Saturday, July 14, 2007

Schools for individualists

I've always wondered what lay at the root of the German government's stubborn assertion that school is necessary for the development of a child into a responsible member of society. This fascinating interview has clarified the issue for me.

Marsha Enright states in the interview, referring to the well-known educationalist, John Dewey

In addition, Dewey focused on the socialization of the child. For him, the school was about teaching the child how to get along with other people and be a part of society—this was the crux of his “pedagogic creed.” You can see it in his famous declaration about the purpose of education, first published in The School Journal in January 1897. Dewey wrote, “I believe that the only true education comes through the stimulation of the child’s powers by the demands of the social situations in which he finds himself. Through these demands he is stimulated to act as a member of a unity, to emerge from his original narrowness of action and feeling, and to conceive of himself from the standpoint of the welfare of the group to which he belongs.”

Educationalists who dogmatically follow the Dewey line are obviously unaware that they are just being closed-minded in their religious fervour. How else can one explain their clinging to an outdated and unproven, or should I say, disproven, theory.

Especially the last sentence of this quote indicates that Dewey stood for the antithesis of individualism. Nor does he realise that the peer-group dumbing-down which takes place in schools acts as a funnel into "narrowness of action and feeling".

To top it all, the "Dewey-influenced" schools are the ones from which parents are removing their children in droves. That speaks volumes for their effectivity in turning out functinal members of society.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Public school - that wonderful melting pot

Emma Goldman, a revolutionary who had the guts to change her mind, once had this to say

'Public school - where the human mind is drilled and manupulated into submission to various social and moral spooks, and thus fitted to continue our system of exploitation and oppression."

Is that what the German Constitutional Court meant when they declared,
" competence in mixing with people of different points of view, practising tolerance, assertiveness and self-assertion of a conviction which is different to the mainstream can be better exercised when contacts with the society and its different perceptions do not just happen occasionally but are part of the everyday experience as connected with school attendance."?

Christopher Hitchens refers to the essence of totalitarianism as being "created sick and forced to be well". Sounds like what happens in Germany. I wanna puke every time I read another report parroting this twaddle. In the meantime, they pretend that the schools are the healthy option, forcing a totalitarian system on the German youth.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Successes of the German school system

Before you read this and start getting uptight and defensive, I just want to say one thing. Don't get me wrong. I'm not bashing schools, or implying that the children who attend them are generally social deviants or that parents whose children attend school are in any way deficient in their commitment to their duty, or some other guff like that.

What I am bashing, however, is the automatic, ignorant comment that is invariably spouted, robot-like, by any judge or official functionary every time the subject of homeschooling comes up. Here I mean, the statement (yawn) that school is indispensible for the proper social development of a child into a decent citizen and that homeschooling would only encourage the promotion of parallel societies.

Anyway, today I was sitting in a cafe, idling away my time over a cup of coffee, while my daughter was at her riding lesson. To pass the time I paged through a copy of that popular German tabloid, Bild. And came across this shocking story.

The tormented Jasmin: The girl who tortured her talks.

She hides her tears behind her hands. "I'm so sorry", says Denise (14) softly. "I'm so ashamed of myself." Thus, slowly, what she did to her victim is sinking in. And what she has done to herself. The police are investigating attempted homicide.

Denise is one of the seven girls who brutally tortured the 14 year Jasmin from Bottrop (NRW). For twelve hours, they tormented Jasmin with kicks, hitting, hot wax and glowing hot needles. Up till then, they had been a clique, friends...

Denise stammers: "I don't know any more why I joined in at all." She says, "I did it because Ramona wanted me to." Ramona, another of Jasmin's tormentors, is just 13 years old.

Criminal psychologist, Christian Lüdke, explains why these young girls went out of control.

„One calls it a deficiency in impulse control. The person looks for a weak victim, who is fully broken down and humiliated. The culprit loses control and can't stop anymore. In this intoxication, his own dissatisfaction is fought against. There is also a degree of criminal energy, that we haven't known of in girls up till now.

How many times can you say peer pressure?

Two pages later, I found this article, about one of the alleged brains behind the attacks on the World Trade Center, Said Bahaji, son of a German mother and a Moroccan father, and model pupil. Although I do not tolerate or condone his actions or the thinking behind them, I can imagine a possible scenario which led to them. Half-German boy who looks Arabic, never quite fits in anywhere finds his solace in the extreme teachings of fundamentalist Islam and in a group who welcomes him as one of their own.

And they say Homeschooling creates parallel societies?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Yet another example of German State hypocrisy

His Excellency, Ambassador Mehmet İrtemçelik
Turkish Embassy, Berlin

Your Excellency,

In light of the current situation in Turkey, where a 17 year old German youth is being held in custody pending his trial on a charge of sexual molestation of a 13 year British girl, I would like to draw your attention to the outrageous hyprocisy of German politicians. I have read that high-ranking German politicians are trying to maintain that your country is apparently out of step with modern Western norms. Mr İrtemçelik, my sympathy is completely with your country in this regard.

Those very politicians who try to force Turkey, and other countries, to act in the manner they desire (although if it was a 13 year German girl who had allegedly been molested by a 17 year old British or Turkish youth, I doubt these politicians would be so fired up), conveniently ignore the fact that Germany itself is totally out of step with the European Union and the rest of the civilised world.

You may or may not be aware that Germany is the only country in Europe in which there is forced school attendance. Although education is a right accorded by the UN Human Rights Convention, as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention on Human Rights, Germany is the only country which chooses to interpret this right to education as a right to schooling (i.e. by attendance of a state school or state-approved private school). Not only that, but Germany implements this interpretation by harshly punishing any families who choose to educate their children in a manner which is not in accordance with this interpretation.

For instance, we are an Irish/South African family living temporarily in Germany while my husband, an Aerospace engineer, is working as a subcontractor (known as Leiharbeiter in German) at Airbus in Bremen. We have already endured various moves around the world since my husband started working in this manner nearly 10 years ago. The work is always uncertain and we never know how long we are going to be able to stay in a particular place. In order to ensure educational continuity for our children, as well as an education in our mother-tongue, English, we have chosen to educate them ourselves, a practice which is known as home education or homeschooling.

That this is an acceptable practice is attested to by the fact that the German government has authorised two distance learning institutions, the Deutsche Fernschule and Institut für Lernsysteme (ILS) to provide educational support to Germans living outside Germany who are in the same situation as us. However, the German state refuses to give permission to foreigners living temporarily in Germany to exercise the same option, where they do not have the option of sending their children to an international school or the closest international schools do not meet their children’s specific educational needs. At the moment, our family has filed an official complaint against the school authority of Niedersachsen (the state in which we reside) and we are also dealing with proceedings whereby we have been given notice of fines for educating our children at home.

As foreigners living temporarily in Germany, we are actually being treated relatively lightly. Germans who, in all other European countries, would be regarded as involved parents, who have an active interest in their children’s education, are treated as criminals. The sanctions which have been imposed on them range from fines to penalty payments and even more draconian measures, such as jailing the parents or removing the children from their custody. Dozens of German families have fled to Canada, the USA and other European countries in order to legally home educate their children. Here is a report of what happened to one family who decided to pull one of their children out of the less-than-optimal (for her – all her siblings continued to attend school) school environment and educate her at home so that she could receive one-on-one attention and develop at her own pace:

Mr İrtemçelik, I urge you to take this opportunity to remain assertive with the German government representatives and media who are putting pressure on your government. You can inform them that you are aware of the glass house in which they are so hypocritically living and that they should hold their own country to the same standards that they demand of other countries.

Yours Sincerely,