A Social Contract for Home Education: A Framework for the Homeschooling Debate


  • Anna Chinazzi University of Milano-Bicocca




Education policy, Home education, Social contract, UNESCO, Homeschooling


Elective home education has become an international trend characterized by considerable public controversy and much legal fragmentation. Issues related to whether it should be permitted and how it should be monitored are currently being debated in many countries. Homeschooling regulation seems to have become a “wicked problem” with no definitive solution. A case has been made for moving beyond the polarization that tends to label it as either intrinsically good or inherently bad. By drawing its foundations from a UNESCO report published in 2021, this conceptual study is meant to be a contribution to the discussion about the social and legal legitimacy of homeschooling through the delineation of a tenable “social contract for home education”. It has been argued that in light of this social contract, homeschooling should neither be banned nor unregulated. Hence, a shift of perspective is being encouraged to include home educators in a pluralistic dialogue on the future of education towards policy decisions that are sensitive to this complexity.


Aurini, J., & Davies, S. (2005). Choice without markets: homeschooling in the context of private education. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 26(4), 461–474. https://doi.org/10.1080/01425690500199834

Apple, M. (2000). Away with all teachers: The cultural politics of home schooling. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 10(1), 61–80. https://doi.org/10.1080/09620210000200049

Barbosa, L. M. R. (2016). An overview of the homeschooling in Brazil: Analysis of its principles and attempts of legalization. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 4, 203–211. https://doi.org/10.4236/jss.2016.44029

Bartholet, E. (2020). Homeschooling: Parent rights absolutism vs. child rights to education & protection. Arizona Law Review, 62(1), 1–80.

Beck, C. W. (2008). Home education and social integration. Critical Social Studies, 10(2), 59–69. https://doi.org/10.7146/ocps.v10i2.1973

Bhopal, K., & Myers, M. (2016). Marginal groups in marginal times: Gypsy and Traveller parents and home education in England, UK. British Educational Research Journal, 42(1), 5–20. https://doi.org/10.1002/berj.3198

Bhopal, K., & Myers, M. (2018). Home schooling and home education: Race, class and inequality. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315624846

Biesta, G. (2009). Good education in an age of measurement: On the need to reconnect with the question of purpose in education. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability (formerly: Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education), 21(1), 33–46. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11092-008-9064-9

Biesta, G. (2020). What constitutes the good of education? Reflections on the possibility of educational critique. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 52(10), 1023–1027. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131857.2020.1723468

Blok, H., & Karsten, S. (2011). Inspection of home education in European countries. European Journal of Education, 46(1), 138–152. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1465-3435.2010.01464.x

Blok, H., Merry, M. S., & Karsten, S. (2017). The legal situation of home education in Europe. In M. Gaither (Ed.), The Wiley handbook of home education (pp. 395–421). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118926895.ch16

Boell, S. K., & Cecez-Kecmanovic, D. (2010). Literature reviews and the hermeneutic circle. Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 41(2), 129–144. https://doi.org/10.1080/00048623.2010.10721450

Boell, S. K., & Cecez-Kecmanovic, D. (2014). A hermeneutic approach for conducting literature reviews and literature searches. Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 34(1), 257–286. https://doi.org/10.17705/1cais.03412

Carlson, J. F. (2020). Context and regulation of homeschooling: Issues, evidence, and assessment practices. School Psychology, 35(1), 10–19. https://doi.org/10.1037/spq0000335

Cheng, A., & Donnelly, M. (2019). New frontiers in research and practice on homeschooling. Peabody Journal of Education, 94(3), 259–262. https://doi.org/10.1080/0161956x.2019.1617576

Cheng, A., & Hamlin, D. (2021). Contemporary Homeschooling Arrangements: An Analysis of Three Waves of Nationally Representative Data. Fayetteville, AR: Education Reform Faculty and Graduate Students Publications.

Chinazzi, A. (2021). Home education: Reshaping teachers and parents’ responsibilities in the era of intensive parenting. The European Conference on Education 2021: Official Conference Proceedings. https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2188-1162.2021.14%20

Di Motoli, P. (2019). Homeschoolers in Italy. Italian Journal of Sociology of Education, 11(2), 395–410. https://doi.org/10.14658/pupj-ijse-2019-2-19

De Oliveira, R. L. P., & Barbosa, L. M. R. (2017). O neoliberalismo como um dos fundamentos da educação domiciliar. [Neoliberalism as one of the foundations of homeschooling]. Pro-Posições, 28(2), 193–212. https://doi.org/10.1590/1980-6248-2016-0097

Dwyer, J. G., & Peters, S. F. (2019). Homeschooling: The history and philosophy of a controversial practice. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226627397.001.0001

European Commission (2018). Home Education Policies in Europe: Primary and Lower Secondary Education. Eurydice Report. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

