Utterly Meaningless » Blog Archive » STUPID QUESTION OF THE DAY

    Filed at 6:24 pm under by dcobranchi

    Why the obsession over the German homeschoolers?

    7 Responses to “STUPID QUESTION OF THE DAY”

    Comment by
    November 19th, 2007
    at 1:03 pm

    I’m guessing it’s stirring the pot. “Watch out, or it’ll happen here, too!” There is also a missionary/martyr flavor to all of it, too. “Christians are under attack! Band together!!” I also think that anything German has a cloud around it that homeschooling situations in other countries can’t match [traffic accident rubbernecking]. French control doesn’t get much airplay, and even the proposed restrictions in the U.K. don’t attract the conservative press. (maybe the U.K. news is shunned because the English can speak back … in English [??] ‘translation bias’ isn’t easy)

    Do we think that stronger homeschool suppression in say, Afghanistan, would get as much outcry?

    Comment by
    November 25th, 2007
    at 9:35 am

    Hey, we home educators in Germany are grateful for all the help we can get! Even us non-Christian ones.

    Probably, Germany’s Nazi past winds a lot of people up. I heard from a politician in Bremen the other night that the Senator for Education and various of her staff members have been getting irate emails calling them Nazis. I think the German judiciary’s outrageous statements about home educators, like the recent judgement which you link to here, has also really gotten people’s goat.

    Of course it also helps that the likes of yours truly and others are actively involved in translating such articles and judgements and spreading the word to their contacts around the world.

    Comment by
    November 26th, 2007
    at 5:23 am

    There’s something about the draconian measures taken against German home educators that stirs people up. Even though the proposed measures in the UK are likely more threatening for US homeschoolers than anything in Germany, it just doesn’t have the dramatic flavour of a girl being taken away by a dozen policemen and put into a psychiatric ward or a family having their accounts blocked and being left with less than 800 dollars to live on. Even with the German situation, only certain cases are publicised, so no-one hears about other home educating families (all across the spectrum) who have enormous fines imposed on them, or lose custody of their children, with the children sometimes being put into psychiatric wards where the parents have only minimal or no contact with them.

    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    November 26th, 2007
    at 9:00 am


    I’m not convinced that any of this is threatening to US-based home educators. That being said, I’m glad you’ve chimed in here. We only get the extreme right wing/fundamentalist (US) version of what’s going on. As you might have guessed, I’m more than a bit suspicious of anything that comes from that side of the home education community. It’s good to know that, for once, they’re not sticking their noses in where it’s not appreciated.

    Now, what can the secular side of home education in the US do to help?

    Comment by
    November 26th, 2007
    at 5:10 pm

    I think there is a problem here in that pretty much the only “major” publication likely to pick up the story about German homeschoolers is WND. I wish they weren’t so, well, whatever it is they are, but that cannot be helped. I think a lot of their “watch out, it could happen here” is just because of their audience. I wrote an article awhile back on homeschooling in Germany and the editor asked me the same question…”how does it affect American homeschoolers.” The truth is that it doesn’t really. Not directly, anyway. The argument that Germany has against homeschooling is wrapped up in the socialization question which we fight here, as well, but that is an American issue and obviously not related to what goes on in Germany.

    I do not know if there is anything anyone can do to help, necessarily, but the current strategy as I understand it is to attempt to keep the matter in the press. Because the only way to change the situation for German homeschoolers is to change German attitudes, something that I think is very difficult given the illegal status of homeschooling. Here at least, we have had the benefit of being protected by law while homeschooling has grown enough to make a positive impact on public opinion.

