Are Autonomy And Self-invention Possible In Hegel’s Sittlichkeit Thesis?

SittlichkeitThe aim of this post is to put forward my interpretation of Hegel’s notion of Sittlichkeit[1] that he has described in his Elements of the Philosophy of Right (1820), and how this notion is problematic for individual autonomy. In this post I will employ the word ‘autonomy’ as the individual sovereignty for personal self-invention. This is in line with the Nietzschean notion of self-invention which is radically revolved around the emancipative powers of the individual.[2]

I pay particular attention to the relationship between the individual and the community. Hegel’s notion of Sittlichkeit implies that individuals will find their self-realization in the communal ethical sphere. However, I will argue that it neglects those individuals who desire to distance themselves from the commune. As a result, the following question will be tackled: can man be truly autonomous in Hegel’s Sittlichkeit?

In order to state my position, I will firstly discuss Hegel’s conception of freedom and Sittlichkeit. From this perspective, I will subsequently assess why there is no space for individual self-invention in Sittlichkeit.

It is necessary to first understand what Hegel’s notion of freedom is, since freedom is inextricably linked with autonomy.

It is worth noting that Hegel’s notion of freedom differs from the common-sense conception of freedom as the “ability to do what we please” (Hegel, §15, p. 27). He asserts that freedom is “the worthiest and holiest thing in man” (Hegel, §215, p. 273). The development of freedom, according to Hegel, is the aim of history, and man will only be free when he feels recognized and at home in a world that allows him to act in the interest of himself and simultaneously in the interest of everyone else in the world. Hegel explains how the individual’s pursuit of self-interest is protected in the first part of his Elements of the Philosophy of Right, named ‘abstract right’. Part two, under the heading ‘morality’, discusses how individuals feel at home in a world that permits them to take responsibility for their own self-interested pursuits. The third part, which is about Sittlichkeit, tells us that ethical life is guided with reason and when we act in accordance to this reason we will find freedom. (Rose, 2007, p. 105) Hegel believes in a teleological end of history where we will eventually enter a kingdom of freedom that is ruled with divine reason (Dyde, 1894, pp. 663-664). He writes that “[T]he state is absolutely rational” (Hegel, §257, p. 155) and that “[T]he state is the actuality of concrete freedom” (Hegel, §260, p. 160). Only in that world are there no obstacles anymore that limit man in his self-realization. Hegel stresses two important things about such a kingdom: one, only a state can provide the space of law in which individuals can live in freedom; and two, without mutual recognition there can impossibly be a confirmation of what I am and hence I cannot truly feel at home in the world, nor be free. This means that social and political institutions must acknowledge our needs as human beings and speak to those needs. Hegel thus has a different view of liberty than Rousseau who, when talking about the state, argues that “they have made an artificial man, which we call a commonwealth; so, also have they made artificial chains, called ‘civil laws’.” (Dyde, 1894, pp. 661-662) Man, in Rousseau’s eyes, becomes corrupted by society’s laws, and is faced with the dilemma of either pursuing his own self-interests and determining his own values or becoming corrupted by society which culture coincides with the interests of a particular class of people. However, he still believes that man can be free if he lives his own laws and desires what is moral. (Rose, 2007, p. 47) Hegel on the other hand, believes that the individual can only achieve absolute freedom when he is positioned in particular societal contexts. In Sittlichkeit, absolute freedom is achieved through the unity of the self with the society while the society operates on an objective rationality. The two antithetical conceptions of absolute freedom, one radically revolved around the individual’s self-government or self-invention and the other around the individual’s particular position in society, play a crucial role in this post. Later in the post, I will contend that there is no room for individual self-invention in Hegel’s Sittlichkeit and that the individual therefore cannot be truly autonomous.

Hegel distinguishes subjective freedom from objective freedom. Subjective freedom is the freedom enjoyed by the individual who critically reflects on his subjective desires and satisfactions in his actions or determinations. The objectively free individual is one who has the right determinations that are prescribed by reason. The absolutely free individual possesses both subjective and objective freedoms. Both freedoms are existent in Sittlichkeit, and can only be achieved through participation in Sittlichkeit. (Patten, 1999, pp. 35-36) Moreover, the social institutions in Sittlichkeit like the family, civil society, and the state are rationally endorsed by the individual who desires his rights. (Rose, 2007, p. 49) Hegel states: “man discovers within himself as a ‘fact of his consciousness’ that right, property, the state, etc., are objects of his volition” (Knox, Par. 19A, p. 29). At the same time, his desires are universal and serve all members of Sittlichkeit.

David Rose (2007) describes Sittlichkeit as an ethical sphere that “incorporates those values and norms which govern the subject’s practical reasoning and pre-exist him, deriving from his role in and his being a member of a certain society” (p. 107). The content of practical reasoning is embedded in customs in social institutions. A custom [Sitte] notably, is defined by Hegel not as a conduct created by the individual, but as one that has been habitually exercised by social groups and institutions such as the family or the state. Sittlichkeit is therefore a social or customary morality. Hegel believes that customs are important for the right relationship between state and individual, and that they are necessary for the maintenance of the individual’s vitality. Sittlichkeit provides the virtues and duties by which individuals should live. It engages the following three elements: one, the needs and desires that individuals pursue; two, the safeguarding of individual freedom in the market place; and three, the regulation of goods and practices in the market through police, courts and corporations. (Rose, 2007, p. 120) Alan Patten (1999) calls the Sittlichkeit thesis attractive, but also risky for being “under-determinate and unacceptably conservative” (Patten, 1999, p. 8). Robert Pippin writes that

“Hegel thinks he can show that one never ‘determines oneself’ simply as a ‘person’ or agent, but always as a member of a historical ethical institution, as a family member, or participant in civil society, or citizen” (Patten, 1999, p. 28).

Social institutions, according to Hegel, are therefore prerequisites for a person and his freedom. Within the social context we can become recognized as valuable and hence become fully human.

There are three spheres in Sittlichkeit: the family, the civil society, and the state. All three spheres allow individuals the following two things: one, allowing individuals to operate on personal choices and to seek self-interests; and two, allowing individuals to recognize their actions properly as their own while contributing to the society’s good and to feel at home. (Rose, 2007, p. 112) The idea that individuals can operate on self-interests while they simultaneously contribute to society is crucial in Hegel’s philosophy of rights. Through this process they can will the duties they should have towards society. I believe that it does have huge implications on individual autonomy. However, before individual autonomy in Sittlichkeit will be discussed, I will first examine the three spheres.

