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Conference on the Future of Homeschooling

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Many homeschooling parents remove their children from public or private school to follow the ideal of “lifelong learning”. This ideal should not, however, be confined to our children. We ourselves need to become lifelong learners. Homeschooling is after all a family affair!

How does one become a lifelong learner? By reading widely, debating difficult issues, and learning from the opinions of researchers and expert advocates, from people who have travelled this road before, and from people who have taken great pains to do research on homeschooling. Policy and regulatory changes always need to be backed up by research, and we urgently need that in South Africa. If you are interested in or involved in doing research on home education in South Africa, do contact us.

A common fallacy in thinking about homeschooling is that it is a static phenomenon, that it stays the same and never changes. Anyone who has been homeschooling for a while can attest to the fact that this is not true. Home education is in fact an ever-changing phenomenon. Whether a newbie or a veteran, parents therefore need to update their knowledge of homeschooling all the time, for their own sakes, to find their feet in this ever-changing world, but also to be able to be advocates for homeschooling wherever they go.

The conference on the Post-Pandemic Future of Homeschooling is a wonderful opportunity for lifelong learning and for updating your knowledge on homeschooling. It will be presented, starting next week, for six consecutive Thursdays from 6th May to 17 June, 2021 at 18:00-19:00, SA time. Book your place online (attendance is free), and join in this conference consisting of a series of debates/discussions on the Post-Pandemic Future of Homeschooling.  The purpose of the conference, according to the conference website, is to “improve understanding of critical topics in homeschooling by considering empirical research, expert analysis, and parents’ experiences with homeschooling”.

The topics are as critical in discussions in South Africa as internationally, especially now that the BELA Bill is slowly making its way to parliament. Many of the presenters in the sessions are highly regarded as home education researchers, and have published and presented research on homeschooling, as you can see from the list of presenters below, for example: Brian Ray, Angela Dills, David Sikkink, Daniel Hamlin, Ari Neuman, Oz Guterman, Philippe Bongrand, Christine Brabant and Albert Cheng.

The first session promises to be especially interesting, with Prof Elizabeth Bartholet from Harvard Law School and HSLDA Attorney Michael Donnelly in the same session. If by any chance you haven’t take note of Prof. Bartholet’s views on homeschooling yet, please do so now!  In 2020 shockwaves rippled through the international homeschooling world when Prof. Elizabeth Bartholet published an article in the Arizona Law Review in which she recommends a presumptive ban on homeschooling, “with the burden on parents to demonstrate justification for permission to homeschool”. Harvard Magazine showcased Bartholet’s viewpoints in the article The Risks of Homeschooling. Bartholet is quoted as saying: “The issue is, do we think that parents should have 24/7, essentially authoritarian control over their children from ages zero to 18? I think that’s dangerous. I think it’s always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless, and to give the powerful ones total authority.” A complete session during GHEC 2020 was devoted to a response to Prof. Bartholet’s article, with excellent comments and critique by leading homeschooling advocates and researchers, following a series of articles published by the HSLDA on various aspects of the Bartholet article.

See you at the conference, and be sure not to miss the first session!

The agenda is as follows:

Agenda

Moderators
Paul E. Peterson, Director, Program on Education Policy and Governance, Harvard University
Daniel Hamlin, Professor, University of Oklahoma

MAY 6: Is it time for a change to homeschool law?

Does the law on homeschooling need to be revised? What are appropriate restrictions on homeschooling?  What rights should homeschoolers have?

Panelists
Elizabeth Bartholet, Professor, Harvard Law School
Michael Donnelly, Senior Counsel, Homeschool Legal Defense Association
Eric Wearne, Professor, Kennesaw State University
James Dwyer, Professor, College of William and Mary

MAY 13: Growth and diversity in post-pandemic homeschooling

What is homeschooling? Who homeschools their children? Has Covid-19 altered the homeschooling landscape?

Panelists
Sarah Grady, Statistician, US Department of Education
Brian Ray, President, National Home Education Research Institute

Commentator
Cheryl Fields Smith, Professor, University of Georgia

MAY 20: Are homeschoolers prepared for life?

How is the academic preparation of homeschoolers? What trends do they see in life outcomes?

Panelists
Christian Wilkens, Professor, State University of New York, Brockport
Jennifer Jolly, Professor, University of Alabama

Commentator
Robert Kunzman, Professor, Indiana University

MAY 27: Are homeschoolers socially isolated?

How involved are homeschoolers in their local communities?   

Panelists
Daniel Hamlin, Professor, University of Oklahoma
David Sikkink, Professor, University of Notre Dame

Commentator
Michael McShane, Director of National Research, EdChoice

JUNE 3: Is child abuse greater at school or homeschool?

What do we know about the incidence of child and sexual abuse that occurs in schools and in homeschool households?

Panelists
Charol Shakeshaft, Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University
Angela Dills, Professor, Western Carolina University

Commentator
Martin West, Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education

JUNE 10: Is homeschooling an international movement?

What trends in homeschooling are occurring internationally?

Panelists
Ari Neuman & Oz Guterman, Professors, Western Galilee College
Philippe Bongrand, Professor, CY Cergy Paris University
Christine Brabant, Professor, University of Montreal

Commentator
Albert Cheng, Professor, University of Arkansas

JUNE 17: Parents’ experiences with homeschooling

What is it like to homeschool?  What are the reasons?  Has Covid-19 changed the homeschooling experience?  

Lead Panelist
Michael Horn, Co-Founder, Clayton Christensen Institute and Homeschooling Parent

Parent Panelists
TBA

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