Fensham-Smith, A. (2021). Invisible pedagogies in home education: Freedom, power and control. Journal of Pedagogy, 12(1), 5–27. https://doi.org/10.2478/jped-2021-0001

Giovanelli, G., & Piromalli, L. (2021). Practising “istruzione parentale”: Becoming a homeschooling parent in Italy. In R. English (Ed.), Global Perspectives on Home Education in the 21st Century (pp. 159–177). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-7998-6681-7.ch012

Government of the Republic of Lithuania (2020, May 20). Dėl Ugdymosi Šeimoje Įgyvendinimo Tvarkos Aprašo Patvirtinimo. 2020 m. gegužės 20 d. Nr. 504. Teisės aktų registras. Retrieved January 11, 2023 from https://www.e-tar.lt/portal/en/legalAct/ddd218f09b6411ea9515f752ff221ec9

Guterman, O., & Neuman, A. (2019). Reading at home: Comparison of reading ability among homeschooled and traditionally schooled children. Reading Psychology, 40(2), 169–190. https://doi.org/10.1080/02702711.2019.1614123

Hagen, T. (2011). Free to learn: The rationale for legalizing homeschooling in Albania. Central European Journal of Public Policy, 5(2), 50–85.

Hána, D., & Kostelecká, Y. (2020). A comparison of home education legislation in Europe from the perspective of geography of education. Research Papers in Education, 37(5), 1–30. https://doi.org/10.1080/02671522.2020.1864762

Hardenbergh, N. (2015). Validity of high stakes standardized test requirements for homeschoolers: A psychometric analysis. In P. Rothermel (Ed.), International Perspectives on Home Education (pp. 111–135). London: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137446855_9

Hirsh, A. (2019). The Changing Landscape of Homeschooling in the United States. Seattle, WA: Center on Reinventing Public Education.

Howard, H. (2020, November 20). French parents are to be BANNED from home-schooling their kids as part of Emmanuel Macron's fight back against Islamic extremism. Daily Mail. Retrieved January 11, 2023 from https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8964325/Home-schooling-BANNED-France-Macrons-fight-against-Islamic-extremism.html

Innes, J. E., & Booher, D. E. (2016). Collaborative rationality as a strategy for working with wicked problems. Landscape and Urban Planning, 154, 8–10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2016.03.016

Jaakkola, E. (2020). Designing conceptual articles: four approaches. AMS review, 10(1), 18–26. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13162-020-00161-0

Jolly, J. L., & Matthews, M. S. (2020). The shifting landscape of the homeschooling continuum. Educational Review, 72(3), 269–280. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131911.2018.1552661

Klees, S. J. (2022). What is missing? UNESCO Futures of Education Ideas LAB. Retrieved January 11, 2023 from https://en.unesco.org/futuresofeducation/ideas-lab/klees-what-missing

Korkmaz, H., & Duman, G. (2014). Public understanding about homeschooling: A preliminary study. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 116, 3891–3897. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.861

Kostelecká, Y. (2012). The legal status of home education in post-communist countries of Central Europe. International review of education, 58(4), 445–463.

Kunzman, R., & Gaither, M. (2013). Homeschooling: A comprehensive survey of the research. Other Education: The Journal of Educational Alternatives, 2, 4–59.

Kunzman, R., & Gaither, M. (2020). Homeschooling: An updated comprehensive survey of the research. Other Education: The Journal of Educational Alternatives, 9(1), 253–336.

Levin, H. M. (1987). Education as a public and private good. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 6(4), 628–641. https://doi.org/10.2307/3323518

Locatelli, R. (2019). Education as a Public and Common Good: Enhancing Democratic Governance. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Lubienski, C. (2000). Whither the common good? A critique of home schooling. Peabody Journal of Education, 75(1-2), 207–232. https://doi.org/10.1080/0161956X.2000.9681942

Lubienski, C. (2003). A critical view of home education. Evaluation & Research in Education, 17(2-3), 167–178. https://doi.org/10.1080/09500790308668300

Martin-Chang, S., Gould, O. N., & Meuse, R. E. (2011). The impact of schooling on academic achievement: Evidence from homeschooled and traditionally schooled students. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue Canadienne des Sciences du Comportement, 43(3), 195–202. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0022697

McGregor, S. L. T. (2018). Understanding and Evaluating Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. https://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781071802656

Medlin, R. G. (2013). Homeschooling and the question of socialization revisited. Peabody Journal of Education, 88(3), 284–297. https://doi.org/10.1080/0161956X.2013.796825

Milana, M., & Tarozzi, M. (2021). Rethinking adult learning and education as global and further research. International Journal of Development Education and Global, 13(1), 46–60. https://doi.org/10.14324/ijdegl.13.1.04

Neuman, A., & Aviram, A. (2015). Homeschooling: The Choice and the Consequences. In P. Rothermel (Ed.), International perspectives on home education (pp. 211–222). London: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137446855_15

Neuman, A., & Guterman, O. (2016). Academic achievements and homeschooling: It all depends on the goals. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 51, 1–6. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.stueduc.2016.08.005

Olatunji, M. O. (2017). Contemporary homeschooling and the issue of racism: The case of South Africa. In M. Gaither (Ed.), The Wiley handbook of home education (pp. 494–515). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118926895.ch20

Paciorkowski, S. (2014). Homeschooling in Poland? Legal status and arguments used in polish debate over home education. Social Transformations in Contemporary Society, 2, 153–162.