The family
Hegel writes that “[T]he family … is specifically characterized by love, which is mind’s feeling of its own unity”, (Hegel, §158, p. 110). Love is a feeling that overcomes the separation of the individual from his family unit. Hegel further states:

“[T]he first moment in love is that I do not wish to be a self-subsistent and independent person and that, if I were, then I would feel defective and incomplete. The second moment is that I find myself in another person” (Hegel, §158A, p. 261).

Love is “the rational social principle in the elementary form of a universal feeling” (Dyde, 1894, p. 660). Through love, the individual has renounced his independence and becomes certain of who he is. In the family, he is being recognized as irreplaceable and is endowed with a sense of his own importance. Hence, one achieves “in a family, … one’s individuality within this unity as the absolute essence of oneself, with the result that one is in it not as an independent person but as a member” (Hegel, §158, p. 110). The family therefore frees the individual and makes him feel complete. Love finds its actuality in marriage as the recognition of the union between man and woman. It furthermore liberates us from unstable sexual drives and directs our sexual energy to the duty of maintaining our families. It becomes also actualized in common ownership of family resources and the rearing of the child. However, the family is still solely based on the individual’s negation of his immediate desires for greater or nobler goods. (Rose, 2007, pp. 119-120) The civil society, on the other hand, does include mutual benefits from individual pursuits of self-interests.

The civil society
Hegel asserts that

“[T]he family is the first precondition of the state, but class divisions are the second. The importance of the latter is due to the fact that although private persons are self-seeking, they are compelled to direct their attention to others” (Hegel, §201A, p. 270).

The civil society is built on the people’s necessities to satisfy their needs. The system is determined by “desire itself rather than the content of these desires” (Rose, 2007, p. 129). The mutual benefits are the result of the individuals seeking personal prosperities. They are, albeit self-interested, united in a common market through trade and commerce. The desires of individuals are related in such a way that the market satisfies universal needs through the productive nature of the division of labour. It makes possible interpersonal existence. Hegel writes:

“[W]hen men are thus dependent on one another and reciprocally related to one another in their work and the satisfaction of their needs, subjective self-seeking turns into a contribution to the satisfaction of the needs of everyone else” (Hegel, §199, p. 129).

Productive cooperation on the market frees the individual from subsistence living. According to Hegel there are three classes in civil society: the agricultural class, the business class, and the class of civil servants. The agricultural and business class each works for the interest of their own class. The class of civil servants works for the universal interests of the community and “must therefore be relieved from direct labour to supply its needs, either by having private means or by receiving an allowance from the state which claims its industry” (Hegel, §204, p. 132). The classes will over time form uniform values and tastes so that its members can recognize themselves in it. Along with the values come responsibility and duties for the protection of their classes. To ensure that the free market does not isolate individuals, an administration of justice and rational law must be put in place (Hegel, §211, p. 134). For Hegel, law is objectified customs and “[B]y taking the form of law, right steps into a determinate mode of being” (Hegel, §219, p. 140). It can be made actual and it can be recognized “without the subjective feeling of private interest” (Hegel, §219, p. 140). It serves the universal good and it also requires the police to protect the laws for the sake of the community’s identity. Hegel writes:

“[T]he individual must have a right to work for his bread as he pleases, but the public also has a right to insist that essential tasks shall be properly done. Both points of view must be satisfied, and freedom of trade should not be such as to jeopardize the general good” (Hegel, §236A, p. 276).

The police should support the families to work for the general good and therefore has the right to provide public facilities for education, health services, and financial support. Hegel is aware that the tasks that he entrusts the public authority with, can “facilitate the concentration of disproportionate wealth in a few hands” (Hegel, §244, p. 150). When the share of wealth is not rightly balanced, it could lead to revolutions. In order to protect freedom and to prevent social nuisances, the civil community must acknowledge the universality of the state’s legislation and administration. (Dyde, 1894, p. 660) According to Hegel, the state is the highest form of social institution and people should live in accordance to its customs and be dutiful to it. By obeying state rules and assisting in the maintenance of the community, the individual will help safeguarding the conditions that are essential for his own freedom.

The state
According to Hegel, the state is the only means by which the society can be held subjected to the pursuit of the highest spirituality so that absolute freedom can be achieved for all (Kaufmann, 1953, p. 472). Hegel claims that “[T]he state in and by itself is the ethical whole, the actualization of freedom” (Hegel, §258A, p. 279 ). When discussing the state, Hegel is not referring to any existing states. He merely talks about the state in an ideal sense so there should be no misconception that none of our existing states are purely rational and have achieved absolute freedom (Avineri, 1972, p. 177).

In Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, Hegel argues that: “[F]or the everyday contingencies of private life, definitions of what is good and bad or right and wrong are supplied by the laws and customs of each state” (Hegel, 1830, p. 80). He furthermore states that “[T]he worth of individuals is measured by the extent to which they reflect and represent the national spirit” (Hegel, 1830, p. 80). However, Hegel makes clear that it is preposterous “to say that men allow themselves to be ruled counter to their own interests, ends, and intentions” (Hegel, §281A, p. 289). Instead, men are “directly linked to the ethical order by a relation which is more like an identity” (Hegel, §147, p. 106). The state is therefore based on its people’s rationality and their conscious will to absolute freedom. It implies that the state is not coercive as it is a natural extension of people’s will. (Avineri, 1972, p. 181) Without the state, freedom will be merely individualistic and subjective, resulting in people’s disregard of others’ desires.

People’s duties to the state are rooted in the sentiment of trust or what Hegel calls, the “political sentiment” or “patriotism”. However, the duties of the individual are both in his own interest and in the interest of the state. Even though duties “can appear as a restriction”, it is “liberation from the indeterminate subjectivity” (Hegel, §149, p. 107). Hegel writes:

“patriotism pure and simple, is assured conviction with truth as its basis … This sentiment is, in general, trust (…), or the consciousness that my interest, both substantive and particular, is contained and preserved in another’s (i.e. in the state’s) interest and end, i.e. in the other’s relation to me as an individual. In this way, this very other is immediately not an other in my eyes, and in being conscious of this fact, I am free” (Hegel, §268, p. 164).

The sovereign, according to Hegel, should be a monarch as he is the embodiment of rationality, truth and constitutionality. He acts as the absolute decider and is the personhood of all people.

Individual autonomy in Hegel’s Sittlichkeit
Having explained Hegel’s Sittlichkeit thesis, I will now contend that individuals cannot become truly autonomous in Sittlichkeit.

