Foundations of Alberta’s Home Education Movement: On the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA) (Part 3)
Last time, I discussed the environment and time in which the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA) was created. I also briefly mentioned the history of another agency that had a completely different approach to helping the home education community in this province. This agency was the Home Education Corporation of Alberta (HECA).
HECA drifted off into the annals of history but while in existence, it was very different from AHEA. HECA wanted to completely separate the home educated from the authority and control of the government while AHEA negotiated with the government to obtain greater freedom and protection which ultimately proved to be the more successful approach. The debate continues as to whether or not it was the best approach and alas, we have what we have.
AHEA was successful in advancing protection for the home educated and I would be remiss if I did not applaud AHEA’s influence in the formation of the 1988 School Act. This was the first piece of legislation in the province’s history to even mention home education. AHEA’s insistence on protecting home educators from undue persecution or unreasonable demands resulted in the creation and entrenchment of a unique educational phenomenon, that of the willing non-resident board which continues to this day.
A simple fact about history is that it becomes increasingly more interesting with age. That is, as we get older, we have more of it on which to reflect. I must admit that I have been accumulating a fair bit of history, which I believe is saying I am aging! However, aging also grants me credibility when describing something that may have occurred long before the majority of my “listeners” were even born. I was actually there and really did experience those events at that time.
I want to share some history with you, hoping to help you understand how we have come to our current situation in home education and to encourage you to actively defend your rightful authority in the education of your children. I also desire to prevent returning to the past practices we wanted escape those many years ago, when home education first began.
Home education has always been part of Alberta’s story. Indeed, what do you think happened before the creation of public schools? Even after the advent of compulsory schools, some folks didn’t want their children leaving home or were just too isolated to send them. These students were either “home schooled” or “schooled” at home using a distance learning approach called Correspondence School which later morphed into the soon-to-be-defunct Alberta Distance Learning, which is being replaced with modern online programming.
A friend of mine, a well known (and aging) wordsmith of notable repute by the name of Ted Byfield, has repeatedly encouraged me with his understanding of history. He often repeats that we cannot possibly understand where we are without at least being somewhat aware of where we have been. He has written a great deal on this topic, which I recommend that you read.
The Jewish culture and writings clearly understood the importance of history by repeatedly making reference to the past, particularly through genealogy, which was used to establish the authenticity of the narrative being presented. Indeed, every one of our lives is based on past events. That’s why we also reflect on parents, grandparents, relationships, genealogy and family trees.
It is important to understand that history cannot be changed and should never be revised to suit or accommodate recent understandings. Agree or not, history is history. Those who revise history are likely to infuse the past with modern mistakes and render it useless, while those who ignore it are likely to repeat its mistakes.