Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Montreal, Canada
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I think it is important to try not to look at this from an American 'laissez-faire' perspective but from a European perspective and in the way that a lot of Europeans expect the government to have a 'safety net' society.
Please remember, I am only playing devil's advocate on this, and am only speaking about Germany right now.
First if all, let me really stress the importance of the FEAR inherent in society (and of the government) of anything even PERCEIVED as right wing, extreme nationalism, or that smacks of anarchy.
This comes from NOT only the post Hitler era (where the government vowed to make sure someone like Hitler would NEVER come into power again) but from the 1970s revolutionary terrorist 'Red Army' which did a lot of damage and killed quite a few people.
There is also a difference in the role Germans expect their government to perform. While some Americans are very wary of federal, state or local government involvement in things like child-rearing, health care, gun control, education, retirement and even taxes, in Germany it is expected for the government to take care of these things. There are still many people alive who remember what it was like living in poverty stricken post war Germany and remember their parent's struggle during the 1920s with the extreme inflation rates when the government didn't do ANYTHING to help its citizens.
On to the homeschooling issue. Now, just for the record I personally do not have anything against homeschooling and will not place my children in the German school system (but that's for a different thread in a different forum).
Secondly, did you know that compulsory education actually originated in the German states (Prussia, actually) in the 17th and 18th centuries? This was seen as a step forward in an era where many Europeans were living in extreme poverty.
Now, the above articles are talking about mostly teenagers, for which there is no special place for homeschooled children in the post-secondary education system. At the age of eleven children are 'weeded out' for their University potential. Pupils then go to one of the insitutions. Gymnasium (college prep), Realschule (kind of a mix between community college-prep and a higer vocational school) and then Hauptschule (literally, high school where it's quite vocational). On the whole, the level of language (most are required to learn English and one other foreign language), mathematics, science, and history/geography is more advanced than what is taught in the US schools.
Only 10% of German citizens even go to University, and the rest become highly specialised in a specific job or skill. It means that the work force is very specialised and educated in their specific jobs, but there isn't too much flexibility.
Germany is also a country where a person must be qualified to perform a certain job. Even to work at a bank, restaurant or as a babysitter you must have done a minimum number of hours in a special course (with exam, of course - German education is very exam.oriented).
Did you know that up until recently even secondary private schools were not officially recognised by the state (well, the schools were recognised, but the pupil's 'degree' or diploma received were not, so going to a private school ensured that a pupil would have to spend a year in a public school to take the Abitur, or secondary final exam or would not go to University). International schools have been the exception, though these schools are also subject to the same regulations and exams as public schools.
Now, as I stated above Germany has a generous system in terms of health care, help for the poor, retirement, the unemployed and even ensures that even the poorest family can send its child to University (because they are VERY inexpensive to the average taxpayer - only a couple of hundred Euros per semester) It is a bit strange (in a German perspective) to expect the German government to provide a 'safety net' for all of this, plus affordable pre-school options (even Waldorf is accessible to about everyone) but to keep its nose out of the education system. Remember the regulatory job skills and careers?
To some Germans, to have a trained hair dresser (for example) give lessons to his/her children in physics and mathematics just doesn't make sense. Plus, the practical side of German education is important. Most pupils spend a lot of time as 'apprentices' or 'interns' in the field of their choice. We're talking about practical experience over a number of YEARS.
Just trying to give some perspective where many Germans are coming from.
It seems to me the entire homeschooling movement in Germany is about where the US was in the late 1960s, early 70s. So they have a ways to go. They probably need someone like Holt or the Moores to bring about any sort of movement or even general awareness.
Single mama to a 5yo and 8yo