So far it has become apparent that Hegel has posited individuals inside communal entities that he deems necessary for the progression of individual freedoms. The notion that individuals find their absolute freedom in social institutions that correspond to their subjective needs and desires is problematic. According to Hegel, individuals are free under conditions where they work for the collective good without giving up their particular identities. However, we do often not understand who we are, nor do we understand our subjective desires, so how can we know for sure that the actions we take are expressions of our identity? I would contend that the only way to understand ourselves is through self-reflection and self-invention. Sittlichkeit, unfortunately, restrains individuals in their self-invention, because communal entities hold authority over customs and moralities. Individuals, according to Hegel, have obligations to abide by the customary moralities of his communes: the family, civil community, and the state. However, autonomy, defined as the condition to give oneself one’s own laws, cannot be embedded in such communes. Instead, autonomy is the result of individualistic endeavours and is often gained as a result of the rejection of communal customs, because they hold us in bondage. The morality of customs relates to “the age, the sanctity, and the unquestioned authority of the custom” as Friedrich Nietzsche has explained in The Dawn of Day (1881) (Section 19, pp. 28-29). Sittlichkeit is predicated on a customary morality that pre-exists the individual and holds moral authority over him before he was even born. The individual is then still chained to the historical morality of his people, making him more similar to people in the same community. When others have authority over us in claiming what is right and wrong, then there is little room left for us to invent our personal morality. I agree with Hegel that “every one is a son of his time” (Hegel, Preface, p. 11). However, individuals should also have the autonomy to divert from this history and create their own distinctive personhoods. The family and any other ethical unit can be abusively restrictive to individual autonomy, stripping people from their freedom of self-invention. The resistance that the autonomous individual will face is grounded in the community’s mistrust of that what is different. Nietzsche (1886) maintains in Beyond Good and Evil that “self-reliance is almost felt to be an insult and arouses mistrust; the “lamb,” even more the “sheep,” gains in respect” (Section 201, p. 114).

The second reason why individuals cannot achieve true autonomy in Sittlichkeit, is due to its emphasis of self-limitation. According to Hegel, the individual has to limit himself in order to become liberated in the social spheres of the family, civil society and the state. In a paragraph on the people who enter into marriage, he writes for example that they

“renounce their natural and individual personality to this unity of one with the other. … their union is a self-restriction, but in fact it is their liberation, because in it they attain their substantive self-consciousness” (Hegel, §162, p. 111).

For Hegel, the individual is a subject of his community and his experience of selfhood is dependent on the recognition of others. However, I would like to desubjectivize the individual, pull him free of himself and his community, make him the source of all morality, and prevent him from being the same.[3] The individual can only be truly autonomous if he rejects communal customs so that he can invent his own morality. Hegel says that in “intersubjective actions, we follow the appropriate moral norms” and that we therefore “recognize each other reciprocally as subjects of unique value to each other, because without the other we would feel deficient and incomplete” (Honneth, 2001, p. 65). The self-worth of individuals is in my opinion too dependent on his community. Freedom, I believe, means feeling at home with oneself, and not so much feeling at home in the world as Hegel would contend. Self-limitation is apparent in, for example, the family which is based on individual self-negation for the family unity. The individual has to negate his “immediate desires for those of the greater good (nobler ones)” (Rose, 2007, p. 117). Obedience and autonomy are paradoxically joined in Hegel’s Sittlichkeit thesis to bring forth an absolutely free individual. Furthermore, I believe that the state cannot restrict people in their desires. In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche calls the state the “coldest of all cold monsters” and argues that the “idolaters” of the state “hang a sword and a hundred inordinate desires” above the people. It can make its people poorer or richer, but it is an institution that desires power and “first of all that lever of power, lots of money”. (Nietzsche, 1883-1885, pp. 36-38) The state will thus perpetuate non-restrictive lust for power as it will attract individuals to resist customary ethical life in order to use the state for their advantage.

The third argument why individual autonomy cannot be obtained in Hegel’s Sittlichkeit thesis is because faith in the state implies a faith in herd morality.[4] Hegel’s faith in social institutions is especially obvious in assertions like “[T]he state is the actuality of the ethical Idea” (Hegel, §257, p. 155) and “[T]he march of God in the world, that is what the state is” (Hegel, §258A, p. 279). The radical belief in the state as the provider of solid ethical values seems similar to the radical belief in religion. The only difference between both faiths is that one is a zealous belief in the state and its rationality, whereas the other is a passionate belief in a higher spiritual power. Both are however grounded in the belief in external entities; either the community to which the individual belongs or God. Under both circumstances, the individual negates his personal morality and praises herd morality as both prescribe customary group moralities. By zealously believing in the state, albeit a rational one, the individual will run the risk in subverting his own morality and therefore his personal autonomous ethical well-being for this higher ‘religion’ (the state) that is composed of communal dogmas and traditions. Moreover, Hegel’s emphasis on duties towards the state[5] in combination with the self-negation for the greater good may sound plausible ideally, but it is a frightening notion for individual freedom in practice. How can Sittlichkeit make sure that monarchs with illustrious powers will not abuse its members’ duties to the state?

Having explained why individuals cannot attain true autonomy in Sittlichkeit, I will discuss how autonomy is expressed. The autonomous person, I believe, will detach himself from customs and impose unto himself his own moral rules. In other words, he is able to become a self-determinate atom that does not necessarily have to find his freedom through the recognition by an other. All that suffices for his autonomy is his personal recognition of himself as an individual who can and who must invent himself. Since the individual is the source of self-invention, he is continually threatened in a world that imposes codified customs in the form of communal laws. Therefore the autonomous individual has to reject any position that society has molded for him. Instead, his place in society must be created by himself. One may argue that communities like the civil society and its market place are essential for individuals to be recognized and to thrive beyond basic necessities, and that this is freedom. Nevertheless, I would like to stress the importance of choice for self-invention and voluntary association. Individuals should be free to voluntarily accept society and its laws; free to accept and reject duties towards the state. The individual exhibits autonomous behaviour in his choices. Therefore, the power to choose is the ultimate source of autonomy. In Sittlichkeit, the individual is presupposed to be in unity with the family, civil society, and the state. All these social entities restrict his choice to dissociate himself from his communes.

