Teacher’s Corner: Homeschooling

Content note: Child abuse

Homeschooling is generally illegal in Germany and the longer Corona goes on, the clearer those reasons become.

A)For one thing, not all homes have the same resources. Right now you notice a stark difference in what schools can do with remote teaching. Some schools, mostly “Gymnasien” which are the elite schools in the horribly stratified German school system with a generally well off clientele are doing some fantastic things with Google Teams and all that shit. Us? Not so much. We made sure we contacted all families individually to make sure they can access learning material. In some cases that means that I print that shit out at home and send it off by mail. I’m currently telling myself that the cost is set off by not having to commute, but of course not all teachers will do that. And that’s just accessing learning material. Children still need support and an occasional explanation. I’m a teacher and kind of a “Jane of all trades” since in special ed you teach basically all subjects, though the focus is usually on Maths and German, neither of which are the subjects I actually studied. Not only do I learn easily and have years of training in teaching, but also in learning, so I know where to find resources if I’m stuck. Like yesterday when I had to do a quick recap in mechanics before working on it with #1.

Many of my students’ parents didn’t finish even the lowest school leaving cert themselves. For them school was not a good place and they are not able to do the schoolwork themselves, let alone explain it. Many don’t speak German (well) and at least one single mum is illiterate. Homeschooling massively increases injustices in education. Kids of well off, well educated parents keep learning. On the whole their situation is much less stressful right now. My kids have different rooms, there’s a garden I can send them to, for now I don’t have to worry about money or food and we have plenty of entertainment.

B) Parents are not teachers. Not even the parents who actually are teachers. Parents and teachers have different roles and relationships with a child and each of these relationships has a different conflicts. For one thing, while I am very involved in my students’ wellbeing and care for them a lot, they cannot hurt me emotionally in a profound way. While they can annoy me and even make me angry at times, I generally don’t take it personally (they often do, but they’re teenagers so they take the weather personally as well). There’s the kid who has called me all kinds of names and I frankly care more about him getting his anger under control because once he leaves school he’ll be in a hell lot of trouble for calling his boss a b*tch. With my kids things are very different. They can hurt me. they can make me worry on a whole different level. And vice versa. If I teach them at home and there’s some problem and some fight over schoolwork, they cannot go home to a safe place afterwards and complain about fucking Ms Giliell. And right now, having a safe place is much more important than ever. This would always be a problem with homeschooling, but in the current crisis, the relationship between parents and their children is so crucial, it cannot be sacrificed to algebra. When I talk to parents on the phone I tell them that this is the most important thing. School will still be there after Corona. Maths will still be there. But their relationship might not be.

C) Some teachers just don’t get it. While across the country teachers are (rightfully) snickering at parents who are currently finding out that maybe the teacher isn’t the problem, there are also teachers who show no understanding for the problems I talked about in 1 and 2. There’s a video I’ve been sent where a teen dressed up as a teacher is going “oh, homework will help them so here’s my Corona remote teaching: Do every single task and exercise from page 1 to 349! This will be graded”. My social media is full with parents being desperate about not meeting deadlines and kids crying about schoolwork.

Yesterday I was like “are they fucking kidding me” when I printed out #1’s science lessons. Not only does the teacher expect people to have a colour printer, they also expect to learn all of mechanics all by themselves. These kids have never had even the most basic lesson about power, force, mass etc. and all those other important concepts you need to understand shit like levers and stuff. Nobody is telling me that they would have been able to cover all of that in 7 lessons at school. And honestly, I needed 30 minutes of preparation before I was safe enough in using the correct terms. I also bribed her, saying that her Easter gift would come as soon as we finished this because I know that this is the thing she likes the least and she’s struggling anyway, not because she’s having trouble grasping those ideas, but because she’s on the spectrum and needs her clear structure.

Apart from that it’s difficult for teachers to asses if their worksheets are working. In class I can read the room. I can see on the faces whether something makes “click” or not, I know where to look (Is little Jeanie still paying attention and what do I need to do to get her attention). With remote learning there’s little chance of that. Many kids will ask in class, but not write an email. And yeah, even veteran teachers occasionally produce bad material. To be honest, with #1’s physics worksheets I was occasionally wondering what they want me to do. And next on the list is calculating “work”. The formula remains obscure. It has not appeared in the book pages she’s supposed to read or the worksheets up to date. She will learn about it at some later time. I’m not sure if spoilers should be a thing in physics.

