A family chooses to educate their own children at home for many reasons. It is usually because schools have failed them. For a lot more people, it’s because they want to fill up what schooling threatens to take away through negative socialisation – namely, the inculcation of values or faith convictions, modeling of character, intimacy, nurture of family affections, the exercise of parental authority, time for children to be and grow, acquisition of a broad range of knowledge, etc. Due to social and economic factors – and political expediency – brick and mortar schools will probably remain a vital necessity for a long, long time.
In many societies, schooling may be the only means of education and possibly the first steps to a hopeful future. Does this mean that homeschooling is only for parents who can afford it?
The late author and educator John Holt however, thought differently. Holt, who is credited with pioneering the unschooling/homeschooling movement, shared the following insights during a magazine interview in 1980.
“THAT’S A BIG QUESTION. The great advantage is intimacy, control of your time, flexibility of schedule, and the ability to respond to the needs of the child, and to the inclinations. If the child is feeling kind of tired or out of sorts, or a little bit sick, or kind of droopy in spirits, okay, we take it easy, and things go along very calmly and easily. When the child is full of energy and rambunctious, then we tackle big projects, we try tough stuff, we look at hard books. And I think schools could do much more than they do in this kind of flexibility, but in fact they don’t.”
I want to make it clear that I don’t see homeschooling as some kind of answer to badness of schools. I think that the home is the proper base for the exploration of the world which we call learning or education. Home would be the best base no matter how good the schools were. The proper relationship of the schools to home is the relationship of the library to home, or the skating rink to home. It is a supplementary resource.
But the school is a kind of artificial institution, and the home is a very natural one. There are lots of societies without schools, but never any without homes. Home is the center of the circle from which you move out in all directions, so there is no conceivable improvement in schools that would change my mind about that.”