This post has attempted to explain why man cannot achieve true autonomy in Sittlichkeit. The Sittlichkeit thesis can be attractive from an idealistic perspective, because it involves the community’s rationality and dialogue in order to give its members self-certainty so that no one is left out and everyone is included into a grander purpose in life. However, there is a danger that individual members are stripped from self-inventive powers, because they are pushed into moral directions by the customs of their communities. The individual should be fearful for moral conformism in Hegel’s Sittlichkeit as it negates individual autonomy. In addition, Sittlichkeit restrains individuals in their self-invention. Ultimately, the individual’s zealous belief in the rational state is actually appraisal for herd morality in Nietzschean terms.

[1] Michael Inwood’s A Hegel Dictionary (1992) defines Sittlichkeit as ‘ethical life’ and ‘social or customary morality’ (p. 91).

[2] Nietzsche writes in The Gay Science (1882): “[W]e… want to become those we are – human beings who are new, unique, incomparable, who give themselves laws, who create themselves” (Section 335, p. 266).

[3] Michel Foucault calls it the “the project of desubjectivation” (Gutting, 2010, p. 29).

[4] Nietzsche often refers to the majority as the herd. He argues that the herd is mediocre and condemns self-inventive persons. (Nietzsche, 1883-1885, p. 16)

[5] Hegel states that the individual’s “supreme duty is to be a member of the state” (Hegel, 1820, §258, p. 156).

Avineri, A. (1972). Hegel’s Theory of the Modern State. London: Cambridge University Press.

Dyde, S.W. (1894). Hegel’s Conception of Freedom. The Philosophical Review, 3, 655-671.

Gutting, G. (2010). Foucault, Hegel, and Philosophy. In T. O’Leary & C. Falzon (Ed.), Foucault and Philosophy (pp. 17-35). Oxford: Blackwell.

Hegel, G.W.F. (1830). Lectures on the Philosophy of World History. (H.B. Nisbet, Trans.) New York: Cambridge University Press.

Honneth, A. (2001). The Pathologies of Individual Freedom. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Inwood, M.J. (1992). A Hegel Dictionary. Oxford U.a.: Athenaeum Press.

Kaufmann, W.A. (1951). The Hegel Myth and Its Method. The Philosophical Review, 60, 459-486.

Knox, T.M. (1967). Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. London: Oxford University Press.

Nietzsche, F.W. (1886). Beyond Good and Evil: prelude to a philosophy of the future. (W.A. Kaufmann, Trans.) New York: Random House.

Nietzsche, F.W. (1881). The Dawn of Day. Retrieved from

Nietzsche, F.W. (1882). The Gay Science: with a prelude in rhymes and an appendix of songs. (W.A. Kaufmann, Trans.) New York: Random House.

Nietzsche, F.W. (1883-1885). Thus Spoke Zarathustra: a book for all and none. (T. Wayne, Trans.) New York: Algora Publishing.

Patten, A. (1999). Hegel’s Idea of Freedom. New York: Oxford University Press.

Rose, D. (2007). Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: a reader’s guide. London: Continuum International Publishing Group.


Why Few ‘Social Justice Warriors’ Actually Care About Social Justice

Social Justice WarriorI notice that many people love to defend ‘equality for the sexes’, ‘equality for all ethnicities’, because ‘everyone is beautiful… everyone is awesome… everyone is sacred’. All these sound extremely good, noble and well, but I have realized throughout the years that most of these so-called ‘social justice warriors’ do not truly care about social justice at all as one cannot truly stand for justice without an inquisitive mind.

These people repeat everything that sounds good, but barely put any effort in understanding the issues at hand. They lack the critical faculty to subject ideals to severe critical scrutiny. For this reason, they are extremely susceptible for ideals that at first sight seems wonderful, but that are actually rotten and damaging. They also do not possess enough modesty in how little they know. Most social justice warriors are therefore irrationally and vehemently defending a cause they do not truly understand. The worst thing is that many of them refuse to explore the issues, look for underlying evidence, read, and learn. Many of them are self-deceivers, and discussions with them often turn out to be a vexation as it is impossible to appeal to their reason.

I agree with Michael Huemer that actually most people who fight for a ‘noble cause’ “are chiefly moved, not by a desire for some noble ideal, but by a desire to perceive themselves as working for the noble ideal – not, for example, by a desire for justice, but by a desire to see themselves as promoting justice” (Huemer, 2012, p. 19). The ultimate test to find out whether a social justice warrior truly cares about justice is to have a rational conversation about issues of justice and see whether he is willing to defend his noble ideals rationally and whether he is open for learning.

Huemer, M. (2012). In Praise Of Passivity. Studia Humana, 1, 2, pp. 12-18.

Home Education As An Alternative To Oppressive Formal Schooling


Pink Floyd, clearly upset with the rigid educational system and the prevailing powers inside educational institutions, sang in the chorus of their 1979 song ‘Another Brick in the Wall’:

“We don’t need no education,
We don’t need no thought control,
No dark sarcasm in the classroom,
Teachers leave them kids alone”

The song had sparked much controversy and was even banned in South Africa in 1980, because it incited a nationwide school boycott of non-whites who had adopted the song as their anthem for protests against the unfair educational system at that time (Sander, n.d.).[1]

This post will deal with power related ‘systemic violence’ that exists in schooling, and how this violence oppresses pupils. The relationship between power and systemic inequalities in the educational context is barely scrutinized. There rather seems to be a consensus that education is always positive or at least neutral. As a result, the following is rarely questioned: what type of education do we actually mean when we engage in conversations on education? In this post, I will firstly make the distinction between schooling and education and then put forward an analysis of systemic violence in formal schooling. The difference between schooling and education is important in our discussion, because what follows will be a critique of formal schooling and not of education per se. Subsequently, I will suggest that systemic violence and oppression in modern schooling are historically related to the intentions of the first national school reformers in 18th century Prussia. I will show that businesses and the state have always had vested interests in the control of public education. They formalized a compulsory school system with the aim of creating an obedient and disciplined citizenry who cannot develop critical consciousness, and hence cannot transform their worlds. An analysis of the political history in schooling is particularly important for understanding how the political and economic discourses have shaped the way oppression is currently manifested in schooling, which I will discuss in the section thereafter. I will furthermore contend that although compulsory schooling creates psychological impotence, society has increasingly attributed more educational responsibilities to the state. Following Ivan Illich’s (1971) argument to deschool society, I will finally argue that home education can be a suitable alternative to rebalance educational responsibilities more in favour of parents, and less in favour of the state. In addition, I will assert that there is more room for affective learning care in home education than in formal schooling, which may be a solution to protect children from systemic violence. However, I will also resort to an epistemological modesty which prevents me from claiming that home education is the best or only solution for systemic violence. I am aware that my recommendation is only suitable for those parents who are privileged to have enough economic, social and cultural capital to home educate their children. Finally, one possible counter-argument against home education – that home education makes fewer opportunities for solidary learning care available and hence restricts children in their socialization – will be raised and dealt with accordingly.

