German free school teaches without grades, timetables or lesson plans

Yes, like every school, charter or not. As long as we force kids to temporarily memorize arbitrary curricula which has no meaning in their lives, there will be always be kids who get left behind.

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Btw. various forms of religious teaching are regular subjects in German public schools as well.

I think that daily acts of worship are still mandatory in UK schools (although mine didn’t bother and always got marked down in inspections because of that, and I imagine they were weren’t exceptional in that).

It can feel wrong, to new parents, to send their five- or six-year-old out to get processed through the conventional-education machine. The kid has had a free-form, unstructured life up until that point. That’s what the parents are used to.

But American parents who send their kids to weird alternative schools like this usually seem to end the experiment long before the oldest kid turns 18.

I think theology is a fascinating subject, but, like most subjects, is diminished when it’s made mandatory.

Gotta catch 'em all!


I mean that, in the case of charter schools, they syphon off the money and engaged parents that could be improving all schools and concentrate them in a few that benefit from that while the students at the other, conventional schools suffer from the lack of it.


fun fact: religious teaching is the only school class mentioned in the constitution.

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A few weeks ago, I had a conversation (about using some equipment) with stranger who seemed, um, normal at first.

After a while, when we ventured onto the subject of evolution (I have no recollection of how), I found out just how magical this person’s ‘thinking’ was, and just how much what possibly was overt racism was justified by not understanding evolution. No, simple conversation isn’t enough.


At eight years of age I read A. S. Neill’s ‘The Last Man Alive’ while already severely failing at being a pupil.
Summerhilll would have been the school for me. (Passing fifth grade was my highest achievement in education and it took me six years.)
Forced daily religious indoctrination and mandatory Silenzio Saturdays would disqualify my former self.


The assertion that parents who choose to enroll their kids in charter schools are harming kids of parents who don’t is lacking any evidence to support it.

It is true that kids without parents who care about their education often suffer in public schools, but that responsibility rests on the shoulders of the public education system, not the parents who actually care about their kids’ education.

The way that the education system spends its resources is not a law of nature. It can, and should, be changed.

In other words, one should blame the failing system, not the parents who are abandoning it.

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I’m not sure what your experience with a person who rejects the evidence of evolution has to do with assessing the education of kids.

The fact is that even if a larger and larger percentage of the populace didn’t accept the evidence for evolution year after year, it would still be relatively easy to assess whether or not a student was learning what all people need to know (reading, writing, arithmetic).

Considering the fact that nearly one out of five high school graduates are functionally illiterate, it seems rather silly to focus on whether or not students’ personal beliefs are conducive towards accepting the progress made possible by the scientific method.

If a student is a racist, simple conversations are a better remedy than testing their ability to regurgitate the facts we insist that they temporarily memorize.

I think we should work on the basics (reading, writing, arithmetic) before we decide that every single student needs to believe that evolution happened.

Adults who can’t read or write or figure simple percentages are a much bigger problem than adults who don’t understand genetics.

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Plenty of studies show exactly how charter schools harm public schools. And it’s not just that syphoning off involved parents (who provide benefits for all the students at their children’s schools) harms the schools that are now lacking them (though this is true), but charters also shed their struggling students back into the public schools while at the same time public schools end up losing revenue.


I don’t know, pretty much every HR drone I ever met operated on nothing much but prejudices.

Of course, that’s not necessarily a disadvantage. Public schools can be terrible, and a more open school may be great for personal development. But it can also produce a not-so-well grounded fuzz head. I’ve met first year university students who went to a Walldorf school. Some of them are rather … unfocused. Outspoken, but unfocused.

And I’m pretty certain being indoctrinated with any religious belief system as a kid is at best a waste of time, if not harmful.

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Perhaps, but how many HR people have a strong opinion on that specific school? It doesn’t say on the diploma that that’s the weird one. In practice it is overwhelmingly about the type of degree and the grade, in that order. And for the degree that qualifies for college the students take the exact same exams as all other students in the state anyway.

I don’t mean to advocate for that school. I just think that you may be overestimating the relevance of the school name on the diploma based on other education systems.

And I’m pretty certain being indoctrinated with any religious belief system as a kid is at best a waste of time, if not harmful.

Possibly. My point was that the difference from other schools is much smaller than it may seem.

Just as is the case here, with you, it can take multiple long conversations to tease out someone’s complete lack of understanding of a subject. Here, I blame myself, I should have been clearer: I wasn’t talking about her racism, I was talking about just how much she didn’t understand how evolution works.

My point was, and still is, that ‘simple conversations’ are not enough. Besides, do the teachers have time to spend one or two hours every few weeks with each student to properly assess their progress? (I suppose you could argue that, since they’re not teaching at all, they have time to asses…)

Self-directed learning might sound like a good idea to some but to me and it might be fine for some subjects, but it presents a logical problem: how can a student, who know little about a subject, decide what’s important but not interesting.

One example I keep coming across: really bad translations of English text into French. Obviously the people who approve and pay for these translations don’t speak French or speak it about as fluently as Clement von Franckenstein does in that skin-crawlingly bad scene from The American President.

I;ve seen enough self-evaluation of what’s what that I’ve come to distrust it.

Well, that’s rather condescending.

I understood that. I simply disagreed as to its importance.

One or two hours? I think 10-20 minutes would be enough for an experienced educator.

I wouldn’t argue that.

“How?” is an interesting question, and an important one. But that it’s been happening is well documented. Not for all students, but there are a lot who know more about what they need than the adults who reflexively assume otherwise.

Pretending that incestuous religious fundamentalists represent what self-guided learning is all about is as intellectually honest as pretending that Stalin represents what social safety nets are all about.

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I disagree. It’s true that families who choose charter schools move their students’ money from unsatisfactory schools to satisfactory alternatives. But it’s an objective fact that the schools which are failing poor and middle class families have been doing so since long before charter schools came into existence, and that thousands of lower and middle class families want alternatives. Public schools don’t need charters to be “harmed.” Bad public school systems have been harming students since forever.

Funding is not the problem. Some of the very worst schools in the U.S. (D.C., New York) have higher per-pupil spending than all but one or two other public school systems in the world.

Let me assure you that I don’t think charter schools are a panacea. I don’t care for their models and I would only have sent my son to one if he had insisted on it. But blaming alternatives to public schools for the failure of public schools to satisfy low and middle class families for decades is like blaming secularism for immorality. Immorality, like bad education, has always existed. Secularism, like charter schools, is merely one choice people can try to make in their families’ lives as a response to traditionalism and institutionalism.

I make the comparison to religion because I believe that education is as personal as religion. I believe the mind is as personal as the body. Because I’m a liberal, I believe in “my body, my choice.” Therefore, I believe in “my mind, my choice.”

Some charter schools get rid of poorly performing students. That’s wrong. But to pretend that public schools don’t do the same is no different than pretending that police brutality is due to a few bad apples. It defies the evidence of the last century. I worked for years specifically with kids who were kicked out of public schools because they were performing badly.

There are fantastic public schools and terrible public schools. There are fantastic charter schools and terrible charter schools. Picking one or the other to demonize is to choose ideology over evidence.

(Personally, I think both models are terrible, but that’s a different discussion. :slight_smile:)


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