Sunday, October 04, 2009

Disempowering parents

Recently, the Swedish government was considering making it illegal for parents to homeschool their children for faith reasons. At the time, I expressed the view that the state appeared to have forgotten that its role is to serve the people, not dictate to them. That parents (should) have the right to educate their children as they see fit, employing state provided education if they wish to do so.

It seems things have gone from bad to worse. A young family which had at one point made enquiries about home schooling their son decided to move to India (which is the country of the wife's birth) to work as missionaries among the poor there. This had long been something they had felt called to do, and the enquiries about homeschooling had been with this in mind. They sold up their possessions and boarded a plane. Swedish armed police stormed the plane and forcibly removed them. They then took their son from them and placed him in foster care. More of the story can be picked up here.

The traumatised wife has been hospitalised.

I can hardly articulate my reactions to this. So I will forebear, and leave you to form your own views.


Dzakyem said...

The methods which were used in that case certainly have to be condemned, although the parents did expose themselves to some risk by resolving to depart without getting some news from authorities which were obviously rigid...

At a more general, more abstract level, the issue is certainly complex, above all because very different cultures come to a clash here.

Of course, starting to argue about the quality of shools (as the article first referred to does) is out of the subject. But speaking about "liberty of thought and religion" is quite interesting because it is controversial indeed.

In cases of homeschooling, isn't the influence of parents too overpowering to guarantee "freedom of thought"? Some concern about the influence of "extremist believers" on their children can exist, can't it?

The upsycho said...

@Dzakyem I have never opted to home school my own children for a range or reasons that don't really have relevance here. But, as far as I know, people who do home school their children often do so on a co-op basis, and enlist the age of outside agencies to ensure that a range of voices in their children's education.

But there is a world of difference between having concerns about the influence of some people on their children and disempowering the individual to an extent that infringes on their rights. Influencing one's children is an integral part of parenting - the alternative is to allow them to be feral.