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October 3, 2011

Homeschooling Must Be Permitted

Editor’s note: This is an unofficial English translation of an article that appeared in Svenska Dagbladet, the largest national conservative newspaper in Sweden.

“Hemundervisning måste vara tillåten.”

Read the original article in Swedish >>

Photo text: “Unfortunately, Björklund is under the illusion that he best knows the needs of all students in this country,” writes the authors of the article.

Photo: Thomas Johansson/Scanpix

Op Ed—School

Despite the fact that homeschooling works very well for many students, the Secretary of Education Jan Björklund has chosen to make it illegal, which is just one more example of politics becoming increasingly more regimented and politicians lacking any grounding in reality, writes the spokespersons from Young Liberals, CUF (Centrist Youth Organization) and Green Youth jointly. Translator’s note: These are the youth organizations associated with three political parties in Sweden. Two of these parties would consider themselves to be on the conservative side; however, the Green Party frequently joins forces with the Social Democrats. That the three of them agree is interesting in itself.

The current conservative government is no different than the previous Social Democratic governments in its aim to plan and direct our lives, take care of us, and dictate solutions to all of our problems. This is clearly demonstrated in the area of education where Jan Björklund, based on how the department has been ruled in recent years, has demonstrated his complete lack of grounding in reality and his desire to infringe on personal freedom. We believe that school reform ought to involve the students where they are and in their current school situation in order to improve the Swedish School System.

As the secretary of education, Jan Björklund has continually and increasingly demanded homogenous standards and methodology within the school system, impeding any alternative pedagogy methods. In the most recent school reform, the old-fashioned lecturing style of teaching is the promoted and approved method and opportunities for independent studies for children and youth disappeared. While many more people in the world are choosing to educate their children at home with excellent results, Björklund has chosen to make this form of education illegal in Sweden.

Unfortunately, Björklund is under the illusion that he best knows the needs of all students in this country. It is almost ludicrous that he calls himself a liberal, while so blatantly ignoring the individual’s rights and freedoms.

The research is conclusive and coherent; homeschooling studies have been conducted in Canada, Norway, United Kingdom and many others countries. Home educated children learn at least as much as, but often much more than their peers in the public school. They are not behind their peers in factual knowledge, analytical abilities or social competency; on the contrary they handle themselves better than their friends in public school.

The Economist recently analyzed which school system produced the best results using data from among others the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) studies. The results are clear and conclusive: the best functioning school systems are those in which the teachers and the individual school have the greatest influence.

Lawrence Rudner, in a research study at the University of Maryland, found that home educated students in general achieve better academic results than children in public school and even students in many of the best private schools. This is independent of the parents’ own level of education. Home educated children develop socially as well as, or better, than children who attend school and have greater confidence in themselves and society. As adults, their quality of life is higher and they are generally more involved in the society than those who attended school. All these indicators are also independent of the parents’ educational level, the curriculum and pedagogy used, and the level of oversight and control provided by the governing bodies; none of these factors influence the results.

The goal of a liberal must be to provide more freedom for the individual. The goal of the secretary of education must be to provide the best education possible for each student. That Jan Björklund is acting in opposition of both of these aims is startling to say the least.

Alfred Askeljung
President of CUF (Centrist Youth Organization) Stureplan

Benjamin Juhlin
Spokesperson for Green Youth in Stockholm and surrounding area

Caspian Rehbinder
Young Liberal