Sunday, April 07, 2013

Protect Home Education Diversity

On my Homeschool Australia group today a mum mentioned being given templates for recording and planning by the home education registration authority. My take on this is that if using their paper work makes it easy for you and you really want to, do so, but I'd much rather we all sent them what we plan to do and a summary of how we've done in in our own words and in our own way. Why? Because it means they can't claim that 'most' home educators are 'happy' with their templates and how they structure our application and change them from guidelines into policy and then regulation. It's a sneaky roundabout way of claiming we were 'consulted'...

Write your own learning programs - remember these are plans and it's okay to deviate from them if something better comes along or the plan doesn't meet your needs as you travel along. A plan is a general idea of the route you intend to travel, reminds you of the important points to note and hopefully achieve along the way, as well as why you're on that road in the first place.

Write your own applications, in you own words. The benefits of this are two-fold: firstly, to support and protect diversity of home education practice (which, I believe is essential to the survival of this option); and secondly, because together with writing your own learning program (personalised curriculum) you will clarify your needs as well as your child's educational needs and will get a better sense of what home education is and means to your family.

Developing our individual ways of recording is essential too. It sends a message to the authorities that education doesn't have to be a one-size-fits-all affair to be effective and successful. Variety is okay. Sure it makes work for them and they have to think a little harder than they might like, but they are getting paid to do that work. And we're helping them expand their understanding of a subject that they are passionately interested in: education and learning. Once they get over the nine-to-five hassle of having to look at something different they'll enjoy the challenge and learning working with home educating families bring.

I'm happy as a home educating mum to have a look at how and what schools are doing and incorporate elements of the curriculum/syllabus (if I am legally required by legislation to do so) into our home education activities. I'm not a school teacher though, I am not teaching dozens of (usually same aged) children at the same time. My environment is considerably different and it is inappropriate (and inefficient) to impose classroom methods of education into the home education environment.

It is taking decades for home educating families to gradually educate the bureaucrats that make the regulations, policies and guidelines, but we're getting there. Our strength lies in our diversity: the fact that we're not a homogenous bunch of people all doing the same thing in the same way. We need to protect this strength and be assertive when it comes to working with the home education regulative authorities in our states/territories.

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