Flexischooling – Dr Roland Meighan


Roland reflects on the origins of flexischooling

 The idea of flexischooling came to my attention in the 1970’s. As I began to research home–based education in UK I found that home educating families were not necessarily opposed to schools.  Some were, others were not. Those who were not, wanted a flexible relationship with schools ‘getting the best of both worlds’. Some pioneers like Kate Oliver achieved a flexischooling arrangement with the local school and LEA, in her case Warwickshire, for her family

At the same time I encountered a USA development with flexible learning arrangements called Independent Study Programmes which turned out to be a schools intiated flexischooling provision. Another development soon after was an association of USA schools for Year-round Education which worked for schools to be open every day of the year from eight in the morning to eight at night providing a variety of timetables, facilities, courses and workshops for parents to have choice. It was flexischooling on a grand scale.   

Later, schools in Canada and Australia developed Cyber Schooling which added the facility of video conferencing to be available to homes as another learning option.

 So I began to explore the logistics of flexoschooling which gave rise to a book in 1988 Flexischooling -e education tomorrow starting yesterday (available from Educational Heretics Press http://edheretics.gn.apc.org/ (£8.00)

The idea of flexischooling is a significant movement away from authoritarian schooling – the day prison model where children are compelled to attend and submit to whatever regime a particular group of adults decide to impose.  It hardly matters whether the school is an LEA school, a Faith school, an Academy, a so-called Free School, a grammar school, or a Charter School, they are just variations on the day prison model. But Flexischooling begins to introduce some genuine choice for the parents and the children – and the teachers too, by offering some of the freedom of choice of home-based education. It is a move into a more democratic form of learning. Democracy, it has been said, means the absence of domination

 Flexischooling has several layers of meaning. One is that there does not have to be a single location for learning.  There can be several including schools, homes, museums, work-places, libraries, community centres to name but a few.

– Then, parents are not defined a part of the problem but as potential solutions having an active role in co-operation and partnership with schools.

– Children can learn effectively without a teacher being present – a fact known well to correspondence colleges.

Under such conditions, schools become convivial institutions rather than a coercive ones.

 Thus flexischooling has enormous scope for transforming schools away from the OFSTED dull-minded day-prison schools learning system led by whoever is the latest dullard. The OFSTED model is 100 years out-of–date having been described by the former Chief Inspector of Schools, Edmond Holmes as The Tragedy of Education’in his 1913 book of that title.

Roland Meighan was an academic at Birmingham and Nottingham Universities (Special Professor of Education). He is a trustee and director of CPE-PEN and is a leading freethinker, researcher, publisher and author. http://wwwrolandmeighan.co.uk  


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