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Related Categories: U.S. | Education & Student Activism
The Viral Death of School
by Bertrand Stern
Saturday Jul 31st, 2021 7:34 AM
A real improvement in the school system could only come from a change in the underlying conception of man. Children must be treated as human beings with their own dignity and rights - not as stuffed geese that can be filled with knowledge of the state at will.
The Viral Death of School
It's not enough to homeschool children "because of Corona" now - what's needed is a paradigm shift toward self-directed learning.
by Bertrand Stern
[This article published on 5/21/2021 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/der-virustod-der-schule.]

Such rigid compulsory attendance usually exists only in prisons. With school enrollment, citizens learn early on to feel not as autonomous beings but as objects of caring paternalism. They learn that it is not they themselves but adult "authorities" who have to decide on their whereabouts, posture and focus of attention. In this respect, Corona could have been a signal of liberation because the viral fear temporarily returned children to the care of their parents. This took some of the power over souls away from curriculum-based educators and placed the process more firmly in the hands of the mother and father. Unfortunately, there were other drawbacks associated with the homeschooling craze: Parents were relegated to volunteer assistant teachers, with no regard for their nerves or other obligations. Children were snatched away from their usual social setting. Once again, citizens - students and parents alike - experienced themselves as objects of the state's power of disposal. A real improvement in the school system could only come from a change in the underlying conception of man. Children must be treated as human beings with their own dignity and rights - not as stuffed geese that can be filled with knowledge of the state at will.

Sitting between all chairs may be quite uncomfortable at times; sometimes it is a salvation when the chairs turn out to be dangerous ejector seats which, in a critical situation, could transport those sitting on them into an uncertain nothingness.
So far, with regard to the school, the situation was relatively clearly polarized. On the one side were the majority supporters of an ideology of schooling; in defense of the institution of schooling, there was an apparently unbreakable agreement between school bureaucracy, school authorities, "fighters" on the "pedagogical front" of the school on the one hand, and the parents on the other.
Those directly affected, namely the young people who had been made pupils, played no role here; they had to submit to the well-meaning forced pacification without complaint, to submit, even to gratefully enjoy it. On the other hand, a few people were looked at askance like "strange birds" because they - for whatever reason - rejected the compulsory schooling of their offspring: Did they really want to endanger the future of the so-called children, to obstruct it for them?

For the majority of people, it was unthinkable, unimaginable, that young people were entitled to unconditional respect for their human and fundamental rights, and that they should therefore not be degraded to objects of coercive state measures, to "pupils" of an education that was generally taken for granted.

However, a third group that emerged in those times should not be concealed. This group was readily used to justify the normality of school and to discredit those who refused to go to school: Religious groups in particular wanted to stand up to the democratic state and its school authorities with primarily biblical motives by opposing the bad institution of school, which was corrupting their offspring, in particular with home schooling.

To be able to sell this better, an English vocabulary was introduced for this: "homeschooling." The confusion of the religious - or ideological - zealots and representatives of "homeschooling" with the aforementioned objectors, which was maintained in the public and in many media, continued in the judiciary, which is why there were convictions there as well as there. What a truly momentous confusion!

From part-time prison school to full-time prison family?
But Corona - or what it stands for - changed everything in 2020. With regard to schooling, the previously thought impossible breaking of one of the most important taboos in German society took place: Suddenly, the almost sacred compulsory school attendance was lifted. How many proceedings had been initiated in the past to ensure its preservation, mostly with the formulation: "You are charged with not having made sufficient provision for the proper school attendance of your daughter ... /your son ..."

But suddenly the mothers or/and fathers dismissed into the home office became responsible, yes responsible for the proper schooling within the family.
e! - the mother, who is already under-utilized with the household - insofar as she has still been able to escape the alleged temptations of the job market and of earning equal money! - slip into the role of the teacher and teach the offspring at the kitchen table - another common prejudice! - teach the new generation in such a way that its alleged future - that is good notes for a good Abitur for a good study place for a successful job with much money ... - is not endangered. And for this purpose, all those involved, i.e. teachers, students and parents, should now pull together and rely on the wonders of electronics.

Suddenly, it should no longer be necessary to forcibly rouse our offspring from their sleep early in the morning and "send" them to school - send? What a treacherous term! Otherwise we send letters or parcels ... Isn't it very clumsy to send a loved one?! -Suddenly they stay at home around the clock and should be looked after there by those who, following alleged constraints, sent them to school day after day.

In view of the fact that for many mothers and fathers it was too much, the squaring of the circle, there could only be one solution: to reopen the school as quickly as possible, no matter what the cost, without regard for losses, even if it meant willingly submitting to the regulations, i.e. with a test, with a mask, with AHA rules and much more.

Whether this has psychological-emotional, physical, social consequences, even causes a creeping traumatization? Whether this is also detrimental to the experience of knowledge and skills? Didn't someone proclaim that this was "without alternative"? Where would we end up if the offspring were offered the possibility of not submitting to these measures without insight into the given necessity ...?

