Harriet Pattison, How to Desire Differently: Home Education as a Heterotopia, Journal of Philosophy of Education, Volume 49, Issue 4, pages 619–637, November 2015
This article explores the co-existence of, and relationship between, alternative education in the form of home education and mainstream schooling. Home education is conceptually subordinate to schooling, relying on schooling for its status as alternative, but also being tied to schooling through the dominant discourse that forms our understandings of education. Practitioners and other defenders frequently justify home education by running an implicit or explicit comparison with school; a comparison which expresses the desire to do ‘better’ than school whilst simultaneously encompassing the desire to do things differently. These twin aims, however, are not easy to reconcile, meaning that the challenge to schooling and the submission to norms and beliefs that underlie schooling are frequently inseparable. This article explores the trajectories of ‘better than’ and ‘different from’ school as representing ideas of utopia and heterotopia respectively. In particular I consider Foucault’s notion of the heterotopia as a means of approaching the relationship between school and other forms of education. Whilst it will be argued that, according to Derrida’s ideas of discursive deconstruction, alternative education has to be expressed through (and is therefore limited by) the dominant educational discourse, it will also be suggested that employing the idea of the heterotopia is a strategy which can help us explore the alternative in education.