Our oldest child was researching to find a map of Copenhagen from the 16th Century, and found that it was possible to look at one in real life, in the Copenhagen Town Hall public library. She asked for help to find out how to visit that library and it resulted in us all going there on a tour of the whole town hall and the tower. It was a good way to learn about the democratic process in Denmark, and to understand the way the councils work. The Copenhagen town hall is open to the public, which in itself is quite unique, and you can pay to get a tour of many of the areas not open to the public. You can also pay to get a tour of the tower, which has a unique view over the city. Copenhagen has many towers and we want to climb all of them. We have gone through quite a few of them by now, but this was our first time in the Town Hall Tower. The Town Hall is full of wall paintings, many by famous artists. It also has a room full with unique woven tapestry, with motives from Danish history. As our oldest daughter said:”We just didn’t have enough time there” 🙂
To make our German lessons come alive, we made an appointment with the librarian at the Goethe Institute in Copenhagen to come and have a guided tour. We were shown around the library and told about the many free offers they have on their website for everyone to learn German. It was really very inspiring and showed the children the living world of German language and culture, and not just a book in front of them.
Read more here: https://www.goethe.de/ins/dk/da/spr/ueb.html
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, who is particularly known for his works the novel The Sorrows of Young Werther and Faust. He lived 1749-1832. The Goethe Institute is named after him.
In Germany it is not allowed to home school. A journalist contacted us, because she wanted to make an interview with us for German State Radio. Here is the result:
Here is the radio show in text:
In der Heimschule der Familie Schou in Dänemark steht nicht nur der klassische Lernstoff auf dem Programm. Die Kinder lernen auch beim Gemüseeinkauf, im Garten oder beim Lesen von Manga-Comics. Und wer eine Pause braucht, geht aufs Trampolin.
Es ist 10 Uhr morgens und in der Heimschule der Familie Schou, wie sie sie selbst nennen, ist es ganz still. Die vier Kinder sind vertieft in ihre jeweiligen Tätigkeiten. Weil sie mit dem Lernstoff für dieses Schuljahr fast fertig sind, dürfen die Kinder an diesem Vormittag selbst entscheiden, womit sie sich beschäftigen.
Die 15 Jahre alte Martha zeichnet Fantasiewesen, die 12-jährige Edith bastelt an einer Tasche aus Plastikperlen, die 11-jährige Dagmar liest einen japanischen Comic. Der Jüngste, Hjalmar, schreibt Wörter in eine Reihe. Er ist sechs Jahre alt. Seine Lieblingsbeschäftigung in der Schule sei es, in seinem Arbeitsheft Wörter mit den dazugehörigen Bildern zu verbinden, erzählt er. In welche Klasse er gehe, wisse er nicht.
Mutter Vibeke Schou sitzt auch mit am Tisch, hält sich aber im Hintergrund. Die Entscheidung, die Kinder zu Hause zu unterrichten, trafen sie und ihr Mann, als ihre älteste Tochter eingeschult werden sollte.
Die Begeisterung der Kinder fürs Lernen bewahren
„Mein Mann und ich erinnerten uns an unsere Schulzeit. Und die war nicht immer rosig. Entweder musste man auf die anderen warten und langweilte sich, oder man hinkte so weit hinterher, dass man total verloren war. Ich sah mir 10 bis 20 Schulen in der Umgebung an und suchte nach einer, die ich selbst jeden Tag besuchen wollte. Diese Schule gab es nicht.
Unser Ansatz ist, dass Lernen ein großartiges Geschenk ist und wir wollen die Begeisterung in unseren Kindern bewahren. Viele Kinder freuen sich ja auf ihren ersten Schultag und darauf, etwas zu lernen. Und dann wird diese Begeisterung nach und nach ausgelöscht.“
Frau und mehrere Kinder schauen auf einen Bildschirm. (Miriam Arndts)Ihre Doppelrolle als Mutter und Lehrerin empfindet Vibeke Schou als völlig natürlich. (Miriam Arndts)
Seit zehn Jahren unterrichtet Vibeke Schou ihre Kinder zu Hause, während ihr Mann arbeitet. Abends macht er mit den Kindern manchmal physikalische und elektronische Experimente, während die ausgebildete Schneiderin Nähkurse an der Volkshochschule gibt.
