September 29, 2016
Goodbye USSR - Hello Home Education!
In 1984 the Cold War—as a struggle between the global forces of democracy, represented by the United States and NATO, and of communism, represented by the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact—was a foundational understanding of global politics. As a young soldier at the time and then later as an officer, I trained to meet the massive military force of the Soviet Union on the battlefield of Europe. During Operation Desert Storm, I led a platoon of tanks against the Iraqi Army who had been equipped with Soviet weaponry and operated under Soviet battle tactics.
During its longstanding history, the USSR appeared to be a world-dominating force for communism—a system that was predicated on total state control of most areas of common life. Thirty years ago no one could have imagined that home education would ever be possible, let alone legal, in the USSR. The education system under communism was premised on a totalitarian ideology.
In 1919 Nikolai Bukharin, one of the Bolshevik revolutionaries, said the “task of the new communist schools is to impose upon bourgeois children a proletarian mentality … it is the task of the new school to train up a younger generation whose ideology shall be deeply rooted in the soil of the new communist society.”
In 1955 Nicholas DeWitt of the National Science Foundation wrote “It is not the individual around whom the educational system is built, but the state, which, by identifying itself with pursuits of the common good, attempts the ruthless subordination of the individual—his rights, tastes, choices, privileges, and his training—to its own needs.”
Traditional Russian history and culture places a high value on the family and education. It is exciting to see that 70 years of communism was not able to totally erase these cultural values. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, some Russians have become critical that changes to their education system has made it too Western. However, the legalization of home education in Russia is a positive development. Family Education, as it is known in the Russian Federation, is growing. Like many countries with nascent home education movements, the Russian home education community resembles the small movement that started in the United States about 40 years ago.
Advocates for home education in Russia are encouraged by the growing interest, and Russia was selected as the next location for a Global Home Education Conference. GHEC2018 will be held in Moscow and St. Petersburg during the week of May 21-25, 2018. The conference will gather researchers, policy makers, parents and organizations with the purpose to support the Russian home educating community and to provide a platform for advancing the rights of families to choose home education.
Taking the Lead
Russia’s policy in favor of home education is a positive example on the Eurasian continent where many home educating communities are just starting. Russia’s policy stands in stark contrast to that of other western European countries, such as Germany and Sweden, which do not tolerate home education.
GHEC2018 will offer a unique experience to participants to visit the historical cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, to interact with global leaders, to encourage and support a growing home education community in Russia, and to continue our advocacy for the rights of parents and children to choose the kind of education they want to experience. The organizers continue to adhere to the original vision of the global conferences that home education ought to be a choice for all families everywhere—regardless of their motivation or methodology.
To stay informed about the conference, we invite you to sign up for email updates specifically about the GHEC 2018 at www.ghec2018.org.