April 27, 2004
Home working and home educating

I've just finished a posting at Samizdata which ends thus:

And now I will go and do a posting here …

I.e. here.

… about the educational vibes of combining home working with home educating.

And I reckon if I had to leave it at that, that would suffice.

Put it this way. Here are two big current trends on the up: home working and home educating. Between them they reunite children with the world of work, something educators have been wanting to do ever since an earlier generation of idealistic educators finally succeeded in wrenching these two things apart from each other.

In the present world, where work is work and school is school, all too many children emerge from their schools with their brains reasonably well exercised by year after year of school work, but with a basic ignorance about work work and about how work work is done. That was me, definitely. I remember it distinctly.

School work is all about individually getting ahead and showing promise. Cooperating at school verges on cheating, because the point is that you must do the school work. The point of work work is merely that the work gets done, and so long as you pull your weight in some capacity or another, you earn your pay. Work work is cooperating, and if you cooperate successfully no one expels you for cheating. No, they praise you for cooperating.

And the other thing that school work systematically separates you from is economic reality. The school spends money … the way it spends it. And you do your school work. The connection between work and wealth creation is severed, during a human being's most impressionable years.

(One of the points I make in this Libertarian Alliance piece, of which I am very proud and which people often link to still, even though it was written a decade ago, is that children who grow up in families where money is a constant worry and a constant battle grow up systematically more economically savvy than do those children whose parents are economically more comfortable and less burdened.)

It seems to me that all of these myopias are likely to be somewhat and perhaps even completely corrected if kids are educated in a home where real work work is also being done, even if the only regular message they get is that Dad is now busy and must not be disturbed, because if he is disturbed this will cost the family money.

The complaint about home education is that it isolates children from "reality", and from the wider world, and smothers them in a protective cocoon. What an irony if it was actually this exact trend that reunited education with reality.

Apologies to all home educators reading this who have known about this for years, but the thought has only just occurred to me. Home work work plus home school work anecdotes welcome..

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 10:15 PM
Category: Home education