Monday, May 29, 2006

Homeschooling and freedom of religion in Germany

I've been thinking about this issue the last few days and today I heard a story that backed up my feelings. I reckon that religious homeschoolers here have been shooting themselves in the collective foot, and pretty much messing it up for everyone else, by arguing for their right to homeschool along the lines of freedom of religion.

This is an argument that has worked incredibly well in the USA, but it doesn't cut it in Germany. Although freedom of religion is theoretically recognised here, for a number of reasons it is pretty much ignored in the educational sector. One reason is that the government is terrified of hordes of (Christian and Muslim) fundamentalists taking their children out of the school and creating parallel societies where the children's constitutional rights are ignored. Really, German educationalists must be need their heads read if they think that their school system doesn't give rise to parallel societies. Anyone who has read about the rise of Neo-Nazism in the schools, or the immigrant gangs of various nationalities that make life difficult in inner-city schools, should know better.

When a family, like the one in Hamburg, says that their daughters are going to be nothing other than wives and mothers, the average German shudders because they are losing the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Well as a university graduate who has spent the last twelve and a half years bearing, breastfeeding and bonding (my mother-in-law used to call my LLL friends the B-ladies) with my four children, I can think of a lot worse things than just being a wife and mother. But then I'm not your average German - well I'm not even German for a start.

I heard about a case recently in our state where the judge declared that until the European court of Human Rights heard one of the German homeschooling cases pending there, he was suspending the proceedings against the family in question. Although this is a religious homeschooling family, they decided to play down the role of their strong Christian beliefs in their decision to homeschool. During the case, the judge apparently commented that if religion had been an issue here, he would not have been so inclined to find for the family.

There are many other good reasons to homeschool and religious homeschoolers who start out with their beliefs as their driving motivation soon find this out. If they have any sense, they will do as the family above did and play up the other reasons their chilren are home-educated instead of making it all about their religious beliefs.

1 comment:

Mammal_Mama said...

We're Christians, but actually homeschool because we love being with our kids, and want them to be free to pursue their own interests.