At this point a detail should be inserted: From the dreamlike imaginations of some parents came the hope that it might be better for their offspring to enroll them in one of the schools with an allegedly different pedagogical plan instead of a state one, for which now and then even a lot of money had to be paid. In this "pandemic situation" alone, all the schools were homogenized, compulsorily subjected to the same measures. For according to the unambiguous Basic Law Article 7.1: "the entire school system falls under the supervision of the state," any arrangement of school, whether state, private or - not permitted - home schooling, is to be permitted, administered, sanctioned by the school authorities.

Health versus narrative?
Yes, but ... In this tricky situation, not all mothers and/or fathers spurred as they were expected to. Some were bold enough not to sacrifice the health of their offspring to the imperative - or in new German fashion, the rampant narrative - of an apparent pandemic. For them, it was not a matter of course to accept all the obviously health-endangering, sometimes inhuman, degrading regulations: for example, the testing, the resulting possible quarantine, the distance regulations, the restrictions on social relationships.

Even the previously valid argument of wanting to continue attending the school, which was even regulated in this way, because of the direct contact with friends in the class, lost its validity after the very social contacts that were so important had been cut off!

So what to do or not to do, when the beloved daughter/son signaled to feel quite uncomfortable under the imposed Corona measures, even to become ill? Certainly, the once explicitly, once subtly articulated refusal attitude of the daughter/son became an untenable situation for some of the mothers and/or fathers concerned: Should they stand unbendingly by the school system or unbendingly by the decision of their "rebellious" daughters and sons?

Status "subject" or status "object"?
Faced with the new school realities, some mothers and/or fathers, insofar as they are able to muster the necessary sensitivity for this, will have clearly recognized that the measures taken in connection with both Corona and schooling are based on the assumption of a defective, deficient, infantilized being. This object - typologically speaking - needs constant authority and, consequently, owes its naked survival to "Father State", whose wise care may protect it from the rigors of dangerous existence.

Is this the image of man that our Basic Law enshrines as binding? Not out of good-naturedness or opportunistic confidence, but out of historical experience, it postulates that man is a fundamentally healthy, open subject, willing to live, who must not be denied personal, social, factual and professional competences.

It must be emphasized here that subject and object are not polar opposites like cold and warm, day and night, summer and winter or ebb and flow. For man is and always remains a subject, even if he assumes and plays the object role. By whatever means it is possible for him to break out of this assumed object role and to feel and behave as a subject again. But why should people born as subjects be artificially trained to become objects by a laborious, painful process of well-education? Only because obsolete "norms of civilizational normality" ideologically prescribed this?

In the context of our topic, an essential competence ensuring the "survival of life" is the gained (knowledge) of the immunological abilities of the organism. To affirm this, however, means not to weaken the human being in his immunity, not to turn him into a health-crippled patient in need of help and consequently not to alienate him into a permanent consumer of pharmaceutical profit interests.

People should be encouraged, supported in their innate immunity, which includes hygiene. The word hygiene, which comes from the Greek "hygieiné" and originally stood for the good life, for a healthy lifestyle, should not be confused with the now widely practiced, truly pathogenic sterility mania: What if, for example, the incessant disinfection of the hands - quite apart from the emotional side effects associated with it! - even reduces or destroys the natural defense function of the skin and the healthy reaction to external factors?

Unexpected support from the German Medical Association?
Health? At this point, the resolution, the so-called "Beschlussprotokoll", of the "124th German Medical Congress" held in Berlin on May 4/5, 2021, should be mentioned: In the "Ärztetags-Drucksache Nr.I - 19" the following demand is raised:
"The right to education with daycare and school attendance can only be secured in the winter of 2021/2022 with a timely COVID-19 vaccination. Without timely vaccination, especially for younger children, a renewed lockdown for this age group will lead to further serious negative consequences for child mental development.
Families with children regain equal participation in society only with vaccinated children."

That a medical association indirectly demands a "vaccination through" of all children - mind you: with a not sufficiently tested, falsely called vaccination - as a condition for the possibility of a participation in life, even as a condition for the acquisition of a right to education, is in itself alarming; much more scandalous might be the subtle way in which the medical profession allows itself to be instrumentalized uncritically but compliantly to the extended arm of the pharmaceutical industry.

The fact that this resolution possibly has three advantages, however, can certainly not be seen as an intention to be imputed to the Physicians' Congress! Which are these positive side effects?

With innumerable physicians this resolution met with clear refusal. The horror triggered and publicly expressed among them shows two things: First, that some doctors no longer identify with their professional association - to which they are obliged to belong! - Corporatism has become fragile. Second, that the attempt by politicians and the executive to bring the "guild" into line is having the opposite effect, in that resistance is growing to ever more nonsensical, unsecured measures that are largely contrary to human rights. It is becoming clear that there are still doctors in this country who are not prepared to endanger the lives of our offspring. Incidentally, this resistance also applies to other areas: As is well known, judges - who have been severely attacked, but who are sincere - have judged according to the law for human beings - and not according to what the political system would have wished or demanded of them!

Constraints or not: For some mothers and/or fathers, who until now were not so critical of the school system, the limit of what is reasonable for their offspring has been exceeded. Not only the well-being of the young people was and is endangered, but also their future life. For many parents it has become evident that they will not be taken in by the slogans of the generally propagated hysteria and that they will do everything possible to protect their offspring from harm. Under certain circumstances, this may also mean that they will support a possible refusal to continue going to school under these conditions.

