Pune seems to be rocking with Homeschoolers of all kinds. Just saw this article in Times of India Pune titled When staying at home DOES NOT MEAN SKIPPING EDUCATION (I could not find it in Mumbai edition). Here is what it says –
When staying at home DOES NOT MEAN SKIPPING EDUCATION
A small band of parents in the city do not want to put their children through school and have taken up the teacher’s role
( Neha Madaan | TNN Pune )
There are no school bags to lug, no rush to catch the bus and no exams to cram for, for at least 50 children in the city.Parents like Mansi Ghosh, disenchanted with the education system that brings on the pressure, began to think out-of-the-box three years ago. They either withdrew their children from school or never sent them to one. Instead they took on the onus of teaching them at home. Ghosh has been homeschooling her children for more than three years. “I have the right to choose how I educate my children,” she said.
She gave up her career as an architect to teach her children at home. “I do not prefer text books as a source of education. I realised that a formal institution mass produces students and has no place for one’s individuality. Ever since I got my children out of school, there has been an immense amount of freedom. We are trying to unlearn things forced upon us,” she said.
Aditi Adhikari has been homeschooling her nine-year-old daughter for the past three years. “We have chosen not to send our child to a regular school because we do not believe in the education imparted in a formal setting. In principle, we are nurturing and educating our children in a way we wish to at home,” Adhikari said.
She said that the conditioned environs in schools tends to put all children into one category, when each individual is born with a unique gift and is different from the other. “It needs time, tenderness and patience for that gift to reach fruition. Schools put a lot of pressure on children, forcing them to compete with their peers and excel in areas that are probably not their strong points. Hence, I chose to homeschool my daughter. I do not follow any particular method of teaching. My daughter is interested in makeup, hair-styling, interior decoration and art. We pursue this at home. I give her the inputs and expose her to life-skill mathematics instead of what is taught in schools,” said Adhikari.
She is not unduly worried about her daughter’s future. “Even with a degree, one is never sure about getting a good job. I would nurture my daughter’s interest in art and aesthetics and see where it goes from there,” said Adhikari.
“I am grateful to the education I got, but I am not sure how much school education has helped me. Homeschooling means I would not be subjecting my daughter to exams and tests because those who do not know her strengths would want to test her. I am with her all the time to know her strengths and weaknesses,” she said.
Urmila Samson, who delivers lectures on homeschooling at the Urban Ashram in Mukund Nagar, is a mother of three. Her 18-yearold daughter who is all set to go to the UK for higher studies and two sons aged 13 and 10, are homeschoolers.
“I have been reading about homeschooling since I was 16 and was determined about never sending my children to school. The RTE Act aims at strengthening the Indian children financially, helping them compete globally. There are many who will benefit, but more than standardisation, we should have plurality, different opportunities for different people. Homeschoolers are taking the strain off the system by taking on a responsibility and fulfilling it better than the state or private schools. They should be allowed and encouraged to do so.”
Homeschooling parents are quite self-sufficient and mainstream education system could learn a lot from non-formal schools and homeschoolers, she said. “Instead of rendering these options illegal, we should come
together and make interesting and sensible options available for our unwieldy and diverse population,” said Samson.
Pune has a vibrant group of homeschoolers who are part of an egroup called Pune Homeschoolers. Samson is an active member of the group which started two years ago.
“My children are into unschooling. We believe that each child has an inbuilt curriculum, unique and different. We also believe that learning starts at birth, is natural and continues till death. Tests and exams are harmful to the human spirit and of no use at all. Marks have no meaning. Each person, child and adult, learns what they want, when they want, how they want, and in great details because we love to learn. We are not learning for a test or an exam, but to engage with life itself, in a way that holds meaning for us,” said Samson.
According to her, such an education creates individuals who will later start NGOs, green initiatives, cottage industries, arts and crafts, living healthy sustainable lives that take little from earth, and give a lot back in terms of plants, herbs and trees.
“I would prefer my child to learn holistic healing of the self, the other and the earth. I would never want my child to join the mainstream education, but create a sustainable side stream that would make the world a better
place,” she said.
