Home Education Unites People Around the World
There are two homeschooling events of particular interest to those who speak or are Spanish. One is a scholarly conference to be held in Navarro, Spain on November 25–26, 2011. There is an English version of the site available, too; look for the link on the menu on the left side of your screen.
The fact that Spain is hosting such a conference while at the same the country is debating whether homeschooling should be permitted is very interesting to me. I look forward to hearing how this event turns out.
The other event is a continuation of the International Home Education conference I addressed in Bogotá, Colombia in 2009. Educación sin Escuela features families as well as academics who reflect on their learning without schooling, as well as learning with flexischooling.
Flexischooling is a word invented by Roland Meighan, whose work on behalf of autodidacts everywhere deserves wider recognition. Roland has for many years published The Journal of Personalised Education Now and the latest issue, No. 14, is fascinating. It is a special edition about Edmond Holmes, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools, who wrote several books after he retired, including What Is And What Might Be (London: Constable, 1911). Holmes is a deep critic of standardized curriculum, testing, and emphasizing the role of the teacher over the role of student in the educational process. This is from the article by Michael Foot that opens the issue:
According to Holmes, teachers need to realize that it is not they but the children who “play the leading part in the drama of learning.” Teachers need “to help them to develop all their expansive instincts, so that their growth may be many-sided and therefore as healthy and harmonious as possible.” And that healthy and harmonious growth will be its own reward, thus rendering unnecessary “the false and demoralizing stimulus of external rewards and punishment.”
Not only does Holmes sound like a precursor to John Holt, in this quote, also from What Is And What Might Be, he almost sounds exactly like Holt:
In nine schools out of ten, on nine days out of ten, in nine lessons out of ten, the teacher is engaged in laying thin films of information on the surface of the child’s mind, and then, after a brief interval, he is skimming these off in order to satisfy himself that they have been duly laid.
It is always refreshing to me to find like-minded people from other cultures, times, and societies who not only question conventional education but who also do something about it. Though homeschooling does not have well-paid lobbyists, consultants, research programs, and business interests to support it as conventional education does, we do have people-power. Right now, in the United States, there are more children being taught at home (2 million plus) than there are in publicly funded charter schools (1.4 million), which have had far more money, publicity, and institutional support than homeschooling has over the years. Homeschooling is gaining adherents around the world, primarily through word-of-mouth and example; compulsory schooling needs laws, officers, special buildings, television shows, advertisements, and all sorts of social enticements to gain and keep adherents. Somewhere between the words of Edmond Holmes (and others like him) and the actions of home educators around the world, a new form of education is being created around the entrenched institution of conventional schooling.