“Homeschooling Centres” have nothing to do with homeschooling

Today, the Edge Malaysia published an article about alternative education in Malaysia .  Some of the information shared about the increasing popularity of iGCSE examinations and about parental choice was interesting and well-researched.

However, I was disappointed to find the word “homeschooling centre” being used in the article to refer to alternative learning centres. Please note that these are completely different things. In a Malaysian context, centres market themselves as providing “homeschooling”, when, really, they provide “alternative schooling”.

Around the world, homeschooling is defined as education in the home. Learning doesn’t only occur at home, but parents are the primary educators and children don’t enrol in or attend any full-time educational institutions. They are home-based. Just look homeschooling up on Wikipedia, for example, or read about book about homeschooling. You will be hard-pressed to find “homeschooling centre” as a term with any real relevance to homeschooling whatsoever.

I immediately wrote to the Edge to clarify the term and to ask that a different, more accurate term be used.  It is ridiculous than an article that uses the term “homeschooling” seven times does not give the perspective or actual homeschoolers or interview anyone remotely related to homeschooling.

This is the first paragraph of the article:

Individualised attention, graduating early and an internationally recognised syllabus are among the positive factors cited by those choosing to put their children in homeschooling centres. On the flip side, a lack of facilities, unqualified teachers and a shortage of extracurricular opportunities have been said as some of the problems that homeschooling students face.

The article begins by describing homeschooling centres, then referring to the students in these centres as “homeschooling students”. This is even more inaccurate, as homeschooling students are people who are “schooled at home”.

As a homeschooler, homeschool advocate, educator and as well as a media and communications major, I take strong exception to this. The article goes on to describe how “homeschool centre” graduates have difficulties entering university, communicating with others and making the transition from centre to school. These points about alternative centres would be entire salient if the term homeschooling were not used, as actual “homeschooling students” have completely different experiences.

This is what I wrote to The Edge:

Good day, my name is Rebekah and I am an educator and homeschooling advocate in Malaysia.
I am writing to express my objection to the use of the term “homeschooling centre” in an article about iGCSE education by The Edge Markets. This is an highly incorrect term as it refers to people who attend alternative, unlicensed schools and has absolutely nothing to do with the several thousand homeschooling families in Malaysia.
Around the world, “homeschooling” refers to education in the home, not in a school or centre. I hope that Mr. Christopher Lim will amend the article and use the term “learning centre” instead. Homeschooling is completely separate from what these centres practice.

I advocate for homeschooling because it has the potential to provide a holistic education for life. Extracurricular activities are one of the many advantages of homeschooling – homeschoolers usually have the opportunity to engage in a wide range of activities and pursue their interests and hobbies. One study by Jackson  (2016), for example, found that homeschoolers have more opportunities to develop self-regulation and independent learning skills.

{Homeschooled students} “were able to work early or late, according to their own preferences with sleep, study and recreation times, but they were also able to work on long-term projects of personal interest in areas such as writing, music, science, photography and computers. In contrast to their school experiences, they felt free from the regimentation of set curriculum, seating plans and timetables, school uniforms, long daily bus trips, studying in set locations and being tied to the class average ability.” (Jackson, 2015)

If you would like to read about one homeschooler’s path to experience in higher education, do check out my very first blog post from exactly a year ago.  Also, do check this article in the Chicago Tribune. It was written by Professor David McGrath regarding his experiences teaching homeschooled students in the College of DuPage, Florida.


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