Reading this recent article, I felt a bit sad for the German homeschoolers involved. I’m not religious myself, but I felt sad that families in Germany do not have the right to home educate at all. They’ve run away from Germany, tried to start a new life abroad in a foreign country (people who have never done this may never comprehend how incredibly hard this is and how much personal sacrifice it requires), and tried to gain permanent residency there in order to have that freedom to home educate. And yet, their hopes are thwarted.
Germany has never lifted the ban on homeschooling since 1938, when Hitler banned homeschooling in order to pry youngsters away from their families’ influences and recruit them into his Youth Program, whose aim was to brainwash kids with his racist ideologies and transform them into a generation of “Aryan supermen/superwomen”.
Why haven’t they lifted the ban? After all Germany had, since Hitler’s defeat, eventually renounced their ideologies. In fact today, an Asian would encounter far less instances of racism living in Germany compared to England – well no doubt, this is just a personal anecdote – but you catch my drift.
If you have read any John Taylor Gatto, you’d know where I’m coming from.
Let’s be clear about this.
Whenever a country bans homeschooling, it is always because the state wants to retain control over children’s minds. It has never really been about maintaining or raising education standards but more about the country’s propaganda and how to ensure entire generations of children in the country will be taught to think a particular way or have a particular mindset about the world.
To give another example. Until recently, homeschooling had been banned in Turkey as a result of Ataturk’s efforts to transform a country rooted in strong religiosity (and a history of violence on religious grounds) into a stable, secular state. The recent AKP ruling party however has changed all that and the country, some would say, is slowly gravitating away from secularism (to the chagrin of Turks who don’t agree with this development).
Now I’m not going to argue about whether it is a good or bad thing for a particular family to home educate in their particular circumstances. I don’t think there is an absolute answer for this as every family circumstance is different. No matter how many odd cases of home ed gone wrong one can find on the internet, banning parents and their children from making that choice (because indeed some families, like mine, made the choice to home ed *after* consulting with the kids involved about whether homeschooling is what they want) is just plain wrong. Banning home education is state control gone too far.
I live in England at the moment where I am free to home educate if I like – no need to ask permission from the state, from schools, etc. to do that. In England, parents’ ability to home educate as they wish is enshrined in law. Specifically, under section 7 of the Education Act 1996 which says :
“The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability, and aptitude either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.”
I don’t judge other parents for choosing to send their kids to school either. I have many friends who choose to send their kids to school for their own reasons and I respect that. And I am thankful for this freedom.
But as parents, do we really want to have this choice taken away from us? To be forced to hand our kids over to be educated by the state regardless?