We have always assumed that children, logically and naturally need to spend all of their childhood years going to school, where they are groomed to grow up to be competent adults.
We have assumed that it has been proven by someone, somewhere, that absence of schooling or alternative ways of thinking about education have been tested and they have failed.
We have assumed that if children become educated through their own play and exploration, without adult direction or prodding, they may not accomplish as much as they would have if exposed to a standard setting of education, called “school”.
Which brings us to the more important part of ‘why have we assumed?’
We have assumed because we have been conditioned to think like the masses, to not deviate, to conform.
Education today is c-learning or conventional learning where information is imparted to learners and a standardised set of questions posed to ascertain the IQ level of a student. The answers are expected to conform to the teacher’s ‘know how’. Any digression is, of course, not only not allowed but frowned upon.
Imagine if Carl Lewis, Charlie Chaplin, Thomas Alva Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and such others were told to conform, to adapt, to fit, to be conventional. The world would be bereft of all the amazing inventions, discoveries, records. And why could they think freely, think out of the box? Perhaps because they did not know what a box was. Having learned outside of the system, home-schooled, they could afford to think!
Home-schooling stemmed from the pivotal thought to let kids be kids. Some parents finally decided to listen to their children. Some families home-schooled because they could afford to and some, because they could not.
Home-schooling in India is not a new trend. It has existed over a few decades. Alternate education was preferred by a few and in the absence of a provider, home-schooling emerged.
In rural India, home-schooling was an obvious choice due to lack of schools. But urban India soon caught up. Increasing low effectiveness of education imparted by schools and an increased introspection and interest in making choices rather than merely going with disillusioned defaults, resulted in the adoption of alternate learning which further branched into home-schooling, unschooling, deschooling and so on.
Admittedly, home-schoolers in India represent a small minority of aware and highly educated middle class parents. But there is accumulating evidence of parental interest in home-schooling. Each family decides what suits their child and their families’ needs. But the common thread in all variants is that it is ‘child centric’. No outsider decides the pace, the curriculum or the extra curriculum. The child learns, unlearns and revels in the learning process.
Critics point out to the socialisation aspect of home-schooling. That would be deemed a concern if every schooled child turned out to be a perfectly socialised adult. In fact, a home-schooled child has proven ability to interact with all age groups and not just peers.
Home-schooling is not easy. It is not difficult, either. Considerable parental sacrifice in terms of time, money and effort is required. But at the end of it, if you have a happy, evolved child who grows to be a non-conformist adult, is it not worth it? After all, every parent wants their child to be different, and happy.