Home is Where the Learning Is
by Wendy Priesnitz
"Until I entered school for the first time when I was 13, it never occurred to me that I might not be able to do anything I wanted to; that my career path might be restricted by the fact that I am female. It bothered me that most of the girls in my grade nine classes had a limited outlook on the world because of their lack of confidence and a bunch of "shoulds" and "should nots" that they seemed to have picked up somewhere along the way - just because they were girls. But that's nonsense. I feel free to be whomever I want to be, and do whatever I want to do...the whole world is out there waiting for me." (1)
Those words were written by my daughter Heidi, now 18 years old. Heidi and her sister Melanie, now 17, spent their elementary school years outside formal educational systems, exploring the world at their own pace, experiencing an educational adventure that was facilitated, but not structured, by my husband and I.
The learning process was an authentic one that dealt directly with the world, rather than the more conventional process of mostly simulated, classroom-based experiences. Free to seek answers to her personal questions about the workings of the world, each girl developed an impressive personal body of knowledge, a social conscience beyond her years, and the self knowledge and confidence to use that information to the limits of her personal potential.
My family, although a relative pioneer in the field of home-based education, is not alone. The option is being explored by thousands of Canadians under the home schooling provisions of the various provincial Education Acts.
I have come to believe that home-based education is on the leading edge of a profound change, not only in our educational system, but in the fundamental ways in which we view childhood and learning. Home-based education has the potential to demonstrate what can happen when the barriers to the integrated progress of the individual are removed.