Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Children Who Have Never Been to School

An article regarding a group of reclusive families in New Zealand describes efforts of the goverment's educational department to gain access to the group's 19 children. Since the children are healthy and safe, the sole focus on the piece is on concern for their education.

Anahera Van Duin, who has four children, said she and her siblings wanted to educate their children themselves. "They were trying to find a way to put us in a box. They can't." Mrs Van Duin lives at Mokau, on the coast between Herekino and Ahipara, with her brother Stephen Tango, his wife Phillippa, and her sister Stephanie Samuels, with her husband Luke.

[Education Minister David] Benson Pope said he wanted to explore other options to get the children into structured education. One option was taking the children from the parents, although Mr Benson Pope said he did not favour that.

However, he questioned whether the ministry should keep trying in the face of such adamant resistance. "If people go to such extraordinary lengths to cut themselves off from what we would regard as more normal society, what can we do or would we want to, to actually try to include them?"
I'm not quite sure what to make of this, but that last paragraph eerily reminded me of a book I read long ago:
"[The boys] found themselves eager to take a place in this demented but partly secure society. They were glad to touch the brown backs of the fence that hemmed in the terror [of the makeshift beast] and made it governable." Lord of the Flies (Chapter 9, pg. 138)

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