Schooling and Education
Firstly, a distinction between schooling and education has to be made in order to set the target of my criticism clearly. Bertrand Russell and John Dewey viewed education as a humanistic practice which could pave the way to social change into a free, just and equal society. This view of education has its roots in the Enlightenment, and basically means that the role of education is to assist students in their development into an authentic self. (Chomsky, 2000, pp. 37-38) Education should lead to the development of students who are unique in their personalities and interests (Rothbard, 1979, pp. 4-5). At the heart of this Enlightenment view lies the normative conviction that students should not become tools of power, moulded and controlled to serve the purposes of authorities. Equality, sharing, cooperation and community building should instead be the norm of education. Education happens therefore in direct relationship with the community. It is therefore absurd to believe that education is only limited to schooling which can be accordingly defined as the formal educational instruction that takes place in school. Schooling is just one form of education and does not equal it (Ward, 2013, p. 28). Ivan Illich (1971) writes that our life is an overwhelmingly large learning ground in which our learning is not interfered with by school teachers (Illich, 1971, p. 14). It is this formal schooling which is permeated with systemic violence that will be the target of my critique. Next I will present a short history of compulsory schooling, and how political and business classes have always had vested interests in this matter.

The political and business interests in compulsory schooling
As any approach to history is subjected to a particular perspective, and is therefore non-neutral, so too have I approached the history of compulsory schooling from a certain standpoint; namely that of domination and systemic violence in the struggle for political and business influence. Already since at least Ancient Greece, rulers understood that the control over the child’s development, and therefore the control over his or her education, has been important means to secure their political power. Any possible revolution that could ensue from an enlightened and questioning citizenry could hence be suppressed. Henry Louis Mencken (1924) writes that

[T]he aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment to all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. (Mencken, 1924, p. 504)

In Sparta for example, which was ruled by a totalitarian warrior class, children were taken away from their families and “educated in barracks to the ideal of State obedience” (Rothbard, 1979, p. 19). The Spartans understood very well that state education was a powerful means to develop the child into agents who will be passively obedient to the state. During the time of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther and John Calvin had also sought after the state’s control over education to ensure that every child is taught their teachings in state schools so that the spiritual war against the devil could be waged successfully. However, it was in Prussia in 1717 where the first national system of compulsory schooling was inaugurated by King William Frederick I who fervently believed in the virtues of monarchical absolutism. In order to maintain his power he deemed it necessary to develop a citizenry with iron discipline. (Rothbard, 1979, pp. 20-25) Carl Abraham von Zedlitz, one of the chief ministers of King Frederick II, told the Berlin Academy in 1777 that “an enlightened ruler prefers to govern subjects who serve and obey out of love and conviction, not those mired in the slavish habits of forced servitude” (van Horn Melton, 1988, p. xxii). Schools had therefore been reformed in order to train children to respect authority through self-disciplinary methods. However, it was not until King William Frederick III in 1807 that all education was practically placed directly under the Ministry of the Interior. For this he had gained much support from the intellectual class in Prussia, including the German philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte. Devastated by the defeat of Prussian forces at Jena against Napoleon in 1806, Fichte addressed to the German nation that the loss was due to the lack of military discipline among Prussian soldiers whose own will interfered with their military commandments. To avoid any future defeat, free will of the Prussian people should be destroyed in state schools. Fichte states in 1807:

[I]f you want to influence [the student] at all, you must do more than merely talk to him; you must fashion him, and fashion him in such a way that he simply cannot will otherwise than what you wish him to will. (Fichte, 1807, p. 21)

According to Fichte, the political class should therefore psychologically subordinate its citizens to the point that they are unconscious of their personal emancipative powers.[2] The Prussian state soon implemented new policies to restrict and manipulate the emancipative consciousness of its citizens. Just five years later in 1812, the state decided to install school graduation examinations and state certificates for all teachers (Rothbard, 1979, p. 25). The child’s schooling was based on strict coercion, repetitive tasks, compulsory attendance, regular testing, children’s classification by age, and time organization according to bell ringing. This Prussian model had soon formed the inspiration for the educational system in the rest of Europe and the United States.[3] The rise of national compulsory schooling was also linked to the rise of industrialization, and was encouraged by business interests (von Horn Melton, 1988, p. xiii). As industrialization had still not lifted most families out of extreme poverty, many parents sent their children at the age of six or seven to work in factories where they worked twelve to sixteen hours a day. The children were oftentimes beaten in order to keep them awake and to prevent them from falling into the machinery, which could mutilate or even kill them. (Russell, 1953, p. 20) In the unfortunate event that children would fall into the machinery, the factory owners would have to stop the production line resulting in greater operational costs. It was hence in the interests of industrialists that industrial workers were disciplined, showed up on time, and were accustomed to mindless labour. (Toffler, 2007, p. 52) The great industrialists understood that immense profits could be made from a dumbed down and obedient citizenry.[4] Therefore the benefits of an obedient citizenry, trained in compulsory schooling, provided the perfect opportunity for businesses to cooperate with the state. John Taylor Gatto (2009) writes that “[I]t is in the interest of complex management, economic or political, to dumb people down, to demoralize them, to divide them from one another, and to discard them if they don’t conform” (Gatto, 2009, p. xx). Children had to be moulded in such a way that they could serve the industrial class by accepting work orders without asking questions.

In this section I have put forward why state and business interests have historically always wanted a dumbed down and obedient citizenry. In the next section I will present what types of practices have been implemented to achieve this goal, and how these practices in the school system have resulted in ongoing systemic violence in schooling these days.

