March 26, 2007

A Well-Meaning Suggestion for American Homeschoolers

Several American friends have asked me about the cases of aborted "homeschooling" attempts in Germany. My stance regarding that is known.

Of the two cases that recently made the headlines here is one a case of (sorry for the cliché!) bible-thumping lobbyists, the other one has no religious implications at all and is just abused by those over-zealous lovers of liberty and freedom only America is able to produce. As THEY understand those values, mind you. That to us freedom of thought might mean as well to expose the young to other opinions than that of their parents seems to be beyond their grasp.

However, in the second case, Melissa, the girl in question, was simply not up to the curriculum and has to repeat the class, to which the parents, who are not even school-deniers, objected. As there is not a single English language link that relies on a modicum of information and reports the case without "Nazi" or other preposterous comparisons (so much for the love and justice and truth about which Americans are talking so much), a German one will have to do here.

Homeschooling just isn't done here. Full stop! There is religious education for the major denominations at state schools, there is, too, the right to opt out of religious education. There are private schools if one puts added emphasis on a Christian, non-state education and has the money to afford it, but a school (which has to comply with certain standards set by the state) it will have to be. That has nothing to do with a lack of freedom, and everything with protecting children and ensuring a certain standard of education.

Besides, I think without compulsory school attendance the big problem we have with Islam already would grow into uncontrollable dimensions. Here I commented on a case from Austria (where homeschooling IS allowed, although scarcely practiced and limited by restrictions) where Muslim parents demanded the female teachers of a state school to wear a headscarf, otherwise they'd withdraw their children from the state school system. Due to the backbone of some, sadly and notabene extreme right-wing, politicians, that didn't happen.

Homeschooling wouldn't work in Germany. Nothing here, culture, mentality, whatever, would be suited to it.

I, personally, have never met or even heard of a single German (apart of those nutters who made the headlines lately and that were two) expressing the wish to homeschool his or her children. Not even the most religious parents, not even the most devoted of parents, not even the most independent of thinkers, not even those who could well afford it. Nobody. Never.

America is completely different from Germany. Not monolithic, like we tend to be. It's huge, full of individualists (for better or worse), an immigration country with a young history, ready to experiment, able to absorb their mistakes, ready to learn. Or at least so I still hope, in spite of all the hackneyed, dumb and maliciously uninformed drivel coming that way.

Just finally and once and for all get that, America, and please be so kind as to extend your homeschooling efforts to some basic knowledge of foreign countries and people.

Elsewhere, WND are making fools of themselves ONCE AGAIN, by "reporting" the Melissa case, providing a link to a "human rights group" working on the case. I expected, as the context suggested, at least AI or some other worthy and above board cause, when I discovered that this "human rights group" that was -- specifically set up for this case.

Let's add "bad style" to "hackneyed, dumb and maliciously uninformed drivel".