Documentary film "Elternschule": The question of the "right" education

A documentary shows the therapy of behavioral children. As a result, directors, distributors and parents are abused and threatened. This is symptomatic of an ideologically overheated debate.

       Comment by Martina Knoben



    This is definitely the hardest documentary I've ever seen. "With this comment from her husband, the reviewer of an online magazine begins her review of the documentary film" Parenting School, "her text has been quoted hundreds of times since Thursday, the film by Jörg Adolph and Ralf Bücheler in the cinemas, but even before, a wave of indignation broke out on the social networks – against the production company, the distributors and the directors of the film, including Nazi comparisons.


    Why is? It's not about child soldiers or genocide – it shows the treatment of psychosomatically ill, behavior-prone children in a clinic in Gelsenkirchen. Patients do not want to eat or sleep or they scream 14 hours a day. Your parents learn how to set boundaries lovingly but consistently. "Parent School" documents this process.

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The reactions? "We were wanted at the gallows and in the torture clinic, there was talk of a children's concentration camp," says Ralf Bücheler, one of the directors. "It was so extreme the post office, that no discussion was possible, I have never experienced such a magnitude," adds Werner Fuchs, Managing Director of the Zorro film distribution, which brings the film in the cinemas.


    "That was not to be moderated," says the director. The Facebook page was closed.


    The debate escalated on the film's Facebook page. At first it was said that children were mistreated in the clinic; was judged on the basis of the trailer, the documentary there had hardly anyone seen. Then the parents who had been filmed were abused, as well as a mother who answered the treatment and wrote that everything was not as shown on Facebook. "That was not to be moderated," says Bücheler. "We had to close the Facebook page to protect our protagonists."


    Many thousands of postings have been made, says the representative of the agency, which looks after the advertising for the film. He does not want to be named by name, and the employee of the supervising press agency also wants to remain anonymous. She suspects an agreed action. The outraged Internet contributions often refer to the US-based "Attachment Parenting" (AP), the "need-oriented education". Their methods are intended to promote mother-child bonding by focusing on the needs of their child. The method is rooted in American evangelical Christianity and has many followers in Germany.


    The opponents of the "parent school" have now started a petition calling for the "broadcasting end" of the film; more than 7,000 people had signed until Friday afternoon. They put cinema operators under pressure with emails signed in the name of the "Children of the World".


    It's grotesque. A film that shows how closed education systems have failed, which promotes an opening and wants to set discussions in motion, should be banned. The violence of the attacks shows in a drastic way how ideologically overheated the question of "proper education" is discussed in Germany.


    It would be helpful to regard the topic of "education" less dogmatically, but to understand it as a craft. This does not exclude love and closeness to the child, the perception of his needs – on the contrary. For example, one of the needs of a baby might be to get used to sleep rhythms. And maybe it would not be a bad idea to teach children to be tolerant of others and those who think differently.

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