Monday, 2 September 2013

Does This Family Look Like a Threat to the State?

Wunderlich family

Does the Wunderlich family (father Dirk and his four children pictured by mother Petra) look like a threat to the German state? Yet on Thursday of last week, armed German authorities (armed!) forcibly removed these four children from their home and parents. Why? Because the parents home school their children, something which Germany, which requires all children to attend state approved schools, outlaws. The origins of this law, we are not surprised to learn, go back to 1938 and Hitler's desire to have all German children under the tutelage of the state.  We can understand why Hitler would deny the calling of parents to educate their children, but what has contemporary, democratic, human rights respecting Germany to fear from upholding this calling in law as long as the educational needs of the children are seen to be met?

This case is emphatically not a matter of the children in question being neglected or even educationally deficient (the reality is probably the opposite, since studies repeatedly show that home schooled children outperform their school educated peers). It is an example of the brute enforcement of an unjust, totalitarian law behind which lies the un-Christian philosophical view that children "belong" to the state. How disappointing that this view could prevail in the land that gave us Luther.

The family in question did not provoke the authorities; they had tried to re-settle in neighbouring countries but economic necessity drove them back to their homeland. Incidentally, the Obama government is presently seeking to deport another German homeschooling family who sought refuge in the USA. One wonders if these families would be granted refugee status in Australia?

Whether one personally adopts the home education philosophy or not, the vocation and right of parents to determine the nature of their children's education is surely fundamental. The role of government is not to over-ride this vocation and  right, but to facilitate its proper exercise to the end that the educational needs of home schooled children are effectively met.   

Dirk and Petra Wunderlich, the parents in question, plead for help - one can easily imagine their distress. You may wish to consider contacting the German embassy in your country to express your concern for them and their children and your disappointment at the German authorities' actions. Here are the Australian contact details:

Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
119 Empire Circuit
Yarralumla ACT 2600
Ph: (02) 6270 1911
Fax: (02) 6270 1951

It is estimated that there are 400 families in Germany who home school.


The Blogger Formerly Known As Lvka said...

Offensive or uncivil comments will not be posted.

I'm glad you told me that, because I honestly have no kind words for
the brilliant mind that wrote this article. (Please tell me you are being held hostage by terrorists somewhere, who put you up to post this under threat of execution...)

OK... Deep breath... Back in the good ol' days (ie, Antiquity and the Middle Ages), the nobility paid teachers to instruct their offspring into various subjects. Obviously, normal people lacked such financial possibilities. This was taken care off about 150 years ago, when the first public were created, so that EVERY person might be taught to read and write and do basic math. Later on, as people became less poor, fines were imposed, so as to make sure that parents do not leave their children unschooled due to either laziness or carelessness or their own ignorance ["Why should my kid learn how to read and write and do math ? After all, I don't know how to do any of that, and still I'm well off: Look, I own two cows and three horses !"]. At first, only four or five grades were mandatory (granny), then eight (mommy). (Now it's ten). How on earth are simple peasants and workers (who form the great majority of the population) supposed to teach anyone anything (apart perhaps from common sense and their own skill-set), this I don't know... Even if they would BOTH be intellectuals, WHEN would they even find the time ? People still have to work for at least eight hours a day, five days a week... Even then, intellectuals themselves are limited to a certain field of knowledge: my father, for instance, knows math and computer programming, and he helped me a lot in school... but he himself isn't God, and doesn't know ALL things. I haven't heard this expression, home-schooling, being used ANYHWERE ELSE except in the Anglo-Saxon blogosphere... and I can understand five languages. If someone were to operate on your wife or child, and when you ask him where he practiced medicine, he would tell you he was "home schooled", would you actually let him carry out the procedure ?... Honestly ? :-\

Mark Henderson said...

Hello, Lucian,

You've completely misconstrued my post. I'm not arguing for home education (the proper term) to be universally practiced, but that parents have a right, as part of their vocation as parents, to adopt it if they so wish attention now, Lucian...if the child's educational needs will be adequately met thereby.

On the matter of home schooled doctors, I actually know a couple. Of course, they completed their medical studies at university, after having gained entrance with flying colours as a result of their excellent home education. In all Anglophone countries, as far as I am aware, over the last 20 or so years, alternative pathways to university for home educated (and non-board school educated) students have been in place for some time. This is a necessary recognition of the excellent results of these alternative educational methods. Otherwise, many of our best and brightest would be denied a university education, something even the secular state cannot abide. In the same period, if the repeated complaints of university professors are anything to go by, the educational level of state school educated university entrants has been falling markedly, with some not even able to construct, let alone parse, a sentence with more than one clause.

Oh, and Lucian, I don't know what pertains in Romania, but in the Anglosphere we haven't had peasants for quite a few centuries now :0)

The Blogger Formerly Known As Lvka said...

Germany isn't exactly part of the Anglosphere, and the reason for mandatory state-funded education has nothing to do with Hitler or with mass-manipulation. In Romania it dates back to Cuza, who was responsible for modernizing and liberating the country some 150 years ago. (Destruction of feudal relations and gypsy-slavery: the peasants were finally free from their land-lords; the first public schools, to uproot illiteracy, so that the children might have a better future than their parents; the abolition of severe corporal punishment & of the death-penalty, which dated back to barbaric and medieval times; the unification of Romania, and its independance from Turkish yoke; the secularization of many forrests belonging to the monasteries; etc). Romania has 40% rural population, despite massive uprooting of villages in Communist times; and those that aren't peasants are simple workers.

