“I will never let school interfere with my education.” -Mark Twain
Definition: “School” – an institution for educating children. -Wikipedia.org
Words matter in our society and the time has come where we all need to respect the uniqueness of parents teaching and their children learning in other environments apart from the institution we call “school.” Parents do not homeschool. They home educate.
School is only one way to acquire an education. Home and community, and travel are other ways. Combining the term “school” with other forms of education such as “homeschool” is just plain wrong. We don’t use the terms “church” or “mosque” to describe a “synagogue” or “shrine” even though all are places of worship. Common descriptions are worldschooling, gameschooling, online schooling, schooling-at-home, unschooling, homeschooling, all of which use the term “school” but has little to do with school.
Education is no longer defined by where it takes place but by who is responsible for it. When school is provided in the home by the school institution, it is called online school. When school work is imposed on children after school hours, it is called homework but is still school responsible for providing it. Education provided by the parent is home education, not homeschooling, and parents or the legal guardians are the people responsible for providing it.
Home education provided via travel or within the community was the normal, mainstream method of learning for hundreds of thousands of years, before school as a government institution became popular in the early-1800s. The pendulum has swung back. Home Education is growing worldwide as parents realize they are just as capable as anyone else to provide their child’s education. When they no longer feel capacity to teach, they procure resources from outside the government school system.
When parents do not hand over their children to an institutional school when the child has six birthday candles on their cake, they are retrieving their legal right to educate their child as they have been doing since their birth. Some parents choose to hand over that right to the school. We call that school role “in loco parentis.” When parents are not the teachers, but the child is learning, we use the term “self-directed education” or “unschooling” to describe learning via home, community and travel.
School should never be used to describe home education. Home education is the preferred term. Home is not a school. Home is a safe, personalized, and effective learning environment. School is a building, and an institution with strict rules, policies, goals, subjects, time compartments, uniforms, agenda, competition, hierarchies, group learning, exams, grades, and procedures, none of which may be present in the home or community while learning takes place. Many home educating families do not use those elements of school in their home. Yet, children progress. Learning and education occurs everywhere and all the time, and it is time our language acknowledges that simple fact.