Systemic violence in schooling
Systemic violence is defined as the “institutionalized practice or procedure that adversely impacts on individuals or groups by burdening them psychologically, mentally, culturally, spiritually, economically or physically” (Epp, 1996, p. 3). I would like to assert that even though a system can be purposively systematically violent, the persons that work inside the system do not necessarily intend to be oppressive, nor do they have to be aware of the system’s oppressive nature. Systemic violence is often the result of unintentional consequences that have resulted from well-meaning authorities. An additional problem with systemic violence is that its victims are often unaware that this violence is inflicted upon them. (Epp, 1996, p. 1) The dominated can hence develop a false consciousness that they are fully emancipated and that the system they live in is a just social order.[5] I will deal with certain practices of systemic violence that institutionally oppress children so that they cannot develop a distinct and confident personhood. I believe that these practices manifest themselves in what Paolo Freire (1968) has called the ‘banking concept’ of education. Under the banking concept, the teachers who are the narrating Subjects fill the students, the listening Objects, with information in a similar fashion as money is deposited, filed, and stored into a bank account. Likewise, the student receives, memorizes, and repeats that what is deposited. (Freire, 1968, p. 53) Freire writes that knowledge under the banking concept is perceived as “a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those who they consider to know nothing” (Freire, 1968, p. 53). This projection of ignorance onto others is a fundamental characteristic of the school’s oppression, and it is through this projection that the teacher justifies his dominant existence, but alienates the students from reality. The students never discover that they educate the teacher and that the teacher is dependent on the students’ recognition for his or her existence. [6] (Freire, 1968, p. 53) The banking concept manifests its oppressive nature in student-teacher relationships where, for example, teachers talk while students listen, where teachers choose the content of that what is taught, while students are passive adapters etc.[7] Following the banking concept, students become passive and do not develop critical consciousness or distinct personalities. This deprives them from the ability to become transformers of their world. (Freire, 1968, p. 54) In ‘Against School’ (2003), John Taylor Gatto writes that our society has accepted the subjection of our children to the oppressive “deadly routine” of “six classes a day, five days a week, nine months a year, for twelve years” in schools (Gatto, 2003, p. 2). Gatto (1992) furthermore asserts that the “meaningless routines insulate people from life itself, blind them to what is happening around them, and deaden the moral faculties” (Gatto, 1992, p. xvii). How can one expect that children who spend so much time in classrooms, totally separated from real life, develop a deeper consciousness of reality? The false reality in classrooms is one in which they live with peers of the same age, where the bathroom cannot be used without permission, where they must raise their hands before speaking, and where even their speech is regulated and must comply with the teacher’s interests. In the classroom reality, children are moreover deprived from their freedom to think and to focus on their own thoughts. In a speech entitled ‘The Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher’,[8] Gatto states that the teacher’s first lesson is confusion. Confusion is taught by teaching facts that do not relate to the children’s reality. Children are taught a wide range of subjects, but without any depth or connected facts so that what they learn becomes meaningless within their realities. (Gatto, 1992, pp. 2-3) The second lesson is class position. Students must stay in the class where they belong, and they are numbered so that they can be returned to the right class if they escape. The children under the schoolteacher will not be able to imagine themselves in another place. Their place is among other children with the same age and the same class number. In addition, they are taught to envy better classes and to have contempt for dumber classes (Gatto, 1992, pp. 4-5). The third lesson is indifference. “Bells inoculate each undertaking with indifference” (Gatto, 1992, p. 6) by making students who are enthusiastic about a subject drop his or her thoughts and enthusiasm in order to move on to the next class. Most of the classes however, are filled with boredom and repetition of tasks. Boredom and repetition, I believe, have the goal of weeding out those who remain resistant and are difficult to control. These students become marginalized in the system, and are labeled as those with ‘behavioural disorders’.[9] The fourth lesson is emotional dependency. Children are taught to pursue prizes, honours, stickers etc. so that they become dependent on the teacher’s interests, favours and compliments. In occasions that the teacher allows the student to express his or her individuality, like for example talking in class or sneaking away to the toilet, the student becomes thankful for the teacher’s favours. The fifth lesson is intellectual dependency as students are trained to wait for the teacher to instruct them what to do. They are not encouraged to think and act for themselves. (Gatto, 1992, p. 7) In a highly commercialized society they become continuously dependent on advertisements to tell them how to dress, how to live, and what to consume. In other words, they learn to conform to business interests. The sixth lesson is provisional self-esteem. The student’s self-respect has become dependent on ‘expert opinion’. Monthly reports, marks, and percentage points are introduced to teach students the false reality that they should not trust their self-evaluation.[10] The seventh lesson is that no pupil can hide. Each student is under constant surveillance and is rewarded for reporting bad behaviour of fellow students. (Gatto, 1992, pp. 9-10) Foucault (1975) writes that constant surveillance of social institutions is an exercise of ‘disciplinary power’ which maintains particular power relations.[11] Persons who are continually monitored for disruptive behaviour will adjust their behaviour according to the rules of those in power so that physical coercion becomes unnecessary. (Roberts, 2005, p. 34) All seven lessons are manifestations of systemic violence. They oppress the pupils into obedience, and train them into disciplined citizens who lack critical consciousness. Schools nonetheless claim that the knowledge they impart on pupils is neutral and serves no subjective purposes. Chomsky (2000) however, asserts that “[T]he pretense of objectivity as a means to distort and misinform in the service of the doctrinal system should be sharply condemned” in relation with schooling (Chomsky, 2000, p. 20). The existence of such oppressive practices should be no surprise once we consider the history of business and state interests in compulsory schooling. It is furthermore also important to realize that practices of systemic violence do not solely affect everyone in similar negative ways. Some students may flourish under such practices more than others, which results in greater inequality.[12] (Epp, 1996, p. 3)

Considering that schooling exercises systemic violence to mould children into obedient citizens for business and state interests, we are left with the question how we should improve the education of our children. Freire (1968) sees education as a source for potential resistance and social transformation. He proposes the problem-based educational model as a substitution of the banking model. Problem-based education can liberate the students through dialogue and the development of critical consciousness (Freire, 1968, p. 61).[13] Although it is important and interesting to discuss which educational models are most beneficial for students, my discussion is limited to a reconsideration of which social entity – the family, the state or corporations – should bear the main responsibility over the child’s education. The philosopher Ivan Illich (1971) believes that the solution is the deschooling of society. Illich writes that schools are institutions where values are institutionalized, and he warns that such practices lead to “physical pollution, social polarization, and psychological impotence” (Illich, 1971, p. 3). He goes on to write that “[E]ducational disadvantage cannot be cured by relying on education within the school” (Illich, 1971, p. 5). Our society has attributed to schools the right to appropriate funds, and educators to educate the public while stripping away educational tasks from other institutions like family and religious institutions. At the moment, society has given overwhelming responsibility to the state for fixing the current schooling system. As a result, the decision-making over the education of children has become more centralized into the hands of the state,[14] albeit in varying degrees between states. However, considering that the state has always attempted to perpetuate systemic violence in order to promote obedience and to restrict the citizenry’s critical consciousness, I would like to propose home education as one of many other possible alternatives which will rebalance educational responsibilities more in favour of parents, and less in favour of the state. It is important to note that home education may not be the best alternative for everyone, nor should it be considered the only solution to systemic violence in schooling. I will nonetheless present the following three important arguments in favour of home education:

  • Parents are more affectionately involved with the educational development of the child;
  • The child can be sheltered from systemic violence and oppression in schools;
  • Home educated children show better scholastic performance.

