14 SES 02 B, Parent-school Partnerships: From Parental Involvement to Homeschooling
Home education is a growing educational practice in Europe, but more so in North America. Yet, its regulation is still problematic and challenging. Studies conducted in Canada on this topic could inform European policies. For example, according to Davies and Aurini (2003), the greater legitimacy of homeschooling in Canada results from now wide-spread educational pluralism, from a rising conception of pedagogical individualism, and from the use of a new and more mainstream language of individual rights, notably the rights of parents to choose their children’s education. Curren and Blokhuis (2011) find that compulsory schooling laws in Canada and the United States are derived from the parens patriae doctrine by requiring all parents to share their day-to-day custody with publicly certified teachers, in order to expose every child to formative influences other than their parents’. In terms of policy implications, although homeschooling is not statutorily prohibited, the state continues to limit the custodial authority of homeschooling parents by requiring supervision by school officials. Lagos (2011, 2012) states that the Canadian Constitution facilitates the recognition of homeschooling as an alternative educational option, with a balance between the rights of the State and those of parents. Hence, periodic formal assessment of homeschooled children or qualitative evaluations may be the most reasonable compromise.
However, doctrine and jurisprudence neither offer clear indications as to this necessary balance and its concrete normative application, nor do they provide the social means to instigate the desired adherence to such norms. This research is based upon the following observations in Quebec (Canada) regarding: 1) the limits of the present judicial instruments for regulating a relatively new educational practice like homeschooling, 2) the gap between official norms and applied norms (e.g. Protecteur du citoyen, 2015), a symptom of both parents’ and school administrators’ lack of agreement with these norms, and 3) the oppositional argumentative dynamics of discourse on the pros and cons of homeschooling (Brabant, 2010). This calls for a mutual understanding between opposing parties and the co-construction of a normative framework.
In order to do that, this study is based upon the Reflexive Governance theory developed by Belgian philosophers of law Jacques Lenoble and Marc Maesschalck (2010). Looking to get past the shortcomings of the legalistic or mercantile social regulation models, they approach the regulation of public interest questions, such as education, in a practical manner, like a joint problem-solving process. This approach necessitates democratic learning from all actors (individual, collective, and institutional) in order to generate a systemic reflexivity, in the spirit of organisational learning described by Schön and colleagues (1971, 1978, 1994, 1996), for creating institutional renewal and social creativity. Thus, they aim for the attainment of Dewey’s (1916, 1927, 1938) democratic ideal through democratic participation, collective action and social inquiry.
The theory of reflexive governance suggests that key actors in home education have the opportunity to collectively establish the rules of coexistence, which will motivate their adherence to those norms, more than other options: educational authorities imposing a legalistic or administrative model of regulation; letting the rules of school markets dominate; or parent-educators resorting to strategies of ideological legitimization. For that to occur, it appears essential to support and better understand these key actors’ social learning process. In this perspective, this research has: 1) a theoretical objective: to better understand the democratic learning process necessary for a reflexive governance, by describing the learning process experienced through the joint inquiry of homeschooling parents and homeschooling supervisors; and since this process might not take place without the researcher’s intervention, 2- a practical objective: to accompany these actors in elaborating commonly produced propositions for home education regulations.
---Blokhuis, J. C. (2009). Parens Patriae: A Comparative Legal Study of Sovereign Authority and Public Education Policy in the Province of Ontario and the State of New York. (Doctoral Thesis, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York). ---Blokhuis, J. C. (2010). Whose Custody Is It, Anyway?: 'Homeschooling' from a Parens Patriae Perspective. Theory and Research in Education, 8(2), 199-222. ---Brabant, C. (2010). Pour une gouvernance réflexive de l’«apprentissage en famille». Étude des processus d’apprentissage de trois groupes de parents-éducateurs au Québec. (Doctoral Thesis, Université de Sherbrooke). Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B0mcj_60xzVJdm56VWE1UVV3WlU/edit ---Brabant, C. (2013). L'école à la maison au Québec : un projet familial, social et démocratique. Québec: Presses de l'Université du Québec. ---Brabant, C. and Bourdon, S. (2012). Le changement en éducation et la gouvernance réflexive. Expérimentation d’un modèle d’appropriation du changement par des groupes de parents-éducateurs au Québec. Éducation et francophonie, XL(1), 32-55. Retrieved from http://www.acelf.ca/c/revue/pdf/EF-40-1-032_BRABANT.pdf ---Brabant, C., Bourdon, S. and Jutras, F. (2003). Home education in Quebec : Family first. Evaluation and Research in Education, 17(2-3), 112-131. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09500790308668296 ---Brabant, C., Bourdon, S. and Jutras, F. (2004). L'école à la maison au Québec : l'expression d'un choix familial marginal. Enfances, Familles, Générations, 1(1), 59-83. Retrieved from http://www.erudit.org/revue/efg/2004/v/n1/008894ar.html ---Curren, R. and Blokhuis, J. (2011). The prima facie case against homeschooling. Public Affairs Quarterly, 25(1), 1-19. ---Davies, S. and Aurini, J. (2003). Homeschooling and Canadian educational politics: Rights, pluralism and pedagogical individualism. Evaluation & Research in Education, 17(2-3), 63-73. ---Dewey, J. (1938). Logic: The Theory of Inquiry. New York: H. Holt and Company. ---Lagos, A. J. (2011). Parental Education Rights in United States and Canada : Homeschooling and its Legal Protection. (Doctoral Thesis, Pontificia Universitas Sanctae Crucis, Rome). ---Lagos, A. J. (2012). Parental education rights in Canada: Canon and civil law approaches to homeschooling. Studia canonica, 46(2), 401-469. ---Lenoble, J. and Maesschalck, M. (2010). Democracy, Law and Governance, Aldershot (UK): Ashgate. ---Protecteur du citoyen. (2015). La scolarisation à la maison : pour le respect du droit à l’éducation des enfants. Rapport du Protecteur du citoyen. Québec, Canada: Assemblée nationale. ---Schön, D. A. (1971). Beyond the Stable State. New York: Norton.
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