Ihre Doppelrolle als Mutter und Lehrerin empfindet Vibeke Schou als völlig natürlich. „Bei uns ist es ein bisschen so, wie es zu Beginn der Menschheit war: Die Mutter bringt den Kindern das bei, was sie fürs Leben brauchen. Für mich ist Unterrichten und Muttersein ein und dasselbe.“
Bei Familie Schou klingelt keine Pausenglocke
Hjalmar ist inzwischen in den Garten gelaufen, wo er auf einem riesigen Trampolin hüpft. Das macht er, wenn er nicht mehr still sitzen kann, erklärt seine große Schwester Martha. Bei Familie Schou klingelt keine Pausenglocke. Die Kinder nehmen sich ihre Pause, wenn sie sie brauchen.
Die Zweitjüngste, Dagmar, erzählt, dass sie gerne mal ausprobieren wollte, wie es ist, in eine normale Schule zu gehen. Also begleitete sie einen Freund einen Tag lang in die vierte Klasse. Es war sehr laut, sagt sie. Zu Hause könne man die anderen bitten, leise zu sein, wenn man sich konzentrieren müsse. Hier habe man außerdem mehr Zeit, sagt die 11-Jährige. Diesen Eindruck hat sie vermutlich auch, weil nur ein Bruchteil des Heimschul-Alltages klassischer Unterricht mit Stillsitzen ist.
„Bei uns zu Hause ist ja rund um die Uhr Unterricht. Wenn wir im Supermarkt sind, frage ich die Kinder: Welche Möhren sind hier das beste Angebot? Auch wenn wir im Garten sind, lernen wir die ganze Zeit und das ganze Jahr über. Wenn wir einen Regenwurm finden, dann gehen wir rein und lesen was über Regenwürmer. Dann sagen wir nicht: Das machen wir jetzt nicht, weil Sommerferien sind.“
Der Wechsel an die öffentliche Schule steht bevor
Dagmar ist mittlerweile ihrem kleinen Bruder aufs Trampolin gefolgt. Ein Junge und zwei Mädchen tauchen am Gartentor auf. Hjalmar hüpft vor Freude noch höher. Damit ihre Kinder genügend soziale Kontakte haben, lädt Vibeke Schou oft andere Kinder zu sich nach Hause ein.
Diese drei Geschwister werden auch zu Hause unterrichtet. Deswegen ist es völlig normal für sie, sich nach kurzem Spiel im Garten mit an den Tisch zu setzen und Marthas Referat über das Weltall zu lauschen. Es geht unter anderem um den Urknall, der allen hier ein Begriff zu sein scheint, und um den dänischen Astronomen Tycho Brahe. Dagmar und Edith machen sich Notizen und heben den Finger, wenn sie Fragen haben.
Hjalmar hat sich auf den Schoß seiner Mutter gemogelt und hört gespannt zu. Auch er meldet sich: Er glaube nicht, dass Aliens Ufos bauen können, sagt er. Martha ist ganz seiner Meinung. Keiner macht sich über seine Bemerkung lustig.
Martha fängt im August in der zehnten Klasse einer öffentlichen Schule an und möchte im Jahr darauf an ein naturwissenschaftliches Gymnasium wechseln. Vielleicht werde sie Schriftstellerin, sagt Martha. Sie habe angefangen, alle Experimente, die sie machen, zu notieren, um daraus lustige Geschichten zu schreiben, von denen andere Kinder etwas lernen können. Vielleicht werde sie aber auch Astronomin.
When we set out home schooling 10 years ago, we talked a lot about what our basic ideas were. We realized that most other homeschooling families we met, had other ideas from ours, that shaped their Home School. These are our foundation, and we try to stay as true to them as possible.
- We try to answer all the children’s questions, right now or as quickly as possible. We say “yes!” if we can. We try to fulfill all learning wishes set forward by the children.
