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US Grants Home Schooling German Family Political Asylum 1324

Posted by samzenpus
from the come-get-you-some-learnin dept.
A US judge has granted political asylum to a family who said they fled Germany to avoid persecution for home schooling their children. Uwe Romeike and his wife, Hannelore, moved to Tennessee after German authorities fined them for keeping their children out of school and sent police to escort them to classes. Mike Connelly, attorney for the Home School Legal Defence Association, argued the case. He says, "Home schoolers in Germany are a particular social group, which is one of the protected grounds under the asylum law. This judge looked at the evidence, he heard their testimony, and he felt that the way Germany is treating home schoolers is wrong. The rights being violated here are basic human rights."

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US Grants Home Schooling German Family Political Asylum

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  • by Sique (173459) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @01:41PM (#30936490) Homepage

    Germany has school duty for all children older than six years up to 9 to 12 years in school (depends on the actual state). And "duty" means that a state examined teacher is required for schooling. You want home schooling? Then get the exam, and you are perfectly fine schooling your children at home.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Synn (6288)

      Yeah, but to be a state examined teacher does that mean you're required to teach a particular curriculum? I think the point was this family didn't agree with the state's method of teaching and wanted to teach their own content.

      Which so long as the students can meet the standard tests(SATs) then I don't see the problem.

  • No story here (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 28, 2010 @01:42PM (#30936502)

    FTFA:

    In 2006 the Romeikes pulled their children out of a state school in Bissingen, Germany, in protest of what they deemed an anti-Christian curriculum.

    They said textbooks presented ideas and language that conflicted with their Christian beliefs, including slang terms for sex acts and images of vampires and witches, while the school offered what they described as ethics lessons from Islam, Buddhism and other religions.

    Well, obviously other religions can't offer any ethical guidance, and exposing the kids to them will clearly cause them to hate Christianity. Better not even expose them to other thoughts! And the best place to go for that? Here in the US.

  • by cpotoso (606303) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @01:43PM (#30936524) Journal
    ... to all the people who have education problems in other countries? I think we should: all afghani girls who for years could not go to school (did we give asylum to all that requested?), all the africans who cannot go to school because of social problems (did we give asylum to all that requested?), etc. Clearly shows how racist and politically biased the courts are: a group of (likely) right wing white people always get precedence over some poor 3rd world, brown-skinned, poor fellow...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by TheKidWho (705796)

      White Europeans are a minority in this world, this is just Affirmative Action for White Europeans.

  • I do it (Score:5, Informative)

    by inviolet (797804) <slashdot.ideasmatter@org> on Thursday January 28, 2010 @01:44PM (#30936532) Journal

    I homeschool my kids. In Texas the laws for home-schooling are quite permissive, since Texas has so many religious whack-jobs. We are required to teach the "basic educational goals of reading, spelling, grammar, math, and a study of good citizenship" -- language from the original statute authorizing private schools. No requirements to teach teh nasty atheist science.

    In the 1980s Arlington ISD pulled the same stunt as the German authorities in the article did. The family went to court (Leeper v. Arlington ISD), squandered a fortune, and eventually won a major smack-down to the school district. Since then, we homeschoolers have mostly been left alone. Occasionally a truant officer may harass the kids if they are outside during school hours, but homeschool organizations give instruction to the parents in how to handle the discussion with the truant officer.

    We have to keep a basic record of what we taught and when, in case we are challenged about whether we are meeting the "basic educational goals..." listed above, but I do that anyway so that I know what to review later. It's a piece of cake. I can't believe I used to think homeschooling was a scarey responsibility; today I find it equally scarey to trust my sons' minds to a public edifice.

    • Re:I do it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NevarMore (248971) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @01:58PM (#30936850) Homepage Journal

      I'd like to applaud you for presenting a well written, middle-of-the-road argument in favor of homeschooling. It's one of those things where I fear what I hear, because the only people making noise are whack jobs.

      How do you address the social aspects of school? A valuable part of being in school was learning how to interact with new people, larger groups, and authority respectfully and responsibly. Its unfortunate, but part of being a productive adult is working with difficult strangers or at least working around them.

      Where was the line for you between, "I'll do this myself" and "Extend/correct/expound/refine what they learned at school"? Of the teachers I know, the best students weren't always the smartest but they were the ones whose parents took an active interest in what they were learning and who added on to that at home. Even the ultra-religious, "Harry Potter is a sin", parents got some respect for actually being aware of what their kids were being exposed to.

