Invisible pedagogies in home education: Freedom, power and control

Fensham-Smith, Amber Joy (2021). Invisible pedagogies in home education: Freedom, power and control. Journal of Pedagogy, 12(1) pp. 5–27.



Home-schooling, or ‘elective home education’ (EHE) as it is more commonly known in the UK, invites contestation and controversies. Drawing on a UK-wide study of 242 families this paper explores a collection of EHE pedagogic practices within the socially situated contexts of doing everyday life. Through an application of Bernsteinian ideas, the findings surface some of the ways in which invisible pedagogies afforded children greater autonomy over the sequence and pace over their learning. It also considers how community development has helped some parents to harness the forms of capital which extend and remake new structures to strengthen the transmission of their social values. Contrary to the messages of EHE advocates, it shows that approaches inspired by unschooling are not devoid of power and control altogether. In considering the experiences of children and young people, the findings highlight the relative challenges and opportunities of transitioning from invisible pedagogies to formal qualifications in a context where access to public examinations can be difficult to achieve. Considering the tensions that these pedagogies reveal in the socialisation towards individualism, the author suggests solutions for questioning, challenging and bridging divides.

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