- Every member of the family contribute in practical chores. We are all a precious part of the team.
- Our goal is to learn something new every day. To learn as much as possible, based on our present level, individually. Our level of knowledge is not static, we are all the time in a progress of learning.
- We spend as much time as possible together, as a family, and prioritize time spend talking together. It is important for us to have plenty of time to eat together.
- We teach our children to respect each other and other people. We accept that other people have different views to us. We are allowed to be free to be so physical that we may hurt ourselves, and find our natural limits. We may shout, scream, be unfair, tired, but always be able to say sorry and work on making things good again, with respect for the damage we may have caused. We work on finding our own limits and others.
- We do not shield our children from the world, we inform and enlighten them. You can tell children about everything in the world, you just have to find the best way for them to understand right now in their level of understanding.
- Teach our children to take initiative.
- We limit trips and visitors to at the most every second day. We prioritize space for personal development.
- Screen time is limited to a minimum. Spending time outside in the nature, time for play, movement and creativity are prioritized.
- We aim for a level of learning, that is above elementary school, so our children with ease could be included in such a school, if it no longer are possible for us economically to afford homeschooling on one full salary and a part-time wage.
All of our 4 children have learned to read with the system created by Erik V. Hansen – Alkalær. His books has become a happy part of their childhood now.
What a great read. I enjoyed this book so much. Having already read “School is dead” by Everett Reimer, “Hvis Skolen Ikke Fantes”, Nils Christie and “Deschooling Society”, Ivan Illich, all books from around 1970, it was interesting to read “Dumbing Us Down” by John Taylor Gatto. A book published in 1992. He was just as John Holt, a school teacher, who became disillusioned with the American school system. While, John Holt only stayed a brief period of time in the school system, as a teacher, John Taylor Gatto stayed for 30 years. Mainly in the New York area. He taught both rich and poor students, but his experiences with the pupils in the school system were the same.
In 1991 John Taylor Gatto was named “New York State Teacher of the Year”. On that occasion, he gave a speech. This is where he for the first time put forward his “Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher” where he describes the function of at School Teacher. In real life. Not how we theoretically want a School Teachers function to be. But how his 30 years of experience in the system, had been.
Here we go:
- Confusion. A constant violation of natural order and sequence dismissed as quality in education.
- Class Position. You come to know your place.
- Indifference. When the bell rings, what you have learned, don’t matter anymore.
- Emotional Dependency. You have to surrender your own will to the predestinated chain of command.
- Intellectual Dependency. Good people wait for an expert to tell them what to do.
- Provisional Self-Esteem. People need to be told what they are worth.
- One Can’t hide. There are no private spaces for children, there is no private time.
He also makes a short summary of how new compulsory schooling is. In the USA it came about in the State of Massachusetts around 1850. 80% of Massachusetts population resisted, sometimes with guns, and did not surrender its children until the 1880s, when the area was seized by militia and the children marched to school under guard.
That Schools were designed to be instruments for the scientific management of a mass population. Schools are intended to produce humans whose behavior can be predicted and controlled.
Two institutions at present control our childrens lives: Television and Schooling, in that order. Both of these reduce the real world of wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice to a never-ending, nonstop abstraction. In the past our childrens lives would have been occupied by real work, real charity, real adventures, and the realistic search for mentors who might teach you what you really want to learn.
He makes a calculus of time the Children in School must deal with: Out of 168 hours a week children sleep 56. That leaves them 112 hours to fashion a self. Children watch 55 hours of television a week. That leaves them 57 hours to grow up. Children attend school 30 hours a week, use 8 hours to get ready and travelling to school, 7 hours on homework – a total of 45 hours. During that time they are under constant surveillance. they have no private time or private space. That leaves them 12 hours a week out of which to create a unique consciousness. Of course, the children eat too, that takes some time – but not much, as they have lost the tradition of family dining. So we allot 3 hours a week to eating, and that leaves a child with 9 hours of private time a week.
Gatto tells what effect this has on his pupils:
- They are indifferent to the adult world. Nobody want’s to grow up.
