Legitimate Peripheral Participation and Home Education

Jan. 01, 2010

This article was published in Teaching and Teacher Education, Vol 26 number 1, Author: L. Safran, " Legitimate Peripheral Participation and Home Education", Pages 107-112, Copyright Elsevier (January 2010). (Reviewed by the Portal Team)

After a description of home education, Lave and Wenger's (1991) theory of legitimate peripheral participation (LPP) is applied to the situation of home educators who join a neighbourhood home education group, a community of practice.

Then, it is argued that the theory of LPP, with suitable modification, can also apply to and illuminate the position of home educators who are not members of a home education community of practice but who, while home educating individually, are nevertheless engaged as legitimate peripheral participants in a social learning process through reading newsletters, visiting web sites and the daily practice of home educating their children.

The study

This paper is based on an empirical study undertaken in aid of understanding the learning process of parents as they strive to become ‘home educators’ (Safran, 2008).

Data comes from thirty-four in-depth interviews of home educating parents who had been home educating for more than three years. Parents were chosen from both the US and England and Wales to mitigate any objection that the results were not due to home education but to national characteristics.

Of the thirty-four parents, four were couples (three were heterosexual couples and one lesbian couple) and seven were single parents.
Thirty-one were women and three were men. Thirteen of the thirty-four parents were from the US. The number of children in each family ranged from one to seven.

There were eighty-seven children from the thirty families. Of the thirty families, eight families (thirty-three children) began home education without sending their children to school.

Twenty-two families began to home educate after they found a problem with their eldest at school.

Fewer than half the parents have a first degree at university. Three have a further degree. Four are qualified teachers. Eight parents were educated to secondary school level.

The main reason for home educating mentioned was that their children were unhappy at school or that home education was a natural extension of their parenting beliefs. Religion did not play a significant part in the decision to home educate.

The extension of the theory illustrates the wide explanatory power of LPP to cover social learning in many contexts.

Lave and Wenger, 1991 J. Lave and E. Wenger, Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK (1991).

Safran, 2008 Safran, L. (2008). Exploring identity change and communities of practice among long term home educating parents. PhD Open University, unpublished.

Updated: Jan. 12, 2010