I would not agree that a parent is necessarily the best person to judge the individual needs of their children (Although most religious people disagree with me on this point).
I wonder who you think is the best person or body to decide what are the best interests of each child? The state? What if the state decided to abolish the teaching of history, or if it was decided that no child should learn the English language, just Irish, or if the state decided that all children must learn creationism as the basis of all life.
Many parents make decisions about what they want their children to learn, and I may disagree with them, but I do think they have more of a right to make that decision that the state. Isn't the state the primary educator in a dictatorship? Parents only have stewardship of their children for a short time, and we can't force our children to be what we
want. They grow up and do their own thing, thankfully.
I am trying to raise my children to use reason and logic, to be fair and moral, to have empathy and self respect, to be independent and health conscious. I would prefer to be able to decide what attributes are important, not have them imposed by the state (who probably want them to be merely good consumers, pliable, cogs in the machinary.)
There is the matter of the individual needs of each child to consider too. One of my children is autistic. This child learns best in a particular style and environment that would be very hard to recreate at school. One of my other children learned to read fairly late, she preferred to listen to me read to her. That was OK in the home as I had time to read what she wanted. She then had a much bigger vocabulary when she did learn to read herself and it happened very fast.
I would not be against home education, but I do believe that it should be done under some sort of supervision.
Can I first congratulate you for not
bringing up the usual old issue of 'socialisation' as if going to a one-tribe school in NI was going to help my children to mix with a wide range of people.
Do parents have regular supervision when their children are aged 0-4 or 5? No. They can see health visitors for advice, but it isn't compulsory. It is assumed that the parent knows how to raise their child. Also, parents decide what to feed their children. There are unfortunately, children who suffer from neglect or very poor diets, but the state does not send inspectors in to each house to check out what's in the larder.
Anyway, while schools continue to fail so many children, the state should spend its time getting its own house in order before tackling elective home-education.
The UK and NI law (that I'm most familiar with) states that the education board can only act if it appears that there is evidence that a suitable education is not
There may be many things that the parent is unable to teach their children (algebra, compound interest). Also, I would guess that many, if not the majority of parents who choose home-schooling do it for the motive of restricting the child's access to knowledge. As for just covering what they are interested in, that could also have some quite negative consequences. Not everything we may need to learn for life is necessarily interesting
Brian, have you come across the Internet?
The parent does not have to instruct the home-educated child, (once the child can read, write and do basic maths anyway) but guides the learning and helps get the resources the child needs. Do you know just how many learning resources are online? There are full classes in almost any subject you can think of. Couple that with the library, evening classes, college courses, special interest groups and museums (to give just a few examples) there are so many ways to find out what you need to know.
As for your last point, I can only speak for my family. I do not just
cover what they are interested in. I do follow their individual learning styles and allow them to spend more time on their interests. My children are still young (between 5 and
and most of the time they don't even know they're leaning, because we're playing card games or baking or chatting or reading stuff, but I know how much they learn from all these activities.
This has turned into a bit of an essay, but I could waffle on about HE all day.