Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Schulstress, Part 1

The documentary we helped to shoot back in March of this year aired tonight in Europe, and I'm really looking forward to seeing it, even though I can neither speak nor read a lick of German! 

Weltjournal / CNN correspondent Katinka Nowotny with (L to R) Waifa, Cayley, and Radia watching a playback of raw video footage in March

This journalistic foray is different from the ABC-TV segments we did in late 2008that was a story about factual events, whereas this piece is focused on the presentation of beliefs and values.  In a nutshell, the investigative reporting compares and contrasts child-rearing practices, especially with respect to educational choices and the division of responsibility between parents and children. 

As you know, we advocate a lifestyle that tends toward the free range end of the continuum and we petition where possible against the growing scourge of helicopter parenting

We also believe that the best educational option is public school with extensive family involvement.  I reject private school and home school alternatives because I believe they segregate children and send a message to them that the society that they will inherit doesn't measure up.  The question of whether or not society is "good enough" for our kids is a non sequitur of sorts: it IS our society - it's the only one we've got.  People should be striving to improve it by participating and contributing, rather than shunning it by fostering their own little divisive worlds, be they members-only "superior to the rest of you" childhood educational or religious realms or whatever.  I have little respect for attitudes to the contrary.

I digress.  The documentary is supposed to be posted on or near the URL given below for about a week starting this evening, but it's not up yet.  They mailed us a DVD from Austria, but I don't have that yet either.  In the meantime, here's the URL and, below that, I've posted my fractured translation of the teaser that's posted on it. 


The first school week begins. The race [to find] the best start[ing] place for… children in a globalized world stress[es] more and more parents. While the Austrian politic[ians] lose [themselves] in the dispute around teacher-competence questions, the demand climbs [for] private school place[ments]. In Germany, two new private schools open each week. For above all, parents of [financial] means [no longer] trust the public schools, [which] are often lower financed and overburdened, …to [prepare their] children [sufficiently] for life... For example, a [top] boarding school in the [desirable] area of Berlin costs 30,000 Euros per child. For this money, [a student-teacher ratio of 12:1 is never exceeded]. [Seventy] additional courses outside of the regular [public school curriculum of instruction] are offered. The school is run [by], and takes only, the best.
The trend to confront bab[ies] with [educational practices like these], in order to waste no valuable time, comes from America. At the Institute for Early Support in Philadelphia, [parents are recommended] to [enroll] two-month-old bab[ies] in [early education]. Three year-old Jake is instructed and can assign the names of the American presidents [by referencing their] pictures. His 6 year-old sister Cortney reads as a future management already out of the opera leader (??). Überfürsorgliche [Hyper-attentive??] parents drive [their] sons and daughters from activity to activity and plan [the lives] of [their] children in the appointment calendar [and worry that they are not doing] enough for the development of [their] children.
This phenomenon came from America [and is increasingly] noticeable [in Europe]. Katinka Nowotny, camera reporter [for] the World Journal, traveled to New York, Philadelphia, and Houston, Texas, and from Berlin to Torgelow in the German Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, to find out what parents do today… in order to make [their] children fit for life in a globalized world. In the USA, [there has been a rediscover[y of values that are] already [bucking the rigorous educational] trend: the movement 'Freerange kids' : These parents let [their children] freely run around, [and] remember… that the best school for life [is] still life itself.

1 comment:

  1. I love the line "The best school for life is life itself."

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