      Your thoughts? I know you don't speak for the entire homeschool community, but might as well draw some of your good ideas off while we've got someone who's done it.

      • Re:I do it (Score:5, Informative)

        by inviolet (797804) <slashdot.ideasmatter@org> on Thursday January 28, 2010 @02:07PM (#30937012) Journal

        How do you address the social aspects of school? A valuable part of being in school was learning how to interact with new people, larger groups, and authority respectfully and responsibly. Its unfortunate, but part of being a productive adult is working with difficult strangers or at least working around them.

        They're in martial arts twice a week. They're in scouts and sports. We live on a cul-de-sac full of kids. They are on robotics competition teams organized by the homeschool supply store. And they have responsibilities at home which we treat like a salaried job. If anything they are spending too much time with others -- I miss having them around every afternoon.

        Where was the line for you between, "I'll do this myself" and "Extend/correct/expound/refine what they learned at school"? Of the teachers I know, the best students weren't always the smartest but they were the ones whose parents took an active interest in what they were learning and who added on to that at home. Even the ultra-religious, "Harry Potter is a sin", parents got some respect for actually being aware of what their kids were being exposed to.

        What tipped the scale for me was hearing them grouse about being bored at school -- even at the private schools (Montessouri and then Lutheran) that we sent them to for four years. Having now taught two students for two years, it seems insane to try to educate more than one or two kids at a time -- they end up sitting bored while the slow kid soaks up all the teacher's attention.

      • Re:I do it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by wisnoskij (1206448) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @02:18PM (#30937314) Homepage
        "A valuable part of being in school was learning how to interact with new people, larger groups, and authority respectfully and responsibly."
        I do not know what school you went to, but at my high school it looked from my perspective that the kids just learned more about how to break the rules and get away with it then any respect for authority.
      • Re:I do it (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Pinky3 (22411) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @02:20PM (#30937350) Homepage

        How do you address the social aspects of school? A valuable part of being in school was learning how to interact with new people, larger groups, and authority respectfully and responsibly. Its unfortunate, but part of being a productive adult is working with difficult strangers or at least working around them.

        True. My daughter is a dentist. She has told me that she has a good chance of identifying the home schooled kids by their behavior in her office. They have a sense of unease about them in the office that kids who go to regular schools don't.

        (She usually asks children about school while they are in the chair as part of the make-them-feel-comfortable chit-chat.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gnapster (1401889)

        I'd like to applaud you for presenting a well written, middle-of-the-road argument in favor of homeschooling. It's one of those things where I fear what I hear, because the only people making noise are whack jobs.

        I appreciated the GP's post, too, because I was homeschooled K-12 in Florida, where (if I remember correctly) the litmus test for homeschooled kids' progression from year to year is that each one "demonstrates a level of educational progress commensurate with his or her ability." (Shooting from the hip, here; it has been eight years.) This is usually assessed by standardized tests or interviews with certified teachers.

        How do you address the social aspects of school? A valuable part of being in school was learning how to interact with new people, larger groups, and authority respectfully and responsibly. Its unfortunate, but part of being a productive adult is working with difficult strangers or at least working around them.

        In my family's case, we banded together in an incorporated support group. We started wi

      • Re:I do it (Score:5, Funny)

        by Bob-taro (996889) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @03:09PM (#30938614)

        How do you address the social aspects of school? A valuable part of being in school was learning how to interact with new people, larger groups, and authority respectfully and responsibly. Its unfortunate, but part of being a productive adult is working with difficult strangers or at least working around them.

        I have a friend who home schools his sons and he told me of a unique solution to the socialization problem: At least once a week, he would take them aside, beat them up, and steal their lunch money.

      • Re:I do it (Score:5, Interesting)

        by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot <slashdot@pudg[ ]et ['e.n' in gap]> on Thursday January 28, 2010 @03:39PM (#30939348) Homepage Journal

        How do you address the social aspects of school? A valuable part of being in school was learning how to interact with new people, larger groups, and authority respectfully and responsibly.

        In my experience -- and as a "geek" I am sure many people here share it -- is that the social aspects of public school suck in pretty much every way. They teach you to be afraid of being yourself; teach you how to NOT interact with people honestly and straightforwardly; and -- if, like me, you had some bad teachers -- teach you how to DISrespect authority.

        Thankfully, I made a conscious decision in the sixth or seventh grade to simply disregard people who didn't like me ("if you don't like me or treat me badly, you are not worth my time"). But most kids can't or won't do that, and many end up much worse off for it.

