Towards geographies of ‘alternative’ education: a case study of UK home schooling families

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Abstract

In this paper, I argue for the development of geographies of ‘alternative’ education. In light of growing geographical interest in education, I argue for a focus on sites that explicitly offer non-mainstream, non-state-sanctioned forms of learning in contexts where it is assumed that children will go to school. I exemplify my discussion through interviews with 30 UK-based homeschooling families. In seeking to advance geographical research on education, I make three key contributions. First, I exemplify how focusing on learning itself – and not just spatial contexts for learning – uncovers how spatial experiences and discourses are key to the constitution of alternative educational practices like homeschooling. Second, I consider the multiple and contradictory ways in which homeschooling constituted an ‘alternative’ educational space, discuss whether and how geographers should seek to affirm (all) such spaces and attend to some of the potential political/moral dilemmas that are provoked by the place of emotion in homeschoolers’ accounts. Third, I outline briefly some implications of this paper for further research on geographies of education, and family/inter-generational relations.

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