Happy Christmas and the very best wishes for a new year – 2022
I haven’t written for a long while. Im trying to work out the branding and identity of my social media, separate my personal from my professional and add something that is useful for those reading.
The research I am undertaking started well. People responded to my survey. Then they stopped. I knew from the outset that gaining participants would be difficult. Home Educated families are often grouped together as ‘marginalised’ – hard to reach. I continue to wonder why. I am fully aware that families have had struggles with authorities of varying kind, and that they live in fear of being told by a court that they have to send their child to school; despite school very often being the reason children are being home educated in the first place.
I do get it. However, I also know that there will be families reading this post who think ‘Im not in fear’ and ‘I welcome authorities through my door’. My confusion therefore surrounds those families who do not fear authorities but whom still do not take part in research.
From a researchers perspective we need participants in order to complete our research. In my mind there must be some families who understand that policy makers and educationalists will not listen to anecdotal examples of great education within the home, they will only consider empirical data and peer reviewed research. So, we are in a catch-22 position. We need research of marginalised groups in order to help them with improved policies. However, it is almost an impossible task to get the participants needed for such research or to convince marginalised groups that research can help showcase their voices, experiences and successes.
I need participants; families willing to undertake an anonymous survey and families to undertake a week long Photovoice activity. Without them I have no research and their voices are hidden within a tight-knit community that is almost impenetrable even though I am myself a Home Educator.
Ive tried to put myself in the shoes of other families. I realise my training and background enables me to find a learning outcome in every action and activity (I would even put sleeping down under wellbeing) so is it that Home Educating parents need more bespoke training in how to attribute learning outcomes to their children’s activities? There are so many parents who are also teachers, one might be mistaken in thinking that there is enough support for parents to know this information.
I have also been told that the various home education groups struggle to lobby effectively and struggle to champion home educators in government and with authorities. Constantly in fear and constantly suspicious of everyone including other parents. How does one cut through all of this and try to convince families to participate?
Maybe I am foolish to think that research has the power to move political mountains. Perhaps Home Educating families are right to remain hidden.
Surely we have to ‘be in it to win it’ and if we continue to be voiceless, and continue to dodge authorities, choosing to turn only to social media groups for support, policy will still be made without us. The storm cannot be stopped but I believe we can mitigate its damage through research data that policy makers cannot ignore.
Are you in it so we can win it? Here’s how you take part