        I do not accept this modern notion that throwing our children to the sharks at a young age is the best way to teach them how to handle sharks as an adult. I find, through experience, that a much more nurturing environment pays off into a more well-adjusted adult later on.

        It's not like homeschool kids are sheltered. Overwhelmingly, of them have regular activities with kids and adults of all ages, most of whom are wondeful people, all of whom are flawed people. In fact, homeschool kids often have MORE exposure to broader ranges of people, because they don't spend so many hours a week with the same people, week after week after week. They have more opportunity for diversity in their activities, and often take advantage of that.

        I know a lot of homeschool kids, and most of them are some of the nicest and most social kids you'll ever meet, and they are perfectly capable of working with people who are "difficult."

        There's the occasional family that completely shelters their kids, but that's an exception. The norm is much, much different.

    • School is less than 50% about those education goals through, even ignoring the lack of science as a goal. The other 50% is about learning to socialize (with other children and adults); that includes learning how to deal with bullies, unfair teachers, members of the opposite sex, and fights among friends. It's also learning to deal with problems without parental help and dealing with soul-crushing failures. Not to mention learning the fact that different people of authority will expect wildly different th

  • by camperdave (969942) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @01:44PM (#30936534) Journal

    This judge looked at the evidence, he heard their testimony, and he felt that the way Germany is treating home schoolers is wrong. The rights being violated here are basic human rights."

    Okay, so this particular family is helped. Great! Wonderful! What about the other families in Germany? Does this get bumped up to the UN?

  • by mpoulton (689851) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @01:52PM (#30936712)
    From TFA, it appears that the actual basis for asylum here is freedom of religion, not freedom to home-school. The parents pulled their children from public school because they are fundamentalist Christians and objected to elements of the public school's curriculum, including sex education and morality lessons drawn from other religions. The German government apparently does not recognize a parent's right to "protect" children from opposing religious views through home-schooling, and intended to compel attendance. The US recognizes this as an aspect of free exercise of religion, which can form the basis for an asylum petition. Thus, they are actually obtaining asylum on religious persecution grounds. Whether these facts actually establish a valid instance of religious persecution or not is perhaps an important question; just because something is protected by the free exercise clause of the 1st amendment to the US Constitution does not mean it is necessarily a fundamental human right which should give rise to an asylum claim. Germany is not subject the the US Constitution.
    • by Sique (173459) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @02:07PM (#30937018) Homepage

      The German government apparently does not recognize a parent's right to "protect" children from opposing religious views through home-schooling, and intended to compel attendance.

      No, that's not correct. Germany requires that the education is performed by a teacher who took the state exam. The family wasn't able to name a teacher with the required exam to continue the schooling, also the authorities said: You can't prove that you are teaching your children at all, and that's criminal negligence.

    • by bloobloo (957543) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @02:27PM (#30937548) Homepage

      Germany is subject to Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights:

      Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

      1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience
      and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion
      or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with
      others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in
      worship, teaching, practice and observance.

      2. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be
      subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are
      necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety,
      for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection
      of the rights and freedoms of others.

      If the parents felt that they were being persecuted, they have a perfectly valid right of appeal via German courts and then the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Article 2 of Protocol 1 of the above convention states:

      No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise
      of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and
      to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure
      such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious
      and philosophical convictions.

      So this would specifically be within Strasbourg's jurisdiction.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mdielmann (514750)

      ...just because something is protected by the free exercise clause of the 1st amendment to the US Constitution does not mean it is necessarily a fundamental human right which should give rise to an asylum claim. Germany is not subject the the US Constitution.

      You're right - Americans are. And so when a group of people came before an American judge and said, "We believe our rights are being violated, so we want to move here," the judge said, "Based on our laws and our constitution, I agree. Come on in."
      It will be more interesting when Muslims from France make the same claim...

      P.S. Also, if you're going to enshrine "human rights" in your constitution, you should extend them to all humans in your domain, not just citizens. Otherwise, admit the truth and call th

  • Religious Nutjobs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dentin (2175) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @01:53PM (#30936736) Homepage

    I don't have a problem with people home-schooling to improve the quality of education. I myself was home-schooled for several years.

    I do, however, have a major issue with people pulling their children out of public school so they can be home-schooled according to religious criteria. I recognize this is a slippery slope, but based on what I've read so far I support the German government.

    Religious freedom allows you to worship, but it does not in my mind give one free license to program children with it. Children are not property. Religious conflict with a secular school is not a valid reason for home-schooling.

