This has happened before and will happen increasingly in the future: parents, acting in their role as the people primarily responsible for the education of their children, take them out of the state schools and put them in schools of their own choosing. Nobody is making them do this – these parents want something different for their kids, and so exercise their God-given right (1) to do what they deem best for their own kids.
The state finds this simply intolerable. In this case, the state is Bavaria. In the recent past, it’s been Australia. In America, at least one school had to form its own religion in order to get a religious school exemption – in other words, the state recognized no right of parents to educate their own children as they see fit, but, for the time being, didn’t think it could get away with infringing freedom of religion (2).
Note that there is, objectively, no such thing as ‘grade level’. The idea that all, say, 8 year olds should ‘perform to grade level’ is an act of violence inflicted upon children to enforce a level of uniformity on them that is not there by nature – kids, like everybody else, learn different things at different times, soar in some things and crawl in others and never learn others at all.(3) This used to be called ‘being human’. The idea of grade level is meant to crush kids, at best, into a uniform mediocrity: There is little reward in excelling at those few arbitrary things performing at grade level requires, no reward (and no free time allowed) to excel at the millions of worthy things not included regardless of the personal interest and talents of the child, and grim is the fate of those who fail, a group whose members serve their purpose within the system by providing` the poster children for why yet more school, more funding, more teachers, more hours, is needed.
Anyway, it seems that some parents in Bavaria are guilty of trying to educate their children outside the fences set up by the Bavarian government (4). Below is the English version of a note that went out:
Call for a show of solidarity
The Sudbury School Ammersee, EUDEC (European Democratic Education Community), and the ‘Netzwerk für selbstbestimmte Bildung’ are joining forces for
a day of international solidarity with the Sudbury School Ammersee
on 10 November!
After two years of successful work, the Sudbury School Ammersee has been summarily closed by the ‘responsible‘ authority, the regional government of Upper Bavaria, allegedly because ‘not enough was being learned there’. Renowned social scientists, experts, large numbers of visitors and the entire school community declare: This is a drastically wrong decision at the expense of the children and many other people involved. All these people from very different walks of life have been able to witness, directly, how pupils of the school have flourished and, each in their own individual way, learned huge amounts.
Therefore we see no reasonable alternative and demand:
That the Sudbury School Ammersee immediately be given approval
to continue operations, that democratic values and justice be upheld!
To this end, we want to make a clear statement with a
global action on 10 November, 3 pm (15:00h CET).
We would like to ask all of you – schools, associations, private persons, friends and supporters in Germany and all over the world – please make your solidarity with the Sudbury School Ammersee visible in some way.
Think up small or big actions calling for the reopening of the school. Light a candle, organize a party or a firework display or a demonstration, send a selfie, roll out the banners, meditate, take photographs, shoot videos, call the newsroom, call the President , …
And pass on this call to action to others, mobilize your networks: the more people who participate, the clearer the message:
CHILDRENS’ RIGHTS MATTER!
If you would like to take part, please:
Let us know beforehand what you plan to do so we can tell our local media what to expect – all the things that are going to happen right across the globe! Every action helps, never mind how small!
And afterwards, please send us short texts, photos or clips of the actions themselves: email@example.com
To all supporters in the Munich region:
On the action day, 10 November, the Sudbury School Ammersee community will gather in front of the Ministry of Education building, Salvatorplatz, Munich, at 3 pm / 15:00h CET to demonstrate and show on an open stage how colourful and multi-faceted learning can be. You’re warmly welcome: come and support us, come and join us with your talents on the stage, but mainly, please come!
- Catholic tradition notes that rights are the mirror images of duties: if you have a duty to see to the education of your children (and parents do), then you have to have a right to educate them.
- This making up a religion to get around the law reminds me of the concept of a’scofflaw’ that arose during Prohibition: while it is understandable that citizens would scoff at a law as stupid and unjust as Prohibition, the concept of law in general suffers from such scoffing. Religion is cheapened when it becomes nothing more than a work-around for other stupid and unjust laws.
- I, for example, am completely ignorant of Sanskrit, even though I hear it’s a wonderful language well worth learning. I can do Euclid inside and out. Well? Is Euclid worthy and Sanskrit unworthy? What horrible chaos would result if we just people figure that out on their own? If all you want are “the basics” then you’d start around age 12, more or less, do a couple hours of school per week for a year, maybe, and be done with it. That’s all it takes. And let kids test out.
- German compulsory education laws prohibit homeschooling and any private schools that do not conform to the state model. This is usually defended by saying that the state has a legitimate interest in preventing the rise of fascism, and so must make sure kids don’t get educated by the fascists hiding under every bed pining for the good old days. Two problems with this: ironically, German compulsory school laws in their current form date from the 1930s – enacted under Hitler; and these laws are used largely against Christians who want to educate their kids outside the iron secularism that has gripped all of Europe, and schools like the Sudbury school above, which is about as far from fascist as can be imagined. Wonder how these laws are being applied to Muslim immigrants?