22. des, 2016

Alternative education - on a new-totalitarian road?

Public education has for many decades been critized for being a totaly state governance, linked up to global capitalism through the concept of New Public Management (NPM).

Alternative education like home education, democratic schools, religious schools. charter schools etc. have an idealistic startpoint of freedom.

But do these movements today represent identity-projects for both liberal and religious middleclass` farewell to ordinary people? Do such movements increasingly are parts of international oriented big scale private educational systems, that segregate from society and increasingly try to implement their actors in to example fundamentalistic christian and islamic movements, as political projects? Such hypothesis  of course need to be controlled by a double filter for conspiration-theory. But over time and hypothesis-control, it still seems like valid questions.

In USA there is now about 2 million students receiving home education. Most of them are conservative Christians. About 15 % are in private/charterschools.Many of them operating with a separate "Christian" curriculum.(Michels 2015).

In Norway home education is a micro-phenomena with only about 300 students. There is about 3000 students in christian freeschools that can be called conservative Christians. Both as a small-scale phenomena in Norway and and large-scale in USA, new discussions are raised.

 It grows up in the United States a national competitive educational system to the public. Conservative Christian universities/colleges, for instance Patrick Henry College (Apple 2015) specializes in providing Christian-educational-programs, not only for obligated education, but for the total education, including higher education. Home educators- and others are encouraged to start private schools after the same concept.

The islamic Gülen movement has created more than 1000 "gülen-schools" in more then 100 countries, 140 as charters schools i USA and also two in Norway as montessori schools.

The Gülen-movement has a strategy for getting access and develop into national educational school-societies. Gulen-schools were closed by president Erdogan after the coup in Turkey (July-16) 

It is almost paradoxical that parents starting with small private schools or home education to avoid an indoctrinating secular public state-school, ending up in an educational system with religious indoctrination aims, for an entire education.

It is striking how these new educational systems have replaced knowledge with competance and skills. Knowledge seems like a dangerous concept. Skills are in public today valued positively, it stifles down the impression of an excessive theoretical school. Skills and competencies relate to learning useful practice. Knowledge and theory associates with academic abstractions and liberal indentity-politics.

Knowledge embraces wider and deeper than skills and competences and relates to values and reflections. Having a break-down of navigation electronics on a boat, it's okay to know anything about stars, directions and local reefs. In crises in a society you are quite helplessly without knowing its true history. You have to know the value- and institutional-basis for a modern democratic society.

When knowledge wing-clips to skills and competance, schools prepare students to become useful, socially successful, but also uncritical citizens.Today new educational ideologies and systems seem to replace knowledge by skills and competance, but most of all by religious theory from holy-books, to example Christian creation theory as knowledge and islamic rules for living.

The main question is: How far will you let new totalitarian educational systems dominate in a democratic society, with secular public institutions to realize human rights, equality and good enough knowledge in the population?

Today the freedom-projects in altenative education. to example home education, operate in a new context. Migration and and economical problems wiith globalization give new radical challanges also in education.The public educational system must be srengthend. But this must be done not in a NPM (global-capitalstic) way, not in a social-liberal, identity political way and not in a totalitarian religious way. And still home education is a necesserry human right. That is the new challenge.


Apple, M. W. (2015). Education as God wants It: Gender, Labour and Home Schooling. In: Rothermel, P. (ed). International Perspectives on Home Education - do we still need schools? Palgrave. Hampshire.

Michels, P. (2015) A House Divided. Observer 20 April.