Monday, February 25, 2008

Hitler's ban on home education still stands in Germany

Dare to Know points us to a story from Saturday's Guardian.

The newspaper reports that families are fleeing to the UK from Germany to escape a law introduced that could lead to their children being taken into care if educated at home:

One father, who arrived in Britain with his wife and five children last month, has told The Observer that his family had no choice after being warned that their children would be taken into foster care unless they enrolled them at local schools. Another, who fled in October, said he believed the 70-year-old law was creating hundreds of refugees and forcing families into hiding to protect their children.

Home-schooling has been illegal in Germany since it was outlawed in 1938. Hitler wanted the Nazi state to have complete control of young minds. Today there are rare exemptions, such as for children suffering serious illnesses or psychological problems. Legal attempts through the courts - including the European Court of Human Rights -have so far failed to overturn the ban.

Dare to Know has a good collection of links on home education.


Anonymous said...

Since when has home school been a good thing. I'm as anti-fascist as you can get, Hitler simply made the law so he could brainwash all children. But if you look at home schooled children they have huge socialising problems because they haven't experienced it. The most esentual skill learnt in school is the skill of socialising. In school you learn how to live in a community, how things effect each other, how you must work together not against each other. School is essentual for someone's upbringing, home schooling is illiberal and cruel.

Jo Simmonds said...

How can home schooling be illiberal when it's entirely the parents, and sometimes the child's, choice?

So parents imposing any kind of philosophy upon their kids are cruel? What about baptism and taking kids on protests? How is school any less cruel?!

Tristan said...

This is why liberals used to be skeptical about state run schools - and why liberals today should be seeking to remove the state from the running of schools.

(once again, I repeat: You can fund education without running it)

As for Alasdair W's comment: Complete and utter rubbish. Jo gets some of what is wrong about it.
I'd add that it is illiberal to try and impose your particular view of how society works or should work like that through the state.

Lastly: What I learned from school is that people can be cruel and envious and that you must be very careful who you choose as friends, because some people will betray your trust at the drop of a hat.
Hardly the lessons Alasdair suggests are learned.

Carlotta said...

Alastair, I have to agree with Jo and Tristan: it appears you simply don't know what you are talking about; eg, for starters: in the UK, the activity is almost always known as home education.

"But if you look at home schooled children they have huge socialising problems because they haven't experienced.. "

I have no idea how you have arrived
at this conclusion. I can only suggest that you ask around a bit more.

Contrary to what looks like your erroneous assumptions, there are plenty of opportunities for home educated children to mix with others. Even in our very rural part of England, we could, for example, go to a home education meeting almost every weekday. HEKs often have enormous communities, including people of all ages, sometimes right across the UK, and they almost always have extremely close friends.

What is more, because HE groups are mostly run on a consensual basis with a very flat democracy that often includes the children, the HEKs are frequently very adept at working out how to run groups efficiently. They often develop precocious man- and group- management skills, attributes that would be much more difficult to develop in the hierarchical structure of most schools.

Another related point...because of the mixed age range at most of these groups, many of the older children have pronounced infant care skills...something I didn't develop until way after the birth of my first child....which could be said to have been way too late!

Also, of course, we can get ourselves to after school classes and clubs, where we can mix with schooled children, no problem.

"home schooling is illiberal and cruel."

Splutter! Um...both my children chose it - this after they were given the requisite information in order that they could make informed choices. My son found play group incredibly tedious and we have never looked back from there.

Personally, I had an incredibly expensive and apparently privileged school education, and frankly it was about as an illiberal an experience as you could imagine: no privacy, no autonomy, no room for creativity and all this combined with living in a near constant state of utter boredom that was mixed intermittently with spikes of an almost all-consuming fear.

Yep, if that's not illiberal, I never wrote this.

Anonymous said...

Hay, give the home "educated" kids a break! Why? Because I was one. I now am in a University doing very well, and I have more friends than I can think of. The whole "home-schooled children do not have any social life..." is completely inaccurate and only bears with it a hint that the speaker of said line know very, very little about home-schooled kids. And so, speak of which you know, and leave what you don't for people who do...

Anonymous said...

I am planning to home educate my children, mainly because I don't agree with various things about state schools - at home my kids will have 1 to 1 education that is appropriate to their education level, not at the level of the average kid in a class. My girl gets plenty of social skills from family & the other groups she attends - us home schoolers don't keep our kids locked up away from other kids!! in fact, as we are free to attend places such as museums, art galleries etc whenever we feel, and without having to keep them herded in their own peer group, our kids probably get wider socialisation skills than school kids! All the problems with education in state schools, class oversizes, lack of resources etc are removed when home schooling, so any person who chooses HE is giving their child the best education opportunity they can. I myself, like Carlotta, had an expensive education at an excellent private school - where I had no privacy, no choice in what I could study, no opportunity to excel in one subject area, no opportunity to expand my peer group contacts, and I was bullied relentlessly - and that was supposed to be the better side of education!!! I know plenty of people who HE their kids, and every child is articulate, well-behaved and polite, so something must be working somewhere!!
And if you need any qualification of my opinion, I am a fully trained primary teacher, who worked for a good few years in this fabulous socialisation arena Alasdair W advocates, and I cannot agree that it is essential to any childs upbringing - as teachers we practically drag kids up, forcing information which is often irrelevant, misinformed and completely useless just to meet some overpaid MP's vision of what a child should know, all this while battling with oversized classes where higher ability kids are brought down and not allowed to over achieve leading, and the lower ability kids are left further and further behind, usually leaving them feeling worthless and stupid. In a world where average is the be all and end all school is great, but hopefully we live in a better place where we can all be encouraged to develop to our own ability, and have our own place in the world defined by ourselves, not what a teacher thinks we can and can't do.

bornjoyful said...

Alistair- just how many home educated children have you LOOKED at?? can you back this sweeping statement up with any studies, research, or personal knowledge?

Anonymous said...

The socialization argument is a poor one. Why can't the kids be socialized in extracurricular clubs? Why do academics and socialization have to be mixed at all? That necessarily involves a great deal of distraction and ambivalence over whether to spend one's time focused on one's studies or one's peers. Perhaps I think my child would better learn social skills in an organization whose primary purpose is socializing rather than academics. Education is supposed to be about learning first and foremost. If the concern is they be socialized why not allow exceptions in cases where the parents provide proof their kids are receiving socialization through other venues?

It's good it allows exceptions for kids with problems, but what about talented kids? What if the school isn't adequately challenging my child?

Perhaps my kid is ready for calculus in his early teens but the public school isn't offering it. Sure he could study it on his own time, but what good is done by forcing him into an algebra class and making him do a bunch of very easy problems that will bore him to death?

What a waste of time for him and for society as a whole when he should be focusing on things at his own level of education and not held back with the other kids.

Indeed it may turn out that for some kids especially smarter more mature ones it's better if much socialization is done with adults rather than children. That's who they will be socializing with when they are out in the real world after all, so whether they ever learn to socialize with other children is irrelevant if they nevertheless are able to learn to socialize with adults.