Home education as an alternative
Parents’ greater affectionate involvement with the child’s education
Jiddu Krishnamurti (1981) writes that because parents are too “absorbed in their own problems” (Krishnamurti, 1981, p. 86), they shift the responsibility of educating the child to the teacher. A parent that loves his or her child, according to Krishnamurti, is “in complete communion” (Krishnamurti, 1981, p. 88) with the child and is willing to provide the right education that stimulates the child to grow sensitive and intelligent. Choosing to home educate your children in a society where it is the norm to send children to schools requires a thoughtful decision. Home education also requires the parent to go through some significant personal sacrifices. The parent sacrifices for example his or her work hours and the corresponding opportunity benefits of a paid job, and he or she has to research and study the educational material in order to be able teach and assist the child. The sacrifices that the parent has to take in order to home educate the child work as a weeding out mechanism of parents who may think that the child’s educational development is not worth the sacrifice.[15] The home, in contrast to school, provides also more room for affectionate education. Maggie Feeley (2009) has stated that the affective domain has great significance on our capacity to learn new skills and knowledge (Feeley, 2009, p. 204). She writes that persons who are sustained by the affective relationship with their family are more encouraged and supported to learn (Feeley, 2009, p. 207). I do not see any reason why education in schools, which is the place for secondary learning care,[16] cannot happen in the familial situation, the place for primary learning care relationships. Richard Medlin (2000) writes that home educating parents believe that the home provides a safe and positive learning environment for the child. The child is encouraged to put the skills learned at home into practice in the greater world. The affectionate relationship between parent-child and the successful practice of skills in the greater world are important means for the child to build self-esteem. (Medlin, 2000, p. 109) Henk Blok (2002) asserts that many studies have shown that homeschooled children have a more positive self-conception, and fewer behavioural problems such as anxieties and aggression (Blok, 2002, pp. 5-6).

Protecting the child from schools’ systemic violence and oppression
Homeschooling families believe that “institutional norms and structures within schools created destructive, rather than supportive, learning environments for children” (Fields-Smith & Williams, 2008, p. 376). In a study of 24 Black home educators, the majority have stated that their negative experiences with for example inequities, prejudice, anti-religious curricula, and racism in public and private schools have made them decide to home educate their children (Fields-Smith & Williams, 2008, pp. 376-379). Opponents often accuse home education for promoting segregated education as if segregation is necessarily bad. However, even in highly integrated schools stigmatization of children from different cultural backgrounds can be common. Michael Merry (2013) writes that the aims of integration in schools do not always promote greater equality. Equality requires mutual recognition and a sense of self-respect. For some children it may be good to receive their education outside integrationist settings if these settings institute systemic violence, and lack the factors necessary for mutual recognition and the development of self-respect. The home can be an environment that includes “a caring ethos, cultural recognition, and positive role modeling” (Merry, 2013, p. 114). It may foster a safe and supportive educational environment in which parents teach their children, because they love them. From parental love, these children can be recognized as fully equals so that they develop self-respect and an emancipated consciousness. However, as governments cannot oversee and control what is taught at home, it is no surprise that homeschooling is illegal in many countries.[17] It is regarded by many states as politically subversive.

Home educated children show greater scholastic performance
Children who are educated at home develop greater scholastic progress according to most research (Blok, 2002, p. 3). Blok has stated that some researchers have even shown that home educated 6 year olds, on average, are mentally as advanced as 7 year olds who have received their education in schools. By the age that the home educated student reaches 14 years he or she will be as advanced as 18 year old peers who have been instructed in schools. (Blok, 2002, p. 5) Furthermore, Clemente (2006) had conducted research in which home educated high school seniors were compared to schooled students. He found that home educated students’ mean test score on the SAT was 1123, compared to 1054 and 1039 for private- and public-schooled students respectively (Snyder, 2013, p. 289). Snyder (2013) had moreover looked at GPA scores of 408 college students of whom 137 were public schooled, 142 Catholic schooled, and 129 were home educated. According to his findings, home educated students have a GPA of 3.14 compared to 2.66 for the public schooled. (Snyder, 2013, pp. 299-300)

As I have mentioned before, home education may not be the best alternative for everyone. When the poor generally do not have the economic privilege to forego paid employment in order to home educate their children, it is necessary that other solutions for oppressive schooling are developed. Parents who have greater economic means can spend more time with their children, effectively making it easier for them to choose for home education. Families may also differ in the amount of social and cultural capital available to them. Some may for example have had more education which makes it easier for them to attain the educational knowledge to teach their children properly. Therefore, I would like to emphasize that home education does not solve the inequality problem between families. However, I would like to maintain an epistemological modesty and admit that I do not know what the best solution with respect to inequality and education is.[18] Nonetheless, I believe that the matter of education is too important to leave it predominantly in the hands of state and business interests.

Finally, I will address one possible argument against home education. The argument is that home education neglects the socialization of children and so whilst more affective in some ways, it makes less opportunities for solidary learning care available.

Counter-argument to home education: it neglects socialization of children
It is an often heard concern about home education: what if children do not learn to deal with the various members of society, because they receive their education at home in a segregated setting? Socialization, defined as “the process by which individuals learn to establish and maintain relationships with others” (Lebeda, 2007, p. 101), involves social interaction between the child and others. Many fear that home educated children may lack socialization, and therefore they develop “interpersonal conflicts, social isolation, and development of aggressive behavior” (Lebeda, 2007, p. 103). However, Blok (2004) maintains that many studies have shown that children who are home educated “had better developed social skills and were more mature” (Blok, 2004, p. 47). Some studies showed “fewer behavioral problems in home-schooled children” (Blok, 2004, p. 48) and that whereas the motivation for learning “declined with age in the average school pupil, it remained consistent, or even increased, in home-schooled children” (Blok, 2004, p. 48). I believe that interactions per se are not the most important factor of socialization – what is more important is the meaningfulness of relationships. Home educators have asserted that schooled children are often not encouraged to solve social problems, due to the emphasis on test scores and learning academics. In addition, they attack the notion that the school is the only place where the child can socialize. Turansky writes that:

[T]he school is not the only place children can find friends and peer group interaction. Churches and communities offer other activities, many of which focus more on healthy social interaction than the school does. Sports, music, youth groups and service groups teach children how to be productive in relationships and to use good social interaction to be a positive influence on society. These activities may offer enough or even more than enough peer contact. (Lebeda, 2007, p. 103)

Home educators can also provide the socialization environments for their children by letting them interact beyond school peers, like for example with adults and social clubs. Schools on the other hand, due to student classification by age, restrict children in their socialization with real life people; adults, workers, and children from other age groups.