    Further, home schooled children should be subject to, at the very least, the same aptitude tests and subject material criteria as public school children. (Yes, I know most public school criteria and tests are a joke, but it's at least a starting point.)

    • Re:Religious Nutjobs (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Thoguth (203384) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @02:30PM (#30937638) Homepage

      Religious freedom allows you to worship, but it does not in my mind give one free license to program children with it. Children are not property. Religious conflict with a secular school is not a valid reason for home-schooling.

      Children are not property, but they are a responsibility, and there's a law so old and deep that it isn't explicitly written in law books (that I know of ... IANAL): If you are responsible to provide for something, you control it.

      • This is why, in the office, some people are greedy to take on more responsibility -- more responsibility means more power.
      • It's why a case can be made for even late-term abortion of otherwise viable fetuses -- if it's inside your body and totally dependent on you, you have a right to make even the most extreme choices about it.
      • It's why "taxation without representation" is a big enough deal to revolt over -- if you're responsible for paying for something, you have a right to have a say in what is done with that.
      • It's why the old-fashioned single-income family where the husband is the provider and the wife "doesn't have to work" while it appears to be the woman "winning" and making the man her servant, is not something feminists aspire to -- because if the husband is financally responsible for the wife, he has a lot more power in the relationship than she.
      • And it's why people are wary of government healthcare, or schooling, or ... heck, there are some people wary of anything the government is responsible for -- it's because if the government is responsible for it, the government controls it.

      And when you're raising a kid, you are responsible for that child. If it doesn't get fed, you're legally liable. If the child doesn't get disciplined, you could face penalties yourself because you're responsible. If your child doesn't get a quality education, you may not have any judicial penalty, but the blame does fall to you, because if you're responsible for a kid, you control it.

      As the kid grows up, he'll take on more responsibilities for himself -- if he reaches the point that he's fully responsible for himself (working to earn his own keep, paying his own bills) then guess what? You may still be his parent, but you are de facto not in control of your child. If he's responsible for himself, he's in control and can make his own choices. He may choose to follow your rules and respect you, but unless he depends on you for something, he can also choose not to.

      This is the main reason I am strongly peeved when I hear a government official claiming responsibility for something, saying we, the government, need to fix education, or need to fix healthcare, or to create jobs. If the government is responsible for whether or not I have a job, then the government gains a lot more control over my life -- what type of job is available to me, what type of salary I can expect... if it's unrealistic to think the government can control that, then it's equally unrealistic to think the government can or should be responsible for it. (Maybe if I was unemployed I would feel differently.)

  • Good (Score:3, Informative)

    by JackDW (904211) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @01:54PM (#30936760) Homepage

    Good. Raising children is the job of parents, not the Government, and it should be perfectly ok for parents to opt out of the school system if it doesn't suit them for any reason. Fascistic governments hate the idea that parents have the freedom to teach their children whatever they want. In Britain we have seen the Government attempting to smear home educators by getting their mouthpieces to spread fear about unchecked child abuse [independent.co.uk]. The pieces are being put into place for an outright ban, and the sad thing is that so-called "liberals" will probably support it on the grounds that it will stop "the children" being "brainwashed" about Jesus, not realising that they are undermining their own freedom to oppose the Government.

    • Re:Good (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jesus_666 (702802) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @02:54PM (#30938282)
      The German government doesn't give a shit about home schooling. However, every German child has the right to a good education and the law defines that as an education by federally tested and approved* teachers (after all, how else do you ensure that a teacher fulfils basic quality criteria?).

      Had one of the two parents passed the First State Examination (there are two but the second applies only if you want to teach at a public school) everything would've been okay. But none of them has and thus the law can't verify that they're actually fit to teach. Since it's not certain that the children are getting an adequate education the usual procedure applies and the police enforce that the children are getting educated by a qualified professional; a public school is the usual place for that so that's where the children go.

      The argument behind the whole issue is that the education of our children is too important to leave it to someone who has no idea what he's doing. I tend to agree.


      * Apparently, a Master of Education also applies so if you think German universities are going to brainwash you into a slave of the government you can also get your qualification elsewhere.
  • Alright, I didn't think it would come to this on slashdot, but this must be understood.

    For most families, homeschooling provides an option to help with constant travel (including military families), family changes, or just plain old bad local schools. I have a few friends who were home-schooled through HS, and they are some of the smartest and quickest people I know. In public school, classes move as fast as the slowest student (or just pass him/her by), at home, if you get it, you move on quickly and have plenty of time to be creative/play sports/do whatever.

