Schooling from home may look like homeschooling, but the similarities are only superficial. At a fundamental level, the two are drastically different.
Criticising current trends can be like walking into a minefield without a map. One size doesn’t fit all.
Despite the assertions of blanket “equality” and blurred distinctions, some distinctions do matter.
Everyone is of equal value, but not everyone, nor everything is equal.
For instance, beliefs may align with facts, but they don’t always match. Beliefs are distinct from facts. Facts are not equal to beliefs.
The distance between objective truth and subjective truth testifies to the same.
If it looks like a duck…
The diversity of people groups, ideological views and cultures teach us as much. Like beer and pizza, some have more plausibility in their claims to legitimacy than others.
Take a cauliflower “pizza” for example. It lacks plausibility and is best described as a grilled cheese vegetable salad.
It lacks the quality, features and structural standards of an actual pizza.
The cauliflower substitute may dress the part, but pizza lovers know for a fact that dough, sauce and cheese are a pizza’s base ingredients.
Pizza lovers can’t be fooled into swapping facts for fiction.
This illustration is backed by missionary, Lesslie Newbigin, who wrote,
“All human thinking takes place within a ‘plausibility structure’ which determines what beliefs are reasonable and what are not.”
“Every person living in a ‘modern’ society is subject to an almost continuous bombardment of ideas, images, slogans and stories. The power of contemporary media to shape thought and imagination is very great. Even the most critical powers are easily overwhelmed.”
For Newbiggin, facts inform belief, not vice versa.
“Participation in a community of truth will mean living in such a way that isn’t aligned with propaganda,” he argues.
Some distinctions matter
Repeat to a Pizza lover that the cauliflower substitute is the real thing, and they’ll nearly always refute it, on good grounds.
These thoughts apply to schooling from home. Schooling from home is about as exciting as eating a cauliflower disguised as a pizza.
I’m not trying to have a go at parents forced into the role of prison warden, making sure their kids do a specialised set of COVID homework.
I’m pointing to a blurred distinction between a substitute and the real thing.
Schooling from home is not the same as homeschooling.
Measuring the plausibility of modern standards in teaching, Nigerian educator, Dr. Obed Onwuegbu asserted, “teaching did not start in schools”.
“I know that teachers use films when they teach in the U.S.A. That is a luxury I did not have throughout my years as a student or teacher in Nigeria. I was lucky if I had a picture. My granddaughter in fifth grade complained about a film her class watched. It seemed the film babysat the class for the teacher.”
Onwuegbu isn’t advocating the abdication of teacher responsibility nor the abolition of teachers. Instead, he’s advocating liberation from a sort of joyless curriculum purgatory; a gulag mindset.
Where constrained creativity incites boredom; where meaning and purpose is easily lost.
This is a place where zero incentive is given and indifference is propagated en masse. When parents parent responsibly, the teacher is freed to teach.
Teachers are not glorified babysitters
Parents facilitate learning. Kids cannot be schooled out of a box, on a conveyor belt, through a rigid routine, nor do they thrive when they’re forced into one.
Kids respond to right relationships and healthy boundaries.
I was recently asked how I can be a writer and still function as a homeschooler. I replied, one of the great joys of the homeschool life is a flexible routine.
As any successful homeschooler will tell you, the key is balance.
It would be a mistake to assume homeschooling is about a “safe space” or a “sacred bubble”, or simply about pushing buttons, ticking boxes and filling in textbooks.
Schooling from home is not equal to homeschooling. As Sydney University lecturer in Education, Dr Nikki Brunker, argued, “we are confusing the terminology.”
Homeschoolers are not tax-payer funded. Homeschooling is parent-controlled, relatively free of the crushing weight of the industrial education complex, and is open to reform.
Schooling from home is to homeschooling, what cauliflower is to a pizza.
It’s a bland substitute.
Understanding this distinction empowers mums and dads to choose greater involvement in their role as their child’s first educator.
The world is our classroom. One size doesn’t fit all, but this doesn’t change the fact that teaching starts in the home.
Homeschool where you can, when you can, if you can.
Rod, his wife Jonda, and their five kids are homeschooling veterans. Rod spent 12 years in management at Koorong, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Ministry & Theology, and is a writer for the theological, politically edgy news site Caldron Pool. Rod also writes for the Spectator. Find his personal blog here.
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