Mark Henderson said...

"Germany isn't exactly part of the Anglosphere". Not historically, but many Germans speak English and most evangelical German Christians are in touch with what is happening in conservative Christian circles in the US at least.

"the reason for mandatory state-funded education has nothing to do with Hitler or with mass-manipulation."
In Germany it is directly related and in most countries with state funded mandatory schools the curriculum is used to enforce societal norms in some way, whether benevolently or malevolently. In contrast, in countries which value freedom, there is more choice in education (cf. Holland, historically) and even state funding of non government schools, as in Australia.

Mark Henderson said...

Btw, Lucian, what significance should I read into the fact that your avatar is a young Shirley Maclaine?

The Blogger Formerly Known As Lvka said...

most evangelical German Christians are in touch with what is happening in conservative Christian circles in the US

I hate to break it to you, Father, but aren't we all ?

what significance should I read into the fact that your avatar is a young Shirley Maclaine?

That the two of us are on the same wave-length... (Honestly, you are the first one to know who that is...) That I have good tastes in women... And that some women can be breath-takingly beautiful even without taking their clothes off...

Mark Henderson said...

Well, de gustibus non est disputandum; but, I am rather surprised to find an Orthodox Christian who admits to being on the same "wave length" as Shirley Maclain, who has expressed some rather eccentric beliefs in her latter years.

The Blogger Formerly Known As Lvka said...

I meant you and me.. Not me and the actress.. LOL :-)

No, seriously, other morons asked me whether I had a sex-change operation.. :-) Probably because of the combination between my new profile picture and my "new" user name. :-) Anyway.. nevermind..

Well.. I did find her to be rather attractive in The Children's Hour (ca 1960). :-) Out of curiosity, what celebrities do you consider really-really beautiful ?

Mark Henderson said...

Oh, I see. You and me on the same wave-length, Lucian? Mmm...not sure about that ;0)
Beautiful celebrities? True beauty is a matter of the heart and I don't think many people who court celebrity who have it, especially not after they are turned into sex objects. Anyway, the movies I watched when I was growing up - I don't watch many now; I think the last movie I watched and enjoyed was 'Downfall' - tended to be war movies with few female parts. But I remember Claudia Cardinale from the first 'Pink Panther' film as being quite beautiful.

joel in ga said...

Ironically, it was reported that the (intolerant) German government was afraid that the children might learn intolerance while receiving a homeschool education.

Obviously, this case has nothing to do with education. It is about the State's demand to have tyrannical control over the populace.

Mark Henderson said...

Yet more confirmation of the intolerance of the "tolerant", eh Joel? I dare say the irony is lost on them, as well. This is why external pressure, in the form of complaints from friendly nations, is so important.

Mark Henderson said...


I do find your new blogging persona more agreeable than "Lvka". However, if you don't mind my saying so, I think you watch too many films - you should read more books. Do you read much? With your gift for languages, the harvest is especially rich.

joel in ga said...

Has your new senator David Leyonhjelm weighed in on the matter?

The Blogger Formerly Known As Lvka said...

With your gift for languages

I only know two languages:




Either way, I am a mathematician-slash-computer-programmer; I'm not a humanist. My Serbian friend is, though: He reads LOTS of books: literature, philosophy, etc. He is basically an idealist & a humanist at heart. My other friend, who is Hungarian, was an avid cinephile. He was also responsible for first introducing me to good music (some of which I was already familiar with), and to good movies. But he is very pragmatic by nature, and works in the financial sector. The two of them have been friends since childhood; I only made their acquaintance in Gymnasium. Anyway, literature isn't really my thing, except for the deeply sad and romantic poetry of Eminescu and Stefan Octavian Iosif. The only other books I've ever read have been either religious books, or children-books, when I was still a kid.

Mark Henderson said...

"I only know two languages:
and German-English."

That's five, Lucian - count them! :0)

(Yes, I know the 5 represent two language families, but most native English speakers would be surprised to learn that they speak "German-English"!)

Your friends sound like interesting people. We have many Serbs and Hungarians in Australia; not so many Romanians, but some.

Mark Henderson said...

You're on top of things, Joel!
I'll have to write to him.

The Blogger Formerly Known As Lvka said...

I found myself understanding English long before learning it in school, based only my knowledge of German. And I wasn't the only one. The same with Italian, and then later Spanish (which I was never taught in school) based only on my knowledge of my own language.

Mark Henderson said...

Yes, strictly speaking, English is a Germanic dialect with loan words from French, Latin and Greek. But I wonder whether the Romance languages are not more mutually intelligible than the Germanic dialects? I was speaking to a Swiss today who said that Germans cannot understand Swiss-German and native Swiss-German speakers did have trouble learning High German in school before German TV shows became popular on Swiss TV. Most English speakers cannot make head nor tail of German without some basic study in its grammar and vocabulary. I wonder if the reverse is true? Interesting.

joel in ga said...

The election was encouraging news in the libertarian community:

Mark Henderson said...

That's interesting. Libertarianism is very much a minority position here, at least as a political movement, virtually unknown. Australians have historically tended to embrace forms of collectivism on the Left or voluntarist communitarianism on the Right. With an ever more intrusive government, though, libertarianism is likely to attract more interest.