Recently I became aware of this proposal for a new Homeschooling Stackexchange site. After looking at the sample questions they prepared, I felt that much of what they felt was on-topic would qualify as good questions for our site, too.

If there are a number of people who are interested in Homeschooling, and there seems to be a lot of overlap, I felt that we should consider reaching out to the followers of that proposal and invite them to participate here.

However....

Before we do that, we need to decide as a community where we draw the line between on topic and off topic with regards to teaching.

Currently, our faq categorizes questions about "school-based teaching" under "might be on-topic here but you can get better response on our sister sites". The suggestion for "school-based teaching" is another proposal dedicated to teaching.

A discussion was started about whether the proposed Educators site would want our teaching-related questions. Both responses indicated that they felt questions related to parents teaching their own children should probably be on-topic for Parenting, rather than Educators.

It seems that we, as a site, do not have a clear definition of when questions on teaching are considered on-topic for us, and when they are not. We had the beginnings of a chat discussion on the topic, which you are welcome to review. This discussion includes a number of examples of questions that seem to hover in the grey area that currently exists between what we consider clearly on-topic, and clearly off-topic.

We have 39 questions with the [education] tag, of which 4 are closed.

We have 3 questions with the [homeschooling] tag, one of which is closed, and 1 of which I retagged today, as the question did specify that the OP was considering homeschooling as an option.

How do we, as a community, feel about questions on Homeschooling? How do we feel about questions related to education performed in traditional school settings? We want to focus on this site as a parenting resource, but we also want to attract experts who may not actually be parents. Where do we draw the line between questions that are useful to parents, which will elicit expert-level responses, and questions that focus too much on "education"?

Is education completely distinct from parenting? If so, how do we define that distinction?

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5 Answers 5

Is education completely distinct from parenting? If so, how do we define that distinction?

Absolutely not! The education of the child is the primary responsibility of the parents.

The schooling of the child can be differentiated from parenting. But as anyone with any knowledge of American public schools can attest, there is not necessarily much education going on during "schooling".

In any case, the parents need to be heavily involved, and the parents need to drive the process.

I think the Homeschooling site should be rejected, and the content merged into parenting.se or split between parenting.se and an "education" site if one exists.

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I agree with you that ultimately their education is our responsibility, but I really don't think the two communities can be merged without some changes in definition to the site that are pretty unrealistic. –  balanced mama Jul 19 '12 at 23:03
    
I like your differentiation between education in a general sense versus schooling which is definitely not parenting. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Oct 23 '12 at 12:38

Homeschooling questions should be on-topic, so long as it meets our general guidelines, and is not otherwise off-topic (shopping questions, legal issues, too localized, too general, open-ended, etc.).

Education is a fundamental part of parenting, and the distinction between education that takes place in a class-room and education that occurs through direct interaction between a parent and a child is rather arbitrary.

So long as a question addresses something that could be relevant to a parent, acting in the role of parent, questions about education and homeschooling should be on-topic. Questions that would only be of interest to professional educators (e.g. regarding licensing, adhering to government regulations, addressing issues without interfering with parental decisions, addressing issues with parents, etc.), or questions that focus on curriculum specifically, would be off topic.

Questions on strategies or techniques for teaching a specific skill or developmental milestone, or addressing general educational issues, are on topic.

Examples of on-topic education or homeschooling questions:

From our site:

From the Homeschooling Proposal:

Examples of off-topic education or homeschooling questions:

  • Where can I purchase amateur lab equipment for experiments and labs?
  • Where can I find information about the laws regarding homeschooling in [state/province/country]?
  • What are the best books for preparing for the SAT?
  • What is a good progression of topics to introduce geometry?
  • What is an appropriate, current text book on Biology for an 8 year old?
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Some of the examples you list above require enough education about homeschooling in general to NOT get comments about "being careful about socialization for example" as to render it a hassel for the homeschooling parent looking for information. Some of the off-topic questions you list are the kinds of questions that would be most useful to many of us. –  balanced mama Jul 12 '12 at 18:21
    
@Balancedmama Comments should only be used to clarify questions or answers. If there are comments that you find inappropriate or negative, please flag them for moderator action. Regarding your point about some of the off-topic questions being the kind that would be most useful to many of us, could you please be specific, and indicate whether you feel they are appropriate for a parenting site (as opposed to a homeschooling site), and why? Feel free to edit your existing answer to include this. –  Beofett Jul 12 '12 at 18:55
    
It isn't that they are inappropriate. Just naive. There are so many things that as a homeschooler you must educate yourself about that is not required of the rest of the parenting community. It makes it harder to get answers to questions that are helpful without having to answer a bunch of other questions and "warnings" first. Its just not as efficient as if we could get our own community up and running. You'd probably still see HS parents here too regarding parenting questions. –  balanced mama Jul 13 '12 at 0:55
    
As I've said in other places, I honestly don't see any sign that the HS community will be up and running any time soon. They've been stuck as the current proposal for over a year, and the original proposal died due to a complete lack of activity. I still maintain that some community, even if it is naive, is better than no community. –  Beofett Jul 13 '12 at 12:13
    
All of the questions you deem off-topic would be of potential value to HS community, so it doesn't seem it is a good fit. –  balanced mama Jul 18 '12 at 22:53

One-line summary: Anything that is (usually) taught in school is off-topic. See details below.

Obviously parents are also teachers, but on different matters. Of course parents teach and educate to great lengths, but not in a scholarly meaning. Teaching to respect others' toys, learning to tie shoelaces ... call it what you will, but words like "teaching" and "education" and "learning" can refer to home as well as school. In my mind it's quite easy to discern between teaching and parenting. For me, the pragmatic difference is that anything that is (usually) taught in school is teaching while anything that teachers (usually) expect kids to have learned at home is parenting.