    This stigma against homeschooling has GOT to go already. Not all homeschoolers are teaching racial bias or inaccurate science. Not by far.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gedrin (1423917)
      What on Earth made you think that /.'ers wouldn't have an irrational reaction to the idea of homeschooling?
  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Thursday January 28, 2010 @02:26PM (#30937518)

    Germany sensibly determined that Scientology is a cult and outlawed it, while the US has raised it to the status of religion and given it tax-exempt status. The Germans also happen to believe that children deserve a basic education that reaches certain objective standards. Nothing prevents parents from adding to that education.

    Any further comment would be superfluous.

  • Contradiction (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jcdenhartog (840940) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @02:29PM (#30937604)

    For those that oppose home-schooling, do they seriously think that the government does a great job of educating children? I can't believe there are so many that oppose home-schooling, yet Slashdotters in general rail on the poor quality of the American education system.

    To me, home-schooling is a great alternative. Parents in general care the most about their children, not the government. Obviously there are the exception (child abusers, etc.), but that's not necessarily an argument to ban all home-schooling outright.

    Seems like as long as the children can pass the standardized tests (SAT, etc.), we should support it. In fact, studies have been done that show that home-schoolers often do better than public school students. For example:
    http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp [hslda.org]

    Anecdotally, my sister found that some colleges actually prefer home-schoolers for this reason.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jjohnson (62583)

      Ideally, home schooling is far superior to institutional schooling. The problem is that home schoolers are often people who are pulling their kids out of a school system that they see corrupting their children. It's not about more individual attention, it's about withdrawing from an evil society so their kids can get baked in their own oven. Christian fundamentalists, right wing militia types, granola crunching hippies--these are the face of the home school movement, and it's justifiable to wonder whethe

  • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Thursday January 28, 2010 @02:59PM (#30938402) Journal

    If you think that there is anything inherently good about public schools you first need to read this essay, then read a book [johntaylorgatto.com] written by a public school teacher of 20 years.

    The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher

    by John Taylor Gatto, New York State Teacher of the Year, 1991

    Call me Mr. Gatto, please. Twenty-six years ago, having nothing better to do, I tried my hand at schoolteaching. My license certifies me as an instructor of English language and literature, but that isn't what I do at all. What I teach is school, and I win awards doing it.

    Teaching means many different things, but six lessons are common to schoolteaching from Harlem to Hollywood. You pay for these lessons in more ways than you can imagine, so you might as well know what they are:

    The first lesson I teach is: "Stay in the class where you belong." I don't know who decides that my kids belong there but that's not my business. The children are numbered so that if any get away they can be returned to the right class. Over the years the variety of ways children are numbered has increased dramatically, until it is hard to see the human being under the burden of the numbers each carries. Numbering children is a big and very profitable business, though what the business is designed to accomplish is elusive.

    In any case, again, that's not my business. My job is to make the kids like it -- being locked in together, I mean -- or at the minimum, endure it. If things go well, the kids can't imagine themselves anywhere else; they envy and fear the better classes and have contempt for the dumber classes. So the class mostly keeps itself in good marching order. That's the real lesson of any rigged competition like school. You come to know your place.

    Nevertheless, in spite of the overall blueprint, I make an effort to urge children to higher levels of test success, promising eventual transfer from the lower-level class as a reward. I insinuate that the day will come when an employer will hire them on the basis of test scores, even though my own experience is that employers are (rightly) indifferent to such things. I never lie outright, but I've come to see that truth and [school]teaching are incompatible.

    The lesson of numbered classes is that there is no way out of your class except by magic. Until that happens you must stay where you are put.

    The second lesson I teach kids is to turn on and off like a light switch. I demand that they become totally involved in my lessons, jumping up and down in their seats with anticipation, competing vigorously with each other for my favor. But when the bell rings I insist that they drop the work at once and proceed quickly to the next work station. Nothing important is ever finished in my class, nor in any other class I know of.

    The lesson of bells is that no work is worth finishing, so why care too deeply about anything? Bells are the secret logic of schooltime; their argument is inexorable; bells destroy past and future, converting every interval into a sameness, as an abstract map makes every living mountain and river the same even though they are not. Bells inoculate each undertaking with indifference.

    The third lesson I teach you is to surrender your will to a predestined chain of command. Rights may be granted or withheld, by authority, without appeal. As a schoolteacher I intervene in many personal decisions, issuing a Pass for those I deem legitimate, or initiating a disciplinary confrontation for behavior that threatens my control. My judgments come thick and fast, because individuality is trying constantly to assert itself in my classroom. Individuality is a curse to all systems of classification, a contradiction of class theory.

