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While solo on a lengthy drive, I had an opportunity to listen to a couple of rather dated broadcast sessions by the Focus on the Family organization. These sessions were really interesting for two reasons.
The first reason was that they were largely in celebration of what was then, twenty years of home education in the USA. What was even more interesting was that it was put on by a collection of “big guns,” including James Dobson and Michael Farris, both of whom cited Raymond Moore, who has often been credited with starting, if not having had at least a major influence in the modern-day home “school” movement.
What started as a dated broadcast, soon became a blast from the past. My wife and I had started home education about 10 years into the first half of home education history. Since Alberta was about ten years behind the Americans, we essentially were involved near the beginning of this province’s home education movement. It was interesting to be reminded of what things were like back then.
By 2002, the time at which this broadcast was recorded, all the major battles respecting the legality of home education had been won. Home “schooling” as these folks called it, was now legal in every state and province. How many home educating parents today, even question this, much less appreciate the battles and victories that led to modern freedoms?
Today, as back in 2002, if there is a challenge to a home education family, it is almost always something involving social services, whose bureaucrats have never really accepted it as a viable option, much less having even the foggiest idea as to what home education actually entails… but I digress.
I was also reminded of the concerns respecting home education that played big in those days. Concerns respecting the qualifications of parents to teach their children; whether the education received at home was quality and how it compared to those getting a “real” education at school; and, of course, the ubiquitous question on the socialization skills of the home educated.
It’s been so long since these concerns have largely been put to rest that I had forgotten how often they were brought up and the multitude of answers we had for addressing them. Much like the question of legality, these concerns are mostly history as time has demonstrated that none of these concerns were ever legitimate.
Another observation I made while listening to these sessions was obvious by its absence. This was of particular interest to me as during the time this session was conducted, I was a leading “expert” respecting the admission of the home educated to post-secondary institutions, or “colleges,” as the Americans call them.
I believe the reason it was not addressed is that the earliest home educators were only then reaching this level in their education and it was a new crossroad in home education.
Paradoxically, most home “schooled” students simply returned to high school for completion of their “home school programs”. And, most post-secondary institutions were woefully and intransigently connected to a “schooling” mindset.
Now, by the time these broadcast sessions were recorded, my own children had reached the post-secondary level in their education, and I could not understand why, if home education was legal and programming was optional, post-secondary institutions were demanding that home “schoolers” have all the same qualifications in the same way as regular “schoolers.”
The answer was simple. Everyone referred to these students as “home schooled,” therefore institutions believed that students who were educated at home looked like everyone else and therefore should be evaluated for admission like everyone else.
Noting this, I embarked on a national and provincial campaign to clearly differentiate between home “schooling” and home “education” and to explain that post-secondary institutions needed to evaluate the “home educated” differently.
This campaign led to a number of visits, talks and presentations, including invitations to provincial and national conferences for registrars and admissions personnel. Those were exciting times as I got to see a great number of colleges (and communities) across Canada as I helped them develop home education admission policies.
Like other past “issues,” how many parents know how post-secondary institutions were persuaded to develop home education friendly policies?
Which leads me to one more observation I made during this discussion on home education from almost twenty years ago. As I listened and nostalgically reminisced about those days, I realized that in one respect, nothing has really changed! Since the inception of the home school movement, it has mostly remained just that… “home schooling.”
We will take a closer look at what I mean next time.
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