So many autonomously educating parents seem to be vehemently opposed to the very idea of a curriculum, that I think it worth considering what we mean by the expression. A curriculum, at its most basic, is no more than a plan of study. It can be as simple as a list of subjects which will be covered over the next year or so. This is in itself hugely controversial, because of course the Badman report recommends that some such plan be compulsory and many parents are determined to have nothing to do with the idea. It has even been suggested that just giving such a plan would render autonomous education impossible. This seems very strange. Let us have a look at a curriculum and see whether or not it really would have this effect.
Here is a very simple curriculum; English, Mathematics, History, Geography, Science, Art, Music. How could such a curriculum work in practice? Let's look at one subject, Art. This could involve painting, drawing, making models from plasticine, visiting art galleries, looking at books about artists, watching television programmes, the list is endless. Just by doing one or two of those things each week, Art has been covered. What about science? Visits to zoos, keeping and observing an ant farm, hunting for fossils, watching tadpoles grow, going to a museum, attending a lecture, reading a Horrible Science book, watching television. One or two of those activities each week and science is covered. And so it goes on.
Most of these things are already being done by most home educating parents. In other words, the lifestyle and educational techniques used with their children will not have to change in the slightest degree in order to comply with the recommendation for a "Plan of Work". I am guessing that many parents are following a curriculum already, even if they do not call it by that name and have nothing written down. Most of us arrange a programme of event for out children which cover areas like art and music. Few parents fail to read to their children or discuss aspects of science with them. A curriculum like the one above does not tie a parent down to any particular activity or force the child to do anything against her inclinations. There is nothing scary about it, still less is it likely to destroy the fun of the child's learning!
A good thing about a curriculum is that it can act as an aide-memoire, reminding us of what we hope to do each week. It would not of course be a disaster if we missed out on science one week, or spent more time on Music than on History. The curriculum just tells us what we hope to be covering one way or another. I honestly cannot see why so many people are afraid of it.