Doxa, heterodoxa and the home education community

Year: 2018

Author: English, Rebecca

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

If doxa are the rules of a particular field around which the self-evident or common sense nature of the world is clustered then, in the field of education, home education may challenge the boundaries of the field. While there is a legal precedent to home educate, school is doxic in the education field in the sense it (rarely) encounters a rival or antagonistic principle. Even in alternative schools, many of the discourses of school are still evident. While doxa makes the order of things appear as “self-evident” and “natural”, home educators challenge the natural, self-evident order of school in the education field.
In this paper, I explore the reasons home education families make the choice to keep their children out of schools. I argue that this education choice is a heterodoxic stance in that it is antagonistic to the natural order of schooling prescribed in the field of education.
By looking at the growth in home education, particularly over the last 15 years, and government responses to this growth in the form of inquiries (cf. BOSTES, 2014; Victoria State Government: Education and Training, 2017), I argue that the rise in home education is a “radical critique” where families have the “material and symbolic means of rejecting the definition of the real that is imposed on them” (Bourdieu, 1977, p. 169), in this case, the real is mainstream schooling.
In this paper, I explore the reasons families state for choosing home education. I argue there are four main categories of home education choice into which families fall. These categories are:

Religious home educators
Ideological home educators
Rural and remote home educators
Accidental home educators

I suggest the greatest rise in numbers is among the “accidental home educators” which includes those children who are (a) bullied, (b) have a diagnosis that affects their learning in school or (c) are gender non-conforming. Families’ choice to withdraw their children from schools, in response to these factors, may represent a critique of the established order. It may be that the decision to home educate becomes a rejection of the doxic world of taken-for-granted modes of education that they argue have failed their children.