I have written a lot as to why I want to homeschool my son from day one, some of it in a general manner and some related to personal experiences. He is going to be two this September, so there is a lot of time to go ahead and I am sure I will be well prepared with my decisions by then.
Going through past emails on homeschooling groups/mailing lists I am subscribed to, I found that there were several such opinions expressed by a number of people.
In particularly, I was fascinated with responses to Clive’s email titled – “he didn’t see the point of school”. Below is the extract –
“In his book “Second Opinion”, Theodore Dalrymple, in his essay “He didn’t see the point of school”, talks to a 15 year old who had dropped out school (in England) and was “going off the rails”. He could hardly read a paragraph from a book, and when asked to explain it he only replied “I don’t know, I was only reading it. He said his “maffs” was all right, but it turned out to be limited to the 2, 5, and 10 times table. He had no knowledge of history. He said he was about average in his class.
Dalrymple says:“I would like to point out to our distinguished educationalists that this boy was not of defective intelligence and was not by nature ineducable. Years of research must have gone into the formulation of an educational system in which children can attend school for so long and yet learn so little. Such a system does not arise naturally.”
Interesting comment, I find, extending beyond the purely academic side of education.”
Now I have extracted some passages from the public responses to the above email on the mailing list to mainly summarise how people in India feel about homeschooling and how schools in India fall short of “really” educating children. And this will probably be applicable in many other parts of the world…
[The atmosphere at school seems to stunt and blanket the learning skill in a child. Major attention and energy of the child goes into handling his various fears, created in the school atmosphere that it seems to seriously affect his learning….And the response I get from adults around me is – I should help my daughter to over come her fears, become strong and courageous to face the world. Otherwise am going to make her a weak and too sheltered an individual. Is it by becoming indifferent to violence around us, by creating a shield of ‘courage’ that we become strong human beings? Are we shielding our children, when we choose not to expose them to such subtle but pungent violence of the school atmosphere, esp in growing up years? Don’t they have enough challenges even at home atmosphere to learn how to handle situations?]
[To be in the system and fight for it, might be possible in cases, where you believe in the system and wish to make it work. Whereas I saw/see no point in the today’s school system – which ignores the individuality in every child, or is success oriented always running towards future – ‘preparing’ the child for something… .]
[Home schooling allows us to respect the different and individual learning styles of our children, without labeling them either as fast learners or slow learners!]
[I am not sure, we will ever find such a school – where teachers / principal would people allow our children to ‘just be with the kids’, without demanding anything from the child! We should stop assuming – kids love/play/learn only in company of kids. We should be observant and patient enough to see the child interacting with her atmosphere and human beings of whatever age, and how they learn socialization skills. After all this is how the real world is-people of all ages and categories, unlike the classroom where all are of same age. Kids surely do enjoy company of other children and learn much by watching older children. But it doesn’t mean devoid of constant company of other kids, would make them handicapped.]
[Children need freedom to become disciplined from inside. Oppressed adults who have not experienced freedom themselves take it out on children, seeing them free by nature. They sadly don’t even mean well. Their instincts overtake their intentions. ….Sad state of affairs. Home education and alternate education has to bring in silent revolution for the benefit of children and of course the next generation families.]
[Past experience tells me that we are far too deeply entrenched into this ‘politics’ of academia to be able to take a truly radical, un-blinkered look at Dalrymple’s point there! It is most CERTAINLY one of the major aspects that needs to be addressed, IF we are at all serious about making more sense out of the word ‘education’!]
[Academically, schools are insufficient especially in the initial years. The strength of children in each class is high which makes individual attention impossible. In younger children there is a marked difference in development as well. At least till the child is able to read and write fluently and understands basic math, support outside school is essential. That is why, if the children are not supported outside of school when they are starting to learn the basics, they never make up and are always lagging behind incrementally through each higher class because they keep building on previous knowledge. My opposition to the school is the set curriculum which is so rigid. I would love the system that encourages reading, experimentation in general for knowledge. I think directed reading/vocational training should come only after the child is able to identify what he wants to do in life otherwise most of what you studied is just a waste of everybody’s time.]
[Have you wondered how this school and the system exists? If all parents of this school opposed and if they received fewer applicants each year because word like this will spread. They will be forced to comply to majority demand because school is a business. Parents still believe in this school though it sounds horrendous. It meets their expectations. I pity the children not because they are in this school but that they have parents who actually support it! Have you seen Dead Poet’s Society? I am worried now with the changed system of no exams. It is a wonderful tool for a good teacher but it is a nightmare in case of a bad teacher who could misuse it and force obedience!]
[Homeschooling certainly doesn’t make a child introverted! I am sure I would have been social even if I had been homeschooled. Even in school some children are very friendly with everyone in class while some make very close but few friends. However schooling certainly provides more opportunity for interaction. For some children who are not very social by nature, it may help; of course the keyword here is MAY and those that are social enjoy school. There are no community classes here in India either….You always gain some and you lose some with any choice you make. You just need to make the choice that works for you and not try second guessing all the time!]
[Firstly -the question is if the ‘system’ itself is necessary to educate a child. Homeschoolers don’t think so. Believe it or not, for most of us schooling our child was not this grim horrifying experience- stupefying perhaps, certainly not unpleasant. Speaking for us, we knew we could do better, hence we pulled our children out.
Secondly- The one who’s actually in the system is not you but your child, who’s will is seldom considered. Schooling introduces a lot of experiences which are artificial and pre-decided in an all-knowing manner in bite sizes of course to the poor sap way down at the bottom of the pecking order- your child.
Thirdly- Homeschoolers would love for the system to change. But my child is not up the the role of the sacrificial lamb in your revolution to ‘change the system’.]
[In today’s scenario the system of school is a total waste of money, time and resources. I am realising this from my daughter’s experiences. Every year the Load of books and their Cost is increasing and along with it the Fees….We are paying more than Rs.5,000 for our two daughters and for what.. to learn Lessons from Books and write answers for the same. That’s is all they really do in school. The truth about today’s schools are (as someone had put earlier) to create future white color slaves for Corporate India.
It’s understandable as the Government which controls education, depends on Industries for Funds. I can see everywhere parents in rat race to provide for their children’s education,without realising that the so called education itself is maiming their children and hindering their natural growth and that includes me..]
[Just as homeschooling doesn’t make a child introverted, homeschooling doesn’t make a child smarter or brighter either. I believe that homeschooling gives us the opportunity to understand the individual needs of each child and guide them accordingly. …which might not be practically possible in a classroom of 40 or even 20 students. And also….homeschooling isn’t for everyone…just as regular school doesn’t work for everyone.]
I hope the above 12 extracts conveys a broad summary as regards to what parents who want the best for children feel.