- They have no curiosity. They cannot concentrate for very long at a time.
- They have a poor sense of the future, of how tomorrow is inextricably linked to today.
- They become ahistorical. They have no idea about how the past has predestinated their own present.
- They are cruel to each other, lack compassion for misfortune, laugh at weakness.
- They are uneasy with intimacy. For their whole life they have hidden their inner self inside a larger outer personality made up of artificial bits and pieces of behavior borrowed from television or acquired to manipulate teachers.
- They are materialistic, grade everything as a School teacher and copy television mentors who offer everything in the world for sale.
- They are dependent and passive.
How can we turn this around? Gatto says it is not about pouring more money into a sinking ship. We have to rethink what it is we want our children to learn and why. Gatto is a fond believer in mentors. Including all groups of the community into the community again. Not separating the population into groups of parasites and putting working people on a pedestal. He did many programs for his pupils where they committed themselves to community service. Many of those pupils came back many years later and told him how that experience had changed their lives. How it had helped them rethink goals and values.
Gatto says that it is time for a return to democracy, individuality and family.
Gatto makes a sharp distinction between Networks and Communities. He believes that todays schools are called communities, but are really networks. There is nothing wrong with networks, but if we believe they have the values of communities, we are left betrayed and lonely.
To sum up the book, it is a great critical view on our current education system. We need to review how we think and understand learning. Education does not equal learning. A good life does not equal a constant march towards achieving material goods and distinctions.
Louise Hay has been a huge inspiration in my life. Her book “Heal your life” has helped and still helps me with dealing with past, present and future. I try to give this on to the children. We have gotten so far, with positive thinking, that the children will remind me about it, when I loose focus. They try to help me, and I try to help them to get a great magnificent life that they deserve.
Positive thinking is to us like physical exercise. You have to work hard and regularly at it, to keep the mind thinking positive. The mind really wan’t to go back to negative thoughts.
This exercise is to me much like commercial advertisements. If you keep sending your mind positive thoughts, they will reprogramme your mind. Slowly it will start changing your thought patterns.
Our favorite positive affirmations are these:
- All is well in my world.
- I love myself and I am lovable.
- I am safe and at peace.
- I enjoy the foods that are best for my body.
- I have plenty of time for all the things I have to do today.
- There is always more to learn.
Another great soul to listen to, is Ester Hicks for support to achieve your goals in life.
When we first started out home schooling our kids, on 1st of April 2009 (it was not an aprils fools joke, but for some strange reason, we started out on this date) there wasn’t many other home schoolers around in Denmark. So we searched the net for like-minded people, and found a few great inspirational people. This guys videos, we have often used if we needed a kick of energy and to be cheered up in all the criticism from the people around us, in our choice of how to bring up our children. I’ve chosen to show this video, as it is one of his first on youtube, but there are loads more about home schooling to find. Just make a cup of tea and enjoy!
This guy is really fun too. He has got a few more videos too, about homeschool if you search youtube.
This one is also great to show the ignorance displayed, when you try to explain learning.
Go watch and enjoy!
Now I have finished the last book that the Danish politician Bertel Haarder recommended me to read, when we interviewed him last year about homeschooling (https://homeschool.dk/interview-med-bertel-haarder-om-hjemmeundervisning/) and will make my comments on it in this post. To make a summary, the books recommended were:
- School is Dead, Everett Reimer, 1971.
You can read my thoughts on this book here: https://homeschool.dk/school-is-dead-alternatives-in-education-by-everett-reimer/
2. Hvis Skolen Ikke Fantes, Nils Christie, 1971.
This book can be found online in a free text version here: https://archive.org/stream/Christie1971HvisSkolenIkkeFantes/Christie%20%281971%29%20Hvis%20skolen%20ikke%20fantes_djvu.txt
This book was the least catchy of the three. Maybe because I could only get hold of it in Norwegian. It was hard to read.
It reflected on the change of living from craftsmanships and in small communities, to a massproducing society, where most of the population live in large cities.