And this is the most damning point: child abuse:

D) In schools, daycare, all those institutions, people see kids every day. We notice if kids don’t have food. We notice if they have bruises. I remember a mother who accused us of not having noticed sooner that her daughter was cutting herself (after we informed her, the mother, who shares a household with her daughter). We notice if they don’t have clothes or don’t come to school at all because they need to “take care” of their parents who struggle and don’t manage to give their kids the care they need. Occasionally we just plain feed them. I sometimes complain about the days when I spend more time with adults on the phone than with kids in the classroom, talking to CPS, social workers, therapists. I write “notifications of child endangerment”. None of this is happening right now. CPS is mostly shut down right now. They cannot visit families at home. If they have concrete evidence, they can send the police who are absolutely not trained in those matters (and ironically kids in good middle class homes are most at danger here because if police come to a nice home with well fed kids they won’t do shit.) All of this is happening while people are packed in bad living conditions, struggling financially. Many charities have stopped working while some still try do give at least some support. Children are no longer getting meals at school. Welfare money is already not enough and now those families lose that safe 1 buck hot meal that their children got so far. In some schools it’s even more as for example the special eds centre I belong to (but don’t work at) offers free breakfast as well. We know that while there#s never an excuse for beating your kids, such situations lead to an increase in violence. We have already seen this in China, and children are the most vulnerable. As one CPS worker who still staffs the crisis hotline said: “a four years old can’t dial my number.”


  1. says

    In my opinion, one of the main arguments against home schooling is that a single parent cannot know all the subjects well enough to teach them to a child. My mother has a master’s degree in engineering. She is well educated. Still, when I was 9 years old, she could help me with homework, because it was simple enough, but by the time I was 17, it was absolutely useless to ask her questions about my homework, because she had absolutely no clue what any of these tasks even meant.

    Home schooling is illegal in Latvia. Whenever I hear about the practice happening in the USA, I keep wondering what kind of genius parents they must have in order to know well enough all the usual school subjects. Of course, the answer is obvious, these are no genius parents, instead the children simply fail to get decent education. A rich parent can hire qualified private teachers, but the average Christian parent out there isn’t even doing that, they just leave their children uneducated.

  2. Jazzlet says

    One thing that Johnson and co have got right is that children entitled to school meals, and children of essential workers can still go to school to get those meals and/or* to be in a safe environment while their parents work. Otherwise, yes al this is just as true here.
    * Being an essential worker doesn’t always mean you get enough pay to cover the needs of your family, so you can be working and still entitled to benefits, which quite honestly stinks, especially when it means the state is subsidising businesses that do not pay their workers adequately.

  3. rq says

    Homescgoolongbis not illegal here, but it is fairly strictly controlled (e.g. they have to follow the state-established curriculum). Still, it’s a far cry from preparing and planning homeschooling in advance, to beimg expected to follow someone else’s program that is also set out for 25+ other kids on short notice. Never mind 3 kids, all at different stages of learning and ability. We’ve always appreciated teachers in this family (3 out of 4 grandparents are/were teachers), but never more than right now.
    On the plus side, the offspring are looking forward to going back to school.
    ♥ to you, Giliell. Best of luck!

  4. says


    On the plus side, the offspring are looking forward to going back to school.

    Yep, here as well. Not just the offspring, me too.

    We got emergency daycare for children of “essential workers”, but it’s very limited. Though, at my school there’s currently one place taken out of 15. Poor kid gets to sit in a classroom all day with a teacher who is not allowed to teach (ministry of education trying to “make things equal” banned teachers from teaching or helping with schoolwork in schools. Which is somewhat ridiculous, as I am available for help from home for those who are at home). But most of the kids who got subsidised meals here don’t have two working parents and the daycare is limited to kids up to 12 anyway. Which does make sense because a 12 years old who is not sick can stay alone at home, even if a million helicopter parents are getting a mild heart attack.

  5. voyager says

    Homeschooling should be outlawed, where public schools exist. It’s used as a way to indoctrinate children and limit their exposure to ideas. It’s of great value to have professional teachers teach. It’s also of value for a child to have access to a number of different teachers during one’s education. It’s also good to be among one’s peer group.

  6. says

    These kids have never had even the most basic lesson about power, force, mass etc.

    It’s, simple, isn’t it? If you use the Force, you have unlimited Power! [see S. Palpatine et al, ‘On the Political Applications of Force’, 2005]

  7. says


    Would be nice to do something about the prison-style let-them-fight structure though.

    Most definitely. I’m the last person who doesn’t acknowledge that our current education systems have massive issues (not exactly the same everywhere, but similar ones in most places).
    One of the biggest problems in school though, is that kids come with a number of issues that originate outside of school, and with schools having damn few means to change anything. Last year I had a kid who’d been diagnosed with ADHD five (!) times and whose mother adamantly refused to do anything about it. Both of them were in some sort of symbiotic delusional relationship where you had to document every single interaction. I still think of that kid.
    Or kids with traumata. Or kids who are just plain old bullies but smart enough to always act within the realm of plausible deniability and whose parents always side with their kids.
    And currently they’re all left with no one outside their families and you can imagine how much I worry about them.

  8. Tomas Virgin says

    The current shutdown has severely disrupted support systems for institutions such as schools and daycares, putting vulnerable children at greater risk. Without regular contact, it becomes increasingly difficult to detect signs of neglect or abuse. CPS is largely understaffed and charities are struggling to meet the growing needs. With school closures, children are not only deprived of education, but also vital resources such as food, making an already dire situation worse. This increases the risk of violence and harm, especially for children in dysfunctional households https://www.sitejabber.com/reviews/paper24.com can offer extra help to students with homework and writing papers for every student

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