Home Education Magazine
March-April 2001 - Articles and Columns
From the Publishers - Mark and Helen Hegener
That Which We Do
Homeschooling is a strange, imperfect word for what we as families do. It's a compound word, comprised of two separate terms, 'home' and 'schooling,' which seem to have opposing definitions. Or do they?
'Schooling' was once a well-respected term, associated with positive endeavors such as learning and seeking to understand. But through institutional misuse over many years, the word 'schooling' has collected negative baggage, and corruption of the original definition has rendered it undesirable for many people. It has fallen so far out of favor that many homeschoolers now seek to disassociate what we do with the term 'schooling,' even to the point of allowing bureaucrats and institutions, not families, to define what homeschooling is, or should be.
People who were once proud to be identified as homeschoolers now write disdainfully about the word, and urge abandoning it for terminology such as home education, homelearning, family-directed education or other words. In The Homeschooling Image: Public Relations Basics ((c)1994, currently out of print), Mary Griffith wrote "While such terms may be more in keeping with their users' views, they tend to keep those users constantly explaining what in the world they're talking about."
One definition of 'schooling' is "education obtained through experience or exposure," with no mention of where it takes place. Home is where educational activity begins; it's where we learn to walk, talk, sing, write our names, dress ourselves, ride bicycles, interact with others, build peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and so forth. For us, the word homeschooling simply means continuing what almost everyone starts out doing - schooling themselves at home, amongst family and friends.
The last twenty years have given us a social construct for the word 'homeschooling.' This unique term is now endowed with positive, favorable connotations; so favorable that institutions, business interests, politicians and others seek to closely identify their services, products, and agendas with it. Homeschooling has come into general usage as just another unique form of education, like private schooling or tutoring, and there is now widespread recognition of homeschooling as a good thing, an approach to learning worth emulating.
This has not happened overnight. It has not happened without individual families taking a firm stand for what they believe in, even when it has meant losing the support of family or friends, or breaking existing laws. It has not happened without legislative battles in many states. It has not happened without families working hard for many years to build networks of support, to ensure understanding and acceptance for what we do as families... for what we call homeschooling.
Homeschooling is a good word for what we do. It's a widely known and respected word for the way in which we and our children gain "education through experience or exposure." We should strive to spread the word, to encourage its use as a way of describing a good way to raise children. We should be proud to be identified as homeschoolers.
(c) 2001 Mark and Helen Hegener
March-April 2001 Issue
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