Leaving Sweden in Order to Homeschool Their Children
The situation in Sweden is a stark reminder to homeschoolers everywhere about the power of the state and professional organizations to stamp out family-based teaching and learning situations with the justification that only Big Schooling can provide all children with a proper education.
According to this logic, professionally licensed and operated education is a right that should not be denied children; apparently it is also a right unlike other rights, since children MUST exercise it in one way: to attend school. Unlike the right to voting or free speech, which you can choose to use or not use based on your personal needs and opinions, this right does not allow children or families any right to refuse it.
The fact that meaningful teaching and learning take place outside of school for children and adults every day, and has been this way well before compulsory schools were invented about 150 years ago, is ignored by Big Schooling proponents who feel that family life must conform to Big Shooling's demands. Flexischooling and other blends of school and family life, as well as learning how people can learn and do things totally on their own, are totally wiped-out and ignored with this brutish approach to standardized education. Most importantly, as Jenny and her son make clear in their comments, choosing to learn at home is not necessarily a rejection of school; it can also be a desire for more connection and deeper relationships with family and community, human needs that are often not met for all people in school systems.
Jenny Lantz, a Swedish homeschooler I've been in touch with during the Swedish government's persecution of homeschooling, has written this report about how her family, and others in Sweden, are becoming expatriates in order to continue living and learning with their children. The Swedish media outlet Rapport ran a story about this and Jenny and her friend, Mary Jack, have translated the video and news report into English; the original Swedish versions appear in the link to Rapport.
22 May 2011 Rapport
The new school law which comes into effect this summer means that it will be nearly impossible to [obtain permission to] homeschool. Several families are against the changes [in the law] and are now leaving Sweden.
Rapport has met with the Lantz family who are now house hunting on Åland in order to be able to continue homeschooling.
- "We wish to be together. We like to have the children with us and the children likes to be at home. Both they and we have an incredible freedom in such a lifestyle," says Jenny Lantz.
But the Minister of Education offers no hope for change.
- "I think this is unfortunate. I believe that all children in Sweden have the right to go to school and it is the child that has this right. Parents should not be able to deny their children this right," says Jan Björklund.
He receives a reprise from Nicklas Lantz.
- The Lantz family consists of two adults and three children. Nicklas and Jenny have their own business and Nicklas works part time as a plumber, professions that they could take with them to Åland where they now live in a camper while awaiting their own house.
- "I like to be able to be with my family all the time. I feel happier that way, having friends and close family," says their son Lukas.
Approximately 100 children are homeschooled in Sweden, but as of autumn 2011 only parents of severly ill children will receive permission to (continue to) homeschool.
- "In the upper grades (grade 7-9) we have sixteen different subjects. Many highly trained teachers with expertise in the various subjects are required to educate a student in the higher grades. There is no chance that parents can completely replace this teaching," says Minister of Education Jan Björklund.
- "Should we find that we cannot teach ourselves the subject, or lack the time or the opportunity to do so, we can find someone who is knowledgeable and can help the kids," says Jenny Lantz.
So far, three Swedish families have settled on Åland because they wish to homeschool. And they are not alone.
- "More (of us) will leave Sweden. We know of families who are planning to move here, and we know of families who are planning to move to England, the US and Canada," says Jenny Lantz.
On Åland, the requirement is learning, not school.
- Families meet regularly with the school personnel in order to ensure that the children are learning, and through testing the children can earn the right to higher education.
"It´s not about us being angry with school, or school being poor. That´s not the reason for us to homeschool. It´s a form of education that suits us. We enjoy being close to the children," says Jenny Lantz.