A Plea for More Tightly Focused Research


  • David Gribble International Democratic Education Network


Education, democratic education, research


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...



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