When confronted with limitations, we have two options: remain in the situation or leave it. We can create a fresh start on our terms, using the adversity to build resilience and forge a brighter future.
Disclaimer: The following article, republished by the Foundation, was written by an external author. The opinions expressed in it do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Foundation or its members.
The Swedish School System Relies on Compulsion
Most people in other countries don’t know it but in Sweden, all alternative forms of education, such as homeschooling and non government affiliated private schools, are illegal. As a result, staying in the country to homeschool presents a very high risk of negative consequences, including having children taken away and being subjected to fines, with the citizens being monitored by personal numbers which ensures that all children go to school.
The compulsory Swedish schooling is immoral because it undermines a family’s natural right to care for their children as they see fit. The coercive nature of the system and its values contradict traditional gender roles and the existence of nuclear families. Since Swedish law provides no support for this natural right, unlike most other Western countries, those seeking alternative ways to raise their children must leave Sweden.
Many children struggle in the inflexible Swedish school system, leading to a high number of children experiencing mental health issues or receiving diagnoses such as ADHD when it isn’t the case. The lack of playtime and personal development opportunities in schools can leave children feeling frustrated and hyperactive. While some children can adapt and thrive within the system, many others suffer in the process. Coercion is never the right approach, and when there is coercion, there is often a darker side to the situation.
Deciding Your Path: Stay in Tyranny or Leave for Freedom?
When faced with the dilemma of living somewhere with fundamental restrictions, there are essentially two paths:
Remain in Sweden and keep the children in school despite their poor well-being. Although Swedish schools are “equivalent,” there is minimal flexibility for them to deviate from the rigid system. However, some differences still exist, as the overall satisfaction depends on the school’s management and staff. Yet, the highly structured system doesn’t suit everyone, as all children have unique needs. Families should have the natural choice of whether their children attend school or not. The “one size fits all” approach doesn’t work for all children, as evidenced by the high number of unhappy students and diagnoses. It’s easy to attribute the blame to these diagnoses, allowing schools and parents to avoid responsibility. Staying in a familiar environment with friends and family is comfortable, and moving abroad due to a child’s poor fit in school isn’t an easy decision. Nonetheless, weighing the child’s well-being against comfort and financial costs is crucial, even if the majority still choose to stay. It’s disheartening that families must leave their homeland because of a school system that harms their children. Many likely hope that homeschooling will become legal soon, making it possible to wait it out.
Leave the restrictive environment and seek better opportunities elsewhere. This choice involves using the negative situation as a source of resilience and strength to create a brighter future. By leaving behind the coercive system, families can build anew on their own terms and pursue alternative educational options for their children.
Vote With Your Feet
When faced with these kind of unfreedoms you can make a choice. You can leave the oppressing system in your country to a better, freer place where the state doesn’t control families like it does in Sweden. The likelihood of homeschooling becoming legal within this generation’s childhood is slim, so it’s best to move forward and look optimistically towards a future elsewhere. No place in the developed world has a school system as strict as Sweden’s, nor is there a more narrow-minded mentality that insists on attending school and adhering to rigid social norms.
Fleeing a situation doesn’t necessarily make you a victim of circumstances. Like traumas, you can choose to be defeated by them or turn them to your advantage. Transforming negative energy into a positive driving force is brave and necessary. It’s about shifting perspectives and seeing opportunities in adversity rather than obstacles.
Compulsory schooling is just one example of restrictions and coercion that can push us to seek freedom and independence. The strongest drive in humans is protecting what is most precious to them – their off spring. However, compulsory schooling is only one aspect that a person might flee from. Escapes can happen due to other forms of violence, coercion, property theft, or high taxes. Leaving a country with high living costs and an unfavorable climate for a warmer, more affordable alternative can also be a pursuit of happiness and satisfaction. The desire to find better opportunities elsewhere has inspired and motivated people throughout history.
With today’s conditions, relocating is easier, particularly if you haven’t started a family yet and have a location-independent job. Modern technology allows for many location-independent jobs, leading to the emergence of “digital nomads” who can work online and move as they please.
Strength in Unity
Belonging and being part of a social context is a fundamental human need – as social beings, we rely on community and cohesion. This applies to homeschooling refugees and others seeking community through various social media and online groups.
It’s unfortunate that Swedish homeschooling families are scattered worldwide like a diaspora, and many struggle to find a sense of connection and belonging. This issue is significant because collaboration is necessary to create meaningful change. Individually, we may be vulnerable, but together we possess the strength to prevail. Together, we can work towards positive change and demonstrate that freedom, responsibility, and compassion are the right paths to follow.
Building Parallel Structures, Communities, And Free Cities
Since the emergence of location independent online sources of income, various movements have sprung up, such as the Free Cities Foundation, which promotes the development of free cities and “intentional communities”. These mini-societies consist of people with similar beliefs, living in the same village or area. While some may share a house and chores, others may prefer a more independent lifestyle, maintaining geographical proximity but living separate lives otherwise.
For those who relocate due to compulsory schooling or in the search of liberty in other ways and look for a community or a free city, it’s essential to organize and collaborate. The Free Cities Foundation could be an ideal platform for homeschooling refugees, complementing smaller initiatives like the Swedish unschooling group. It’s crucial to promote our locations and identify suitable communities. Within the Swedish homeschooling world, there are several well-known “bases.” Many opt to move to Åland or Bornholm in Denmark, given their physical proximity to Sweden and generous welfare systems. Others choose English-speaking countries where homeschooling is socially accepted, or countries with low taxes, greater personal freedoms, and a warm climate where authorities are less intrusive.
For those who haven’t yet moved and are uncertain about the right community, organized communities provide easily accessible information, allowing people to visit and make informed decisions. Additionally, attending conferences and events promoting libertarian ideas and networking opportunities can be inspiring. This fall, the Free Cities Foundation is organizing the Liberty of Our Lifetime conference, presenting an excellent chance to participate in such an event. The video from last year’s conference showcases the positive atmosphere, featuring several unschooling families.
Ultimately, we are responsible for creating our own freedom. By relocating to places with better opportunities and collaborating with like-minded individuals, we significantly increase our chances of success.
This blog post was originally published by Caroline King at Den Andra Resan in April 2023. Visit the blog for more articles in English and Swedish.
Listen to our interview with the author, Caroline King, on the Free Cities Podcast here.