Alternative Education

Education is a field which involves a great deal of terminology. Understanding the definitions assigned to various terms is critical.

For internal purposes, the Quaqua Society assigns different meanings to the terms alternative education, home education, home schooling, unschooling, distance learning, private school, pedagogue, ideologue, and mainstreaming (although we have not yet rendered our written usage entirely consistent, because space constraints and public communication concerns do not permit us to do so).

Alternative education includes home education, private schooling, and distance learning that does not predominantly take place in a government-sponsored school.

Home education is any form of education where the learner inputs new information in an environment dominated by the home, self, and/or family rather than other institutions or social settings. Home education encompasses home schooling, unschooling, and other pedagogical approaches to home-based learning.

Home school refers to the subset of home educators who utilize structured pedagogical paradigms. Typically these pedagogical paradigms are consciously derived from one or more cultural, religious, philosophical, institutional, or pedagogical traditions or systems. Religious home schoolers are a subset of all home schoolers and are people who look to a religion to help consciously structure or shape student learning experiences.

Unschooling is a "free-flowing" form of home education that relies upon student curiosity and interests to define what, how, when, where, and why a student learns.

Distance learning is a structured educational program offered by an institutional or commercial sponsor, typically using satellite or electronic or posted instructional material, involving a student who is inputting information in a home environment or other environment not dominated by the physical auspices of an external academic or commercial institution.

Private schooling is an educational institution, sponsored by a non-governmental entity or person, that teaches students within permanent physical facilities which are outside the realm of the home or family.

Schooling is different than education. Schoolingimplies the systematic inculcation of behavioral norms, while education involves any form of learning that enhances problem-solving ability. Although some forms of instruction and schooling can facilitate education, it is easily possible for a person to be instructed or schooled without being educated.

One should also remember that home education encompasses a spectrum of activity, and many (if not most) home educators utilize a mixture of home schooling and unschooling. Many, if not most, home educators also supplement their study programs with tutors or supplementary class work. Some home educators, called ecclectic home educators, consciously draw from different alternative-education approaches to tailor an program which they believe will best suit the particularities of each individual child.

Pedagogues are home educators of any kind who are primarily motivated to home educate because of views concerning pedagogical efficiency, psychological health, safety, or proper socialization.

Ideologues are home educators of any kind who are primarily motivated to home educate because of ethical, cultural, moral, philosophical, or religious values which cannot be fulfilled to the same degree through other educational means.

Mainstreamers are individuals who 1) participate in tax-funded pre-college educational programs, or cause their custodial wards to participate, or 2) voluntarily seek out governmental supervision, monitoring, or approval for the pre-college educational studies or childraising, either personally or with respect to minors in their custody. Charter schools, cyber-charters, e-schools, independent study programs, dual enrollment, blended school programs, programs for non-public students, public school alternative programs, virtual schools, academies, community schools, home bound, troubled youth rehabilitation, IDEA programs for the disabled, and similar arrangements usually constitute variations of mainstreaming.

Quaqua considers mainstreamers to be a sub-set of alternative educators when they have a significant pre-college distance learning component that predominates over study in public physical institutional facilities. Mainstreaming is not considered part of home education or home schooling, because the latter two variants of alternative education transpire independent of government funding or control to the maximum extent practicable.

As the term is used by Quaqua, a militant person or institution is one which attempts to use force, rather than persuasion based upon informed consent, in order to spread utilization of a worldview, philosophy, idea, religion, pedagogy, curriculum, or political position. Force in this context may be in the form of state police power, military deployment, threat of violence, threat of constraint or penalty, constraint, economic coercion, hermetic psychological manipulation, abduction, unethical use of mind-altering substances, abuse, torture, unnecessary interference with parental prerogatives, and/or other tactics by government or private agents, separately or in concert.

As the term is used by Quaqua, compulsory attendance means a law or policy which enlists government police power to compel a non-criminal person to enroll in a specific (usually government-sponsored or licensed) institution. Compulsory attendance began in the United States around 1852, in Massachusetts. In contrast, compulsory education means a law or policy which enlists government police power to compel a non-criminal person to study specific academic or ideological subject matter (usually government-defined or mandated), in a learning environment chosen by the person or the person's family. Compulsory education began in the Massachusetts Bay Colony during the 1600's, when Pilgrims required all parents to teach their children to read from the Bible. Compulsory education was not adopted on a widespread outside of New England until the 1860's.

As the term is used by Quaqua, the academic literacy approach means a law or policy which enlists government to persuade a non-criminal person to develop fluency in basic core academic skills, such as reading, writing, and mathematics. Police power is used only as a last result, when a court of proper jurisdiction determines intervention is absolutely necessary to prevent demonstrated, severe, and generally-acknowledged parental neglect. Academic literacy was achieved, and was the predominate approach, in the United States until the late 1800's.

Quaqua supports the right of home-educating parents to decline government monitoring, funding, approval, and curriculum controls. Quaqua supports the right of a family to peacefully act in a way that is contrary to the conventional wisdom of the general public, to the predilections of government officials, and to the preferences of any organization or demographic group. Quaqua also supports preservation of home education as a distinct category of alternative education.

Mainstreamers may participate in Quaqua volunteer positions and scholarship competitions, so long as all applicable Quaqua eligibility requirements are met and the mainstreamer represents that they are committed to the core principles reflected in Quaqua’s bylaws and on Quaqua's website.

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