    The case with the Neubronners seems to have that potential. They are not homeschooling for religious reasons and it is the second case in a relatively short period of time which challenges German thought. Germany is a pretty liberal nation, and on the whole not particularly fond of state aggression. They are not particularly keen on putting anyone in prison, let alone mothers, which can be seen even in some of the history of these homeschooling cases (where a nursing mother had her sentence postponed because of the nursing baby). Earlier this year, we had a girl who was removed from the home and placed in the psychiatric ward of a hospital which, between the aggressiveness of the state’s actions and the attempts by German homescooling organizations to keep this in the news, received a great deal of attention there and abroad. Now we have a family (the Neubronners) who are well-educated, not religious and homeschooling using state approved curriculum under the direction of a certified teacher. And as they, too, meet with increasing fines and the likelihood of imprisonment…and now the fear of losing their children given the recent decision by the high court…Germany is faced with a question it must ponder. Is the state justified in this treatment of homeschoolers? To me, it seems very much like the Civil Rights Movement. The more aggressively the state pursues homeschoolers, the more they are forced to resort to tactics that are unacceptable to most Germans. From what I read, that is why the Neubronners have chosen to stay in Germany and did not leave the country earlier and for that they have my utmost respect.

    There is a lot of positive press about this case in Germany which I will hopefully post on soon, and that is wonderful for the public discussion.

    How can we help? I don’t know. I suppose you can donate to Netzwerk Bildungsfreiheit which is an organization in Germany which is trying to consolidate the efforts of all the various homeschooling organizations in Germany, both secular and religious and keep the public engaged in the discussion. You can also try to find alternative sources for news. : ) WND isn’t all that is out there. Unfortunately, a lot of it is in German and most of what is in English really only reposts WND’s entries. But there are other sources of information. My email box gets full enough to run a blog just about Germany if I really wanted to, but I don’t. In fact, you could contact NBF directly. Joerg speaks English and they translate some things for distribution. : )

    Comment by
    November 27th, 2007
    at 7:06 am

    The secular homeschoolers could join in in the postcard action that Dana posted about on her blog. Or they could write polite, pleasant letters to the Senator for Education (in this case, or the person responsible in other cases). There is an unschooling website which publicises the issue of the Neubronners and they list the various addresses.


    The problem when so many religious US homeschoolers flood the German authorities (as happened in the Melissa Busekros case, although this was not a case of religious homeschooling per se, just a religious family trying to do the best for their one daughter who wasn’t coping in school) is that the German authorities become even more convinced that home education is something practised by only by religious fundamentalists who want to keep their children separate from non-believers. THAT is counter-productive for us, so letters and emails from people who state that they have no religious affiliation (or not mentioning religion) helps give a more balanced view.

    BTW, I know all the people involved with the Netzwerk Bildungsfreiheit personally and I can assure you that they cover the whole of the home educating spectrum, from atheist unschoolers through esoteric unschoolers to religious relaxed homeschoolers and those who use distance learning materials from religious or other educational institutions (which theoretically isn’t home educating in the strict sense of the word, but is just as illegal in Germany).

    Comment by
    Dagmar Neubronner
    November 28th, 2007
    at 1:49 pm

    Dear friends, Ria hinted me to this discussion. Regarding news from other ressources than the WND: I post everything I think is important immediately on the (totally secular, Holt-inspired site) learni...ly.net – in English. And I give important information regarding our case and other home education issues to the Clonlara school people, to Enfantsl’aboard in France, to Education otherwise in UK, and to several other organizations I know of, worldwide. One of them is the HSLDA. They do all this WND publishing, and they do it their way, I cannot help this. And, as Rina says, we need all help we can get.

    Here in Germany because of the strong persecution home educators (I try to establishthe term free-learner=Freilerner instead of homeschooler, because I think this is what it should be…) fight together regardless of their reasons for home educating and political/religious convictions. This is a totally different situation than in all other countries – we are in the underground, so to speak, and cannot effort any wingfights now. (these will come, I am sure, as soon we have home education legalized, and I wish we already were at that point!)

    As Rina said: Our strongest protection is the international (and national) publicity for our case and other related German cases. We as Neubronner family are the precedent because we appear to be near the mainstream and well-educated, and our children somehow manage to pass the school tests, although we do informal learning. In between all these troubles my husband and I work hard to finish editing the German version of The Teenage Liberation Handbook. Next year we will publish “Teach your own” in German.

    The relevance of the German home educators for your countries? Oops. We are one planet.
    Warm reard