I am interested in discourses. As such, my epistemological position is one that questions universal truths. While I believe a lot of things (for example the sky is blue) I don’t know that it is (and it probably isn’t because, as footage from space voyages show, it’s often black out there). I wonder if there is a different epistemelogical position between homeschoolers and people who don’t homeschool. For example, people who homeschool tend to hold onto such beliefs as:
- The schools aren’t effective educators (paywall).
- The other students at schools are not the right kind of influence on children (paywall).
- The teachers at schools are overworked and unable to meet an individual childs needs.
- The schools have an undue influence over children (paywall).
- Children lean best at home (paywall).
- Religious values.
There are others, of course, but these six are the majority of reasons parents choose this path.
Ideologues are described as strongly religious (predominantly Christian, though not exclusively), tending to homeschool because they want control over the curricular content of their children’s education. In contrast, pedagogues are described as more concerned with the structure and methods of education than with the content and are frequently associated with “unschooling” and other alternative pedagogies (Van Galen 1986; Knowles, Marlow, and Muchmore 1992; Lines 2000; Bauman 2002; Gaither 2008a).
More recently, however, popular media and special interest groups have begun to write about a third group frequently called “mainstream” homeschoolers2 (e.g Hammons 2006; Basham, Merrifield, and Hepburn 2007; Thiem 2007; Gaither 2009). Along with a growing number of the American population, these parents see public schools as physically and emotionally unsafe for their children. Mainstream homeschool parents—like many parents who choose to exercise school choice—often feel that public schools lack the appropriate resources or teacher quantity and quality for academic advancement, yet generally have no problems with either the curriculum or pedagogy of a traditional education. Regardless of their reasons for homeschooling, the choice to remove children from the traditional school infrastructure—or to exercise school choice in general— implies a failure on the part of the public school infrastructure to meet the educational goals of an increasing number of American parents.
The suggestion that parents are motivated to remove their children from schooling, and exercise a form of choice, implies that they hold a belief that schools are not doing enough for their children, or may do them harm. Thus, it suggests an epistemological reason for homeschooling. One that is driven by a belief in parenting in a certain way, one that responds to the needs and intersts of their children in a compassionate and caring way.