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Home Educated Student Achieves Good Marks on Exam
Moritz Neubronner’s interview on Stern TV (in German).
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The Neubronners, a German unschooling family, have become known over the last eight years nationwide and also internationally because they have chosen to educate their two sons outside of the German schools, even though this is illegal in Germany. Their case—including lawsuits, penalties, seizure of bank accounts and, ultimately, an exile in Europe—has consistently received attention by the media. Moritz Neubronner, 16, recently passed the “realschulabschluss” exam with very good marks and used his interview on national television as a platform to demonstrate the success and benefits of home education.
My goal is to draw attention to the fact that good academic results and seamless integration into society are possible without [formal] schooling, because these are the two main arguments against freedom of education, which is still forbidden in Germany. It is important to me to spread the information in Germany that “homeschooling” or “open learning” in my case, as in many other cases, is a very successful form of education. I find it interesting that the German authorities have rejected all my media requests and refuse to give any interviews concerning this issue.
Moritz stopped visiting a school in 2005 during second grade. His younger brother went to school for only a view weeks, and then decided he wanted to follow his brother and stay home with their parents. Since homeschooling is still illegal in Germany, Dagmar and Tilman Neubronner fought several court cases up to the German High Court to claim their right to choose the form of their children’s education, however, they lost all of the cases. In 2007 a judge fined them severely—more than $10,000—and bailiff searched their house and their bank accounts were frozen because they refused to pay the fines. Soon thereafter, the German Constitutional Court ruled that homeschooling is a violation of custody which necessitates a loss of custody. At this point, the Neubronners decided to leave the country, and they have lived in Spain and France since then, while keeping their house in Germany for frequent visits.
The media have shown great interest in this case, and through a number TV, radio and many newspaper appearances, the Neubronner family became the best known homeschooling family in Germany.
In 2012, Moritz, then 15, decided to earn his school-leaving qualification. He studied for several weeks and got his records with best marks. (1.4 on the German scale from 1.0–6.0). When he applied to take the next higher graduation exam, he was told he would need two years to prepare. So he decided to visit a German school in his home town of Bremen for one semester, February to June 2013. Now with 16 years he received his graduation with best remarks (1.4 again), and teachers as well as other students at the school repeatedly commented on his unusual maturity, concentration, and integration abilities.
The media has interviewed him a lot on this accomplishment—there were several TV shows and newspaper interviews, and for the first time, he was invited to a national live TV show to discuss his education with the chairman of the national association of high school teachers. His mother insisted on not being included in the discussion but to only sit in the audience nearby. She knew that her son was able to manage the discussion and that it was important to show how “homeschooling grows us” in Germany, despite its criminalization.
In the interview, Moritz was a living example of the superiority of homeschooling: not only was he the strongest part of the discussion, he managed to state the most important arguments in favor of legalizing homeschooling. His discussion partners, the chairman of the teacher’s association and the moderator, were clearly defeated. The only argument the chairman said was that after the legalization of homeschooling, “We teachers will lose our jobs.” In the end, Moritz thanked his co-students and teachers in school and greeted “all homeschoolers and unschoolers everywhere for everything you suffer—I give you my respect, and you are doing the right thing.” He managed to look directly into the camera when he said this; it was a moving moment.
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