By Melissa M.
Home education is most popular in the USA, Canada and the UK. In the United States, about three percent of students or more than one and a half million people are on this form of family education. The reasons why parents in different countries resort to home-based learning are as varied as the state’s attitude towards it. At the same time, for example, in Sweden and Germany, such practice is prohibited by law.
FAMILY EDUCATION IN THE WORLD: TWO POLES
In the late 1960s, there were only 10-15 thousand children in the USA who studied at home. Since then, this number has been constantly growing. Already in 1999, the country counted 850 thousand children whose parents were directly involved in education, and in 2007 the number of students studying at home exceeded 1.5 million.
Homeschoolers now make up about 3 percent of all students in the United States. Not so significant, but very tangible growth in the number of this category of children is also observed in other Anglo-Saxon countries – the UK, Canada and Australia.
Meanwhile, it cannot be said that the whole world as a whole has a positive attitude towards the idea of homeschooling. For example, in Germany this type of education is prohibited and punishable by fines, prison sentences for fathers and mothers, and even the deprivation of their parental rights. A wide public outcry was caused by the decision of the German authorities to forcibly take four children from the Wunderlich family, who lives near the city of Darmstadt in the state of Hesse. Juveniles were placed under state guardianship for three weeks, until the court finally allowed them to return home, taking a promise from their parents that they would send them to school.
Strict laws force German homeschoolers, many of whom are religious people, to seek political asylum in other countries, in particular in the USA. True, the American authorities do not always listen to the arguments of immigrants from Germany. Although critics of the German compulsory school system constantly recall its Nazi roots, Germany is now a democratic state. Parents are given the opportunity to send their children to educational institutions of any orientation, for example, Protestant or Muslim.
Home education is also completely prohibited in Sweden. The rest of the countries of Europe and America are somewhere in the middle between these two poles – the USA and Germany.
WHAT THE EYES FEAR, THE HANDS DO. AMERICAN FAMILIES FOR HOME EDUCATION
For several decades, Americans debated on the rationality of family education. Parents were interested in: what are the advantages of homeschooling over a traditional school, are there any hidden dangers in the new educational trend; such as, for example, the lack of socialization and the fear not to pass certification on time. Even the very idea of transferring the educational process to home conditions terrified some parents.
But back in the mid 60-70s of the last century, thousands of American families were dissatisfied with the public school system. Then only daredevils refused school and transferred their children to family education. It was a risk, but as the experience of brave parents showed, it was very justified.
A turning point in the minds of American society occurred in 1997, when 13-year-old Rebecca Sylphon, who studied at home (homeschooling), won the national English grammar competition. In total, 245 schoolchildren took part in that competition, 17 of which were homeschoolers.
HOW DOES HOME EDUCATION WORK IN AMERICA TODAY
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics of the USA (National Household Education Surveys Program) for 2011 and 2012, more than 2 million children or 3% of all students were homeschooled. This is almost twice as much as it was in the early 90’s. And according to experts, the growth trend of homeschoolers will continue.
UK TAKES THE HOME LEARNING RACE
It should be noted that home schools in the United Kingdom functioned well before the events described above. However, the peak of popularity came at the beginning of the 21st century. The most famous alternative school, Summerhill, promotes the belief that the school should be made to fit the child, rather than the other way around, according to its founder and leader, Alexander Sutherland Nill.
So, for example, at Summerhill School, children can choose for themselves whether to take a lesson or go to work out. A quality check at Summerhill school in 2007 by the UK Department of Education confirmed the good quality of education in this school, despite the abandonment of constant control over the children.
Summerhill was also supported by the UN; staff were struck by the school’s therapeutic effect on children. Not to forget the school’s philosophy as a reminder to all parents, the child should live his own life, and not the life that his parents impose on him.
THE BEST IS THE ENEMY OF THE GOOD?
In the words of Eduard Gibbon, an English historian, every person has two educations. One that others give him, and another, more important, that he gives himself.
FAMILY EDUCATION: A RELIC OF THE PAST OR A CHOICE OF THE FUTURE?
The growing popularity of family education in such countries as the United States, experts explain in different ways. They even come to diametrically opposite conclusions in the question of what the future of homeschooling is going to be – a victorious march or quiet withering.
The followers of homeschooling believe that the future lies with this form of education. They are convinced that homeschooling is suitable for almost all responsible parents and children, although it may never become the dominant form of education.