Friday, 10 May 2013

Doing (yet more) home ed research?

Home educators, more of it over here. Take it or leave it.

For any person passing, curiously nosing about the world of home ed, this is when I pause, so we home educators can go at each other with windmilling arms, kicking each other in the shins, and hoping to land some bloody-nose blows, until some kindly consensus-seeker drags us apart, yelling Leave it! It ain't worth it!

Then know, passing viewer, that we are truly one big, happy family!

Yes, it may seem unlikely, but in my tribal world, research into home ed can raise a lot of strong opinions.

For a start, for the die-hard brigade, there is the primary problem of the research itself - it comes from within the education 'system' that the old hippies have spent years poking with sticks. Of course they're right! The research will come from people using particular sanctioned approaches within straitjacketed university contexts; researchers will not be able to deviate from particular methodologies and means of presentation if they want that PhD. What's more, they are likely products of a school-based system themselves, so how can they apply their standards of interrogation to the home educating approach? We have knowledge that is other. Researcher, when you begin, consider yourself doomed.

Then we have the mamas and papas out here in the home ed world who can challenge your conventional educational theories with their perceptions and observations about the way children learn. But because they haven't made those observations within the empires, or they don't display letters after their names, or because their observations are gathered from hard-core practical experience - possibly including mud, blood, bone, and a dead badger - those voices are forever consigned to the fringes; they will never be inside the system, and they will remain ignored or dismissed by the mainstream.

But there are those who say Let's help out the poor researcher! Even though they display stupendous ignorance! Mixing up home education with home schooling! But these rational voices, they advise caution: research in itself is fine, but what's the purpose? What use will it be put to? No academic researcher will produce pure information protected from government policies, business interests, or safe from a rubbishing by those who feel their agendas are being damaged or undermined. The message from here is: Home educator, do your research. Pick the research you think isn't just touting for business, allowing someone to build an empire, has a hidden agenda, or is covertly sponsored by Schools'R'Us.

What of those who say it is a downright failure of the home ed community not to be involved with academia? Only by furnishing the mainstream educational world with sound, peer-reviewed, academic data will home ed ever be accepted; it's only by understanding the significance of an academic approach in presenting arguments to defend a belief, can home education, eventually, become a mainstream choice. Think of a time when even Ken Robinson might be able to utter the dreaded words, safe in the knowledge he will no longer be considered a raving loony!

And then we get the bloody-minded provokers. They try and spoil it all by filling in questionnaires with annoying and unhelpful answers deliberately to advance, frustrate, illuminate and piss off the researcher in equal measure. I absolutely deny any involvement with that lot.


Michelle said...

I had ignored it but do now feel an urge to cooperate. Just because they say home education rather than home schooling. More and more I see home schooling referenced and makes me grouchy.

Michelle said...

Lost interest at a typo.

Katie Pybus said...

We've met Charlotte Rochez (doing PhD about history of home based education at Cambridge) a few times. She's great, really interested and positive.

But I thought Ken Robinson was mainstream...criticising the status quo is well paid.