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Home schooling: an option being discussed

Dr Madalen Goiria of the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country has produced a thesis in which she analyses the juridical situation of home schooling, a social reality that lacks legal regulation in the Spanish State.

Dr Goiria has produced a thesis in which she analyses the juridical situation of home schooling, a social reality that lacks legal regulation in the Spanish State. By focussing particular attention on flexi-schooling or part-time education, she has also researched the reasons behind de-schooling and has presented possible solutions designed to overcome the difficulties of the families that choose to educate their offspring at home. Madalen Goiria is the author of the blog The option to educate at home. As she herself has pointed out, "it has become a reference blog on home schooling in Spanish". As she holds a PhD in law, much of the blog focusses on the legal aspects of this option, but it also offers subjects to do with pedagogy, sociology and anthropology, etc. “It’s transversal,” points out the author. But the blog is not just a reference for anyone seeking information about the home schooling option; it is also the starting point and basic instrument of a PhD thesis that looks into the de-schooling movement right from its beginnings, analyses the reasons why families are currently opting to educate their sons and daughters at home, looks into the legal situation in the context of Spanish legislation, and puts forward possible solutions to overcome the difficulties experienced by the families that do home schooling and which stem from this lack of legal recognition. “Basically, the idea to set up the blog arose out of the need to create a channel of communication with the families that were opting for home schooling, as it is difficult to make contact with them because they risk being pursued by the administration," explains Goiria. So she published her first post in April 2007. Today she has over 700 posts and a daily average of almost 300 visits and, as the author herself points out, "apart from having been a basic resource for producing her thesis, it continues to be indispensable for continuing to research the new realities that are going to emerge in the short and medium term." The thesis has in fact revealed that the reality is constantly evolving: “Until now, no one had conducted an empirical study to find out what kind of families decide to go in for home schooling and why. In the work I did I’ve had the chance to get to know the people I call pioneers. Generally, they are of foreign origin and their ideology opposes consumerism; that is why they decide to educate their offspring outside the system. Yet today the profile of the families is different; the ones that stand out are the ones that decide to opt for home schooling either because the education system has failed to meet their needs, or because their offspring suffer academic failure, bullying, etc., or because cultural differences prevent them from fitting in, for example." In any case, Goiria highlights the fact that the families find themselves in a difficult situation because their option is not recognised. “However, the solutions could be found in the analysis of the regulations of parts of European legislation which recognise this possibility.” One of the possible solutions proposed by Goiria is flexi-schooling or part-time education. It is a proposal that emerged in Great Britain and is geared towards families that send their children to school as well as educating them at home. “There, within the education system, some schools offer the option of part-time schooling, in the same way that others offer a crèche service or specific extramural studies,” explains Goiria. So the students are partly educated by the school together with their schoolmates and complete their education at home. Goiria admits that introducing part-time schooling would call for changes to be made within the system, “but these are not radical changes, either. The Spanish Constitution does not in fact say that schooling is either compulsory or that students must attend; what is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 16 is education." What is more, through the Centre for Innovation and Development in Distance Education (CIDEAD), the system offers the possibility of distance learning to those who cannot attend school. “At the end of the day, home education and schooling do not have to be opposing visions of the education paradigm. On the contrary, they are called to complement each other in a world in which making time and space flexible forces families to adapt to a changing environment,” concluded Goiria. Madalen Goiria (Amorebieta-Zornotza, Basque Country, 1958) graduated in Law at the University of Deusto. She wrote up her PhD thesis entitled “La opción de educar en casa. Implantación social y encaje del homeschool en el ordenamiento jurídico español” [The Home-schooling Option. Social penetration and how the homeschool fits into Spanish legislation] at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), under the supervision of the Professor of Law Jacinto Gil-Rodriguez. She is currently a tenured lecturer at the University School.