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Historic meeting of Nordic homeschoolers

In an historic meeting held on July 10, 2010, the presidents of the homeschooling associations in Norway, Finland and Sweden met for the first time. They were: Marianne Johansen from Norway, Juhani Paavolainen from Finland and Jonas Himmelstrand from Sweden. The setting was the Norwegian homeschooling conference in beautiful Telemark in Norway.

Of great concern was the new Swedish school law, which will make home education practically impossible in Sweden. In Norway and Finland, the situation is very different. The right to home educate is protected by the Finnish constitution. The laws in both Finland and Norway stipulate a learning obligation, as does legislation in most western countries. Sweden has a school obligation; the law makes home education an exception, which was allowed under the old law but is now virtually banned by the new law. 

The three Nordic representatives were in agreement that home education is a human right and that only a learning obligation is truly in accordance with the UN declaration of human rights. The new Swedish school law allowing home schooling only under "exceptional circumstances" is a breach of human rights. The UN has declared that human rights should be protected by the rule of law: that "man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression".

Present at the conference were about 30 children of all ages, from toddlers to teenagers, and 26 adults. One parent noted the zero-conflict level among the children – something typical of homeschool gatherings.

Dr. Christian Beck of the Institute of Educational Research at the University of Oslo gave an overview of the homeschooling situation around the world. He strongly encouraged home schoolers to stand up for their rights.

Marta Straume presented how she trains teachers in Norway as to appropriate ways to supervise home education. Marta Straume is herself a teacher with personal experience in home schooling. 

There was also a presentation on recent psychological findings of child-parent relationships based on the work of world-renowned Canadian psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld. One findingd is that the key to socialisation is the brain’s capacity for handling mixed feelings, not "social training" conducted in social environments. In fact, that capacity for dealing with conflicting feelings is best developed in emotionally safe and nurturing settings, which is typical of homeschooling.

The three homeschooling presidents stated that their meeting in Norway has launched Nordic homeschooling co-operation.

Jonas Himmelstrand
Rohus – The Swedish Association for Home Education

Marianne Johansen
NHUF – Norsk hjemmeundervisningsforbund 

Juhani Paavolainen
Suomen kotiopettajat – Finnish home educators

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