The number of homeschooling families in the United States has been growing at a steady rate since the early 1990s. Attempts to make sense of homeschooling—including research—are inherently political. These attempts are, therefore, highly contested. It is impossible to provide an agreed-upon definition of homeschooling, much less a precise number of families that homeschool, why they homeschool, or what the learning outcomes of that homeschooling might entail. Instead, homeschooling is best understood as a set of educative practices that exists in and between institutional schooling and family life. As families and schools evolve and change, so will the meaning and significance of homeschooling.
Julie C. Garlen
Since the beginning of Western modernity, evolving perceptions of what childhood “should” be have shaped public discourse around what knowledge is of most worth and informed paradigms of curriculum development. Thus, “the child,” the discursive construct that emerges from dominant ideologies about the nature and purpose of childhood, is a critical artifact in understanding contemporary curriculum in the United States. Significantly, “the child” has operated as a key mechanism to reproduce and expand particular logics about who counts as fully human. In this way, curriculum is implicated in social injustices premised on the protection and futurity of “the child.” Tracing the history of conceptions of “the child” as they relate to curriculum development and theory illuminates the ways that childhood and curriculum are intertwined, and illustrates how childhood operates as a malleable social construct that is mobilized for diverse and sometimes contradictory political purposes.