God knows there are reasons enough to want to do it: school failure rates, currently 30% and rising; the lack of mother-tongue Spanish (or English) education in large areas of the country; curricula light on useful stuff and weighed down by religious and ideological legacy nonsense; teachers who are mainly interested in holidays and retirement; private school costs, which, while way lower than the UK, may still seem scary in a the biggest recession since Al-Mansur & Son visited these parts. So why is there so little home education in Spain?
I’d always been told it was illegal, but it turns out that the 1978 constitution loves you, 27.1.1 recognising your right to freedom of education. However, as Barcelona parents who want to exercise their constitutional right to have their children educated in Spanish have discovered, the authorities will cheerfully use administrative and judicial filibustering to prevent exercise of that right. Here‘s what happened to a rather repulsive sect:
In July 1990 regional authorities in Barcelona, Spain, raided a Family community and forcibly apprehended 21 children, one as young as eight months old. They claimed that the children were abused and in need of state care. At the same time, the parents of the children were charged with illegal association, operating an illegal school, inflicting mental damage on their children, and fraud. Although no evidence of any kind of abuse was found, the children were forced to remain against their will in state custody for nearly 12 months.
After four years of judicial crap, the Supreme Court ruled:
We find ourselves in the presence of a community of people who have adopted a lifestyle that differs from the generally accepted norms. Not a single element is found that could allow us to declare the existence of any intention to hurt their children or the other children of the community. They avoid sending their school-aged children to official institutions of learning choosing to teach them themselves using the method that in Anglo-Saxon countries is known as homeschooling. To proclaim the superiority of one education system over another would inevitably lead us to apply value judgments. Judges cannot enter into the sanctuary of personal beliefs, except when external behaviors originating from a particular ideology negatively affect legally protected rights.
Great stuff, but putting something on hold for four years is tantamount to prohibiting it. Another, rather different case: Team Sánchez-Branson looks absolutely sane and competent, and the kids look like they’re doing well, but the Guipúzcoa bureaucracy came after them this spring, fortunately without being able to shake their resolve:
Once you get past the state, the current small numbers of home educators mean you face all the other classic first-mover disadvantages. For example, if you don’t plan on giving up work entirely and becoming a 100% Renaissance plonker, and if you wish your children to have sufficient opportunity to kick, punch and bite other children, then you need to find other competent parents to share the burden. I’m told that the problem in Spain is that most home educators–whilst absolutely charming in their capacity as individual hippies, religious maniacs, conservative loons and fakirs–tend to view stuff like science and capitalism in a dim light. If there are progressive, libertarian, money-worshipping home educators out there, then they’re pretty well hidden. That’s a problem.
Next up: validation of knowledge and skills. The Spanish state distance education authority, CIDEAD, appears to provide help with schooling and access to exams, but only if you’re a wandering gypsy and if your education authority says it’s cool, which it most certainly won’t. I suppose if you could muster enough English-language-oriented kids, you could point them at British GCSEs etc. I’m quite willing to believe that the Americans have some kind of exam/testing system, adapted to distance education, but I know nothing about it. Or whether there’s a Spanish-language version.
In terms of self-help groups, La Asociación para la Libre Educación, ALE, looks interesting, as does Crecer sin Escuela, and there’s a whole bunch of others which will be duly investigated as and when doomsday approaches. Meanwhile, via Aspie HE, here’s Jim Hacker setting out to reform the British education system:
- Perspectives for home schooling in Catalonia
It’s looking good, and who the hell cares if it’s unconstitutional?
- Finches for sale
I’m beginning to suspect that some people come out walking principally for the bizarre drinking opportunities encountered on the way. This
- Barcelona’s greatest Dutch pop star
Siegfried Anton den Boer/Siegfried Andre Den Boer Kramer/Anthony van den Boer/Tony Ronald/Tonny Ronald etc, born Arnhem 1941/1943/1944, permanently resident in Barcelona
- Tolstoy’s finch, linnet mania, and a false etymology of “shibboleth”
The following description of birdsong contests is taken from Josep Pla’s brilliant anecdotography of Rafael Puget, Un señor de Barcelona, and
- Why London and Dublin are full of Spanish waitresses
Someone just sent me this job ad to illustrate the kind of shite people suffer in Barcelona. It’s a six month