A Plea for More Tightly Focused Research

David Gribble


The January 2013 edition of this journal included a piece by Robert Kunzman and Milton Gaither on existing research into home education. They found the researchers had met with many problems. “First and foremost,” they say, “the literature is almost entirely qualitative in nature. While many of these qualitative studies are ambitious and imaginative, taken as a whole, homeschooling research has an anecdotal quality it has yet to transcend.” (Kunzman & Gaither 2013, p. 5).

There is little numerical data to work on, and, “Additionally, homeschoolers are a notoriously difficult demographic to study because of the diversity of individuals engaged in the practice.” (p. 5)  Kunzman and Gaither also found that much of the existing research had been conducted by bodies with prejudices either for or against home education, with a large number performed under the auspices of a prominent American homeschooling advocacy group, HSLDA, the Home School Legal Defence Association.

These four problems­­—the anecdotal quality of the evidence, the variety of the individuals (and organisations) involved, the lack of numerical data and the prejudice of many researchers—are also faced by anyone seeking to evaluate democratic education...



Education; democratic education; research

Full Text:



Aiken, W. (1942). The Story of the Eight-Year Study. New York: Harper.

Bennis, D. (2012). Research on Freedom-based Education. On E-Book Browse. Retrieved 30 January, 2014, from http://ebookbrowse.com/bennis-comparative-study-doc-d37448620 [ok to read at source but for download OE’s advice is to google title and only download from http://lib.store.yahoo.net/lib/educationrevolution/Bennis-Comparative-Study.doc%E2%80%8ECachedSimilar]

Berg, L. (1968). Risinghill: Death of a comprehensive. London: Penguin.

Berg, D, & Henderlong Corpus J. (2013). Enthusiastic students: A study of motivation in two alternatives to mandatory instruction. Other Education 2(2), pp.42-66. Retrieved 30 January, 2014, from http://www.othereducation.stir.ac.uk/index.php/OE/article/view/31

Cotton, K. (1996). School size, school climate and student performance. In School Improvement Research Series. Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. Retrieved 30 January, 2014 from http://educationnorthwest.org/webfm_send/513

Cunningham, I. (2000). Report of an inquiry into Summerhill School, Leiston, Suffolk. Abergavenny: Centre for Self Managed Learning.

Duane, M. (1995). The Terrace: An educational experiment in a state school. London: The Freedom Press.

Gribble, D. (1985). Considering children: A parent’s guide to progressive education. London: Dorling Kindersley.

Hannam, D. (2001). The Hannam report: The impact of citizenship education. (Report for Prof. Bernard Crick, Ministerial Adviser for Citizenship Education at the Department for Education and Employment). Retrieved 30 January, 2014, from http://www.csv.org.uk/hannan-report-citizenship-education-independent-evaluation

Kitto, P. (2010). Dartington in Conisbrough. Bristol: Libertarian Education.

Kunzman, R. & Gaither, M. (2012). Homeschooling: A comprehensive survey of the research. Other Education, 2(1), pp. 4-59.

Mearns, D. & Thorne, B. (1988). Person-centred counselling in action. London: Sage Publications.

National Council of Educational Research and Training (2011). Programme Evaluation Report, Activity Based Learning, Tamil Nadu. Retrieved 30 January, 2014, from http://www.ssatcfund.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=7p2yXnKaP7c%3D&tabid=2496

...open to be different...

Other Education works in association with the following partners: http://www.othereducation.org/public/site/images/hel1/yorksj_logo_120

and is sponsored by the silence and mindfulness App Calm Me Down http://www.othereducation.org/public/site/images/hel1/google_play_icon_85

Please see copyright notice at the end of each published work for specifics.

ISSN: 2049-2162 © Other Business Ltd, 2012-2017. Other Education™ is a not-for-profit trading entity of Other Business Ltd whose registered office is: Bernard Rogers Accounting, Bank Gallery, High Street, Kenilworth. Registered in England: 08567212