"The usual assumption, which I have tended to some extent to accept (in the absence of knowing any evidence about it), is that home-schooling is fine when done by well-educated parents, but perhaps rather less fine when done by less well-educated parents. But now read this, from the Fraser Institute:
TORONTO, ON—Home schooling appears to improve the academic performance of children from families with low levels of education, according to a report on home schooling released today by independent research organization The Fraser Institute.
The evidence is particularly interesting for students who traditionally fall through the cracks in the public system,” said Claudia Hepburn, co-author of Home Schooling: From the Extreme to the Mainstream, 2nd edition and Director of Education Policy with The Fraser Institute.
“Poorly educated parents who choose to teach their children at home produce better academic results for their children than public schools do. One study we reviewed found that students taught at home by mothers who never finished high school scored a full 55 percentage points higher than public school students from families with comparable education levels.”
Brian assumed that we in the HE community would know this already, and yes, this phenomenon has been something of which we have been aware certainly since Paula Rothermel pointed it out in her research on HE families in the UK back in 1999. Paula's main explanation for this seems to be that the less well-educated parents are very aware of their short-comings and go to great lengths to compensate for this. I have indeed seen this dynamic at work, but, as Dr Rothermel was well aware, there could be plenty of other things going on too.
For example, she suggests that the happy home and the absence of pressure from schooling contributes to improved academic performance, which is almost certainly the case, but I would also hazard that one of the main reasons for this result stems from the fact that home educators, whatever their level of education, are largely a self-selecting group of mostly thoughtful, creative people. They have guts and nous and their children are likely to inherit those characteristics one way or another. The results of self-selecting for such individuals is likely to look good.
Then again, it is also the case that most HE parents are just so heavily involved, either in the direct teaching of the child, (the more transmissive model of learning) or in being available to help the child to learn whatever they want to learn (the facilitative model of education).
Actually, I only became acutely aware of the constantly high degree of sense of responsibility and need for involvement in the education of one's children recently when for the first time in six years that I spent a couple of days without either of my kids and I found that the pressure that I assumed was a normal part of life simply lifted. Yep, it was a nice holiday, but the thing is, isn't this level of responsibility really what parenting is meant to be about? Schooling parents can absolve themselves of this sense of duty to their children for at least part of every school day. Perhaps at least some of them forget to pick up the mantle again when the children come home and perhaps this could account for the differences in achievement between HEKs and schooled children.
Then again, it could come back to numbers: all that one-to-one stuff. Or it could come down to the fact that even if you use a transmissive model of education, HEors are far more likely to pursue the child's interests, which means you are likely to get far further far quicker.
Quite probably, it is all these reasons and/or others. Either way HE looks good!