Two Reflections on Education

December 10, 2008

I think you’ll find these reflections on homeschooling and education thought-provoking enough to print them up and maybe even have a few conversations with a spouse or friends or even your children about them (especially the first one – file it under both the meaning of and the means of education).


No School Like Home

by Jessica Shepherd, The Guardian


Excerpts: Alan Thomas, a visiting fellow in the institute’s department of psychology and human development, and Harriet Pattison, a research associate, conclude that informal learning at home is an “astonishingly efficient way to learn”, as good if not better than school for many children.


Thomas and Pattison interviewed and observed 26 families who home-educated, between them, more than 70 children….


The authors discovered that these children absorbed information mainly by “doing nothing, observing, having conversations, exploring, and through self-directed learning”. They liken the “chaotic nature” of informal learning to the process that leads to scientific breakthroughs, the early stages of crafting a novel, coming up with a solution to a technical problem, or the act of composing music.


“Its products are often intangible, its processes obscure, its progress piecemeal,” they say. “There are false starts, unrelated bits and pieces picked up, interests followed and discarded, sometimes to be taken up again, sometimes not… Yet the chaotic nature of the informal curriculum does not appear to be a barrier to children organising it into a coherent body of knowledge.”


“In some ways, it may be an advantage because, rather than presenting knowledge in neat packages, the informal curriculum forces learners to become actively engaged with their information – to work with it, move it around, juggle ideas and resolve contradictions… It is not a static thing contained in a series of educational folders. It is alive and dynamic.”


Mortarboard Blog

Posted by Adharanand Finn,


Excerpts: The home education experiment is over. Our daughter is going to school. She needs the company of other children. But we remain big fans of the homeschooling movement.


I have to be careful of sounding like a proud parent, but in the three months of learning at home, our daughter has learnt to swim, put on a ballet (complete with homemade set and costumes), written her own bedtime stories, and learned to weave, sew, and bake bread.


The most amazing part is that all of these things have been instigated by her and carried out with enthusiasm – we wouldn’t have done them otherwise.