I talked yesterday a little about the National Curriculum and how any structured home educator was liable to be viewed as following it slavishly. Another popular misconception about those of us who work systematically with our children towards certain educational ends is that we are doing 'school at home'. I have never really understood what 'school at home' means. It conjures up, for me at least, an image of me sitting on a raised dais at the back of our kitchen. In files my daughter and I say impatiently, 'Come on, come on, settle down now. Take your seat'. When she is seated at the kitchen table I take out the register and begin checking that my pupil is present. 'Webb?', I call out. She replies, 'Here Sir'. Now it's down to business. 'All right, come on, stop the noise. Open your book at page three hundred and ten'.
Is this the sort of thing, do you suppose, that those who talk about parents who do school at home have in mind? Probably not, but it is hard to understand what they do really mean. Is there any home educating parent in Britain who operates according to a strict timetable? Are there any who have rigid hours for their child's education, starting at nine and finishing at three or four, with weekends free? More to the point, do any parents, even the most structured, really follow a curriculum minutely and refuse to vary it at all? Are there parents who will not strike off in a completely new and unlooked for direction as a result of some random interest which their child has picked up? What does 'school at home' even mean? I think that it is worth trying to find out just what is meant by this expression, because some home educators draw a sharp distinction, an opposition even, between home education and home schooling. They seem to feel that what they are doing, home education, is almost the antithesis of home schooling and they get quite ratty if some newspaper refers to them as home schooling.
I am hoping that since a number of people who comment here seem to be pretty much against 'school at home', one of them will be able to explain to the rest of us what they mean by it.