    Here are some common ways it shows up: children sneak away for a private moment in the toilet on the pretext of moving their bowels; they trick me out of a private instant in the hallway on the grounds that they need water. Sometimes free will appears right in front of

    • by Bragador (1036480) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @04:27PM (#30940288)

      As an elementary school teacher myself, I have to respond.

      The first lesson I teach is: "Stay in the class where you belong."

      True, but I could also say the first lesson is "You have to learn and not only play. Let's face it, they are kids and they want to play. They don't care about maths, science, politics, music, etc. They want to play. Ask any kid what they'd rather do between learning and playing, and they'll want to play. As a teacher, I have to make sure I teach in a fun and playful way so that it becomes almost like a game, if not a game itself, but it's a hell of a challenge.

      The second lesson I teach kids is to turn on and off like a light switch.

      True and false. In the morning we might do maths, then in the afternoon we might do grammar. It's still too long for the kids, yet too short for the teacher. So, I understand that as adults we might perceive this has forcing them to turn on and off as required, but the kids need variety. They don't have the attention and patience adults have. I say, let's finish the cool project tomorrow instead of doing everything the same day and being bored with it at the end of the day.

      The third lesson I teach you is to surrender your will to a predestined chain of command.

      Parents already do this before elementary school. It's part of learning how to behave. It's not my place to say if it is good or bad, but we are not living in an anarchist's society. We have a hierarchy in the real world. If kids can't listen to the teacher, will they even bother to willfully follow the laws of society? And would that be good or bad? That's an unfinished debate.

      The fourth lesson I teach is that only I determine what curriculum you will study.

      Well, yes. Anyway, kids that age are not ready to teach themselves. They only want to play after all. So, at that age you have to enforce it and explain to them that knowing many things is important. A minority of kids are different. It is true that those truly gifted are stuck in the system. I'd prefer it if kids wanted to learn by themselves, but almost every kid don't. The result is that the current system is excellent for almost everyone, except for kids that are slow and for kids that are too fast. You give interesting extra work for the fast ones and try to mentor the slow ones, but it's a heck of a job. Right now, this might not be perfect, but it's a good way to do things.

      In lesson five I teach that your self-respect should depend on an observer's measure of your worth.

      In a way, this is becoming false. If your job is to teach someone to make coffee, there will be many objective criteria that will tell you if the endeavor is a success or a failure. So, what's the problem? On the other hand, if he's criticizing the fact that he's being compared to others to know if he is worth something or not, this is not the case anymore. (At least, not in Quebec). This self-worth problem happens when kids want good marks to impress others, and not when they are intrinsically motivated to master the task at hand. I'm not fond of means and medians and telling kids how successful they are compared to others. This is a private thing. They should try to master the tasks and be motivated to be the best they can. On the other hand, this is completely destroyed when they want to go to university where marks are extremely important. You might say, elementary schools are "ahead" of the rest since it's easier to change how we do things. Try to tell the medical department of your university to not look at marks, but to instead compare the motivations, projects, extra work and personal home researches the students have done. It's too much work for them. It's much more easy to scan a list of students and call those above a certain mark.

      In lesson six I teach children that they are being watched.

      And this is bad because? If you don't remind kids they are at school, that bathroom break takes an hour. Give me a break...

  • Counterintuitively, (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kappa962 (1583621) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @03:12PM (#30938730)
    Speaking as someone who was homeschooled for religious reasons, I thought that it was excellent social and mental preparation for life. I share the sentiment against education based on religious propaganda, I just don't think it is worse than traditional American education.

    The main advantage for me was social. When I went to college, I was extremely disturbed by the herd mentality exhibited by most of the other students, whose main goal in life was to look macho for their friends. (primarily by getting drunk and taking advantage of females) I certainly felt better equipped to deal with peer-pressure than the average student was. When you have friendships with people in every age bracket, it's way easier to stay grounded than when all of your friends are the same exact age.

    I can't say that far right ultra-religious education is a good thing, but the artificially age-segregated traditional school certainly doesn't seem like a lesser evil to me.

    Furthermore, I think independent thinking is more encouraged by homeschooling than one might imagine. I had to learn to learn on my own, an extremely valuable skill. Creationist propaganda gave me the discipline of questioning seemingly obvious conclusions. This gave me the mental tools (and the balls) to question the creationist propaganda itself, as well as many other things that I had previously accepted without question.

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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