It was always guided by respect. The respect of both the individual’s right to develop in the way that suited them and the wider world, and the place they would make for themselves within it.

School does boast that this is what they’re aiming for. That may be true, but home educators take a wildly different route to get there – a route that ‘schooling’ doesn’t well describe.

However, I suppose I will adopt the phrase ‘homeschooling’ sometimes because, ironic though it is, it is a term widely used and recognised to describe those children who are learning out of school. And it is often only you deeper thinking parents who recognise that difference between schooling and education.

And there are some similarities perhaps, between school learners and home learners, particularly in our common goals (although thinking about it that’s questionable too). And common practises to help us reach them. But perhaps we don’t have to get too tied up with words, just get on with the real process of helping our kids develop into the educated people they need to be.

However, the term home schooling will always rankle; ‘schooling’ always feels slightly coercive, that’s just how I feel about it.

What about you? I’d love to hear your comments on the matter – am I just really angsting for nothing?


32 thoughts on “Forgive the ‘Homeschooling’

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  6. Great article! Enjoyed reading along with everyone’s comments. I’m an undecided parent that is very disenchanted with the ‘one size fits all’ education system on offer.

    • Thank you – great to have you here. You’re certainly among a whole range of disenchanted supporters! 😉 You might find my book ‘A Funny Kind of Education’ gives you a bit more reality on Home Ed plus support for your views on education in general – many think the same as you!

  7. I’ve thought about the term a lot! What with being UK based and also acquaintances calling me the ‘homeschool one’ and I can honestly say although I know the difference, and what the term may imply if we unpick it, it doesn’t bother me at all. So much so in fact my blog title is ironic on purpose!! Maybe we are just mavericks over here and like to play devils advocate 😉

  8. Eldest Daughter & I went to her College Assessment for Next Year and the Tutor referred to Daughter as ‘Home-Taught’ which was a little different. I was all ready to get Grrr with ‘Home-Schooled’ 😀

  9. I prefer the term homeschooling probably mostly because it is an easily understood term to mean learning at home. It also rolls off the tongue easily in my opinion. In addition, I have found that the tendency of people to berate me for using the term homeschooling tends to put my back up and want to write it in the sky. I have found the ignorant comments that it is the American term for “school at home” only offensive as it is simply an overall term to describe kids being educated outside of school. I don’t have a problem with others using the term home education as it is a perfectly ok term but I see red when people (often) criticise my term.

    • Yes – I completely get what you’re saying. We always found the term home-educating such a mouthful for the children! Thanks so much for coming and joining in the conversation! All the best.

  10. I agree with you Ross. Always a delight to read your your posts. Like Wendy I too wrestle with the term unschooling. On the other hand, I think that there are dedicated educators out there in the world who work in schools. Many children in the world whose only real chance out of poverty is going to a school. My children have tasted school in various countries and now we home educate. They had positive n negative experiences like any other aspects of life. I think the less we try to polorize our views on education the more chances we’ll have in seeing how we can engage in discussion to make education for children moret pleasurable experience.

    • Thank you so much for your comment – you’re so right. We need to make sure we embrace everyone’s opportunity for education whatever it’s called and remain open to the variety of approaches. Lovely you visited. x

      • You’re welcome Ross! If it weren’t for an Irish nun and many others (like the friendly clerk and janitor)who inspired me as a child at school I would not have made it parents were not in a position to go to home educate me. Living in Asia, I see kids full of potential deprived of opportunities of a better educational journey. I decided that I can’t change the world but I can change the world of a child. So I started with mine and some kids we know. Blogging came out of that desire too. So nice of you to reply Ross.xx

      • It’s a pleasure – I always appreciate people spending time to comment. I love your philosophy; it’s true that by changing the world of a child we do make a difference as they will reach out and maybe change others in their turn.

  11. Hi Ross, I really enjoyed reading your post and am so with you on all that you’ve said. My son and I were watching the old Heidi series a few weeks ago and there was a great comment from the old grandfather up on the mountain; ‘Heidi doesn’t need to go to school, the world is her classroom!’ Now I know why I loved that story so much! Thank you for your great posts! 🙂

  12. Hi Ross
    I feel exactly the same and never call it home schooling. The way we do it is as far away from schooling as you can get. I too now call myself a facilitator after hearing another home educating friend say that. So when people ask me if I am a teacher I say I don’t teach I facilitate learning – it all feels so much more honest!

  13. Great post, Ross. As a fellow writer, I, too, care about words. But I also often slip into using words that I don’t really like. For instance, I find myself using the word “unschooling” although I don’t think its connotations are all that accurate either. Funny that something with such a long history is difficult for us to name now that our society become so thoroughly schooled! As I’ve often said, school, with its few hundred years of existence, should really be looked at as the experiment. 😉

    • Thanks Wendy, lovely to hear from you and have you here. It is difficult to name isn’t it! I quite like the idea of DIY Learning! It suggests it’s about the self and not some outside agenda!

  14. Hi Ross
    You are spot on! I am so with you in trying to avoid the word “schooling”. My son and I discussed it and settled on “OWL” …Outdoor World Learning. Wisdom learned from the world and I definitely define my role as Facilitator never teacher.
    Best wishes

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