Erica Taraporevala, who homeschooled her children between 1996 and 2004, said, “We did not follow any system. We read for joy, discussed, questioned and wrote. We had discussions about how the education system worked, about exams and their need to get through these if one wanted to go to colleges.”So at 13 when her children wanted to go to college in the last two years of their homeschooling they started studying for exams.
“One gave the General Certificate of Secondary Education and the other sat for the NIOS. They went to Fergusson College from where they graduated. Today, our elder daughter is pursuing her M.Phil in development studies from the University of Oxford, while the younger one is studying graphic designing at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad,” she said.
STUDY MATERIAL, EXAMS
Homeschoolers in Pune have been appearing directly for the National Open School (NIOS) or International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE). “Many homeschoolers have cleared these exams and have got admission into good colleges. One is pursuing her M. Phil at Oxford and her sister is at the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad. Another homeschooler is pursuing her A Levels in Pondicherry. Pune’s oldest homeschooler is Kathak exponent Yogini Gandhi,” Samson said. The group is aware that the situation in India is not as conducive as it is in the UK or the US where agencies are set up specifically for homeschoolers to register. Here, support also comes in the form of homeschooling curriculae and suppliers of materials specific to their needs.
In India, homeschooling is still nascent and no formal bodies have been set up. Homeschoolers are struggling to figure out the best curriculum for each year, as per every child’s inclinations. There is no procedure and parents follow what suits them and each of their children. We have just begun to get organised, and soon, we will be sharing resources and resource links via an Indian homeschool website – Urmila Samson | HOMESCHOOLING PARENT
WHAT TO STUDY
* Some parents follow what schools prescribe at home and arrange for their children to appear as private candidates at a regular school. Others introduce more advanced learning for the subject their children are comfortable with and scale down the difficult portions. Yet others shun any syllabus, and let the child choose what to learn. * Homeschooling involves different teaching methods. “Parents can adopt unschooling, which means that unless a child asks to be tested, there is no test or exam to appear for. Other parents recreate school at home with a curriculum. My children are exposed to some structural studies, some fundamental subjects and hands-on project work,” said Mansi Ghosh, a parent
* Most parents use school books, newspapers, magazines, the internet, educational CDs and television programmes. Many teach them maths using the abacus and conduct spelling drills. Some use encyclopaedias and other reference material.
* http://www.alternativeducationinindia.net has contact groups for many cities. The Home Schooling Legal Defence Association (HSLDA) links to http://www.youcanhomeschool.org, with tips on how to homeschool. http://www.holtgws.com introduces homeschooling through the works of reformer John Holt, with links to books, resources and private consultations.
* The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) is a government body to help children outside the school system.
* They can use NIOS to write exams for class X and XII after a registration process with it a year before they want to take the exam. NIOS certificates are valid and have the same recognition as other boards. Once can even write competitive exams based on them. Students can appear for CBSE and ICSE Boards directly at X and XII levels as private candidates.
ON THE FLIP SIDE
Arguments against homeschooling hinge on several effects that it may have on the child
Non-mixing types ?
Non-believers cite lack of socialisation as the most common negative impact. They say that homeschooled children spend all their time with parents and lose out on opportunities to mix with children their age and teachers. One option they have to make friends is when they join homeschooling groups, or take up a sport, join music, dance or art classes where they can socialise. Homeschooling advocates also say that such children have better opportunities to socialise than those who go to school simply because they mix with all age groups in varied situations and enjoy a variety of experiences which help them cope with the real world better.
Another negative effect could be that they may get picked on, made fun of or be shunned by their schooled peers. Pro-homeschooling groups say that schools and parents have to deal increasingly with bullying on campus and on the bus. However, homeschooled children are protected from this rough and tumble situation.
Hanging on to parents leading to overdependence can be the biggest negative impact for homeschoolers. Such families do share a strong bond, but believers say that homeschoolers are independent learners and thinkers who can deal with peer pressure or resist negative influences and can handle unfamiliar experiences.
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So what do you think of this TOI piece? Opinions ??
(on a side note, have a look at this my related article too)