If the school violates the freedom of education

Homeschooling: an alternative to the current school system?

For a hundred years there has been compulsory school attendance in Germany. Opponents want to abolish it and thus give homeschooling and free learning a chance.

In the Weimar Constitution in 1919 compulsory schooling was introduced in Germany and it still applies. Even if the individual federal states are now responsible for school matters, this bill is adhered to. Children from the age of six must attend a recognized school, which can be a private or free school in addition to state institutions. Depending on the federal state, compulsory full-time schooling lasts nine to ten years. Anyone who violates this and practices homeschooling, which means that you take your children out of school and teach at home, must expect severe penalties.

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Homeschooling: a criminal offense in Germany

The Hessian Wunderlich family, who taught their four children at home, were temporarily deprived of custody because they had broken the law. The strictly religious family fought against the judgment for years in court and even turned on the European Court of Justice, but in 2019 it ruled that the deprivation of custody was legal. Homeschooling is illegal in Hesse and has corresponding penalties. Hesse is one of the federal states that takes the toughest action against parental school refusal. But other countries are also threatened with prison terms of up to six months and four-digit fines. As long as compulsory schooling is stipulated in law, that will not change. Exceptions are only made in cases of illness.

Proponents of homeschooling such as the network freedom of education https://www.facebook.com/Bildungsfreiheit/ are campaigning for a change from compulsory schooling to compulsory education, as is the case in many European countries and in the USA. Knowledge has to be conveyed there, but this is not tied to a school. Most countries, however, want to see certificates of achievement, so the children cannot avoid exams. Nevertheless, the number of homeschoolers is increasing in the Anglo-American region. The pioneers are the USA, where 1.6 million children are educated at home.

Reasons for home schooling

There are many different motivations for homeschooling:

  • Individual problems: Children are bullied and do not feel comfortable in the school system.
  • School is too restrictive: Parents want their children to learn more freely.
  • Religious reasons: Parents find that their values ​​are not taught in schools.

There are no real statistics on how many children are taught at home because it is, as described, a criminal offense. It is estimated that around 1000 families in Germany prefer homeschooling. They are also not a homogeneous group, including those who refuse to go to school, but the majority of parents want to provide education, but do not follow a strict school schedule. Then there are the individual cases where children have been bullied and their parents see no better educational alternative than their own home. But the group that comes out loudest are those who advocate free learning.

Free learning: what does it mean?

One of the best-known German advocates of free learning is Line Fuks, who is bringing up seven children with her partner. The family withdrew from compulsory schooling by moving to Portugal: "Free learning means having the opportunity to educate yourself freely To be given specifications about what to learn, when, where and how. People alone decide about these things. Just like children decide when to learn to walk, how fast they speak - at their own pace and according to their talents and interests "is how Line Fuks describes the concept.

In contrast to traditional homeschooling, there is no typical everyday life or routine in free learning. What is learned and done depends on the wishes and interests of the child: “We do not separate between life and learning. Play and learn. All of life is just learning, ”says the mother of seven. "Everyone lives and learns what is right for them. It can be practical, it can take place on the PC, with a mentor, alone or together. It is diverse and colorful. So we have no study times, no lessons or We support the children in what they need to acquire knowledge and we accompany them to the extent that they want. "

The long-term effects of homeschooling have hardly been researched. Most of the time, children who have been taught at home for a long time and have been out of the school system need some time to find their way around the school, training or university system, as the change is great. But that does not mean that they fail the exams. In the United States, where homeschooling is popular, children did not do worse on exams, but in some cases did better.

Line Fuks is not the only mother who wants the education system to be restructured and to see compulsory education transformed into more flexible compulsory education. But the federal states are not yet convinced of the concept of homeschooling or free learning and point to the alternative schools that deviate from traditional school concepts and represent a variant within the statutory school system.