Friday, March 31, 2006

Hamburg update

In a previous post I stated that a homeschooling father from Hamburg has recently been jailed. This is not strictly true, as I found out when I spoke to the man in question, Andre Rudolph (pictured here with his wife and 5 of his children) today. His jail sentence, which will probably be for one week, is still upcoming.

Far from being beaten down and frightened by the decision, Andre is upbeat and positive about the whole thing. He stated that he would much rather do the jail time than send his children to school. This is obviously another case of a narrow-minded judge not being able to see the wood for the trees. Unlike the social workers who refused to take custody of the children away from the parents after meeting and interviewing the children (who are happy to be homeschooled) the judge who is throwing Andre into jail is rigidly adhering to the paradigm that not going to school is harming their wellbeing. He hasn't even spoken to the children. In Germany an 8 year old is regarded by the law as being capable of choosing which parent to live with in the the case of divorce but is not consulted as to how he or she wants to be educated. Talk about schizophrenic.

When I asked Andre how I could support him, he said "Just carry on homeschooling your kids. That's all the support I need." He hopes that his case could be a catalyst for positive change for German homeschoolers. For all of our sakes, I hope he's right.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Comments from the underground

When the very real possibility exists that homeschooling can lead to me or my dh being chucked into jail (as has just happened to a homeschooling father in nearby Hamburg) or at least having to go to court, the issue of what to tell others can be a little awkward. Basically we follow a don't ask don't tell policy. We don't want our children to lie, but I have suggested they say something like, "We have the day off", if a stranger asks why they're out during school hours. Sometimes it's just not worth bringing up the issue of homeschooling.

As I previously mentioned, my son, Robbie, plays Yugioh cards. Once or twice a week he plays at a group which meets in the back of a gaming store. When I was picking him up there one day, one of the other boys heard us speaking English to each other. "Wow, " he commented to Robbie, "You must get really good grades in English at school!". "You could say that", replied Robbie laconically. Actually I wish he had blown their minds by saying that he doesn't go to school and doesn't have any grades, but I had to admire his slick response.


If you want your kid to find out how the laws of supply and demand affect market price and availability of products, then I suggest you encourage him or her to start playing one of the more popular collectable card games.

Our son, Robbie, has been playing Yugioh cards for a while now and this evening, while I was tidying up after supper, he hung out with me and treated me to a lecture on economics. Actually, he was going on about how people will not trade the more popular and difficult to obtain cards, which means that they go for really high prices on the internet (I just checked this and discovered Cyber Dragon, which is currently the most popular card, according to Robbie, going for €24,50 on Ebay Germany.)

Wow, maybe this Yugioh thing is not such a waste of time as most parents seem to think. At least it has led to our son having a better understanding of economics than most French university students.