In setting forward the distinction between schooling and education it has become obvious that education is not only restricted to schools. Education happens everywhere, including in the family, in the work place, in leisure time etc. Society has nonetheless attributed to schools the main task of educating children. An analysis of the history of schooling has however shown that states and businesses have historically always had interests in using schools as training grounds to mould children into obedient and disciplined citizens. They are trained to become incapable of developing critical consciousness, effectively making them unable to transform their worlds. For this purpose, systemic violence and oppression have been institutionalized in schools. In addition, I have proposed home education as an alternative to rebalance educational responsibilities more in favour of parents, and less in favour of the state. I have contended that home education is, albeit not the only possible or the best alternative for everyone, attractive for three reasons: firstly, the home is suitable for affectionate education; secondly, the child can be sheltered from systemic violence and oppression in schools; and thirdly, home educated children show better scholastic performance than their peers instructed in schools. I have moreover noted that home education does not solve the inequality problem. It is easier for families with greater resources to choose for home education. Lastly, I have responded to the possible counter-argument that home education neglects the socialization of children whilst it is more affective in some ways.

[1] South Africa was still under the apartheid regime. Apparently the strong message in the song had found its resonance in the hearts of black South Africans who felt that the educational system, with its intricate layers of power, treated them unfairly and served to maintain the unequal social statuses that were heavily determined by skin colour rather than character. Although education can be a means to empower people, it can also be a means for one social class to oppress another as was the case in South Africa.

[2] Antonio Gramsci writes that the hegemon strengthens his dominant position when subordinates lose any perspective of emancipation and opposition through a lack of “consciousness of their own existence and of their own strength” (Pozzolini, 1970, p. 73).

[3] Horace Mann has been one of the key persons who successfully sought after the instalment of Prussian-based compulsory education in the United States in the first half of the 19th century. (Gatto, 2009, p. 15)

[4] A congressional investigation committee in 1954 in the United States has found that certain industrialists through tax-exempt foundations like the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Ford Foundation have heavily financed particular researchers, school administrators and university chairs with the purpose of controlling education (Wormser, 1958, p. 3).

[5] Pierre Bourdieu (1991) regards the condition in which those subjected believe in the “legitimacy of power and the legitimacy of those who wield it” (Thompson, 1991, p. 25) as a condition of symbolic violence, because it perpetuates a social structure that serves the dominant class and oppresses the ignorant victims.

[6] Freire (1968) compares it with the Hegelian master-slave dialectic without much detail (Freire, 1968, p. 53). The similarity with Hegel’s dialectic, I believe, can be found in Hegel’s The Phenomenology of Spirit (1807) in which he explains the dialectical movement from consciousness to self-consciousness. Hegel argues that after a life and death struggle between two consciousnesses, one becomes master over the other. The master gains certainty over his own self-consciousness by keeping the slave alive who, through his labour, will recognize the master as the centre of his experience. This however, results in a contradictory relationship in which the existence of the master’s self-consciousness has become dependent on the slave’s recognition. (Dawson, 2007, pp. 396-398)

[7] See Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed for all characteristics of the banking concept of education (Freire, 1968, p. 54).

[8] The speech was delivered on the occasion that Gatto was named “New York State Teacher of the Year” for 1991 (Gatto, 1992, p. 1).

[9] Foucault has maintained that humans are made subjects through control and dependence, and by ascribing them a specific identity or conscience of self-knowledge (Roberts, 2005, p. 34). Psychiatry, according to Foucault, can exercise power by stigmatizing humans as ‘abnormal’ on the basis of psychiatric theoretical frameworks. (Roberts, 2005, p. 37) The stigmatization regulates the patient’s behaviour as he or she starts adjusting his or her conduct in accordance with an altered self-knowledge.

[10] There is the irony that those students who have been marginalized by the school system are accepting and taking full responsibility for the institution’s failure.

[11] Foucault gives the example of the Panopticon, a prison designed by the philosopher Jeremy Bentham, where all prisoners in their cell can be monitored from the central observation tower. (Roberts, 2005, p. 34)

[12] One example is the difference in which boys and girls respond to authority. Girls may have been taught to restrain themselves more, and to accept authority. This can be one factor by which girls generally outperform boys in school.

[13] Freire (1968) writes that “authentic liberation – the process of humanization – is not another deposit to be made in men. Liberation is a praxis: the action and reflection of men and women upon their world in order to transform it” (Freire, 1968, p. 60). He states on dialogue that the relationship of “the teacher-of-the-students and the students-of-the-teacher cease to exist and a new term emerges: teacher-student with students-teachers” (Freire, 1968, p. 61).

[14] An example of increased centralization over educational decision-making in the United States is the drastic decline of school districts from 128,000 to less than 15,000 since 1932 (Rothbard, 1979, p. vi).

[15] It is not to say that all parents who send their children to schools are bad parents or do not care about the educational development of their children. However, those parents who educate their children at home are generally more concerned with the educational development of the child.

[16] Feeley (2009) uses the term “learning care” to refer to the impact of care on our learning capacities. There are four types of learning care relationships: primary learning care in the family or alternative primary care centres; secondary learning care in schools; solidary learning care in civil society; and state learning care to provide equality of condition that supports learning across domains of the family, school, and civil society (Feeley, 2009, pp. 204-205).

[17] In 1980, home education was illegal in 30 states in the United States. It was just in 1993, after heavy pressure from home education organizations, that all 50 states made it legal. In Holland, home education was made illegal since 1969. (Blok, 2002, pp. 1-2) In 2010, a German family fled Germany to apply for asylum in the United States, because they were not allowed to home educate their children. The German state had threatened to file criminal charges against the family, and to put their children under state custody. (HSLDA, 2014, February 11)

[18] One way to achieve resource equality in education is through redistribution of wealth. However, can we trust governments to fix the educational problem with financial means? The root of the problem, I believe, is educational methodology – we should rethink what education is, what methodology can best develop critical consciousness, and how this methodology can be implemented on a large scale so that everyone has access to it while still respecting the realities of value pluralism.

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