This post briefly reviews Glenda Jackson, “Summary of Australian Research on Home Education,” an unpublished paper she composed while working toward the Ph.D. at Monash University in March of 2006. (PDF available here)
Jackson, who seems to be positioning herself as the premier authority on Australian homeschooling, here provides an extensive bibliography of research on Australian homeschooling organized by topic.
The topics covered are very similar to those most often addressed in the American literature. First she cites studies of parental motivation, noting that they tend to stress both negative attitudes toward public schools and positive attitudes about what the home can provide. I notice especially that many of the studies seem to have a special education theme.
Second she lists studies of the academic achievement of Australian homeschoolers. As with the United States, there are no large-scale, randomized sample studies. Instead there are studies released by advocacy groups touting the success of homeschooled children. I note with interest that one of the studies, an unpublished Master’s thesis, studied children who were graduates of the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) program, a very popular American curriculum.
Next comes the socialization question. Here Jackson lists many studies and summarizes them as finding that homeschoolers have “broad, healthy social interactions” and that homeschooling has helped some students recover from negative social experiences in schools.
Next comes demographic material. There are not many entries in this category, and Jackson’s summary tells us little–homeschoolers come “from all walks of life, from every corner of the country, from varying income brackets, and with various levels of education.”
Several more categories are covered, though most of the articles she cites in the latter categories have already been cited in previous ones. In general she finds that homeschooled kids generally like the experience, that families with children with special needs are especially grateful for the option, that Australian homeschooling families are tightly networked with one another, that they use a lot of community resources like libraries, clubs, tutors, and field trips, that homeschooling parents feel misunderstood by the general Australian population, and that the main sources of tension among homeschoolers are with burnout and frustration over government regulation. Evidently there is widespread noncompliance with the Education (General Provisions) Act 1989 Qld.
Finally, Jackson notes that some of the best work on Australian homeschooling has studied the emerging pedagogy of the movement, finding that homeschooling parents tend to employ a more “holistic” and real-world approach to learning than that found in traditional schools.
I should note that two of the articles she lists in this bibliography are web-linked. In a future post I will discuss more of Jackson’s work with Australian homeschooling.