Homeschoolers and open citizen science

I’ve recently attended a meeting of Polish homeschoolers. Homeschooling is not that popular in Poland as for example in US. One of the reasons is that it’s basically illegal in here to teach kids at home and a waiver is given only in special cases. Nevertheless there were ca. hundred parents there and I’m sure that number is going to grow for the next few years (unfortunately to understand the discrepancy between illegality of homeschooling and it’s growing popularity you should live here for quite a while – we’ve been saying “Pole can” ages before presidential campaign of Obama).

My presentation was largely about citizen science. I was arguing that all three approaches to answering a question in a traditional education (recalling, guessing and cheating) are almost always preferred to deducting the answer or making an experiment to find out. And the easiest way to avoid that trap is to ask a question that nobody has answer for, that is the scientific question. Then I went on to describe various open citizen science projects and their different levels of participation.

My talk was after another one on open educational resources. Obviously that other presentation received more attention from the parents and resulted in many more questions than mine, but still the concept of citizen science rang a bell with a few of participants.

However, what I realized was that home schooling parents are the best allies open science advocates have within the general public. Open citizen science might play a huge role in early education – not only in teaching how to think, but also how to work together/cooperate. Obviously, parents will be interested – but only if we can give them access to resources (publications, data) that is equal to the access we have.

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