The Home School Court Report
VOLUME XIII, NUMBER 6
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NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 1997
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S P E C I A L   F E A T U R E

There’s No Place Like Home—On Any Continent

     Home schooling is one of the fastest growing educational trends in the United States today. The number of children taught at home by their parents has tripled over the last seven years. Home schooling is also expanding internationally.
     For years, only a few brave missionaries pioneered the path for home schooling on foreign soil, teaching their progeny at home out of sheer necessity to keep their families together while serving in rural areas or hostile cultures.
     But now, more and more parents around the globe are joining the ranks of home educators, some because they realize that home schooling is a solid academic choice, and others who believe that God designed home schooling as the best method for transferring their worldview, their lifestyle, and a well-rounded preparation for life to the next generation.
     Over the last decade, the number of home schooling families in Canada has steadily grown. To meet the needs of these families, there are now support groups in nearly every province, some provincial organizations, and even a Home School Legal Defense Association of Canada, which was launched in 1991.
     Out of the widely publicized turmoil in South Africa came the first glimmer of a home schooling movement. In 1994, Andre and Bookie Mientjies were jailed for two years by the government for the crime of teaching their own children at home. But after Parliament recognized home schooling as legal in the National Schools Act of November 1996, home educating families were able to flourish in the open. This past summer, South Africans established their own National Home Education Defense Fund (see the September/October 1997 Court Report).
     In the July/August 1997 Court Report, HSLDA reported that, although home schooling is still illegal in Japan, many courageous parents are choosing to take the risk of teaching their children at home. Current estimates place the number of Japanese home school families at about 1,000.
     According to a June 28, 1997, article published in the Jerusalem Post International Edition, home schooling is also catching on in Israel. Judith Danilov, coordinator of the Israeli government’s Pedagogic Center at the Education Ministry says that they have received “dozens of requests to teach children at home,” but she believes that many are doing so without formal permission.
     The article featured interviews with two home schooling families and their experiences in Israel. Moshe and Rivka Ernstoff were introduced to home schooling while they lived in the United States. When the family moved to Israel they intended to send their children to the public schools, but quickly became disappointed with the schools and started home schooling.
     The Ernstoffs were unhappy with the public schools’ one-size-fits-all approach to children. “Kids were not allowed to develop on their own timetable. If they developed slowly, they were labeled as ‘learning disabled.’ If they had a different learning style they were also labeled ‘learning disabled.’ I prefer to call it a teaching disability,” said Mrs. Ernstoff.
     Orna Shafrir has five children and has home schooled for the past two years. “Modern life has separate times for work, play, study. We feel it should all be one whole. We try not to create artificial limitations. The oldest, Tzlil, now says he wants to be an engineer. So we are looking for a workshop for him to be apprenticed to. He doesn’t have to wait to go to university. My daughter Goni, 11, wants to be a fashion designer, so she sews and designs clothes now, for herself and her little sister. If they want to do something, why wait?”
     But according to the article, home education in Israel is fairly heavily regulated. For instance, parents who want to home school are required to get special permission directly from the Minister of Education. And one family is being prosecuted for not sending their children to school.
     HSLDA encourages our members to pray for home schooling families who are “blazing the trail” in other countries. They need our encouragement, and we need their spirit. Hearing their story is a refreshing reminder not to take our hardwon freedoms for granted. Vigilance is the eternal price of liberty no matter where we live.