Radhika Jhaveri says that increasingly homeschooling is what parents are opting for in India.
Homeschooling is a new concept in India that is rapidly catching pace. While there are many who are unaware of the concept, there are those who have already taken steps to ensure their children get the best of education at home. Reasons to Homeschool vary from parent to parent; some parents feel that the amount of religious education imparted in schools is inadequate, some are extremely unhappy with the exclusive nature of schooling when it comes to children with special needs, while others are dissatisfied with the state of the Indian Education system and believe that a healthier environment for education can be provided at home.
“When our 10 year old daughter, Asawari started saying ‘this is the only right answer’ and she refused to think beyond ‘text book’ and ‘one right and wrong answer,’ we realized that things are not going correct. We decided to Homeschool her,” says Aditi Ratnesh Mathur, a counselor to parents and teachers. “It is not about one school – if we were unhappy with one school we would have put her in another school,” she says, “But it was about the whole ‘education system.’
The quality of teaching has been on a steady decline as education has become increasingly commercialized. “After trying in several schools, I finally decided to Homeschool my child mainly because of incompetent teachers. Preschool is a business now-a-days. Anybody and everybody can open a pre-school without any qualifications or licenses whatsoever. If you see the teachers and some of the schools here, you would be surprised at the condition of our education system in some parts of the country,” says Ms Shaolin Dass who is homeschooling her three year old daughter.
The extremely competitive nature of learning in today’s times has led many to question the kind of individuals such a system is producing. Is our education system teaching our children to become responsible human beings who are able to question the present day norms of an increasingly consumerist society..? Or is it able to create nothing more than a reflection of the very problems we are trying to fight in this modern day and age..?
The problems with our modern day education system are manifold and parents have started questioning whether schools are equipped to provide a learning environment that would best suit the requirements of their children. Ms Neetu Singh Desai, who is homeschooling her five year old son Siddharth, feels that there needs to be a complete overhaul of our education system, she says, “I do not think anyone except me is equipped to deal with Siddharth’s education. However, if the same environment was made available in schools, I would have put him there.” It is a feeling that is echoed by many parents, Dr S P Mathew who along with his wife Dr Vinita Mathew have been homeschooling their three children aged 15, 12 and 8, find the idea of entrusting the life of their children in the hands of strangers very distressing.
With homeschooling, these parents might just have found the right answer to all of these problems. There are a myriad ways in which parents can go about homeschooling their kids. Some parents prefer to keep up to date with the various curriculums across the boards; IGSE and NIOS being the most popular. There are others who do not bother with curriculum at all and allow their children the freedom to discover the world without the hassle of degrees, exams or certifications. These are called unschoolers. A homeschooling environment allows the child to discover more avenues, interact with people of different age groups, have more freedom to play and learn things for themselves. It allows the parents to monitor the growth of the child in a manner that ensures the child receives just the right amount of information that meets his mental capacities; not more nor less. “No school can give individual attention to every kid. Especially when there is an extraordinary kid, she might get averaged in the routine school activities like tests and homework on regular basis. We believe, it puts too much pressure on the kids at an early age and their creativity gets stifled. The thing is, schools revolve around syllabus. Adults decide what a kid is capable of learning in a certain standard. In our view that is a big mistake. We underestimate our kid’s ability to understand and learn things,” says Mr. Puneet Bhatnagar who is homeschooling his daughter Adhya who is already a published poet, her book is titled ‘My Little World,’ at the age of eight.
But is Homeschooling a luxury – an option not for all? Is it doomed to remain a rarity, only to be found in the upper echelons of the society? While there are various homeschooling communities that are slowly coming up across the country; by and large many are still ignorant about this phenomenon which still remains in its nascency. What needs to be done is to formalize, legalize and organize the homeschooling movement in India. It is an option that needs to be made available to all those who are not satisfied with the traditional methods of schooling, who find themselves unable to afford the premium fees and absurdly high levels of donations that schools have fallen into a habit of demanding and most importantly for those who refuse to let their children be forced into conformity.