The last point raises a fundamental and constitutional issue that could undoubtedly be of decisive weight in a well-managed court case. In its resolution, the German Physicians' Congress starts from similar premises as, for example, the school authorities: They postulate that man, because he is young, is a "child," i.e., an immature object in need of guidance and education; since parents are fundamentally denied the ability to care for the well-being of this object, "Father State" here grants itself the right to educational involvement: in the form of the school. As explained elsewhere, here two parties negotiate to the detriment of an absent third party, which becomes the object of the affliction and may even show gratitude for it. What happens, however, when the parents step out of this "dirty deal" and suddenly realize that their daughter/son is a self-determined, dignified, competent subject from the very beginning? If they investigate further, it will be revealed to them that our Basic Law - which is still valid until proven otherwise - postulates just this centrally: the human being as a subject! The constitutionally in such a way embodied forbids also a democratic state system to offend against basic and human rights, but also against ratified international conventions. To degrade the human being to an object proves to be simply unconstitutional: In a free democratic way of life, all state agencies, authorities, administrations have to respect and protect the human being in his subject status first and foremost. It is simply incompatible with this to educate him as an object by force, i.e. against the expressed will of the person concerned.

Even if this is meanwhile a jurisprudentially secured theory, the practice again depends on the one hand on the clever legal argumentation, which was preceded by a cleverly worked out and implied strategy for the defense of school authority - and if necessary youth welfare department - encroachment; On the other hand, it depends on a - mostly high - court that does not see and understand itself as a shill of the traditional and tabooed system, but as the corrective "third power" in the state, as the guardian of fundamental basic and human rights.

It should be emphasized here that it has not only been possible to obtain a dismissal or even an acquittal in fine proceedings; there have already been groundbreaking judgments, decisions by higher courts that have not taken the position of the school authorities precisely in questions of a young person's refusal to attend school: For example, in family court proceedings surrounding a school truancy, the accusation of an "imminent threat to the welfare of the child" - and the possible partial or total withdrawal of custody tied to it - was clearly rejected.

Nevertheless, truancy in itself is not a goal, but at best the beginning of a complex process: the radical breakout from the "norms of normality", i.e. from the usual well-behavedness as a starting point for change?

Moments of change?
Change? There is no lack of critical voices that see in the "Corona-P(l)andemy" a preliminary exercise for the end of the free democratic basic order: 70 years after the promulgation of the Basic Law, the Federal Republic is sliding straight into a new kind of global dictatorship. Fortunately, however, there are also other voices that see in the dramatic events of recent months a last gasp of a system that has been completely eaten away inside and out: Our bourgeois civilization will disappear in favor of a completely different way of life that comprehensively observes and respects the human being.

Nobody can foresee and predict when and what this obsolete system might break. But it should be clear that, first of all, it would be absurd to prepare our beloved daughters and sons for a supposed "future" that will never exist.

The humorists used to say that the future is not what it used to be either.... And that, secondly, it will certainly not depend on scholastic well-behavedness, but on fundamental human qualities such as: being creative, social competence, an awareness of health and joy of life ... and other factors, all of which are not only not on the school curriculum, but are downright frowned upon in the institution of school, therefore driven out. Alone, if the already initiated change is to be realized instead of forfeited, it requires actors who are conscious subjects.

It could be that most of the "adults" living in this country have been traumatized educationally, which is why they are unable to react in any other way than panic in the face of the events pouring in on them. The generally entertained Corona hysteria, however, need not necessarily be our inheritance to our daughters and sons; rather, Corona could be the decisive moment when mature and determined people bid farewell to imposed infantility and offer resistance. If there is little hope for this resistance to succeed, it is precisely our offspring who will have opportunities as soon as they can develop freely and with dignity instead of being artificially infantilized.

I am not naive. Nor am I a professional optimist. When I see around me the behavior and relationship of many mothers and fathers with their offspring, I could cry. But it is not a matter of majorities, but of determined few who know or sense exactly which factors will bring about this change. Perhaps a central factor - representative of others - might be the unconditional loving affection for the offspring. Should Corona result in masses of people degenerating into apathetic sheep, meagerly maintained by the state until everything collapses, then it is significant for conscious people to know why they reject the perverse measures dictated from above, which are intended to degrade them into compliant objects: whether it is a matter of "AHA", of tests or of so-called vaccinations, or of other things such as compulsory schooling.

The constitution of the state of Hesse states in Art. 2, Sentence 1: "Man is free." Isn't it first and foremost up to us to give reality to this statement?

Bertrand Stern is a philosopher. He sees in freelancing both the self-commitment to a freedom-creating reflection and a free activity not bound to any institution. The focus of his work critical of civilization is self-liberation from ideologies and institutions, especially in the form of criticism of schools and education. In 2017 he founded the foundation "Frei Sich Bilden". He initiated the feature film "CaRabA #LebenohneSchule", the first feature film of people freely educating themselves in a world without school.
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