Pattison, H. (2015). How to desire differently: Home education as a heterotopia. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 49(4), 619–637. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9752.12130

Pearlman-Avnion, S., & Grayevsky, M. (2019). Homeschooling, civics, and socialization: The case of Israel. Education and Urban Society, 51(7), 970–988. https://doi.org/10.1177/0013124517747973

Purwaningsih, N., & Fauziah, P. Y. (2020). Homeschooling: An alternative education based on potential of children. Proceedings of the International Conference on Educational Research and Innovation (ICERI 2019), 401, 191–196. https://doi.org/10.2991/assehr.k.200204.035

Raley, B. G. (2017). Safe at home: Establishing a fundamental right to homeschooling. Brigham Young University Education and Law Journal, 1(3), 59–98.

Ray, B. D. (2013). Homeschooling associated with beneficial learner and societal outcomes but educators do not promote it. Peabody Journal of Education, 88(3), 324–341. https://doi.org/10.1080/0161956X.2013.798508

Reich, R. (2002a). Testing the boundaries of parental authority over education: The case of homeschooling. NOMOS: American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy, 43, 275–313.

Reich, R. (2002b). The civic perils of homeschooling. Educational Leadership, 59(7), 56–59.

Reich, R. (2016). Why homeschooling should be regulated. In B. Cooper (Ed.), Homeschooling in New View (pp. 133–143). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

Riley, G. (2020). Unschooling. Exploring Learning Beyond the Classroom. London: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-49292-2

Rittel, H. W., & Webber, M. M. (1973). Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy sciences, 4(2), 155–169. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf01405730

Sheng, X. (2018). Home education and law in China. Education and Urban Society, 50(6), 575–592. https://doi.org/10.1177/0013124517713606

Smythe, E., & Spence, D. (2012). Re-viewing literature in hermeneutic research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 11(1), 12–25. https://doi.org/10.1177/160940691201100102

Snyder, M. (2017). Homeschoolers and higher education. In M. Gaither (Ed.), The Wiley Handbook of Home Education (pp. 157–185). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118926895.ch7

Sotés-Elizalde, M.Á., & Urpí, C. (2015). Family involvement, autonomy, and social competency in homeschooling. US-China Education Review, 5(11), 714–723. https://doi.org/10.17265/2161-6248/2015.11.003

Sperling, J. (2015). Home education and the European Convention on Human Rights. In P. Rothermel (Ed.), International Perspectives on Home Education (pp. 179–188). London: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137446855_13

Spiegler, T. (2015). Home education versus compulsory schooling in Germany: The contribution of Robert K. Merton’s typology of adaptation to an understanding of the movement and the debate about its legitimacy. In P. Rothermel (Ed.), International Perspectives on Home Education (pp. 151–165). London: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137446855_11

Tarozzi, M., & Milana, M. (2022). Reimagining our futures together: Riparare le ingiustizie passate per ricostruire la scuola del future [Reimagining our futures together: Repairing past injustices to rebuild the school of the future]. Quaderni di pedagogia della scuola, 2, 7–16.

Tweni, F. M., Wamocha, L., & Buhere, P. (2022). The Socialization Conundrum: Comparing social learning outcomes of homeschooled and traditionally schooled children in Kenya. Journal of Advances in Education and Philosophy, 6(4), 247–253. https://doi.org/10.36348/jaep.2022.v06i04.007

UNESCO (2021). Reimagining our futures together: A new social contract for education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved January 2023, from https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000379707

Unger Madar, M., & BenDavid-Hadar, I. (2022). Does home schooling improve creative thinking and social competencies among children? Home schooling in Israel. Journal of School Choice, 16(1), 136–163. https://doi.org/10.1080/15582159.2021.1977584

Valiente, C., Spinrad, T. L., Ray, B. D., Eisenberg, N., & Ruof, A. (2022). Homeschooling: What do we know and what do we need to learn?. Child Development Perspectives, 16(1), 48–53. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdep.12441




How to Cite

Chinazzi, A. (2023). A Social Contract for Home Education: A Framework for the Homeschooling Debate. Encyclopaideia, 27(65), 35–48. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.1825-8670/15312