Why home ‘schooling’ doesn’t fit!

I get really taffled up with words sometimes. Being a writer I know the power – or confusion – they cause.

The word home-schooling is one such term.

I’m loathe to use the term and much prefer to go with home-education as it far better describes what I think most home educators are about. As I’ve blogged about before, here.

But does it really matter?

It seems it certainly does. A friend and fellow home educator has recently pointed out to me why we should avoid using the term home-schooling for deeper political reasons that we should perhaps be aware of.

She is one of the members from the initiative of ‘National Community Learning Hubs‘ who have come

together to provide a holistic, nurturing, self determined approach to learning, within environments that enable everyone to thrive and achieve in a way that suits them best. And she related to me a discussion within their groups about the use of the term home-schooling and how it may affect our right to home educate in the future. She’s kindly given me permission to copy part of the discussion here:

HOME EDUCATION is the correct term in the UK, the reasons why some of us long term Home Edders battled to ensure that it was the term used by the DfE are many, but to give a few: Schooling is a very different thing to education. Mothers and Fathers or educators are the ones who educate the learners. ‘Home schooling’ implies a school at home. LAs increasingly try to force school at home and that will destroy the ability to home educate. ‘Home schooling’ can be a block to moving from a school mindset. ‘Home schooling’ is picked up by the media and used to compare home education (currently) to school children educated at home. In so doing, home educators are being pushed toward being lumped in with them. The public body narrative and that of those who want to regulate us has been INTENTIONALLY used over the last several years to move the idea of home education in the mind of the public closer to school, how better than to wholesale change to ‘homeschool’ wherever and whenever they can. The media follows and circulates that narrative. Why would this be used? Easy, because by changing the narrative in subtle steps, public bodies make it easier to persuade MPs to vote to regulate and the public to cheer them on. If members of the home educating ‘community’ follow suit and use the term, we assist the narrative to grow and we support the subtle version of the huge attack on home education freedoms. Why do it? To bring it home more personally: ONE word changes lives. In September last I took some time contacting education psychologists to ask their experience of home education. Every one of them claimed to have plenty of such experience, but none was aware that home education was not EOTAS (education provided by the LA, often in the home) and that was where their experience lay. Each one of those experts had no expertise in home education, yet any one of them could have ended up in a court room as an expert in home education. Lives damaged by a word. Do you want your child to be judged against school standards? If not, remember home EDUCATION.

This has certainly made me think and question and I’m grateful to have those points brought to my attention. I actually feel quite shocked at my own ignorance about the effect these terms have.

Personally, I have never been comfortable with the term (or the concept) of schooling – it certainly doesn’t fit with my idea of true education. However I was aware that home-schooling was a familiar term that could also help people find support, so have used it quite liberally in balance with home-education.

Perhaps I need to rethink, since it has such a political impact.

I know that not everyone sees it in political terms or wants to be involved in the politics of it. But there are many who are fighting politically to maintain your right to home educate and we should support them by being aware of that and by the terminology we use.

What’s your view?


6 thoughts on “Why home ‘schooling’ doesn’t fit!

  1. While public school can be done far better, having become what I call public propaganda education camps, and I truly mean that, I’ve always believed parents are the guardians of their children. Quality writing and reading skills, the experience to both understand and explain (verbally and in writing) and answer thoughtful questions, using mathematics in real-world applications and preparation for careers like engineering and business, along with thoughtful considerations from both the parents and their children….Real history and understanding the lessons of the past.

  2. Yes, I’m another voter for consistently calling it “education”, and I’ll often say “home-based education” or “non-school education” as well, to try to push back against the stereotype of “tiny classroom in a house”. There are many many families arriving in home-ed-world these days who have only ever known school, and accordingly are vulnerable to thinking that “school at home” is all there is. They “don’t know what they don’t know”, so it doesn’t occur to them to look for sites like e.g. Sandra Dodd’s one, and find out all the other ways that education for young people can work. To me, calling it “home schooling” aligns with that framework & therefore isn’t helpful. Home ed doesn’t necessarily look anything like school, so let’s try not to leave people with the illusion that it always does!

  3. I personally have always used the term home education, home schooling has always implied, to me, schooling at home which is not what we have ever strived for. I remember when my children were very young correcting adults who asked if they were home schooled, they were very clear and polite with a reply no I am not home schooled, I am home educated. They have continued to politely correct this, they are now 13 and 17. I have also read, over the years, similar wording to that which you have shared above. I agree there is a huge difference over that one word. I hadn’t thought about the political implications of that, but I totally agree with the arguments set out in the words you have shared, why that would become problematic in the home educating community if home schooling was the ‘agreed’ term for all education that takes place in a home setting. As the writer of the above notes EOTAS is not the same as home education and is no way comparable, just one example of why words do matter in this context. Thank you for sharing this Ross, I think that it is so important that, as a community, we continue to have these discussions.

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to leave your insightful reply and continuing the discussion. It’s much appreciated and I’m sure will further the general understanding. All the best.

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