This is a talk a German homeschool father gave on March 23, 2012, at a Christian Homeschool Conference in Kaiserslautern, Germany. The American members of the Christian home school group who had organized the conference, are allowed to home school their children freely – in Germany – because of a military agreement with the German state. This freedom doesn’t apply to German citizens. Deutsche Version
When we started homeschooling our children some 14 years ago, we made one big mistake: we didn’t ask the authorities whether we were allowed to do so or not. We just knew we had to take our first child out of school – better now than later. It was one of those moments you have, when you know that this is exactly what you ought to do – no question, no doubt. It was only when we were sentenced to go to jail some nine years later that we found out home schooling is more than a way of life – it’s a calling.
If someone asked us why we were home schooling our children, we’d tell him there are two reasons: One, it is better for the child; two, I love that child. But thinking a bit more about it, I realise that it’s because God has entrusted us with those children. We believe that our children belong to God, and that we’ve got responsibilities which we can’t delegate. God wants us to raise them in a way so that they not just think they were Christians. But that they think as Christians, that they become Christian role models for the next generation. We are called to give our children the upbringing that may inspire them to follow Jesus and make a difference to the better. And – we believe that to homeschool plays a decisive role in this.
Homeschooling in Germany will change your life
Sounds nice in theory – but where do such convictions get you in a country like ours? The authorities will definitely try to stop your homeschooling. This will change your life completely. It’ll change the way you spend your time, it’ll determine with whom you get together, what you set your mind onto and where put your energy into. We’ve had countless, terribly time-consuming legal proceedings, we’ve been to many court rooms, had court sessions up to three days long, tedious meetings with the media, hundreds of phone calls with attorneys and so on. There were times when I thought: “What are you doing? You wanted to homeschool, but this has got nothing to do with homeschooling!”
We’ve even had a brush with the “Jugendamt”, the so-called office for the youth. The “Jugendamt” is an office that has no-one to control it. It’s made up of bureacrats and ideologues who feel they must rule into families. This Youth Office has become infamous in Germany for abusing its powers and tearing apart families for no other reason than that the authorities decided those families were somehow not ‘normal’.
This “Jugendamt” tried hard to have our family examined psychologically – whatever that means – in order to “prove” that we were somehow weird. By this they wanted to take away our parental custody. They didn’t succeed. A very sensible judge told the “Jugendamt” in court to leave us alone, our children were OK despite of being homeschooled.
The German psyche prefers security over liberty
What I want to stress here in all earnestness is that God has protected us to this very day – this we are grateful for. If He hadn’t protected us in miraculous ways, the bureaucrats and judges would have eaten us up like bread. Out of our gratefulness we just go on homeschooling. The more the authorities try to force our children into their schools, the more determined we get, not to let that happen.
There’s a German characteristic that makes homeschooling difficult in this country. What I mean is the German urge to control or streamline every aspect of life according to a certain ideology, plus the conviction that children are somehow the possession of the state. It’s not astonishing that some of the ‘finest’ ideologues and bureacrats in history were of German origin. It may sound strange to you if I as a German say such a thing. I’m as patriotic as can be. I love my country and my people. But the German psyche is awkwardly deformed – preferring security over liberty.
There are a hundred reasons why children are better learners outside than inside a school building. We’ve found out about those reasons one by one – in our home. Homeschooling isn’t educational theory. It actually works. It produces visible results. You just need to compare your children with their age group at a school. Then you’ll know what I mean. But there’s no chance you could explain something like that to German bureacrats or judges. They always think their way is the only one that’s right.