Let me try to clarify the above: I draw the line between parenting and teaching at the point where the focus switches from the child's general development to a focus on scholarly/academic/curriculum content. Basically, if a teacher would think hmm, that's something the parents ought to have taught, then it's parenting. Similarly, if a parent would think hmm, we should discuss this with the teacher, then it's teaching. Topics concerning teaching should be (or remain) off-topic. This is the "school-based teaching" that our FAQ currently refers to.

Beofett's answer provides excellent examples of grey-area questions which, by their wording, sound as if their topic is teaching. In my opinion many of those are not actually about teaching, but about parenting. Much of what I learned in school is something my parents could not have taught me, whether for lack of spare time between work and sleep, or for lack of knowledge in a particular topic. Learning to count to three, or knowing left from right and red from green -- these are easily in the parenting realm, while learning calculus or history or chemistry isn't, or at least doesn't have to be.

Let's take an example:
Learning to speak in sentences is parenting -- this is something I'd expect from any four-year-old. However, learning to write in full sentences and compose a 500-word essay is something I'd expect kids to really learn and practice in school -- that's teaching.

More examples:
Homeschooling vs. self-motivation, or vs. bilingual, or vs. "gifted" ... these topics aren't related to what you learn in school. It's not the teacher's job to address them. It's the parent's job in every case!


Related: homeschooling

I don't like that homeschooling gets special treatment. If we allow homeschooling, then we should also allow regular (school)teaching.

I don't care whether "school" refers to homeschooling or some degree of formalized institution. I've been told that in the US there is public vs private vs gifted vs home, but who really cares? I went to school to learn. "School" is one concept to me, not four. Yeah I know, the parents do the teaching, but so what? For a homeschooling parent, a situation might arise that would be useful to raise on this site. That situation would then be a parenting question anyway, wouldn't it? What does schooling have to do with it? This is my reasoning for cutting off school-related topics but allowing those that really boil down to a parenting issue in the first place.

Let's just put all kinds of "school" in one big off-topic basket, and put "parenting" in another on-topic basket. Why should homeschooling have a special place inside that parenting basket? If any person (parent or teacher) has a question on a topic that is the parent's job, then it's on-topic. If it's about how a homeschooling parent should address some aspect of the curriculum, that's not parenting, hence off-topic.

I would accept homeschooling if it remains one small area among a multitude of others, on par with other tags. If the homeschooling tag grows to a considerable size in relation to the general "tag cloud," then I'd be worried that our site is devalued for users who are only interested in parenting questions.

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I agree this particular community just cannot be all things to all parents. We have a lot in common, but the basic definition on what is accepted or not would have to change dramatically for it to really fit. –  balanced mama Jul 19 '12 at 23:00

Until there's a site in beta that's healthy and appears it'll survive, my take would be that if the question has to do with children learning it's on topic. If in the future there's an SE site that the person asking the question is likely to get a better answer to the question, then to me that would be the time to develop a more formal position on the subject.

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+1 I like your pragmatic approach to this. As long as no other SE site caters for questions about children('s education), they should be welcome here. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jan 11 '12 at 10:52

There are many areas of overlap, but there are also many areas of divergence. A Homeschooling parent might be active on both sites, but there are questions I don't think can be successfully asked here where they probably would be on a homeschooling site. For example, I asked a question wanting a comparison of three distinct homeschooling styles and got a comment about them looking like "fads". My needing to first educate the general population on this site about things like Charlotte Mason in order to ask my question in the first place devalues this site as a place to discuss homeschooling matters. While in general, educating the public about homeschooling isn't a bad thing, and I do consider it part of what I do after having made this choice, It does significantly decrease the ease and efficiency of use for me as a parent at this site.

My impression is not based on one question alone, I only listed one example as just that, an example. There are a lot of heavily believed in myths about what homeschooling is and who chooses to use it that have also put up a front. I do not say this simply to editorialize or to critcize but to express from my perspective the downfalls of this site as a resource for the homeschooling parent, if the site wants to be more inviting as a resource for these parents it needs a separate community for these parents, or needs to expand its definition of parenting.

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Please don't judge the site based off of one user who is even newer than you are. Our goal is to provide expert advice; the people providing answers should know enough that they don't need you to educate them on the subject, otherwise they shouldn't be answering. –  Beofett Jul 12 '12 at 18:52
    
Well, it seems to me that presents 3 options: we could try to educate those who aren't familiar with HS, we could either ignore or remove any comments that don't directly lead to clarification on questions or answers, or we could simply say that HS questions are categorically off-topic, and have no place on the SE network unless the HS should see a sudden and drastic surge of interest and make beta (which, frankly, does not seem likely). I would rather there be some forum for HS questions, and it would be a big help to our site (which also suffers from a lack of good questions). –  Beofett Jul 13 '12 at 12:10
    
That's fine, but you've invited discussion about what fits and what doesn't fit. I'm responding with my opinion. Just because my opinion is that isn't a good fit and there are problems, doesn't mean it is the only opinion out there, but, as you've pointed out there aren't a lot of HS parents on the site. I am offering up what my experience has been like with HS questions I've seen asked, or asked myself. –  balanced mama Jul 18 '12 at 22:55
    
I am basically saying if you want to be more inviting to the HS community, these are problems that might be addressed in order to create a more conducive community for HS parent use. –  balanced mama Jul 18 '12 at 22:59
    
To clarify your complaint in your flag: Comments on the main site are not for discussion. The Meta portion of the site (where we are now) is specifically for such discussion. Please refer to these links on our meta site for more information. –  Beofett Jul 19 '12 at 12:14

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