Russia embracing and Europe stigmatizing home schooling

Home schooling is on the rise in Russia, finding support from the Russian Orthodox Church and the government, at the same time that the practice is being restricted in much of Europe, writes Allan Carlson in the conservative ecumenical magazine Touchstone (July/August). Carlson reports that the Global Home Education Conference, attracting homeschoolers from 35 nations, was held as a two-city event in Moscow and St. Petersburg. He notes that while Germany, Sweden, and Norway have recently criminalized home schooling, even in some cases jailing offending parents and seizing their children, “Russia has legalized the practice as a recognition of ‘natural’ parental rights.” Prominent members of the Duma attended the conference as they praised home education as the best way to raise “spiritually strong” children grounded in Russia’s Christian heritage. Archpriest Dmitri Smirnov, chairman of the Patriarchal Commission on Family Matters of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular television host, addressed the gathering, lauding home schooling as recovering a God-given right and as a way for parents to teach their children and build the “image of Christ” within them.