Challengingly unprecedented times call upon for meditative measures which take into account a comprehensive understanding of the issues at hand, thereby negotiating reasonable returns to tackle the crisis at hand. Where Covid-19 has brought about an overhaul of the operational dynamics in the personal and professional spheres of living, from the adherence of social distancing, to the promotion of a remote work culture, homeschooling, as a practice is slowly springing back into the game.
However, the practice of relaying education to children at home by their primary caregivers during Covid- 19, the concept of homeschooling has still not been met with an unanimous approval in educative quarters. Supplemented with the image of a young child standing behind bars, while his accomplices frolic and play happily at a distance, Harvard University’s law professor Dr. Elizabeth Bartholet’s article in the Harvard Magazine calling out for a “presumptive ban” on homeschooling is perplexing on several fronts. Primarily based on her argument nucleus of homeschooling as a potential form of child abuse that propels socially distant children, Bartholet makes an erroneous claim in underestimating the efficacy of homeschooling.
Homeschooling as a propellant of positive personality development
Research adduces the fact that homeschooling in fact creates a conducive environment facilitating positive personal growth of a child. The flexibility and the personalised nature of homeschool provides kids with the space as well as the reinforcement needed to examine themselves spiritually, philosophically as well as psychologically. Being in close contact with adults at home, homeschooled children engage in enlightening conversations, which broaden their horizons and allows them to explore topics which may fall beyond the domain of their formalised academic syllabus. In her book A Sense of Self: Listening to Homeschooled Adolescent Girls, author Susannah Sheffer observes that teenage homeschooled girls exhibit emotional maturity and a strong matrix of self-esteem in comparison to their counterparts who do formally attain education at schools.
By promoting open communication and emotional closeness, homeschooling allows children to be confident and positive in their demeanour. Research displays that the two central agents in enhancing overall educational performance of a child are parental engagement and a positive home influence; homeschooling imparts both. Additionally, the flexibility in study schedules that accompanies the prospect of homeschooling proves itself to be a low pressure education mechanism for children. By encouraging the children to learn at their own pace or to even skip topics that they may be naturally adept in, homeschooling obliterates the prospect of limiting a child’s quest for knowledge. In fact, it may also allow a child to venture into a study of areas that really cater to his interests and inclinations. This generates an exciting journey of learning , that a child anticipates instead of dreads.
Homeschooling as a means of reinstating a child’s intellectual freedom
Homeschooling in a way can also be assessed as reinstating a child’s emotional and educational freedom. He is no longer coerced to keep up with his peers, hence in the absence of peer pressure he manifests a productive engagement with education. No longer impelled to “fit in” , homeschool kids can display their true selves and interests. It is this aspect of intellectual freedom that John Gatto refers to in his book , Dumbing Us Down:The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling.
Also since, there is 1:1 interaction with the teacher, in this case the parent, homeschool kids do not fear judgement when it comes to a reiterative substantiation of topics that they are weak at. Hence, there is no embarrassment and unease for the child . By being ‘in charge’ the homeschooled children are the collaborators of their education. This means that they are naturally trained to stand out rather than following the crowd since homeschooling allows them to channel their educative needs and interests in accordance with their inclinations.
Homeschooling as a means of burgeoning family bonding
It goes without saying that training young minds adequately can be a challenging feat to accomplish. But can it ever prove to be arduous for the parents of a child to understand his mental scape? Can parents ever not know what bothers their child? Or how to cater to their child’s needs? Of course, in households marred with weak family linkages, it may be a reasonable concern, but can this argument ever be used to negate the efficacy of homeschooling as a practice altogether? The clear answer is: simply not.
Given the grind of daily routine where usually both the parents are at work , homeschooling during covid enhances the chance of family bonding. Instead of viewing it as a practice leading to the constriction of a child’s abilities to learn in a socialised environment with his fellow mates, envision it as a conducive opportunity enabling you to transfer skills first hand onto your child. It is not without a reason, it is generally believed that a child learns what he sees. Rachel Gathercole in her book , The Well Adjusted Child aptly refers to the accelerated development of positive social skills that homeschooling brings about. Since this mode of education is family centric, it ingrains in the child’s mind an understanding of community values and social codes. How can it be assumed that a homeschooler is incapable of socialisation when his education primarily revolves around a first hand comprehension of the workings of the society?
Efficacy of homeschooling for children tackling special circumstances
For a moment, lets suppose you are a child from the minority segment of your society. Desirous of a good education, you fail to get admitted into a school of your choice due to discriminatory reasons. What viable option do you have of competing against your peers, the ones at school, besides resorting to homeschooling?
Also, lets consider that you or any of your accomplices is a child with special needs. In areas where the government has failed to adequately institute organisations for your personal welfare and education, is not homeschooling the only viable yet effective methodology of education acquisition that you can conveniently resort to?
Homeschooling and the case for classical liberalism
When Bartholet argues for the state to oversee the workings of a child’s educational practices, and not his parents, she indirectly makes a claim against classical liberalism by disallowing people to develop and nurture ideas unstamped by the state. This comes across as a means to control and define the personalised thoughts and values of the citizens, indirectly controlled by the state. It takes us back to the times of the Middle Ages when the Church being the supreme controller of authority, monopolised the masses by scrutinising their education processes and learning. Today, centuries later the evocation of a similar stance is manifested in the criticism of homeschooling making one question: has an educated and autonomous posturing of the commoner really been accepted by the state? The veracity of which only time will further unravel.