Posted by: Ruth Morton | March 31, 2008

Home Education: Constructions of Choice

Home Education: Constructions of Choice (Word file, 210kB) is the paper that I presented at the British Sociological Association Conference at the weekend.  In reading this paper it is worth remembering that it was written for a conference and so lacks some of the analytical and theoretical depth that you would expect in for example a journal article.

Both writing and presenting the paper have helped me to reflect upon the data I have collected and to develop my ideas.  The paper was received with interest and the discussions following it have given me food for thought as to where to go next with my analysis – in lots of ways I tried to cram too much into one paper – the ideas are very complex and need further exploration.

Posted by: Ruth Morton | March 6, 2008

Choosing Home Education

I am continuing to analyse the data that I have collected and have just completed a first paper based on that analysis for presentation at the BSA Conference at the end of March. This paper contains my first analytical thoughts on my findings.

Entitled “Home Education: Constructions of Choice” the paper looks at the ways in which different home educating families explain their choice of home education. I identify 3 loose groupings of home educators according to their reasons for starting home education – these groupings are not definitive and there are differences within the groups as well as families who do not fit neatly into one grouping.

The first group are ‘natural’ home educators – these are families who chose to home educate because it fitted with their lifestyles and also because they disliked the structures of the education system.

The second group are ‘social’ home educators – families who feel that the socialisation of their children is of utmost importance and who feel that home education is the best way for them to communicate the values that they hold. For this group it is often the interaction within schools that are seen as problematic – the ways that individual teachers influence children and the relationships between children.

The third group have chosen home education as a ‘last resort’ – often their children have been bullied, have special educational needs or have health issues that they feel that schools have failed to deal with and home education is a last-ditch solution.

The paper concludes by picking up on the individualisation of the choice of home education and trying to link that in to the wider social context.

I will put the full text of the paper up here in the coming weeks.

Posted by: Ruth Morton | January 18, 2008

Fieldwork almost there

I have now collected the bulk of my data – I have interviewed 20 home educating families specifically as well as lots of in-depth conversations with other home educating families I have met along the way at various groups and gatherings that I have been able to go to.

I am very grateful to all the families who have given up time to talk to me and who have often fed me and invited me to their group meeting as well.

I am now taking a break from data collection (although I am sure that I will end up at the odd home education event here and there) to focus on doing some initial in-depth analysis of my data and sketch out an outline of what the final thesis might look like (this is an ongoing process).

I will also be presenting a paper at the British Sociological Association Conference at the end of March based upon some of my initial findings.

There are many themes emerging from my research, already far more than I think will fit into a single thesis, some of the themes that have struck me most so far are ideas about choice, families’ ideas about what childhood is/should be, the emotional and practical labour of parents, the importance of suppport networks …

Home education in England and Wales is turning out to be very fascinating indeed!

Posted by: Ruth Morton | November 7, 2007

Emerging themes

My fieldwork is progressing well, with several families willing to talk to me and tell me about their experiences of home educating. I now have some rich data and with some more hard work I am hoping to finish my data collection around Christmas (although there will no doubt be some tidying up and extra interviews that take place into the New Year).

Several themes are starting to emerge from my data collection and analysis so far. The main theme is the ways in which different families’ views of childhood and parenthood affect their choices about home education – this means that my thesis is starting to link into broader areas around families and childhood which is important if we are to understand more about home education.

I am starting to build basic models of themes and ‘groups’ of home educators – there seem, for example, to be big differences between those parents for whom home education is a ‘choice’ and those for whom it is seen as a ‘last resort’. It is however early days and I suspect that these will change a lot in the coming weeks. When I get closer to finalised ideas I will post them up here.

Posted by: Ruth Morton | November 7, 2007

Methodological Evolution

As I have noted on my methods page, my data collection methods have changed subtly over the past couple of months.  Although I have been able to talk to some young people, on other occasions it has not been appropriate and so I have found myself making much greater use of indirect data collection methods with home educated children – such as asking them to create short PowerPoint presentations or pieces of writing or pictures about their experiences of home education.

At the same time I have increasingly realised that, despite my early intentions, the parents are at the heart of this particular piece of research, although the views of the children are still an important part of my data.

Posted by: Ruth Morton | July 16, 2007

Literature on Home Education

I am always looking for literature on home education – either academic or popular and as it is often difficult to find I have started putting together a list here on this site with the idea that it can be a resource for anyone interested in home education – please have a look, and if there is anything I’ve missed out then let me know.

Posted by: Ruth Morton | July 13, 2007

Real Fieldwork

An update on my fieldwork. I recently spent a week as a participant observer at a home educators’ camp/festival which has given me some more understanding of home education in the UK and has also given me plenty of food for thought about analytical themes for my data and for the structure of my thesis as a whole. It has also shown me that I have a lot more work to do!

My plan for the next few months is to carry out initial and further interviews with home educating families from a range of different backgrounds/sections of the home educating population.

Posted by: Ruth Morton | June 13, 2007

Starting Fieldwork

I am currently right at the beginning of my fieldwork, making contacts and carrying out initial interviews.  These interviews are informal and about one to one and a half hours long.  I am currently searching for families in the UK who have been home educating for 18 months or more and who are willing to take part in my research – for details of what I am looking at  have a look at the rest of the site.

Posted by: Ruth Morton | May 30, 2007

Welcome to the site

I have set up this site up as an information point for anyone interested in my research. As the site grows I anticipate that it will be used by my research participants as well as fellow researchers and other interested parties.

The aim is for me to regularly update the site, documenting the progress of my research – so please keep an eye on it!