It gave examples of how this has effected family life and motivation for learning. Moving from learning by doing, to learning in theory.
3. Deschooling Society, Ivan Illich, 1971.
This was my christmas present this year 🙂 I was so happy and have really enjoyed it. The author is a friend of Everett Reimer, who wrote “School is dead” and they agreed on many things regarding learning. They met in South America, where Ivan Illich worked as a vice rector of the Catholic University of Puerto Rico.
The book “Deschooling Society” is a critique of compulsory mass education. Ivan Illich argued that the oppressive structure of the school system, could not be reformed, but had to be dismantled in order to free humanity, from the crippling effects of lifelong institutionalization.
The book is more than a critique—it contains suggestions for a reinvention of learning throughout society and lifetime. Particularly striking is his call (in 1971) for the use of advanced technology to support “learning webs”.
While Illich never referred to himself as an anarchist in print, he was closely associated with major figures in left-anarchist circles, notably Paul Goodman and unschooling advocate John Holt.
If he had lived today, with the opportunities the internet gives us to find knowledge and peers, he would have been very disappointed, with how little the school systems around the world has changed.
He argues that institutionalization of values leads to a society with physical pollution, greater social equality and psychological impotence. How non-material needs is transformed into demands for consumer goods. When health, education, individual movement, welfare or psychological cure is defined as a result of public benefits or “treatments”.
School has become a religion. It is never questioned about it’s existence, and the acceptance of self-taught learning is very low. Expenses paid in most of the world to school education is growing, and when it isn’t working, more money is set in. We should concentrate on focused and self-motivated learning. The inequality between rich and poor is disproportionate, in how much schooling they receive from the state. And so many resources is wasted on pupils, that lack motivation.
If we could all have a kind of “resource bank” from where you could go when you were ready to learn something. Then everybody could have the access to a certain amount of learning. It could be learning from a person that had certain language skill, a neighbor in your area (Illich also talks about the move away from having local networks) or bringing a group of like minded people together, focused on a special area of learning.
This book seems like a follow up to “School is dead”. Where “School is dead” doesn’t really give any suggestions to other ways of organizing learning worldwide, but describes and talks about the faults of our present systems of learning, “Deschooling society” actually gives a number of ideas to how we could learn in a more constructive way.
We live in a society that believes in mass production, as if it were a religion, and that you can streamline values. That people only can learn in a specific environment and be judged as if they were all alike. We are fooled into believing that we are all given the same opportunities in life, and that it is our own fault, if we don’t succeed. So we learn our place in society and accept the situation. School has become so accepted, as a part of life that we happily hand over our precious children, to be institutionalized and brainwashed when they turn 1 year old, at the latest, because we believe “it is the best for them”. We no longer feel able to bring up our own children. We are not properly qualified. Do not have the right diplomas and schooling.
In an ideal world, I don’t believe there is another way, than our current learning system, that is the right one, but the answer is that there are many right ways of learning. That there should be the freedom to choose different ways to learn. To take responsibility of your own life and your childrens learning, by not blindly accepting the schooling way, but bringing up many alternatives to learn. It would give a much broader knowledge base in the population.
Read the books if you are interested. I found them very challenging and inspiring.
We got the chance to take part in a visit to the Jewish Synagogue today, together with other homeschoolers. We always like to be a fly on the wall, in areas of the world, that we usually don’t have any experience with. It is not easy to get acces there. There has been high security ever since the attack on Sundag the 15th of February 2015 where a man was killed and several wounded. Since that, there has been armed soldiers outside the synagogue, patrolling the area. This is a very sad turn in Denmarks history, as we for so many years have praised our country for being safe, tolerant and inclusive.
First we had to go through the security, where we were led into a barred section, where the doors locked and then another door opened in the other end, and let us out into the synagogues area. There were more police patrolling and let us into the building. There we met a lovely lady, who were to be our lecturer. She told us about being a jew.
After the lesson in Jewish traditions, we were taken into the synagogue. There we were shown the Torah and allowed to ask questions.
All the men and boys had to wear a skullcap. Our son was not happy about being treated differently from his sisters.