the Berlin Declaration

You can read the document that the conference generated: The Berlin Declaration 
Summaries of Two Recent European Home Education Conferences | International Center for Home Education Research Reviews: "Summaries of Two Recent European Home Education Conferences   Posted on February 1, 2013 by Milton Gaither
In November of 2012 two important conferences, one in Berlin, Germany and the other in Madrid, Spain, were held. Both were concerned primarily with fostering a political climate of openness to home education in European countries. On November 1-3, 2012, about 170 delegates from around the world converged on Berlin to attend the Global Home Education Conference 2012. The conference’s general tenor and feel is ably summarized by Harriet Pattison of the University of Birmingham in the Spring 2013 issue of Other Education, available here." (discussion of role of HSLDA and summary of Madrid conference and more at the link) 
About GHEC 2012 | ghec2012.org: "GHEC 2012 is a leadership conference for movement leaders, parents, and policy makers interested in home education. 
Home education is the fastest growing form of basic education today. Just as school was an innovation of the early industrial society, home education is the pedagogical innovation of the early knowledge society. Home education has surprised researchers with its excellent results, both academically and socially. University admission officers are amazed. Slowly a new understanding of learning and development is unfolding which in time will change the way we view education. No one knows how education will look in the mature knowledge society, but home education will supply a key understanding to future learning. Most likely we will see a pluralism of different forms of learning for basic education."
The Right to Be Compelled
Milton Gaither (part of the new International Center for Home Education Research) summarizes the evolving legal situation in Europe and the surprising turn it may be taking. The right to compulsory schooling is a phrase that sets a very negative legal  precedent. Only a global blind spot about compulsory attendance laws could enable this language to be so widely unnoticed.  In the Orwellian doublespeak of American political language, ending compulsory schooling can be heard as code for don't provide social services like public schools, another form of severe austerity which doesn't work. And since we no longer live in a small farm economy, its not like families will not want services. Ironically, those on the other side who are quick to point out that compulsory attendance ended child labor must now, after the 30-year sweep of neoliberalism, look more closely. Standardized testing, suspensions, zero tolerance, poor quality food and truancy persecutions tell us that child labor has a new face.

Compulsory attendance laws have weakened family and citizen access to schools and helped insulate the system from change. Compulsory attendance laws also define an authoritarian relationship to families that is completely unnecessary in schools since most modern nation-states also have child welfare services that monitor families.

The default for schools should be trust, the assumption that families of all kinds value their children. Instead we have institutions with a basic distrust and suspicion of the child's family based on a skewed power relationship. As mass schooling increases in length and width, as the exploitation of the child and family is viewed as necessary for jobs, that means children and young people are locked in a system without representation: the family is the union of the child.

Institutions that have compulsory power will likely abuse that power at some point.  A deeper understanding of how to create more humane and sustainable schools begins with this fact of a compulsory base and its implications.

AERO is re-running a great series of posts by Robert Barry Elliot on compulsory attendance laws
How European Nations Regulate Home Education and How They Could Do It Better I enjoyed this article very much. It performs a much-needed service by bringing together in one convenient place the best and most current information available about the legal situation in all of the countries it includes. Furthermore, it makes suggestions I found to be reasonable and nonpartisan. Most powerfully, it shows that far from being the dangerous threat to the family HSLDA and other conservative activists make it out to be, the UNCRC can in fact be used by home education advocates to enhance the status of home-based learning and to combat excessive government regulations. That’s a lot for 14 pages!
Jonas Himmelstrand Interview
Below is Jonas Himmelstrand, interviewed at a La Leche League Conference in Ireland, before the conferences, last March. Himmelstrand discusses the legal situation in Sweden and his own exile in Finland and touches on his criticism of the Swedish family model, industrial age schools and attachment theory. (Himmelstrand doesn't think industrial model schooling will survive.)

Unlike the US with its shortage of childcare and a disintegrating safety net, Sweden has such extensive social services that daycare has become monolithic and women work low-paid childcare jobs but are not enabled financially or encouraged culturally to stay at home with their own small children. Child welfare authorities are given enormous powers in most Western nation-states and dealing with these powerful, and often unaccountable, agencies has been the work of homeschooling activism for decades.

Jonas Himmelstrand Interview - March 4th 2012 - Sligo, Ireland - Video Dailymotion:
Jonas Himmelstrand Interview - March 4th 2012... by WellBoyFilmsIreland









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